the Jews (Jewish people)

In the English Good News Bible (2nd edition of 1992), this occurrence of the Greek hoi Ioudaioi, traditionally “the Jews” in English, is translated with a term that refers to the Jewish people or is not translated at all if it implicitly refers to the Jewish people (for example “Passover” instead of “Passover of the Jews”). For an explanation of the differentiated translation in English as well as translation choices in a number of languages, see the Jews.

rhetorical questions (John 18:35)

During the translation of the New Testament into Huixtán Tzotzil, translation consultant Marion Cowan found that questions where the answer is obvious, affirmative rhetorical questions, as well questions raising objections tended to cause confusion among the readers. So these are rendered as simple or emphatic statements.

Accordingly, John 18:35 reads “Pilate said to him, I am not a Jew.”

Source: Marion Cowan in The Bible Translator 1960, p. 123ff.

formal pronoun: Jesus and Pilate

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.

As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.

Here, Pilate is addressing Jesus with an informal pronoun and Jesus Pilate with the formal, respectful form.

Voinov explains: “Pilate, as governor of Judea, would consider himself superior to Jesus, a carpenter and itinerant teacher, on the power hierarchy. This is especially visible when Pilate reminds Jesus that he is the one who decides whether Jesus lives or dies. An informal pronoun is appropriate in Tuvan to render this attitude. The more difficult question concerns the form Jesus should use in responding to Pilate. On the one hand, it can be argued from passages such as John 18:33-37 and 19:11 that Jesus did not accept Pilate’s authority. There Jesus affirms himself as king and lets Pilate know that Pilate’s authority is subordinate to God. On the other hand, it seems likely that Jesus would show due respect to the authorities, not out of fear for his life, but rather because this constituted a part of the Jewish concept of righteousness. (…) One potential problem with this solution is that readers may think that Jesus is trying to curry the favor of these powerful people in order to save himself. Before making a final decision the Tuvan translators did comprehension testing concerning this point. None of the readers interpreted Jesus’ use of the informal pronoun in this way, but rather said that Jesus was showing respect appropriate to the position of his addressee.”

In Gbaya, where God is always addressed with the second person plural pronoun ɛ́nɛ́, the common way to address superiors, Pilate and Jesus address each other with the less courteous nɛ́. (Source Philip Noss)

In Dutch translations, the formal address is used by both.

complete verse (John 18:35)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 18:35:

  • Uma: “Pilatus said: ‘As if I were a Yahudi person! It is your (sing.) own Yahudi people with the leaders of the priests who brought you (sing.) to me. What wrong did you (sing.) do?'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Pilatus answered, he said, ‘Am I a Yahudi? Your (sing.) tribe and the leaders of your (pl.) priests have handed you over to me. Why, what is your sin?'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your companion Jews and the chief priests, they are the ones who brought you here. What is your sin?'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Pilato said, ‘Do you (sing.) think I’m a Jew maybe? It was your (sing.) fellow Jews and the leaders of your (pl.) priests who handed-you (sing.) -over here. What is you (sing.) sin/crime then?'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “‘As if I am a Judio!’ said Pilato. ‘Your (sing.) fellow-countrymen and chiefs of your (pl.) priests, they are the ones who delivered you here to me. What have you really done?'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Pilate said, ‘Am I a fellow-Jew? Your fellow-Jews and the chief priests have delivered you here to me. What have you done?'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)