circumcise, circumcision

The Hebrew and Greek terms that are translated as “circumcise” or “circumcision” in English (originally meaning of English term: “to cut around”) are (back-) translated in various ways:

  • Chimborazo Highland Quichua: “cut the flesh”
  • San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, Navajo: “cut around”
  • Javanese: “clip-away”
  • Uab Meto: “pinch and cut” (usually shortened to “cut”)
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun, Western Highland Purepecha: “put the mark”
  • Tetelcingo Nahuatl: “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: “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 body” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Central Mazahua: “sign in his flesh”
  • Hopi: “being cut in a circle in his body” (source for this and above: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Kutu: “enter the cloth (=undergarments)” (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

complete verse (Acts 16:3)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 16:3:

  • Uma: “It was Paulus’s desire that Timotius go with him on his journey to carry the Good News. That is why he circumcised him first according to the Law of Musa. His intention in circumcising him was so that the Yahudi would receive him, because all the Yahudi people in that land knew that his father was Yunani.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Paul wanted to take Timoteo along as his travelling companion. But all the Yahudi in those places knew that Timoteo’s father was a Girik therefore Paul first circumcised Timoteo so that he would be respected by the Yahudi.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Paul wanted to take Timothy along with them, so he circumcized him. The reason he circumcized Timothy was so that the Jews there in the villages where they travelled would not be disgusted with Timothy, because all the Jews there, they knew that Timothy’s father was a Greek.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “and Pablo wanted to take-him -along. But because all the people there knew that his father was a Gentile, Pablo had-him -circumcised first so that the feelings (lit. thoughts) of their fellow Jews in the various-towns where-they -would-go would not be injured.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Pablo wanted to cause him to go along on that journey of theirs, therefore he asked him. But before they set out, he circumcized him so that the minds/thinking of the Jews there wouldn’t be agitated. For everyone knew that Timoteo’s father was a Griego, and as for the Griego, circumcizing wasn’t their custom.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Apinayé: “Paul arrived and saw him, and wanted to take him along with them. But Timothy was a mixed breed. His mother was an Israel but his father was a non-Israel. Thus Timothy was a mixed breed. Because the Israel ones knew it, Paul circumcised Timothy.” (Source: Callow 1972, p. 47f.)