complete verse (2 Corinthians 3:7)

Following are a number of back-translations of 2 Corinthians 3:7:

  • Uma: “Long ago the Lord wrote his Law on writing rocks, and he gave it to the prophet Musa. At that time, the Yahudi people were not able to keep looking at Musa’s face, for his face shone with God’s power. But the shine on Musa’s face was only for a while, and it decreased until it vanished/went-out. The Lord’s Law that was written on rock brought death to mankind, for we are not able to follow it. But even so, God’s power that the Yahudi people saw in Musa’s face at that time was indeed big. So, if this was the power of the law that brought death,” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “The covenant called the first law was written on flat stones and God’s brightness was really seen while that law was given. This brightness was seen including in the face of Musa therefore the people of Isra’il could not look-without-moving at him because of its brightness but that brightness of his was passing. If the first law, the one that brings death was sent with God’s brightness, a sign that it was great” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “When God wrote the Law long time ago on the stone tablets, Moses was surrounded by the shining power of God. And then the face of Moses shone because of the power of God and it dazzled the eyes of those people who are descendants of Israel. And in spite of the fact that it was very bright, that power which God showed through His writing this, was very great.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Let us think-about the time-when-God -showed his power when he gave his law to Moses. Because Moses’ face was-exceedingly -dazzling when he brought (lit. arrived-with) that-aforementioned law that was written/carved in stone to the descendants of Israel. Even though the dazzling-gleam of his face was weakening, they were nonetheless dazzled, and they were not able-to-look-fixedly at him. If like that was the power God showed when he gave the law that results in punishment that has no end,” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “As for that former initiated-agreement of God, it tells of death which is punishment which has no end, for people are not able to obey his laws which were written on flat rocks. But even though it was like that, the people did indeed see God’s glory/praiseworthiness in his giving of those laws. And furthermore the Israelita couldn’t keep-looking at Moises’ shining face even though the dazzlingness was now diminishing. Well, if God’s glory/praisworthiness was seen in that system (lit. trail) whose outcome was death which is punishment without end,” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The Law which Moses wrote was written on a slab of rock. When this word was written, very strong was the light of God which accompanied it. Concerning Moses’ face, even the Jews could not look on it because it was shining so much. But this shining of his face bit by bit went away until it became as it had been before. Therefore very beautiful is what happened when the law began to be in effect. Only concerning this law, it says that the person who rejects what is said in the law will be punished.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


The name that is transliterated as “Moses” in English is signed in Spanish Sign Language in accordance with the depiction of Moses in the famous statue by Michelangelo (see here). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)

“Moses” in Spanish Sign Language (source)

Another depiction in Spanish Sign Language (source: Carlos Moreno Sastre):

The horns that are visible in Michelangelo’s statue are based on a passage in the Latin Vulgate translation (and many Catholic Bible translations that were translated through the 1950ies with that version as the source text). Jerome, the translator, had worked from a Hebrew text without the niqquds, the diacritical marks that signify the vowels in Hebrew and had interpreted the term קרו (k-r-n) in Exodus 34:29 as קֶ֫רֶן — keren “horned,” rather than קָרַו — karan “radiance” (describing the radiance of Moses’ head as he descends from Mount Sinai).

Even at the time of his translation, Jerome likely was not the only one making that decision as this recent article alludes to.