“Hope is sometimes one of the most difficult terms to translate in the entire Bible. It is not because people do not hope for things, but so often they speak of hoping as simply ‘waiting.’ In fact, even in Spanish, the word esperar means both ‘to wait’ and ‘to hope.’ However, in many instances the purely neutral term meaning ‘to wait’ may be modified in such a way that people will understand something more of its significance. For example, in Tepeuxila Cuicatec hope is called ‘wait-desire.’ Hope is thus a blend of two activities: waiting and desiring. This is substantially the type of expectancy of which hope consists.

“In Yucateco the dependence of hope is described by the phrase ‘on what it hangs.’ ‘Our hope in God’ means that ‘we hang onto God.’ The object of hope is the support of one’s expectant waiting.”

In Ngäbere the phrase “resting the mind” is used. This “implies waiting and confidence, and what is a better definition of hope than ‘confident waiting’?” (Source for this and above: Nida 1952, p. 20, 133)

In Mairasi the phrase for hope is “vision resting place” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Enlhet as “waitings of (our) 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.)

In Kwang a 4-word-expression is used that directly translates as “one’s future is restored to one’s soul like a fresh, cool breeze on a hot day.” (Source: Mark Vanderkooi right here)

According to Albert Hoffmann (in his memoirs from 1948, quoted in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 7) the translation in Anjam is “looking through the horizon.”

complete verse (John 5:45)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 5:45:

  • Uma: “But don’t say like this, that I will be the one to bring charges against you to my Father. It will be the prophet Musa himself who brings charges against you. You think/say that you will receive goodness from your following of the law of Musa.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Do not think that I will accuse you to my Father God there at the day of judgment. Not me, but Musa, the one who gave you the law that you follow, he will accuse you.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Don’t you think that I am the one to accuse you in the future before God my Father. Because as for your ancestor Moses, you trust his written words, but surprisingly enough, he will be the one to accuse you on that day.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Even so, you shouldn’t say/think that I am the one who will formally-accuse you to my Father, because what will accuse you, it is what Moses wrote. You expect that you will be saved if you believe/obey what Moses wrote aforementioned. But you don’t believe/obey-it,” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Don’t think that I am the one who will bring a case against you to the Father. On the contrary that Moises from whose writings come what you are hoping for, he is the one who will bring a case against you.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Don’t think that I will accuse you to my Father. I won’t. He who accuses you is Moses, that one whom you think that you can be confident about.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing his disciples and common people

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, Jesus is addressing his disciples, individuals and/or crowds with the formal pronoun, showing respect.

In most Dutch translations, Jesus addresses his disciples and common people with the informal pronoun, whereas they address him with the formal form.


The name that is transliterated as “Moses” in English is signed in Spanish Sign Language in accordance with the depiction of Moses in the famous statue by Michelangelo (see here). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)

“Moses” in Spanish Sign Language (source)

Another depiction in Spanish Sign Language (source: Carlos Moreno Sastre):

The horns that are visible in Michelangelo’s statue are based on a passage in the Latin Vulgate translation (and many Catholic Bible translations that were translated through the 1950ies with that version as the source text). Jerome, the translator, had worked from a Hebrew text without the niqquds, the diacritical marks that signify the vowels in Hebrew and had interpreted the term קרו (k-r-n) in Exodus 34:29 as קֶ֫רֶן — keren “horned,” rather than קָרַו — karan “radiance” (describing the radiance of Moses’ head as he descends from Mount Sinai).

Even at the time of his translation, Jerome likely was not the only one making that decision as this recent article alludes to.