The Greek term that is translated as a form of “save” in English is translated in Shipibo-Conibo with a phrase that means literally “make to live,” which combines the meaning of “to rescue” and “to deliver from danger,” but also the concept of “to heal” or “restore to health.”

In San Blas Kuna it is rendered as “help the heart,” in Laka, it is “take by the hand” in the meaning of “rescue” or “deliver,” in Huautla Mazatec the back-translation of the employed term is “lift out on behalf of,” in Anuak, it is “have life because of,” in Central Mazahua “be healed in the heart,” in Baoulé “save one’s head” (meaning to rescue a person in the fullest sense), in Guerrero Amuzgo “come out well,” in Northwestern Dinka “be helped as to his breath” (or “life”) (source: Bratcher / Nida), and in Nyongar barrang-ngandabat or “hold life” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

In South Bolivian Quechua it is “make to escape” and in Highland Puebla Nahuatl, it is “cause people to come out with the aid of the hand.” (Source: Nida 1947, p. 222.)

See also salvation.

save yourself and us

The Greek that is translated as “save yourself and us” in English has to be translated in a more differentiated manner in languages that use honorific forms. In Balinese, for instance, the translation is “save your life (honorific) and the life (non-honorific) of the two of us.”

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Luke 23:39)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding Jesus).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Luke 23:39)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 23:39:

  • Nyongar: “One of the thieves hanging there, he insulted Jesus: ‘You’re the Messiah, are you? Save yourself and us!'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “One of the evil people crucified with Yesus sassed Yesus, he said: ‘You (sing.) say you (sing.) are the Redeemer King! If it is really like that, help yourself (sing.) and us (excl.) too please!'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa was also insulted by one of those nailed who had broken the law. He said, ‘Are you not the Almasi? Save yourself and us also.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And one of those two robbers that were nailed along with Jesus, he also spoke in rejection against him. He said, ‘If it’s really true that you are the king chosen by God, well let’s just see about it. You save yourself and you also save us!'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Even one of those who was nailed-with, he disparaged Jesus saying, ‘Aren’t you (sing.) the Messiah? Save yourself (sing.) then and us (excl.) as well!'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Also, one of whose who was nailed insulted/belittled him, saying, ‘Isn’t it so that you are supposed to be the Cristo? Well, go ahead, free yourself and us too!'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)