gospel

In choosing a word for the Greek that is typically translated as “gospel” in English, a number of languages construct a phrase meaning “good news,” “joyful report” or “happiness-bringing words.” In some instances such a phrase may be slightly expanded in order to convey the proper meaning, e.g. “new good word” (Tzotzil), or it may involve some special local usage:

Vitaly Voinov tells this story about the translation into Rutul (click or tap here to see the rest of this insight):

“In Rutul, it was only during the most recent consultant checking session that I realized that the Rutul word for Gospel – Incir (from Arabic إنجيل — Injil) — sounds and looks exactly like the word that means ‘fig’ in Rutul. This is a case of homonymy, in which two completely non-related words from differing historical sources have come to sound exactly alike. Most Rutul speakers know that incir means ‘fig’ because they grow this fruit in their yard or buy it at the market every week. However, because the religious sphere of discourse was heavily disparaged during the Soviet era, most people simply never encountered Incir with the meaning of ‘Gospel.’ This meaning of the word, which Rutuls of the pre-Soviet era knew from the Koran, simply fell into disuse and never had much reason for returning into contemporary Rutul since there is no Christian church established among the people. So if the translator continues to use the term Incir as the rendering for ‘Gospel,’ he runs the risk that most readers will, at best, read the word with a smile because they know that it also means ‘fig,’ and, at worst, will completely misunderstand the word. The seemingly ‘easy’ solution in this case is for the translator to use a Rutul neologism meaning ‘Joyful Message’ or ‘Good News,’ [see above] instead of Incir; but in fact it is not all that easy to make this change if the translator himself insists on using the historical word because at least some Rutuls still understand it as meaning ‘Gospel.’ This is a situation in which the translation team has to gradually grow into the understanding that a fully intelligible translation of Scripture is preferable to one that maintains old words at the cost of alienating much of the readership.”

For “good news,” see also Isaiah 52:7.

peace (being at peace)

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated into English as “peace” (or “at ease”) is (back-) translated with a variety of idioms and phrases:

complete verse (Ephesians 6:15)

Following are a number of back-translations of Ephesians 6:15:

  • Uma: “We must be ready to announce the Good News that makes mankind united/at-peace with God, consider it shoes that make-strong our standing.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You should always be ready/equipped to speak about the good news that God has reconciled mankind (to himself) because of what Almasi did. This is figurative your shoes.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Always be ready to tell the good news about the peace which God gives and this is your shoes.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “What moreover you use-for-shoes which grip-tightly on the path-on-which-you -are-walking, it is the good news concerning the peace which God gives.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The far-from-ordinary peace of mind/inner-being which is the outcome of your believing/obeying the Good News, that’s like your military shoes so that your feet will really be prepared, (they) won’t slip.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The soldier, when it is necessary for him to move out, is prepared when he puts on shoes. Do like this in that you earnestly go to tell the good news. Tell the people how they can be put at peace with God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)