sanctification, sanctify

The Greek that is translated in English as “sanctify” or “sanctification” is translated in Balanta-Kentohe “separated to God.” (Source: Rob Koops)

Other translations include:

  • San Blas Kuna: “giving a man a good heart”
  • Panao Huánuco Quechua: “God perfects us”
  • Laka: “God calls us outside to Himself” (“This phrase is derived from the practice of a medicine man, who during the initiation rites of apprentices calls upon the young man who is to follow him eventually and to receive all of his secrets and power. From the day that this young man is called out during the height of the ecstatic ceremony, he is identified with his teacher as the heir to his position, authority, and knowledge.”) (Source for this and above: Nida 1952, p. 147)
  • Mezquital Otomi: “live a pure life”
  • Hopi: “unspotted”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “clean-hearted”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “be servants of God”
  • Central Tarahumara: “only live doing good as God desires” (source for this and four above: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Mairasi: “one’s life/behavior will be very straight” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Enlhet: “new / clean innermost” (“Innermost” or valhoc is a term that is frequently used in Enlhet to describe a large variety of emotions or states of mind (for other examples see here).) (Source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff. )
  • Tibetan: dam par ‘gyur (དམ་​པར་​འགྱུར།), lit. “holy + become” (used for instance in 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Cor. 6:11, 1 Cor. 7:14, or 1 Thess. 4:3) or gtsang bar byed (གཙང་​བར་​བྱེད།), lit. “make clean” (used for instance in Heb. 9:13) (source: gSungrab website )
The choices for translation of “sanctification” in the Indonesian Common Language Bible (Alkitab dalam Bahasa Indonesia Masa Kini, publ. 1985) differed according to context. (Click or tap here to see details)

“In Romans, hagiasmos [“sanctification”] occurs twice in chapter 6, in verses 19 and 22. It is used in relation to believers who are called to be saints (1:7), who are under grace (6:15), who have been set free from sin to become slaves of righteousness (6:18). Therefore here hagiasmos not only refers to God’s act of consecration, but also to the believer’s moral activity arising out of this state. It is this aspect that the translators have stressed in verse 19: ‘… so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification’ has been translated untuk maksud-maksud Allah yang khusus: ‘for God’s specific purposes.’ So also in verse 22 ‘… the return you get is sanctification’ has been translated hidup khusus untuk Allah: ‘living for God alone.’

“!In 1 Corinthians 1:30: ‘… in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption,’ hagiasmos is put in a parallel position to wisdom, righteousness and redemption, and is rooted in Christ. In view of the parallel concepts, it is clear a result is indicated here. The believers are holy because they are ‘in Christ’ who is intrinsically holy. Hagiasmos here has been rendered as: umatnya yang khusus: ‘his own people.’

“In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, hagiasmos involves abstaining from unchastity (verse 3) and is contrasted with uncleanness (verse 7), while in verse 4 it is used as a parallel with ‘honor’ to modify the verb. Hagiasmos is here rooted in the will of God, and calls for moral conduct. The translators translate hagiasmos in verse 3 as hidup khusus untuk dia: ‘live for him alone,’ and in verses 4 and 5 menyenangkan hati Allah: ‘pleasing God’s heart.’

“The expression in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ‘sanctification by the spirit’ (en hagiasmo pneumatos), is generally understood as sanctification or consecration effected by the Holy Spirit. This consecration was effected at the moment of conversion. The translation here is umat Allah yang suci: ‘God’s holy people.’

“The noun also appears in the Pastorals once (1 Timothy 2:15), where, in view of the context, it clearly denotes ethical behavior. The translators translate as hidup khusus untuk Allah: ‘living for God alone,’ but perhaps it would be better here to translate it with hidup tanpa vela: ‘lead a blameless life,’ which would suit the context better.

“In conclusion then, to translate hagiasmos in a way that is meaningful to the average modern reader, it may often be necessary to render it by a phrase which brings out the primary meaning of the term. If it refers to the act of consecration, this phrase should include the notion of belonging to God, and if it refers to the conduct of the believer, the phrase should stress the idea of pleasing God and refraining from evil.” (Source: Pericles Katoppo in The Bible Translator 1987, p. 429ff. )

complete verse (Hebrews 9:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 9:13:

  • Uma: “According to the Law of Musa, if there are people who are guilty according to the laws of religion, a male goat or a male cow must be slaughtered and its blood sprinkled on them. And a calf is burned to ashes and its ashes scattered on them. So, if that blood and ash can be used to cleanse people who are guilty according to the laws of religion that speak only about our physical bodies,” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “According-to/in the first covenant if ritually-unclean/defiled people were sprinkled with goat’s blood or cow’s blood or a burnt calf (and) its ashes mixed with water, na, their defilement was removed from their bodies and their worship was ritually-clean/acceptable.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Long ago, according to what the Law teaches, if there was a person who became unclean because he had come near to a dead person, it was necessary then that he be sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed cow and goat and the ashes of a burned young cow, and by means of this he could be cleansed from the uncleanness of his body.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “There is admittedly a use for the blood of goats and male cows and so also the sprinkling of ashes of a burned heifer (lit. young-female cow), but these served only to cleanse the bodies of people who were considered to have-become-unclean so that they could again join-in-worshipping God.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “In the past, that blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of burned heifers, they were being sprinkled-on the people who were being-regarded-as unclean in the sight of God, for (this was) the-means-of-cleansing them. Well in doing like this they would be made clean now in God’s sight, in-which they have had removed whatever made- them -unable-to-worship, even though this cleansing was only on the outside of their bodies.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Concerning the blood of cows or the blood of goats or the ashes of beef which has been burned on the altar, when it has been put on the people of whom it is said that they have sin on their bodies, then their bodies are cleared.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Hebrews 9:13

A literal translation of The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a burnt calf are sprinkled on the people who are ritually unclean might suggest that all of these substances were mixed together and then sprinkled on the people. In reality, the reference is to quite different events. In addition, the passive expression are sprinkled must be changed into an active form in some languages, and this would mean that “the priests” would need to be introduced as the agents. Therefore the first part of verse 13 might be rendered as “The priests sprinkled on the people who are ritually unclean the blood of goats, and the blood of bulls, and the ashes of a calf which has been completely burned.”

Bulls probably refers to the “young (male) bullock” (Lev 16.3) which Aaron had to offer as a sin offering for himself and his family. The writer does not clearly distinguish this from the burnt calf, which is the “red heifer” (female) described in Numbers 19.1-10 (Revised Standard Version). In both cases only one animal was sacrificed at a time. A comparison of 9.12 “goats and calves” New English Bible; 9.13 goats and bulls; 9.19 “calves” New English Bible (some manuscripts “calves and goats”); and 10.4 bulls and goats, shows that the author is not concerned either with particular animals or with consistency in this respect. Here as elsewhere, the translator of Hebrews must not distort its meaning in order to conform more closely to the Old Testament text.

Sprinkled in the Greek refers grammatically only to ashes, which were mixed with water, but the meaning must include the blood of goats and bulls also. “Sprinkling,” in Greek as in English, is more often associated with liquids like blood than with a powder such as ash. The writer may be remembering that according to Numbers 19.9 the ashes were mixed with water. In any case, translators should use the most suitable expression in their language for scattering a powder. It may be necessary to use two different verbs and translate “The blood of goats and bulls is sprinkled, and the ashes of the burnt calf are scattered….” It may even be necessary to expand the text to include “mixed with water.”

On a first reading, Good News Translation seems very different from the literal translation of Revised Standard Version, but Good News Bible simply brings out more clearly the fact that the text is speaking of ritual impurity, not moral impurity. Good News Translation fourth edition makes this even clearer by replacing Good News Bible third edition “make them clean” with this purifies them (similarly in verses 10, 14, 22, 23; 10.2). In other words, the “sprinkling” serves to put people back into a state in which they could once again legally take part in Temple worship. This has nothing to do with inward consciousness of moral sin, so there is no contradiction with 10.4.

The pronominal reference of this in the statement this purifies them might suggest that only one action is involved in the preceding statement. It may therefore be necessary to use some kind of plural reference; for example, “these actions” or “these ceremonies.”

The term purifies indicates the removal of what may be called “negative taboo,” that is to say, anything which defiles. In some languages purifies is expressed as “takes away that which defiles.” Accordingly, this purifies them by taking away their ritual impurity may be expressed as “these actions take away from the people all that causes them to be defiled” or “… causes them to be unclean.” In this context, however, a term meaning “unclean” must refer to ritual uncleanness and not to physical dirt.

Quoted with permission from Ellingworth, Paul and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on The Letter of the Hebrews. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1983. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .