The Greek terms that are used for what is translated as “net” in English are translated in languages like Navajo where fishing with nets is not known as “instruments to catch (or: bring out) the fish.” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Rundi the term urusenga is used. Rosemary Guillebaud (in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 15ff. ) tells this story:

“[People living close to lakes] produced further problems for us over fishing terms when we reached the revision of the Gospels. Fishing is practically unknown in the mountain streams and rivers, so there is hardly any vocabulary for it up-country. In Mat. 4:18 we read that Jesus saw two brethren “casting a net into the sea.” The word we used for net (urusenga) is used all over Rundi for a fishing net, whatever it is like, but when I read this to some people who live by the lake they said it was the wrong word, as from the context this happened during the daytime, and urusenga-fishing is only done at night. It appears that the urusenga is something like a shrimping net, and is used on moonless nights, when the fishermen hold flares over the side of the boat and attract a certain variety of very small fish which swim about in shoals. The net they use for day-time fishing is something like a drag-net and is called urukwabu. On enquiry inland, I never discovered a single person who knew this word. It was obviously the right one, technically speaking, but we felt that the few thousand lake-dwellers could not be weighed against almost the entire population of the country, so we had to employ the up-country word, putting an explanatory note in the margin that by the lake this net is called urukwabu.”

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing net-fishing in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)


Following is a Armenian Orthodox icon of Peter (found in the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha, Azerbaijan).

Orthodox Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

Following is a hand colored stencil print on momigami of Peter by Sadao Watanabe (1970):

Image taken with permission from the SadaoHanga Catalogue where you can find many more images and information about Sadao Watanabe. For other images of Sadao Watanabe art works in TIPs, see here.

In Finnish Sign Language it is translated with the sign signifying “key” (referring to Matthew 16:19). (Source: Tarja Sandholm)

“Peter” or “Cephas” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

In Swiss-German Sign Language it is translated with the sign for “rock,” referring to the meaning of the Greek word for “Peter.”

“Peter” in Swiss-German Sign Language, source: DSGS-Lexikon biblischer Begriffe , © CGG Schweiz

See also Peter – rock.

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Peter .

complete verse (John 21:11)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 21:11:

  • Uma: “Simon Petrus climbed into the boat and he pulled the net here to the shore. That net was full/stuffed with big fish: one hundred fifty-three fish. But even though thus their manyness, that net did not tear.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Therefore Simon Petros went into the boat and pulled the net onto the shore. The net was full of big fish, 153 was the number. But the net did not tear even though there were very many in it.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Peter went to the boat and he pulled up the net full of fish. The number of fish was one hundred fifty-three, and even though there were so many fish, the net was not torn.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Simon Pedro returned to where the boat was to go pull-in the net onto the bank. It was full of large fish, their number being one hundred and fifty three, but even though that was their quantity (lit. manyness), the net was not ripped.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Simon Pedro then got up into the boat and dragged to the shore that fishnet which was full of big fish which had entered. The number of those fish which had entered was one hundred and fifty three. Even though the number of fish was like that, that fishnet didn’t get torn at all.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Peter got in the boat in order to pull in the net to where the water wasn’t deep. But the net was full of big fish. It contained a hundred and fifty-three fish. It was filled with many but the net did not tear.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

large numbers in Angguruk Yali

Many languages use a “body part tally system” where body parts function as numerals (see body part tally systems with a description). One such language is Angguruk Yali which uses a system that ends at the number 27. To circumvent this limitation, the Angguruk Yali translators adopted a strategy where a large number is first indicated with an approximation via the traditional system, followed by the exact number according to Arabic numerals. For example, where in 2 Samuel 6:1 it says “thirty thousand” in the English translation, the Angguruk Yali says teng-teng angge 30.000 or “so many rounds [following the body part tally system] 30,000,” likewise, in Acts 27:37 where the number “two hundred seventy-six” is used, the Angguruk Yali translation says teng-teng angge 276 or “so many rounds 276,” or in John 6:10 teng-teng angge 5.000 for “five thousand.”

This strategy is used in all the verses referenced here.

Source: Lourens de Vries in The Bible Translator 1998, p. 409ff.

See also numbers in Ngalum and numbers in Kombai.

Translation commentary on John 21:11

The verb translated went aboard (so most translations) literally means “went up.” Some commentators take this to mean that Peter was just now coming up on the shore. However, John seems to imply that by jumping into the water and swimming Peter reached shore first. Other commentators take this verb to mean that Peter climbed up on the bank to help pull the net in. But the most satisfactory interpretation is that Peter got into the boat to help the other disciples pull in the load of fish. In Matthew 14.32 and Mark 6.51 the verb is used with the meaning “to go aboard,” and is accompanied by the phrase “into the boat.” Since the net full of fish was dragged behind the boat as the men rowed to shore, Peter would have to get into the stern of the boat to help drag the net onto the shore.

Symbolic interpretations of the number a hundred and fifty-three have been suggested, but fortunately the translator is concerned only with the literal meaning.

The description of the net and the fish may require several paratactically combined sentences, for example, “Simon Peter went back aboard the boat and helped drag the net ashore; the net was full of big fish; altogether there were 153 fish.”

The net did not tear may be rendered as “no holes were made in the net” or “no part of the net broke.”

Quoted with permission from Newman, Barclay M. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of John. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1980. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .