2I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.
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 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 2:2:
Uma: “The reason I went to Yerusalem at that time is because there was a word from God that said to me that I had to go. When I arrived in Yerusalem, I told leaders of the Kristen people there what the contents of the Good News were that I take to the non-Yahudi people. I was anxious/nervous lest there be some who criticized my teaching, to the point that there would have been no more value to my having taught people the Good News, both the work I had already done, and what I was still doing. So I met just with the Kristen leaders in Yerusalem.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “I went because God caused me to know that I ought to go. When we (excl.) arrived there, we (excl.) and the leaders of the ones who trust Isa Almasi had a meeting, only us. I explained to them as to what the good news was that I preached/proclaimed to the people not Yahudi. The reason I explained to them is because perhaps they were not pleased and perhaps they would say that there was no (good) result of what I had done or what I was doing that time.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The reason I went there was because God had revealed to me that I should go. And when we arrived there, the leaders of the believers there gathered together, they alone. And I explained to them what the good news was that I was teaching to the people who aren’t Jews. It was my desire at that time that the value of what I had done, and what I was still doing, might not be removed.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “I went there because God showed me that’s what I should do. When we (excl.) arrived, I met-with only those who were considered leaders, and I explained/clarified to them the good news that I am preaching to the collective-people who are Gentiles. I did that in order that they would come-to-know that what I was teaching was correct lest my preaching previously and also now would be wasted.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “I went there because that’s what the Lord had put in my mind to do, so that I could relate to the believers there what the Good News was that I was teaching in the lands of the people who weren’t Jews that we (excl.) had travelled to. Therefore on our (excl.) arrival in Jerusalem, those who were recognized there as important overseers of the believers there gathered together first, and then I explained everything to them. Those overseers were the ones I explained to first so that I could be sure that they were in harmony with what I was teaching. For if they were not in agreement, maybe it would come out that there was no worth/use in that work of mine of teaching people who are not Jews.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Tenango Otomi: “I went because God indicated to me that he wanted me to go to Jerusalem. Those who lead in the word gathered in order for us to talk together. I told them about the good news I preached to the people who are not Jews. I wanted it to be known that it was the same message we all told the people. Because I wanted that my work that I had done and continued to do would not be ruined.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)