persecute, suffer

The Greek that is often translated as “persecute” or “suffer” in English has the option of various terms in Luang with different shades of meaning.

For Acts 8:1 and 9:4, ramuki-rama’ala (“hit and kick”). This term refers to “physical persecution.”

For Acts 7:6, 7:19, 7:24, rnahora-rnala’a (“to send here-to send there”, “give the run-around”). This term is used when “emotional pressure or frustration is in focus.”

For Acts 20:23, kropna-kreut (“send here-there”). This term is used for “pushing people around, treating them as no better than a slave.”

For 2 Tim. 1:12, mola-ma’a (“make shame”). This term is used when “making someone lose face, generally with words.”

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.

complete verse (2 Timothy 1:12)

Following are a number of back-translations of 2 Timothy 1:12:

  • Uma: “So, because of that work of mine carrying the Good News, I have ended up getting suffering to the point that now I am imprisoned. But in spite of that, I am not ashamed. For I know who he is whom I have believed, and I hope/trust that he will take care of me, and it is clear in my heart that he has power to take care of me until the Judgment Day.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “And this is the reason why I endure here in prison. But I am not ashamed because I know whom I trust. And I am sure that he is able to guard all he entrusted to me until the day when he returns to earth is reached.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “and because of this I have to endure today this affliction. But in spite of that, I know who He is whom I have trusted, and I also know that until the day in the future when He will investigate the things mankind has done, He knows how to watch over me here as I carry out all He has given me to do.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “and that is the reason I am being hardshipped. But I am certainly not ashamed of this, because I know whom I trust and I know for-certain that he has power to protect what he has entrusted to me until the day of Cristo’s coming again arrives.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And because of my attending-to/facing this responsibility of mine, I had this suffering/hardship happen to me like this. But I don’t regard it as shame, because I really know well this one I have believed in who is Cristo Jesus. And I am sure that he really has the ability to take care of me so that I can hold fast, so that on the arrival of that day of judging, the salvation will be mine which I have entrusted to him.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Therefore for this I suffer now. But I am not ashamed that I am in prison. Because I know truly that God, whom I trust, is good. And I am sure that he has the power to watch over me, that my life will come out good until that last day.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

pronoun for "God"

God transcends gender, but most languages are limited to grammatical gender expressed in pronouns. In the case of English, this is traditionally confined to “he” (or in the forms “his,” “him,” and “himself” in many English Bible translations when referring to the persons of the Trinity with the capitalized “He,” “His,” “Him,” or “Himself”), “she” (and “her,” “hers,” and “herself”), and “it” (and “its” and “itself”).

Modern Chinese, however, offers another possibility (click or tap here to read more):

In modern Chinese, the third-person singular pronoun is always pronounced the same (tā), but it is written differently according to its gender (他 is “he,” 她 is “she,” and 它/牠 is “it” and their respective derivative forms). In each of these characters, the first (or upper) part defines the gender (man, woman, or thing/animal), while the second element gives the clue to its pronunciation.

In 1930, after a full century with dozens of Chinese translations, Bible translator Wang Yuande (王元德) coined a new “godly” pronoun: 祂. Chinese readers immediately knew how to pronounce it: tā. But they also recognized that the first part of that character, signifying something spiritual, clarified that each person of the Trinity has no gender aside from being God.

While the most important Protestant and Catholic Chinese versions respectively have opted not to use 祂, many other Bible translations do and it is widely used in hymnals and other Christian materials. (Source: Zetzsche)

Early versions of Lü Zhenzhong’s (呂振中) version (New Testament: 1946, complete Bible: 1970) also used 祂 to refer to “God.” Kramers points out: “This new way of writing ‘He,’ however, has created a minor problem of its own: must this polite form be used whenever Jesus is referred to? Lü follows the rule that, wherever Jesus is referred to as a human being, the normal ta (他) is written; where he is referred to as divine, especially after the ascension, the reverential ta (祂) is used.”

Source: R. P. Kramers in The Bible Translator 1956, p. 152ff.

In Kouya, Godié, Northern Grebo, Eastern Krahn, Western Krahn, and Guiberoua Béte, all languages of the Kru family in Western Africa, a different kind of systems of pronouns is used (click or tap here to read more):

In that system one kind of pronoun is used for humans (male and female alike) and one for natural elements, non-liquid masses, and some spiritual entities (one other is used for large animals and another one for miscellaneous items). While in these languages the pronoun for spiritual entities used to be employed when referring to God, this has changed into the use of the human pronoun.

Lynell Zogbo (in The Bible Translator 1989, p. 401ff) explains in the following way: “From informal discussions with young Christians especially, it would appear that, at least for some people, the experience and/or concepts of Christianity are affecting the choice of pronoun for God. Some people explain that God is no longer ‘far away,’ but is somehow tangible and personal. For these speakers God has shifted over into the human category.”

In Kouya, God (the Father) and Jesus are referred to with the human pronoun ɔ, whereas the Holy Spirit is referred to with a non-human pronoun. (Northern Grebo and Western Krahn make a similar distinction.)

Eddie Arthur, a former Kouya Bible translation consultant, says the following: “We tried to insist that this shouldn’t happen, but the Kouya team members were insistent that the human pronoun for the Spirit would not work.”

In Burmese, the pronoun ko taw (ကိုယ်တော်) is used either as 2nd person (you) or 3rd person (he, him, his) reference. “This term clearly has its root in the religious language in Burmese. No ordinary persons are addressed or known by this pronoun because it is reserved for Buddhist monks, famous religious teachers, and in the case of Christianity, the Trinity.” (Source: Gam Seng Shae in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 202ff.)

The English “Contemporary Torah” addresses the question of God and gendered pronouns by mostly avoiding pronouns in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (unless God is referred to as “lord,” “father,” “kind,” or “warrior”). It does that by either using passive constructs (“He gave us” vs “we were given”), by using the adjective “divine” or by using “God” rather than a pronoun.

Translation: Chinese





Translator: Simon Wong