Cephas

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 (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.)

See also Peter – rock.

fellowship

The Greek that is translated in English as “fellowship” or “communion” is translated in Huba as daɓǝkǝr: “joining heads.” (Source: David Frank in this blog post)

Other translations include: “they were very happy since they were with their brothers” (Lalana Chinantec), “always well they talk together” (Chichimeca-Jonaz), “were at peace with each other” (Chuj), “they accompanied the other believers” (San Mateo del Mar Huave, “they were united together” (Ayutla Mixtec), “their hearts were happy because they all thought alike” (Eastern Highland Otomi). (Source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

gentiles

The Greek that is often translated as “gentiles” in English is often translated as a “local equivalent of ‘foreigners,'” such “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 “(people) in every land” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), Chichimeca-Jonaz as “foreign people who are not Jews,” and 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.).

See also nations.

grace

(To view the different translations of this term in a simplified graphical form on a new page, click or tap here.)

“The Greek word charis, usually translated by English ‘grace,’ is one of the desperations of translators. The area of meaning is exceptionally extensive. Note the following possible meanings for this word in various contexts of the New Testament: ‘sweetness,’ ‘charm,’ ‘loveliness,’ ‘good-will,’ ‘loving-kindness,’ ‘favor,’ ‘merciful kindness,’ ‘benefit,’ ‘gift,’ ‘benefaction,’ ‘bounty,’ and ‘thanks.’ The theological definition of ‘unmerited favor’ (some translators have attempted to employ this throughout) is applicable to only certain contexts. Moreover, it is quite a task to find some native expression which will represent the meaning of ‘unmerited favor.’ In some languages it is impossible to differentiate between ‘grace’ and ‘kindness.’ In fact, the translation ‘kindness’ is in some cases quite applicable. In other languages, a translation of ‘grace’ is inseparable from ‘goodness.’ In San Miguel El Grande Mixtec a very remarkable word has been used for ‘grace.’ It is made up of three elements. The first of these is a prefixial abstractor. The second is the stem for ‘beauty.’ The third is a suffix which indicates that the preceding elements are psychologically significant. The resultant word may be approximately defined as ‘the abstract quality of beauty of personality.’” (Source: Nida 1947, p. 223)

Other translations include:

  • Inuktitut: “God’s kindness that enables us” (source: Andrew Atagotaaluk)
  • Kwara’ae: kwae ofe’ana (“kindness to one who deserves the opposite”) (source: Norman Deck in The Bible Translator 1963, 34 ff.)
  • Nyanja: “being favored in the heart by God.” (Source: Ernst Wendland)
  • Caribbean Javanese: kabetyikané (“goodness”)
  • Saramaccan: bunhati (“good heart”)
  • Sranan Tongo: bun ati (“good heart”) or gadobun (“God’s goodness”)
  • Eastern Maroon Creole: (gaan) bun ati (“(big) good heart”) (source for this and 3 above: Jabini 2015)
  • Fasu: “free big help”
  • Wahgi: “save without reward” (source for this and the one above: Deibler / Taylor 1977)
  • Nukna: “God gave his insides to one.” (“The ‘insides’ are the seat of emotion in Nukna, like the heart in the English language. To give your insides to someone is to feel love toward them, to want what is best for them, and to do good things for them.” (Source: Matt Taylor in The PNG Experience)
  • Hindi, Bengali: anugraha (Hindi: अनुग्रह, Bengali: অনুগ্রহ) from graha: “grasp, a reaching out after, with gracious intent” (source: R.M. Clark in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 81ff.)

In Latvian the term žēlastība is used both for “grace” and “mercy.” (Source: Katie Roth)

For Muna, René van den Berg explains the process how the translation team arrived at a satisfactory solution: “Initial translation drafts in Muna tended to (…) use the single word kadawu ‘part, (given) share, gift,’ but this word is really too generic. It lacks the meaning component of mercy and kindness and also seems to imply that the gift is part of a larger whole. Consequently we now follow [translate] according to context. In wishes and prayers such as ‘Grace to you and peace from God’ we translate ‘grace’ as kabarakati ‘blessing’ (e.g. Gal 1:3). In many places we use kataano lalo ‘goodness of heart’ (e.g. Gal 1:15 ‘because of the goodness of his heart God chose me’) as well as the loan rahamati ‘mercy’ (e.g. ‘you have-turned-your-backs-on the mercy of God’ for ‘you have fallen away from grace’; Gal 5:4). In one case where the unmerited nature of ‘grace’ is in focus, we have also employed katohai ‘a free gift’ (typically food offered to one’s neighbours) in the same verse. ‘The reason-you-have-been-saved is because of the goodness of God’s heart (Greek charis, Muna kataano lalo), going-through your belief in Kristus. That salvation is not the result of your own work, but really a free-gift (Greek dooron ‘gift’; Muna katohai) of God.’ (Eph 2:8).

See also grace to you.

Translation: Inuktitut

ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ ᒍᕇᑭᒃᑯᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅᑕᖓᑦ ᑐᑭᓕᐅᔾᔭᐅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᐃᒫᒃ “ᓴᐃᒪᓂᖅ” ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑐᓪᓕ ᑐᑭᓕᐅᔾᔭᐅᓯᒪᒻᒪᑦ ᐃᒫᒃ “ᒎᑎᐅᑉ ᑐᙵᓇᕐᓂᖓᓂ ᐅᕙᑦᑎᓐᓂᒃ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᑎᑦᑎᕙᑦᑐᖅ.”

(Translator: Julia Demcheson)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Gal. 2:9)

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”).

For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding the readers of the letter).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

circumcise, circumcision

(To view the different translations of this term in a simplified graphical form on a new page, click or tap here.)

The Hebrew and Greek terms that are translated as “circumcise” or “circumcision” in English (originally meaning of English term: “to cut around”) are (back-) translated in various ways:

  • Chimborazo Highland Quichua: “to cut the flesh”
  • San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, Navajo: “to cut around”
  • Javanese: “to clip-away”
  • Uab Meto: “to pinch and cut” (usually shortened to “to cut”)
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun, Western Highland Purepecha: “to put the mark”
  • Tetelcingo Nahuatl: “to put the mark in the body showing that they belong to God” (or: “that they have a covenant with God”)
  • Indonesian: disunat — “undergo sunat” (sunat is derived from Arabic “sunnah (سنة)” — “(religious) way (of life)”)
  • Ekari: “to cut the end of the member for which one fears shame” (in Gen. 17:10) (but typically: “the cutting custom”) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Hiri Motu: “cut the skin” (source: Deibler / Taylor 1977, p. 1079)
  • Garifuna: “cut off part of that which covers where one urinates”
  • Bribri: “cut the soft” (source for this and the one above: Ronald Ross)
  • Amele: deweg cagu qoc — “cut the body” (source: John Roberts)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “cut the flesh of the sons like Moses taught” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)
  • Newari: “put the sign in one’s bodies” (Source: Newari Back Translation)

complete verse (Galatians 2:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Galatians 2:9:

  • Uma: “So, those [people] Yakobus, Petrus and Yohanes, who apparently were leaders of all the Kristen people in Yerusalem, they said: "It is indeed true, Paulus has indeed been called by the Lord Yesus to become his apostle." That is why we (excl.) shook hands, Barnabas and I with them Yakobus, Petrus and Yohanes. This shaking of hands was a sign that we (excl.) were united/agreed. Our(excl.) words were the same: that they preach to the Yahudi people, and we (excl.) preach to those who are not Yahudi people.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So then Yakub and Petros and Yahiya, they are the ones regarded as the leaders there, after/when they understood that I was commissioned by God, Barnabas and I were greeted (sinalam – take the hand then touch one’s own forehead and chest) by them, a sign that we (excl.) all had one work. We (excl.) planned/agreed that Barnabas and I proclaim to the not Yahudi tribes but/and they also/on-the-other-hand proclaim to the Yahudi.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And as for James, Peter and John, those bosses there, when they understood that God had entrusted to me this work of mine, they shook our hands along with Barnabas as a sign that we (excl.) were all fellow companions in carrying out what God wants done. We (excl.) agreed that we (excl.) would be the ones to tell the news to the people who aren’t Jews and they would be the ones to tell the news to the Jews.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “but rather they agreed it was correct. Because they came-to-know that because of God’s grace/mercy, he had entrusted to me my apostleship to preach the good news to the Gentiles just like his entrusting to Pedro his apostleship to preach to the Jews. Their means-of-knowing that, it was that they saw that God had been blessing my preaching to the Gentiles just like his blessing Pedro’s work to/with the Jews. Therefore those-aforementioned who were considered to have authority who were Santiago and Pedro and Juan, they shook-hands-with Barnabas and me to show that we (excl.) exactly understood-one-another. What we (excl.) agreed-on was that Barnabas and I would continue to preach to the Gentiles while they also would continue to preach to the Jews.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore, those recognized as the highest-leaders of the overseers of the believers in Jerusalem, who are Santiago, Pedro, and Juan, when they observed that by the strength of the Lord’s grace/mercy to me, my teaching among the people who were not Jews had produced good results, they accepted Bernabe and me and it was acceptable to them that we were now included with them as workers in the work of the Lord. Well we (excl.) all-agreed-together that we (excl.) would continue on with our (excl.) teaching to the people who are not Jews. Those fellow Jews of ours(excl.), they would be their (responsibility).” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Therefore these three people, James, Peter and John, who lead in Jerusalem, knew then that God wanted that the good fortune should come to me that I do this work. Then we shook hands, a sign that we were in accord concerning the work we would do. It was decided then that I would go with Barnabas to speak the good news where the people who are not Jews live. They with whom I spoke would speak the good news to the Jews.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)