complete verse (John 5:46)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 5:46:

  • Uma: “But if you really believed Musa, certainly you would also believe me, because what Musa wrote, it concerns / was about [lit., touches] me.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “If you truly believed Musa, you should believe me because it is about me hep that he wrote in the holy-book.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “If only your belief in him was true, you would be able to believe also in me because he wrote about me.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “because if you did believe/obey-it, you would also believe/obey me, because what Moses wrote, I am the one he is speaking-about.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “If it’s so that you are believing-in/obeying Moises, surely it’s necessary that as for me, you indeed believe-in/obey me also, because as for the things he wrote, I really am the one he was referring to.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “If you had believed the word Moses spoke, you also would have believed me then. Because Moses wrote in the book about me.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


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.

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.