presentation in the temple (image)

This is a contemporary tempera/gouache on leather painting by an unknown Ethiopian artist. Source: Sacred Art Pilgrim website .

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.

complete verse (Luke 2:22)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 2:22:

  • Nyongar: “The day came for Joseph and Mary for doing the baby’s Cleansing Day as the Law of Moses said. So they took the baby to Jerusalem to give him to God,” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “After that, the time came that Yusuf and Maria must make the custom/ceremony after childbirth, according to the Law of the Lord that Musa wrote. At that time, they carried their baby going to Yerusalem to offer him to the Lord,” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When forty days were over after Mariyam had given birth, Yusup and Mariyam followed the custom for purification as it was commanded in the law of Musa. They brought the child to Awrusalam so that they would hand him over/dedicate him there to God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And a week later was the time for Joseph and Mary to fulfill the custom of cleansing according to that which Moses left behind long ago concerning a woman who had just given birth. They took the child to the town of Jerusalem and they entered into the church which was called the House of God, because they would bring that child of theirs before God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When the day arrived for Jose and Maria to fulfil what the law of Moses commanded concerning one who has just-given-birth, they went to Jerusalem to go offer to God what that law said which was two doves or two young pigeons. They also took-along the baby in order to offer him to the Lord God. For what was written in that law of the Lord God, ‘It is necessary to offer to God all firstborn males.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well, when the day had now also been reached which was the-time-for-cleansing them in the sight of God, according to what Moises commanded concerning childbirth, Jose and Maria went to Jerusalem. They took the child to the Templo, for at that time they would present the child before God.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)


The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Nyongar with a capitalized form of the term for “words” (Warrinya) (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”) (source: Nida 1947, p. 198) and in Central Tarahumara it is “writing-command.” (wsource: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

Translation commentary on Luke 2:22


kai hote eplēsthēsan hai hēmerai tou katharismou autōn ‘and when the days of their purification had been fulfilled,’ i.e. ‘when the time for their purification had come.’ eplēsthēsan hai hēmerai, cf. on 1.57.

katharismos (also 5.14) ‘purification,’ i.e. the restoration of ritual cleanness; according to the law of Moses a woman remained unclean for forty days after the birth of a male child. During this period she was forbidden to touch any sacred thing or to enter the temple. Ritual cleanness was restored by a burnt offering and a sin offering (cf. Lev. 12.1-8). autōn ‘of them,’ i.e. ‘their’ may refer to Joseph and Mary; to Jesus and Mary (cf. Lagrange), or to the three of them (cf. Grundmann), preferably the first.

kata ton nomon Mōuseōs ‘according to the law of Moses’ may be connected with eplēsthēsan ‘were fulfilled,’ as e.g. New English Bible, Williams, or, preferably, with tou katharismou autōn ‘of their purification,’ as e.g. Translator’s New Testament, Phillips, An American Translation, Moffatt.

nomos ‘law,’ in Luke of the law of Moses only, even when his name is not added as here.

anēgagon auton eis Hierosoluma ‘they brought him up to Jerusalem.’

anagō ‘to bring up’ from a lower to a higher place. Actually Bethlehem is lying higher than Jerusalem, but it is hardly conceivable that Luke was aware of this difference in height.

Hierosoluma ‘Jerusalem’; this is the Greek form of the name. Elsewhere (e.g. v. 25) Luke uses the Hebraistic Ierousalēm.

parastēsai tō kuriō ‘in order to present him to the Lord’; object ‘him’ (i.e. Jesus) to be understood from auton, the object of anēgagon.

paristēmi in the active ‘to present’; presentation in the temple was not part of the ritual of the redemption of the first-born sons referred to in v. 23. Ex. 13.2, quoted there, does not order presentation to God, but is, together with other passages, the foundation for the redemption-offering. Luke does not mention the redemption-offering at all but selects one basic aspect of it, the belonging of all male first-borns to God, in order to bring into special relief the fact that Jesus had been presented to God in the temple. This presentation is probably a reminiscence of 1 Sam. 1.22-28; hence translations like ‘to dedicate’ (Brouwer) but this dedication is to be interpreted in the sense of ‘to bring in the presence of,’ cf. Acts 23.33.

V. 22 is taken up again in v. 24, the chain of thought being: (22) when the time for their purification came, they went to Jerusalem (24) to offer the prescribed sacrifice. Between these two clauses Luke inserts something else which disrupts this logical sequence and is much more important for Luke because it prepares the way for the recognition by the inspired Simeon of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah.


When the time came for their purification, or ‘the purification day having-come’ (Balinese, derivation as in v. 21, leaving the person that are the objects of the purification unidentified), or, using a verbal clause, ‘on the day that they (or, his parents, or, Joseph and Mary) should be purified,’ ‘when they must cause-themselves-to-be-purified’ (Kituba), ‘when (they) should do ceremony to purify self’ (Thai, the subject idiomatically being left implicit). For purification, and ‘purify.’ Since removal of ritual uncleanness resulting from childbirth is rather widespread, the receptor language often provides an acceptable specific term; such a term, however, cannot be used here if its application is restricted to the purification of the mother only.

According to the law, or, ‘following the law,’ “stipulated by the Law” (Phillips), ‘that the Law required/prescribed,’ ‘as the law … has laid-down’ (Sranan Tongo). Law. Receptor language terminology may differentiate between two or more of the following pairs of contrasting concepts: customary law versus statute law, often coinciding with the contrast oral versus written code; secular versus religious law; tribal versus national or supranational law, either secular (e.g. law or custom of the tribe versus law of the national state), or religious (tribal religion versus one of the world religions). Between these pairs there may be considerable overlapping. The term chosen should preferably suggest a written code of behaviour, divinely inspired, and of at least national validity. A receptor language term (such as, ‘word/matter to be observed’ in Ekari, ‘decision/decree,’ a derivation of ‘to cut,’ in Shona 1966) may, even if originally linked up with another religion, permit sufficient expansion to cover the law of other peoples or religions, where necessary reinforced by a qualification such as ‘of the Jews.’ In some cases, however, such an expansion of meaning is impossible because the term, in question is exclusively associated with one specific religion. For that reason, probably, technical terms for the Muslim law have often proved unsatisfactory, e.g. in languages of Indonesia. Where no technical term is existent or acceptable, one may coin a descriptive phrase, e.g. ‘commands/ordinances/decisions of God,’ ‘written command’ (Mossi ), ‘laws/rules-(contained-in-)scripture’ (Marathi).

Of Moses. For the meaning if this construction see on “the law of the Lord” in v. 23. The name may require a title, ‘the prophet M..’

They brought him up, or, ‘they took Him along with them (lit. took-as-companion Him)’ (Tae,’ which can use this verb even when the ‘companion’ is as passive as a babe of six weeks), ‘they carried the child’ (Sranan Tongo, Kituba); idiom may require the use of a verb specifying the way of carrying (in the arms, on the shoulder etc.).

To present him to the Lord, or, ‘to place him before the Lord’s face’ (Sranan Tongo), ‘to show him to the Lord’ (Tae’). In Malay “to present” is rendered by the causative of a verb meaning ‘to be-in-front-of,’ hence ‘to have-an-audience with,’ ‘to pay-one’s-respects to.’

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.