14But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the gentiles to live like Jews?”
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:
the Germandas Buch translation by Roland Werner (publ. 2009-2022) translates as “all-transformative good news” (alles verändernde gute Botschaft), also “good news”
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.”
The Greek that is transliterated “Cephas” in English — and is an alternative name for Peter — is transliterated in Chinese Protestant translations as jīfǎ (traditional Chinese: 磯法, simplified Chinese: 矶法). The first character jī (磯 / 矶) is not only chosen because of its sound but also because of its meaning: “rock,” corresponding to the meaning of the Aramaic kēp̄ā (כֵּיפָא), to which the Greek Kēphâs (Κηφᾶς) refers and also alluding to Jesus’ proclamation in Matthew 16:18 (see Peter – rock).
Note that Catholic Chinese versions don’t follow the English pronunciation of “Cephas” with its opening [s] sound. They use kēfǎ (刻法) transliterating the [k] sound from the Aramaic and Greek. Kēfǎ does not carry the additional meaning of “rock.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)
In the Neo-Aramaic language of Assyrian the terms used for both “Peter” (English transliteration of the Greek “πετρος”) and “Cephas” are identical (كِيپَا, pronounced kēpā). (Source: Ken Bunge)
The passage in John 1:42 (“You are to be called Cephas (which is translated Peter)” in English) is solved by various translations like this: “‘I am going to name you Cephas.’ Cephas means ‘Peter.’ Both mean ‘rock.'” (Ojitlán Chinantec), “I am naming you Cephas. ‘Cephas’ in the Jews’ language, ‘Peter’ in the Greek language, the meaning being ‘stone’.” (Alekano), “You will become known as Cephas,’ he said, which in our language means ‘rock.'” (Chol), or “You will be called Cephas and also Peter.” Tenango Otomi. (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
The Greek, Latin and Hebrew that is usually translated in English as “truth” is translated in Luchazi with vusunga: “the quality of being straight” (source: E. Pearson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 160ff. ), in Obolo as atikọ or “good/correct talk” (source: Enene Enene), and in Ekari as maakodo bokouto or “enormous truth” (esp. in John 14:6 and 17; bokouto — “enormous” — is being used as an attribute for abstract nouns to denote that they are of God [see also here]; source: Marion Doble in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 37ff. ).
The translation committee of the Malay “Good News Bible” (Alkitab Berita Baik, see here ) wrestled with the translation of “truth” in the Gospel of John (for more information click or tap here):
“Our Malay Committee also concluded that ‘truth’ as used in the Gospel of John was used either of God himself, or of God’s revelation of himself, or in an extended sense as a reference to those who had responded to God’s self-disclosure. In John 8:32 the New Malay translation reads ‘You will know the truth about God, and the truth about God will make you free.’ In John 8:44 this meaning is brought out by translating, ‘He has never been on the side of God, because there is no truth in him.’ Accordingly Jesus ‘tells the truth about God’ in 8:45, 46 (see also 16:7 and 8:37a). Then, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ becomes ‘I am the one who leads men to God, the one who reveals who and what God is, and the one who gives men life.” At 3:21 the translation reads ” … whoever obeys the truth, that is God himself, comes to the light …’; 16:13a appears as ‘he will lead you into the full truth about God’; and in 18:37 Jesus affirms ‘I came into the world to reveal the truth about God, and whoever obeys God listens to me.’ On this basis also 1:14 was translated ‘we saw his glory, the glory which he had as the Father’s only Son. Through him God has completely revealed himself (truth) and his love for us (grace)’; and 1:17 appears as ‘God gave the law through Moses; but through Jesus Christ he has completely revealed himself (truth) and his love for us (grace).'” (Source: Barclay Newman in The Bible Translator 1974, p. 432ff. )
Helen Evans (in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 40ff. ) tells of the translation into Kui which usually is “true-thing.” In some instances however, such as in the second part of John 17:17 (“your word is truth” in English), the use of “true-thing” indicated that there might be other occasions when it’s not true, so here the translation was a a form of “pure, holy.”
The Greek that is often translated as “gentiles” (or “nations”) in English is often translated as a “local equivalent of ‘foreigners,'” such as “the people of other lands” (Guerrero Amuzgo), “people of other towns” (Tzeltal), “people of other languages” (San Miguel El Grande Mixtec), “strange peoples” (Navajo) (this and above, see Bratcher / Nida), “outsiders” (Ekari), “people of foreign lands” (Kannada), “non-Jews” (North Alaskan Inupiatun), “people being-in-darkness” (a figurative expression for people lacking cultural or religious insight) (Toraja-Sa’dan) (source for this and three above Reiling / Swellengrebel), “from different places all people” (Martu Wangka) (source: Carl Gross).
Tzeltal translates it as “people in all different towns,” Chicahuaxtla Triqui as “the people who live all over the world,” Highland Totonac as “all the outsider people,” Sayula Popoluca as “(people) in every land” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), Chichimeca-Jonaz as “foreign people who are not Jews,” Sierra de Juárez Zapotec as “people of other nations” (source of this and one above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.), Highland Totonac as “outsider people” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), Uma as “people who are not the descendants of Israel” (source: Uma Back Translation), and Yakan as “the other tribes” (source: Yakan Back Translation).
Following are a number of back-translations of Galatians 2:14:
Uma: “I saw their actions that were not in keeping with the true teaching that we find in the Good News. So I reprimanded Petrus in front of the crowd gathered there, I said to him: "You (sing.) are a Yahudi person, but usually you (sing.) follow the customs of those who are not Yahudi, you (sing.) no longer need to follow the Yahudi customs. So, why do you (sing.) want to force the followers of the Lord Yesus who are not Yahudi people to follow Yahudi customs!"” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “When I saw that their doing was against the true teaching which the good news about Isa Almasi teaches, I said to Petros in front of them all, ‘You are – surprise – a Yahudi but you do not follow our (incl.) Yahudi custom. What you follow is the custom of the people not Yahudi. Na, why do you still force/persuade the people who are not Yahudi to follow the Yahudi custom.’ That’s what I spoke to Petros.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when I understood that what they were doing was against the truth which the Gospel teaches, I said to Peter in front of all of them, I said, ‘As for you, Peter, those believers who are not our fellow Jews, why do you force them to observe our Jewish Law? For even though you are a Jew, you have already abandoned observing it,’ I said.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “When I came-to-know that they were doing what was contradictory to the true teaching in the good news, I said to Pedro in front of them all, ‘Even though you (sing.) are a Jew, you (sing.) have ignored some of the customs of the Jews as if you (sing.) are a Gentile. If you (sing.) who are a Jew have done that, why do you (sing.) force Gentiles to follow the customs of us Jews?'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “Well when I observed that they were not living according to the true Good News, I said to Pedro in the presence of them all, ‘As for you, even though you are a genuine Jews, you have now given up following the laws of the religion of us Jews. Therefore why are you causing people who are not Jews to obey them still?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Tenango Otomi: “When I saw that Peter did not truly do like the good news said to do, in the presence of the believers I rebuked him. I said: ‘Listen, Peter, you are a Jew but even you have left some of the words spoken in the law which the Jews follow. Now you do like the believers who are not Jews. How come you now want that the believers who are not Jews to think that it is necessary that we all should do all that is said in the law which the Jews follow?'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)