inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (John 18:40)

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 exclusive form (excluding Pilate).

SIL International Translation Department (1999)

complete verse (John 18:40)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 18:40:

  • Uma: “They jeered, they said: ‘No, not he! Rather/Better Barabas!’ (That Barabas was a robber.)” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “The people shouted, they said, ‘Not that person. We (excl.) want Barabbas.’ This Barabbas was an outlaw.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And they shouted out, ‘Not him, but rather you release Barabbas!’ (And as for Barabbas, he was a robber).” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Not that one (near-addressee)! Barabbas is the one we (excl.) want!’ they said shouting. This Barabbas, he was a bandit who had opposed the government.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Those Judio now shouted out, saying, ‘No! Not that person is the one who will be released. Barrabas only is the one who will be released.’ As for that Barrabas, he was a robber.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “All shouted and said, ‘Not him. Release Barabbas.’ And this Barabbas was a thief!” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)