The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “cloud” or “sky” in most English translations is translated in Mwera with only one term: liunde. (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)
Copyright by the Catholic University Peking, China
Text under painting translated from Literary Chinese into English:
Jesus Ascended to Heaven
The Lord returned to Heaven and was seated at the right hand of Father
Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 1:9:
- Uma: “After speaking like that, he was lifted-up-and-up going to the sky. They gazed-up gazing-up at him, until they could no longer see him, because he was obscured by clouds.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “After he had said this, he ascended to heaven while they were looking at him. Then he was covered/hidden by a cloud and they could not see him anymore.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when Jesus had spoken this he was lifted up going to heaven, and while they were still looking up because they were watching his being lifted up, a cloud blocked Jesus, and he was removed from their seeing. And while they were still looking up into heaven, nearby them there appeared to them two males whose clothing glowed.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “Upon Jesus’ saying that, he was-raised to heaven and they were-looking-up-at-him until he was hidden by a cloud.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “When he had said all that, as they looked, he was going up till they lost sight of him for he was veiled in cloud.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
The order of grammatical elements in the Greek must often be shifted to represent the order of events, as in the Good News Translation. That is to say, first, Jesus finishes speaking; second, he is taken up into heaven; third, the disciples watch; and, fourth, the cloud hides him.
The phrase after saying this may be rendered in many languages as “first he said” or “he finished speaking and then.” This makes the reference to the speaking relate to the previous statement.
The passive expression was taken up may require a subject, which should be God; that is, “God took him up to heaven.” However, it is important that one not get the impression that God grabbed him by the head and hauled him into heaven—as in the case of one translation. Therefore, in some languages it may be better to translate “God caused him to go to heaven.” (See also 1.2a.)
The verb watch so often occurs in a continuative form, thus focusing upon the duration of the process. A cloud hid him from their sight translates “a cloud took him up out of their sight.” In a number of languages the phrase “a cloud hid him” causes some difficulty, since a “cloud” is essentially an instrument, not an agent. Therefore, one may prefer to employ “he was hidden by a cloud” or “he was no longer visible because of a cloud.” If the verb hid suggests some intentionality on the part of the cloud, one may employ “because of the cloud he could not be seen” or “… they could not see him.”
Quoted with permission from Newman, Barclay M. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on The Acts of the Apostles. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1972. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .