The Hebrew and Greek that is typically translated as “sin” in English has a wide variety of translations.

The Greek ἁμαρτάνω (hamartanō) carries the original verbatim meaning of “miss the mark.” Likewise, many translations contain the “connotation of moral responsibility.” Loma has (for certain types of sin) “leaving the road” (which “implies a definite standard, the transgression of which is sin”) or Navajo uses “that which is off to the side.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida). In Toraja-Sa’dan the translation is kasalan, which originally meant “transgression of a religious or moral rule” and has shifted its meaning in the context of the Bible to “transgression of God’s commandments.” (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff.).

In Shipibo-Conibo the term is hocha. Nida (1952, p. 149) tells the story of its choosing:

“In some instances a native expression for sin includes many connotations, and its full meaning must be completely understood before one ever attempts to use it. This was true, for example, of the term hocha first proposed by Shipibo-Conibo natives as an equivalent for ‘sin.’ The term seemed quite all right until one day the translator heard a girl say after having broken a little pottery jar that she was guilty of ‘hocha.’ Breaking such a little jar scarcely seemed to be sin. However, the Shipibos insisted that hocha was really sin, and they explained more fully the meaning of the word. It could be used of breaking a jar, but only if the jar belonged to someone else. Hocha was nothing more nor less than destroying the possessions of another, but the meaning did not stop with purely material possessions. In their belief God owns the world and all that is in it. Anyone who destroys the work and plan of God is guilty of hocha. Hence the murderer is of all men most guilty of hocha, for he has destroyed God’s most important possession in the world, namely, man. Any destructive and malevolent spirit is hocha, for it is antagonistic and harmful to God’s creation. Rather than being a feeble word for some accidental event, this word for sin turned out to be exceedingly rich in meaning and laid a foundation for the full presentation of the redemptive act of God.”

In Kaingang, the translation is “break God’s word” and in Sandawe the original meaning of the Greek term (see above) is perfectly reflected with “miss the mark.” (Source: Ursula Wiesemann in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 36ff., 43)

See also sinner.

complete verse (Hebrews 10:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 10:8:

  • Uma: “First Kristus says like this: God does not request worship-gifts and offerings and he does not like worship-gifts that are burned or livestock that is slaughtered to pay-for sin–yet all those worship-gifts are offered following the Law of the Lord that was written by Musa.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “This is what he first said, he said, ‘You do not want and you are not pleased with sacrifices and gifts of the people or with whole animals burnt and sacrifices to take away sin.’ He said this even though those things/doings were commanded in the law.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “He first said that God does not want the offerings and sacrifices which were burned, and the blood of animals which are meant to take away sin. And He said this even though this is commanded in the Law.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Let’s think-about the meaning of what Cristo said that I have-just-written. The first-thing he said is, God doesn’t desire the various-kinds of offerings that have been offered to him. That’s not what makes-him-happy. He said that, even though all these offerings, they are according to what the law commanded.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well, there is a point to these words of his. Firstly, he said that God is not pleased with what they are giving and the animals that (they) are burning, which are-a-means-of-asking for forgiveness for sin, even though that is what is contained in the laws.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The first things Christ said to God was that he said he knows that God does not look well upon the animals which people kill to make sacrifices for clearing people’s sins. Neither the animals people kill to burn the flesh upon the altar does God look well upon. Even though it is written in the law concerning all this that the people do, yet God doesn’t look well upon it.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”) (source: Nida 1947, p. 198) and in Central Tarahumara it is “writing-command.” (wsource: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)