parable of the prodigal son (image)

Click here to see the image in higher resolution.

Image taken from the Wiedmann Bible. For more information about the images and ways to adopt them, see here .

For other images of Willy Wiedmann paintings in TIPs, see here.

welcoming the prodigal son (image)

The story of welcoming home the son as part of The Prodigal Son is illustrated for use in Bible translations in West Africa by Wycliffe Cameroon like this:

Illustration 1999 Mbaji Bawe Ernest, © Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc. Used with permission.

Following is a painting by Chen Yuandu 陳緣督 (1902-1967):

Housed in the Société des Auxiliaires des Missions Collection – Whitworth University.

Image taken from Chinese Christian Posters . For more information on the “Ars Sacra Pekinensis” school of art, see this article , for other artworks of that school in TIPs, see here.

compassion, moved with compassion

The Greek that is translated with “moved with compassion (or: pity)” in English is translated as “to see someone with sorrow” in Piro, “to suffer with someone” in Huastec, or “one’s mind to be as it were out of one” in Balinese (source: Bratcher / Nida).

The term “compassion” is translated as “cries in the soul” in Shilluk (source: Nida, 1952, p. 132), “has a good stomach” (=”sympathetic”) in Aari (source: Loren Bliese), “has a big liver” in Una (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 471), or “crying in one’s stomach” in Q’anjob’al (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. ). In Mairasi it is translated with an emphasized term that is used for “love”: “desiring one’s face so much” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Chitonga with kumyongwa or “to have the intestines twisting in compassion/sorrow for someone” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 128f.).

See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”


The Hebrew and the Greek that is usually directly translated as “kiss” in English is translated more indirectly in other languages because kissing is deemed as inappropriate, is not a custom at all, or is not customary in the particular context (see the English translation of J.B. Phillips [publ. 1960] in Rom. 16:16: “Give each other a hearty handshake”). Here are some examples:

  • Pökoot: “greet warmly” (“kissing in public, certainly between men, is absolutely unacceptable in Pökoot.”) (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)
  • Southern Birifor: puor or “greet” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)
  • Chamula Tzotzil, Ixcatlán Mazatec, Tojolabal: “greet each other warmly” or “hug with feeling” (source: Robert Bascom)
  • Afar: gaba tittal ucuya — “give hands to each other” (Afar kiss each other’s hands in greeting) (source: Loren Bliese)
  • Roviana: “welcome one another joyfully”
  • Cheke Holo: “love each other in the way-joined-together that is holy” (esp. in Rom. 16:16) or “greet with love” (esp. 1Thess. 5:26 and 1Pet. 5.14)
  • Pitjantjatjara: “when you meet/join up with others of Jesus’ relatives hug and kiss them [footnote], for you are each a relative of the other through Jesus.” Footnote: “This was their custom in that place to hug and kiss one another in happiness. Maybe when we see another relative of Jesus we shake hands and rejoice.” (esp. Rom. 16:16) (source for this and two above: Carl Gross)
  • Balanta-Kentohe and Mandinka: “touch cheek” or “cheek-touching” (“sumbu” in Malinka)
  • Mende: “embrace” (“greet one another with the kiss of love”: “greet one another and embrace one another to show that you love one another”) (source for this and two above: Rob Koops)
  • Gen: “embrace affectionately” (source: John Ellington)
  • Kachin: “holy and pure customary greetings” (source: Gam Seng Shae)
  • Kahua: “smell” (source: David Clark) (also in Ekari and Kekchí, source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • San Blas Kuna: “smell the face” (source: Claudio and Marvel Iglesias in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 85ff.)
  • Chichewa: “suck” (“habit and term a novelty amongst the young and more or less westernized people, the traditional term for greeting a friend after a long absence being, ‘clap in the hands and laugh happily'”)
  • Medumba: “suck the cheek” (“a novelty, the traditional term being ‘to embrace.'”)
  • Shona (version of 1966) / Vidunda: “hug”
  • Balinese: “caress” (source for this and three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel; Vidunda: project-specific translation notes in Paratext)
  • Tsafiki: earlier version: “greet in a friendly way,” later revision: “kiss on the face” (Bruce Moore [in: Notes on Translation 1/1992), p. 1ff.] explains: “Formerly, kissing had presented a problem. Because of the Tsáchilas’ [speakers of Tsafiki] limited exposure to Hispanic culture they understood the kiss only in the eros context. Accordingly, the original translation had rendered ‘kiss’ in a greeting sense as ‘greet in a friendly way’. The actual word ‘kiss’ was not used. Today ‘kiss’ is still an awkward term, but the team’s judgment was that it could be used as long as long as it was qualified. So ‘kiss’ (in greeting) is now ‘kiss on the face’ (that is, not on the lips).)
  • Kwere / Kutu: “show true friendship” (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

See also kissed (his feet).

complete verse (Luke 15:20)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 15:20:

  • Nyongar: “‘So he got up and went home to his father. When he was far away, his father saw him. His father’s heart was full of pity, and he ran, he took his son and embraced him and kissed him.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “He left, going to his father. ‘While he was still far from his house, his father saw. From his love, he ran going to meet his child, he hugged him and kissed him.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Then he left and went back to his father. ‘But when he was still far, his father saw him. His father really pitied him and he ran there and embraced his son.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And that was that, and then he started out straight for home. While he was still afar off his father saw him and his father, looking at him, pitied him greatly and he ran and met him and hugged and kissed his son.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Upon his thinking that, he set-out to return to where his plural father were. While he was still far-away, his father whose mercy/pity toward him was great saw-him-from-a-distance. So he ran to go meet him and hugged him while-also kissing-him.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When he had thought/decided that, he truly went home to his father. But when he was still far away, he was seen by his father. He really pitied him. His father ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 15:20


kai anastas ēlthen pros ton patera heautou ‘and he set out and went to his father.’ heautou is equivalent to the simple possessive autou. For anastas cf. on v. 18.

eti de autou makran apechontos ‘while he was still far away,’ scil. from his father’s house. The range of makran (also 7.6) ‘far away’ is determined by the fact that he is already within eyeshot.

eiden auton ho patēr autou ‘his father saw him.’ auton takes up preceding autou. eiden is best understood as ingressive, cf. Bible de Jérusalem.

esplagchnisthē ‘he was filled with pity,’ “his heart went out to him” (Phillips, New English Bible), cf. on 7.13.

dramōn epepesen epi ton trachēlon autou ‘he ran and fell on his neck,’ i.e. ‘he threw his arms around him,’ ‘he embraced him.’ trachēlos also 17.2.

katephilēsen auton ‘he kissed him,’ cf. on 7.38.


While he was yet at a distance, or, “while he was still a long way off” (New English Bible). To be at a distance is sometimes rendered by a verbal form derived from ‘far/distant.’

Saw him, sometimes better, ‘saw him coming’ (cf. e.g. Javanese).

Had compassion, see 7.13.

And ran …, or, as a new sentence, ‘he went to meet him’ (Sranan Tongo); or specifying the participants, e.g. ‘his father ran…’ (Bahasa Indonesia KB), ‘he-ran-toward his child’ (Balinese).

Embraced him and kissed him, indicating an affectionate greeting. Descriptive renderings of the first verb may come close to the Greek expression, ‘he put his arms around him, or, around his neck/shoulders/body’; the function, if unknown, usually will become clear from what follows. The verb to kiss often is difficult to render. Some descriptive or idiomatic renderings used are, ‘to smell (the face of)’ (Ekari, Kekchi), an intensive form of ‘to suck’ (West Nyanja, habit and term a novelty amongst the young and more or less westernized people, the traditional term for greeting a friend after a long absence being, ‘to clap in the hands and laugh happily’), ‘to hug’ (Shona 1966), ‘to caress’ (Balinese); Medumba uses ‘suck the cheek,’ a novelty again, the traditional term being ‘to embrace’—which might have been considered here also, as rendering of the two verbs. A generic rendering may be, ‘to greet/welcome affectionately,’ which, again, may have to serve for the two verbs.

Quoted with permission from Reiling, J. and Swellengrebel, J.L. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1971. For this and other handbooks for translators see here . Make sure to also consult the Handbook on the Gospel of Mark for parallel or similar verses.