circumcise, circumcision

The Hebrew and Greek terms that are translated as “circumcise” or “circumcision” in English are (back-) translated in various ways:

  • Chimborazo Highland Quichua: “to cut the flesh”
  • San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, Navajo: “to cut around’
  • Javanese: “to clip-away”
  • Uab Meto: “to pinch and cut” (usually shortened to “to cut”)
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun, Western Highland Purepecha: “to put the mark”
  • Tetelcingo Nahuatl: “to put the mark in the body showing that they belong to God” (or: “that they have a covenant with God”)
  • Indonesian: disunat — “undergo sunat” (sunat is derived from Arabic “sunnah (سنة)” — “(religious) way (of life)”)
  • Ekari: “to cut the end of the member for which one fears shame” (in Gen. 17:10) (but typically: “the cutting custom”) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Hiri Motu: “cut the skin” (source: Deibler / Taylor 1977, p. 1079)
  • Garifuna: “cut off part of that which covers where one urinates”
  • Bribri: “cut the soft” (source for this and the one above: Ronald Ross)
  • Amele: deweg cagu qoc — “cut the body” (source: John Roberts)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “cut the flesh of the sons like Moses taught” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)
  • Newari: “put the sign in one’s bodies” (Source: Newari Back Translation)

complete verse (Acts 15:5)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 15:5:

  • Uma: “But there were also several Parisi people who believed in the Lord Yesus. Those Parisi stood up, they said: ‘Those non-Yahudi people, it is not enough if they just believe in Yesus. They must also be circumcised, and ordered to follow the Laws of Musa.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But there were Pariseo trusting in Isa who stood there and spoke. They said, ‘Those trusters in Isa from other tribes should first be circumcised and should also follow/obey the law of Musa.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then some believers who were members of the Pharisee group said, ‘Those believers who are not Jews, they must be circumcized, and it is still necessary that we make them carry out the law that Moses left.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But there were brothers who belonged to the party/group of Pharisees, and they stood-up saying, ‘It is necessary that we instruct the Gentiles to get-circumcised and also obey the other laws of Moses.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But, when some heard who belonged to the Pariseo, who had now believed in the Lord, they said, ‘Even though those people who aren’t Jews have now believed, it’s necessary that they are indeed circumcized and told to obey the laws of Moises.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

law

The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”). (Source: Nida 1947, p. 198)

Moses

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.