The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “altar” in English is translated in Obolo as ntook or “raised structure for keeping utensils (esp. sacrifice),” in Muna as medha kaefoampe’a or “offering table,” in Luchazi as muytula or “the place where one sets the burden down”/”the place where the life is laid down,” in Tzotzil as “where they place God’s gifts,” and in Colorado as “table for giving to God.” (Source: Obolo: Enene Enene; Muna: René van den Berg; Tzotzil: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.; Luchzi: E. Pearson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 160ff.; Bruce Moore in Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.).

In the Hebraic English translation of Everett Fox it is translated as slaughter-site and likewise in the German translation by Buber / Rosenzweig as Schlachtstatt.

justification, justify

The Greek that is translated as “justify” in English is translated into Tzotzil in two different ways. One of those is with Lec xij’ilatotic yu’un Dios ta sventa ti ta xc’ot ta o’ntonal ta xch’unel ti Jesucristoe (“we are seen well by God because of our faith in Jesus Christ”) (source: Aeilts, p. 118) and the other is “God sees as righteous” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).

Other (back-) translations include:

complete verse (James 2:21)

Following are a number of back-translations of James 2:21:

  • Uma: “Remember the account of Abraham: God received him, he made him straight in his sight because of his behavior, for Abraham offered his son Ishak to God on the altar [lit., worship/offering burning rock].” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Even Ibrahim our (incl.) forefather was reckoned straight/righteous by God because he did what God commanded him. He hep handed-over/offered-up to God his son Isahak there on the stone for sacrificing.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “What was the way that our ancestor Abraham showed that God regarded him as righteous? It was his acts in obeying what God commanded him when he asked him to offer his son Isaac in sacrifice.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Please remember Abraham our ancestor long ago. God counted/considered that he was righteous because of his obeying him when he laid-his son Isaac -on-top-of the altar in order to offer him to God.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “For think about Abraham who is our ancestor. Isn’t it so that he was regarded by God as righteous/straight because of what he did, when he obeyed what was said that he was to give God his son Isaac making (him) a worship-offering which is burned on the burning-place?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Our ancestor Abraham did what God told him and therefore he was acquitted from sin. Because he offered to kill his son to make a sacrifice to God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Jas. 2:21)

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 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.