2looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Greek that is translated as “(Jesus) the pioneer (and perfecter) of our faith” in English is translated as “Jesus first has opened a path for us to believe God” in Citak. (Source: Graham Ogden)
In Masai, “pioneer” is translated as “one who treads on the thorns ahead.” Nida (1972, p. xiv) explains: “Such a person goes down the pathway ahead of others and becomes the ‘thorn-treader.’ What more fitting description of the role of Jesus, who promised always to go ahead of his disciples?”
The Greek and Hebrew that is typically translated as “(to the) right hand of” is often translated much more descriptively in other languages. In Yakan it is translated as “at the right side, here in the greatest/most important/most honored place/seat,” in Mezquital Otomi as “the right hand, at the place of honor,” in Chuj as “exalted at the right hand,” in Chichimeca-Jonaz as “in a high place there at the right,” in Lalana Chinantec as “make great,” in Isthmus Mixe as “given great authority,” in Morelos Nahuatl as “placed big” or “heart-strengthens me,” in Isthmus Mixe as “stays with me,” (source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August, 1966, p. 86ff), and in Teutila Cuicatec as “in all authority at the right side” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).
In Lamnso’, the seat on the right-hand side signifies that the person seated there would have a higher position than the one to his left (vs. just being a seat of honor). To circumvent any misunderstanding of the biblical text, the translation here refers to the “highest seat next to God.” (Source: Karl Grebe in Holzhausen 1991, p. 52)
The Greek that is translated into English versions as “throne” is translated into Naro as ntcõó-q’oo: “he will rule.” The figure of the “throne” cannot be translated in the egalitarian Naro culture, so the idea had to be expressed more explicitly. (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)
In other languages it is translated as “stool/seat of the king” (Marathi), “seat of commanding/chieftainship” (Highland Totonac, Kituba), “seat of the Supreme one (lit. of-him-who-has-the umbrella)” (Toraja-Sa’dan — the umbrella being a well-known symbol of power in various parts of South and South-East Asia), “glorious place to sit” (Ekari) (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “where God sits and rules” (Estado de México Otomi), “where God reigns” (Central Mazahua) (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), or “bed of kingship” (Kafa) (source: Loren Bliese).
The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that is typically translated in English as “joy” or “happiness” is translated in the HausaCommon Language Ajami Bible idiomatically as farin ciki or “white stomach.” In some cases, such as in Genesis 29:11, it is also added for emphatic purposes.
Other languages that use the same expression include Southern Birifor (pʋpɛl), Dera (popolok awo), Reshe (ɾipo ɾipuhã). (Source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)
The Greek that is translated as “cross” in English is often referred to a description of the shape. In Chinese, for instance, it is translated as 十字架 shízìjià — “10-character-frame” because the character for “10” has the shape of a cross) or in Ancient Greek manuscripts with the staurogram (⳨) a ligature of the Greek letters tau (Τ) and rho (Ρ) that was used to abbreviate stauros (σταυρός), the Greek word for cross, and may visually have represented Jesus on the cross.
Elsewhere it refers to the function, e.g. a newly coined term, like one made up of two Sanskrit words meaning “killing-pole” (Marathi NT revision of 1964), “wood to-stretch-out-with” (Toraja-Sa’dan), or “nailing pole” (Zarma). A combination of the two seems to be used in Balinese, which employs a word for the crossbeams in a house, derived from a verb that can refer both to a beam that stretches from side to side under a roof, and to a person stretched out for torture (source for this and above: Reling / Swellengrebel). Similarly, in Lamba it is translated “with umutaliko — ‘a pole with a cross-piece, on which maize was normally tied’ from the verb ‘talika’ which, strangely enough, is used of ‘holding down a man with arms and legs stretched out, someone gripping each limb.'” (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff.)
“In Mongolian, the term that is used is togonoltchi mott, which is found in the top of a tent. The people on the steppes live in round felt-yurts and the round opening on the top of the tent serves as a window. The crosswood in that opening is called togonoltchi mott. ‘Crucified’ is translated ‘nailed on the crosswood.’ This term is very simple, but deep and interesting too. Light comes to men through the Cross. What a privilege to be able to proclaim such a message.” (Source: A. W. Marthinson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 74ff. )
In Mairasi it is translated as iwo nasin ae: “chest measurement wood.” “This term refers to the process of making a coffin when a person dies. The man making the coffin takes a piece of bamboo and measures the body from head to heel. He then breaks the stick off at the appropriate point. For the width he measures the shoulders and then ties the two sticks together in the shape of a cross. As he works, he continually measures to make sure the coffin is the correct size. At the gravesite, the coffin is lowered. Then the gravecloth, palm leaves, and finally the chest measurement stick are laid on top of the coffin before the dirt is piled on. This term is full of meaning, because it is in the shape of a cross, and each person will have one. The meaning is vividly associated with death.” (Source: Enggavoter, 2004)
In Lisu it is translated as ꓡꓯꓼ ꓐꓳ ꓔꓶꓸ DU — lä bo tɯ du: “a place to stretch the arms across” (source: Arrington 2020, p. 215), in Nyongar as boorn-yambo: “crossed tree” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and in Tibetan as rgyangs shing (རྒྱངས་ཤིང་།), lit. “stretch + wood” (“translators have adopted the name of this traditional Tibetan instrument of torture to denote the object on which Jesus died”) (source: gSungrab website )
The English translation of Ruden (2021) uses “stake.” She explains (p. xlv): “The cross was the perpendicular joining of two execution stakes, and the English word euphemistically emphasized the geometry: a cross could also be an abstract cross drawn on paper. The Greeks used their word for ‘stake,’ and this carries the imagery of what was done with it, as our ‘stake’ carries images of burning and impaling. ‘Hang on the stakes’ for ‘crucify’ is my habitual usage.”
The Greek, Latin and Hebrew that is translated with “joy” or “gladness” in English is translated with various associations of “sweetness” or taste: Bambara has “the spirit is made sweet,” Kpelle translates as “sweet heart,” and Tzeltal as “the good taste of one’s heart,” Uduk uses the phrase “good to the stomach,” Baoulé “a song in the stomach,” Mískito “the liver is wide open” (“happily letting the pleasures flooding in upon it”) (source: Nida 1952), Mairasi says “good liver” (source: Enggavoter 2004), Nyongar has koort-kwabba-djil or “heart very good” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and Chicahuaxtla Triqui “refreshed heart” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.).
Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 12:2:
Uma: “Our eyes aim-at Yesus, our Leader who slashed/blazed our way and who brought-to-completion our faith. He endured suffering to the point that he died on the cross. Death on a cross was something very shameful. But even so, it didn’t matter-to-him, he chose to die crucified, for he kept in-his-mind’s-eye [lit., kept in-eye-eye, cf. 11:26] the gladness that he would get afterwards. Now he has sat down at the right side of the Seat of God in heaven.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “We (dual) should cause our (dual) trust to remain/be-steadfast in Isa because he is the source of our (incl.) trust and he is its goal. He endured being nailed to the post and he was not ashamed to die on that post, because he knew that God would reward him with something causing joy. Na, now he is there sitting at the right hand side of God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Let us hold tight to our faith in Jesus because He is the one who is the origin of our faith, and by means also of Him, our faith will be drawn tight. He endured being nailed to the cross and He was not shamed by His being killed, but rather He thought how happy would be His situation after He had finished that suffering. And now He sat down on the very high in rank seat which is on the right side of God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “with our minds concentrated on Jesus, because he is the one who leads us and who makes-sufficient our faith. Because of the joy that he was anticipating, he endured his suffering on the cross, never-minding his being-shamed, and now/today he is seated at the right-side of the one who is ruling who is God.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “(What’s) necessary is, we will keep our eyes fixed (fig.) on Jesus, who is the one who showed us all what complete and unequalled trust and believing/obeying God is like. He just regarded-as-nothing the big-size of the shame of his death on the cross because what he was always causing-to-dominate his mind/inner-being was, the far-from-ordinary happiness that would be his in heaven. And-so now, he is now sitting on the right side of God’s seat of kingship.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Tenango Otomi: “Always let our hearts dwell upon Jesus Christ. Because it is he who caused that we believed that it is true what God says. And it is he who will cause that we believe well forever. This Jesus Christ, even though it is shameful for someone to die on the cross, yet he was not ashamed. He endured all the suffering he went through on the cross. For he knew that when the suffering would be past, then greater would he have joy, being there at the right of God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)
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 inclusive form (including the writer and the readers of this letter).
Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.