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 2:28)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 2:28:

  • Nyongar: “Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “He took that baby, he held-him-in-his-arms and he praised God, he said:” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When Simiyun saw the child, he took him and held him in his arms and gave thanks to God saying,” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when Simeon saw that child, he took him in his arms and thanked God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “He took-the baby -in-his-arms and praised God saying,” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 2:27 – 2:28


kai ēlthen ‘and he came.’ With this clause the description of the event, already announced by kai idou ‘and behold’ in v. 25 (cf. note there), begins; kai therefore resumes the opening words of v. 25. Hence Knox translates “he now came”.

en tō pneumati ‘in the Spirit,’ i.e. “guided by the Spirit” (New English Bible), not on his own account or initiative.

eis to hieron ‘into the temple,’ i.e. the temple in Jerusalem.

hieron ‘temple’; as compared with naos ‘temple’ (1.9, 21, 22) hieron includes the whole temple with its buildings, courts, etc. and is often used when the scene of action is not the temple building itself.

kai en tō eisagagein tous goneis to paidion Iēsoun ‘and after the parents had brought in the child Jesus,’ scil. eis to hieron ‘into the temple,’ omitted in order to avoid repetition. en with following articular accusative and infinitive in the aorist tense indicates events preceding the event expressed in the main clause (cf. 9.36; 11.37; 14.1; 19.15).

eisagō ‘to bring in,’ or, ‘into.’

tou poiēsai autous kata to eithismenon tou nomou peri autou ‘in order to do concerning him according to the custom of the law.’ tou with following articular infinitive has final force and the clause expresses the purpose of their entering the temple. autous is the subject of the infinitive poiēsai, not expressed in English. peri autou ‘concerning him’ goes with poiēsai; the phrase does not mean that the child Jesus himself is to be submitted to a rite but only that what his parents do, concerns him.

to eithismenon, past participle of ethizō ‘to accustom,’ lit. ‘that which is accustomed’ i.e. ‘that which has become a custom,’ synonymous with to ethos (cf. on 1.8) ‘custom,’ ‘tradition’; to eithismenon tou nomou ‘the custom of the law’ is the custom which the law prescribes.

(V. 28) kai autos ‘and he.’ autos refers to a subject already mentioned, i.e. that of ēlthen ‘he came.’ kai is used here in a redundant way to introduce the apodosis after a subordinate clause (cf. 2.21).

edexato auto eis tas agkalas ‘he received it in his arms.’

dechomai ‘to take,’ ‘to receive.’ The use of this verb here suggests that the initiative is not with Simeon but that the child is handed over to him.

agkalē ‘bent arm,’ usually in order to receive something.

kai eulogēsen ton theon kai eipen ‘and he praised God and said.’ For eulogeō cf. on 1.64. The two verbs of this clause may be taken to refer to two different acts, or to one single act, preferably the latter, cf. The Four Gospels – a New Translation, “blessed God in these words”.


Inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple. The activity of the Spirit has also been described as, “impelled by” (The Four Gospels – a New Translation), ‘moved by’ (Ekari), ‘on instruction of’ (Toraja-Sa’dan), ‘on instigation/command of’ (Tamil); or, changing the syntactic pattern, ‘the Holy Spirit led him into, or, caused Simeon to enter’ (Sranan Tongo, Tboli). Spirit may have to be specified, cf. ‘Holy Spirit,’ ‘Spirit of God.’ — The temple (Gr. to hieron, occurring in 2.37, 46; 4.9; 18.10; 19.45, 47; 20.1; 21.5, 37f; 22.52f; 24.53) is preferably to be distinguished in translation from the more specific ho naos (for which see on 1.9). Commonly used descriptive renderings are, ‘Holy/Sacred House,’ ‘Divine Abode,’ ‘House of God.’ In order to indicate the uniqueness of Jerusalem’s temple Balinese has to use ‘Great Temple.’ The Chinese Union Version did not choose the term for the temple of popular religion (in which also the participation of the state was centred), but a word (lit. ‘palace’) indicating the main worship hall of the Buddhists. A similar term is used in Thai to translate ho naos, and an expression built on that term is employed as rendering of to hieron, i.e. ‘environs-of the main-audience-hall’ (preferred to the existing term for a temple compound because of the strong Buddhist connotations of the latter). Some other renderings used (most of them both for hieron and naos) are, ‘God’s compound’ (Zarma), ‘big church of the Jews’ (Otomi), ‘big house on top (i.e. most important)’ (Zapotec of Villa Alta), ‘festival longhouse of God’ (Guhu-Samane), ‘sacrosanct house,’ lit. ‘house where-the-belly-gets-swollen’ (i.e. because taboo is violated) (Toraja-Sa’dan, using a term that is also applied to a Muslim mosque).

The parents brought in the child Jesus. Where ‘parents’ should preferably be possessed one may shift to, ‘the child J. was brought in by his parents’ (Indonesian languages), ‘father and mother of that child J. brought-in him’ (Kituba), or, ‘Jesus’ parents brought in the little one.’ Parents is often rendered by a combination of the words for father and mother, cf. on v. 33. — Brought in, or, ‘brought/carried enter (the temple),’ ‘came in there, carrying’; cf. also on “brought him up” in v. 22. — The child Jesus. This combination of noun and proper name is awkward in some languages; then one may have to say, ‘the young/little one called Jesus,’ or simply, ‘the little one,’ or, ‘Jesus’ (Tboli); or again, shifting to a term for descendant (cf. on 1.7), ‘their child (called Jesus).’

To do for him, or, ‘concerning him,’ ‘with him’; or, ‘to act/perform with regard to him.’ In some languages the very generic character of the clause cannot be maintained. Since it refers backwards to v. 22b, it is defensible in such a case to say ‘to present him (to the Lord).’

According to the custom of the law, ‘as was the custom prescribed by the law,’ ‘as the law had made them accustomed to do’ (Sranan Tongo); or, making the phrase the object of ‘to do,’ “what was customary under the Law” (New English Bible), ‘custom required by the law’ (Tagalog), ‘custom that started from their own commandment/law’ (Tboli). Where ‘custom’ and ‘law’ are incompatible in an expression like this, one may have to shift to, “what the Law required” (Good News Translation), ‘the prescriptions of the Law’; then the rendering may become more similar to, or coincide with, that of “according to the law” in v. 22.

(V. 28) He took him up in his arms. One or both of the pronouns may have to be specified, ‘Simeon’ and ‘the child’ respectively. To take in one’s arms (in some languages expressed by one verb), or, with a slight semantic shift ‘to take/hold-to-one’s-breast’ (Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese). Elsewhere one has to add a verb, cf. ‘he took and held-in-his-arms’ (Toraja-Sa’dan), ‘Simeon took him, held-him-to-his-breast’ (Malay).

Blessed God and said, preferably, ‘praised God, saying (or, in/with these words),’ see on 1.42 sub (2).

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.