The Greek that is translated as “scribe” in English “were more than mere writers of the law. They were the trained interpreters of the law and expounders of tradition.”

Here are a number of its (back-) translations:

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Acts 23:9)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

According to Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan (in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.) translators select the exclusive form (including some Pharisaic scribes and excluding the rest of the Council).

The Tok Pisin translations, however, follows the recommendation of SIL International Translation Department (1999) and uses the inclusive pronoun for this (“referring to the speakers and their fellow Judeans in exile”).


The Greek that is translated as “angel” in English versions is translated as ngaṉka ngurrara (“one who belongs in the sky”) in Pintupi-Luritja. (Source: Ken Hansen quoted in Steven 1984a, p. 116.)

In Shipibo-Conibo it is translated as “word-carriers from heaven,” in Tetela, Kpelle, Balinese, and Chinese as “heavenly messengers,” in Shilluk “spirit messengers,” in Mashco Piro as “messengers of God,” in Batak Toba as “envoys, messengers,” in Navajo as “holy servants,” (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida 1961), in Central Mazahua “one of God’s workers” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), in Tonga (Zambia) as “messenger from heaven” (source: Loewen 1980, p. 107), in Saramaccan as basia u Masa Gaangadu köndë or “messenger from God’s country” (source: Jabini 2015, p. 86), in Mairasi as atatnyev nyaa or “sent-one” (source: Enggavoter 2004), in Shipibo-Conibo as “word bringer” (source: James Lauriault in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 32ff.), and in Apali as “God’s one with talk from the head” (“basically God’s messenger since head refers to any leader’s talk”) (source: Martha Wade).

See also angel (Acts 12:15).

complete verse (Acts 23:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 23:9:

  • Uma: “Finally, their argument became festive/noisy. Several teachers of religion who were on the side of the Parisi people stood up and argued/answered, they said: ‘This person is not guilty / has no wrong. Perhaps there really was an angel or a ghost who spoke to him.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then their shouting became strong and some teachers of the religious law from among the Pariseo stood and really argued. They said, ‘We (excl.) have not found any evil in this man. Perhaps there really was a spirit/soul or an angel that spoke to him.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Therefore their shouting at each other got louder and louder, and then the Pharisees who were teachers of the law stood up and said, ‘There is nothing bad that we know of that this man has done. Perhaps it’s true that there was a spirit or a messenger of God that has spoken to him!'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Therefore they excessively made-a-racket. Some of the Pharisees who were teachers of the law, they stood-up to insist-on their opinions (lit. thoughts), and they said saying, ‘We (excl.) know of absolutely no sin/crime of this-one. If an angel or other unseen-one has spoken-to him (appreciation/empathy particle), is it indeed-the-case that (RQ implying of course not) that is bad?'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When it was now like that, their words became really loud for they were fighting/quarreling now. The explainers of law who were members of the Pariseo stood up. They said, ‘There is indeed nothing we can find to hold against this person. If supposing he truly was spoken to by an angel or someone else from heaven, of course it’s not a sin.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)