parable of the prodigal son (image)

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The Greek that is often translated as “lost” in English is translated in Mairasi as “their faces lengthened.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

complete verse (Luke 15:24)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 15:24:

  • Noongar: “Because this my son was dead, but now he lives; he was lost but now he is found.’ They were very happy and they began eating and drinking.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Because this my child, we could say he was dead, but he lives again. He was lost, but I found him again.’ They had a feast.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “For this child of mine was like dead and lives again. He was like lost and has come home.’ Then they began to celebrate.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Because as for this, my son, it was as if he was dead but now he is alive again. He was lost and today he is found.’ And then they began to have a good time.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “because this child of mine was like dead, but (surprised realization) here he is alive. He was lost, but here he has arrived.’ Then they began to be-happy-together.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “For this child of mine was as-it-were dead but has indeed come alive again. It’s like he was lost but has been found.’ Without anything further, they truly celebrated.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 15:24


hoti houtos ho huios mou nekros en kai anezēsen ‘for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again.’ houtos here points to somebody who is present. nekros and anazaō are used here metaphorically; they either refer to moral death and rebirth, or mean ‘thought to be dead,’ and ‘to come back alive,’ preferably the latter.

ēn apolōlōs kai heurethē ‘he was lost and has been found,’ repeating the thought expressed in the preceding clause.

ērxanto euphrainesthai ‘they began to celebrate,’ cf. on 4.21.


For was lost, used also metaphorically here, cf. the note on v. 4.

Is found, here not the result of a previous search (as it is in vv. 5f, 8f), cf. note on 2.12; hence one may have to say, ‘has come home’ (e.g. Ekari), or, ‘I have got him back.’

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.