Nativity (image)

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Image taken from He Qi Art . For purchasing prints of this and other artworks by He Qi go to .

For other images of He Qi art works in TIPs, see here.

formal pronoun: angels addressing 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, angels address people with the formal pronoun, expressing respect.

In most Dutch as well as in Western Frisian and Afrikaans translations, the angels are addressing people with the informal pronoun.

See also angel.

Nativity scene (icon)

Following is a Macedonian Orthodox icon of the Nativity scene from 1865 (found in Saint George Church in Kočani, North Macedonia).

Down below is a modern icon from the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

Orthodox Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

Good news to the shepherds (image)

Hand colored stencil print on washi by Sadao Watanabe (1979)

Image taken with permission from the SadaoHanga Catalogue where you can find many more images and information about Sadao Watanabe. For other images of Sadao Watanabe artworks in TIPs, see here.

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.


The Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic that is translated as “angel” in English versions is translated in many ways:

  • Pintupi-Luritja: ngaṉka ngurrara: “one who belongs in the sky” (source: Ken Hansen quoted in Steven 1984a, p. 116.)
  • Shipibo-Conibo: “word-carrier from heaven”
  • Tetela, Kpelle, Balinese, and Mandarin Chinese: “heavenly messenger”
  • Shilluk: “spirit messenger”
  • Mashco Piro: “messenger of God”
  • Batak Toba: “envoy, messenger”
  • Navajo: “holy servant” (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida 1961)
  • Central Mazahua: “God’s worker” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)
  • Saramaccan: basia u Masa Gaangadu köndë or “messenger from God’s country” (source: Jabini 2015, p. 86)
  • Mairasi: atatnyev nyaa or “sent-one” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Shipibo-Conibo: “word bringer” (source: James Lauriault in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 32ff. )
  • Apali: “God’s one with talk from the head” (“basically God’s messenger since head refers to any leader’s talk”) (source: Martha Wade)
  • Michoacán Nahuatl: “clean helper of God” (source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Nyongar: Hdjin-djin-kwabba or “spirit good” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Wè Northern (Wɛɛ): Kea ‘a “sooa or “the Lord’s soldier” (also: “God’s soldier” or “his soldier”) (source: Drew Maust)
  • Iwaidja: “a man sent with a message” (Sam Freney explains the genesis of this term [in this article): “For example, in Darwin last year, as we were working on a new translation of Luke 2:6–12 in Iwaidja, a Northern Territory language, the translators had written ‘angel’ as ‘a man with eagle wings’. Even before getting to the question of whether this was an accurate term (or one that imported some other information in), the word for ‘eagle’ started getting discussed. One of the translators had her teenage granddaughter with her, and this word didn’t mean anything to her at all. She’d never heard of it, as it was an archaic term that younger people didn’t use anymore. They ended up changing the translation of ‘angel’ to something like ‘a man sent with a message’, which is both more accurate and clear.”)

See also angel (Acts 12:15) and this devotion on YouVersion .


The Greek, Latin and Hebrew that is translated with “joy” or “gladness” in English is translated with various associations of “sweetness” or taste: Bambara has “the spirit is made sweet,” Kpelle translates as “sweet heart,” and Tzeltal as “the good taste of one’s heart,” Uduk uses the phrase “good to the stomach,” Baoulé “a song in the stomach,” Mískito “the liver is wide open” (“happily letting the pleasures flooding in upon it”) (source: Nida 1952), Mairasi says “good liver” (source: Enggavoter 2004), Nyongar has koort-kwabba-djil or “heart very good” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and Chicahuaxtla Triqui “refreshed heart” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.).

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

complete verse (Luke 2:10)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 2:10:

  • Nyongar: “But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I come here, bringing good news to you. This news will bring much happiness to all people.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “That angel said to them: ‘Do not be afraid, because my coming here is to bring good news to you, news that makes all people very glad.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But the angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I have come to tell you good news which will make all the people glad.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And that angel of the Lord said, he said ‘Don’t you be afraid because I was sent here so that I might tell you some very good news which will be the reason for rejoicing for all mankind.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Whereupon the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid! Because what I will report to you will be the cause-of-happiness of all people.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. There is good news which I bring which I will tell you, which will give big happiness to all people.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 2:10


idou gar ‘for behold,’ cf. on 1.44.

euaggelizomai humin charan megalēn ‘I bring(-as)-good-news to you a great joy,’ cf. on 1.19.

hētis estai panti tō laō “which will be for all the people” (Translator’s New Testament): hētis is here equivalent to the simple relative pronoun .

panti tō laō is best understood as a dative of advantage: ‘a joy which will be to the benefit of all the people.’ For laos cf. 1.68, 77; the reference is not to ‘people’ in general, i.e. mankind, but to ‘the people,’ i.e. Israel.


I bring you good news of a great joy, i.e. news that gives great joy, or, causes people to rejoice greatly. Some other restructured renderings of the phrase are, “I bring you good tidings, news of a great joy” (The Four Gospels – a New Translation), “I have good news for you: there is great joy coming to…” (New English Bible, making ‘great joy’ the grammatical subject of the next clause); or, toning down the force of the verb, .’.. tell the news which will give great joy’ (South Bolivian Quechua), ‘great joy word(s) wish-to-tell-you I-have-come’ (Ekari). For to bring good news cf. also on 1.19.

Which will come to all the people, or, ‘which will be the share of this whole-people’ (Tae’), ‘in which the whole country will take part’ (Sranan Tongo), ‘a blessing for all the people’ (Batak Toba, using an appositional construction), ‘over which all the people will be-glad’ (Tae’ 1933). The people, or, to make it clear that here Israel is meant, ‘this people,’ ‘your people’ (Balinese), ‘the people in your country’ (Tboli), ‘(the people of) Israel’; see also on 1.17.

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.