The name that is transliterated as “Pilate” in English is translated in Spanish Sign Language (as well as in French Sign Language) with the sign signifying the washing of hands (referring to Matthew 27:24). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff. )

“Pilate” in Spanish Sign Language, source: Sociedad Bíblica de España

In American Sign Language it is translated with the sign for “government/governor” plus the sign for “P” with a circular movement. The reference to government indicates Pilate’s position of authority in the Roman Empire. (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)

“Pilate” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Pontius Pilate .

complete verse (Luke 23:52)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 23:52:

  • Noongar: “He went before Pilate and requested Jesus’ body.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Yusuf went to Governor Pilatus asking for the body of Yesus.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “This Yusup went to Pilatus and asked for the corpse of Isa.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And as for this Joseph, he went to Pilate and he begged him that he might get the body of Jesus, and Pilate allowed him to.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “This Jose, he went to Pilato to request the corpse of Jesus.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “He went to Pilato to ask for the body of Jesus.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)


The Greek Iēsous is “only” a proper name but one with great importance. The following quote by John Ellington (in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 401ff. ) illustrates this:

“In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ, Joseph is told that when Mary gives birth to a son ‘you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ (1:21). This name is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name [Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ) which is a short form of a name meaning] ‘the Lord [Yahweh] saves.’ The name is very significant and is in itself especially dear to Christians around the world. (…) Unquestionably great importance is attached to the name of Jesus by Christians of all persuasions and backgrounds.”

While Iēsous (pronounced: /i.ɛː.suːs/) is transliterated as “Jesus” (pronounced /ˈdʒiːzəs/) in English (but was translated as “Hælend” [the “healing one”] in Old English — see Swain 2019) it is transliterated and pronounced in a large variety of other ways as well, following the different rules of different languages’ orthographies, writing systems and rules of pronunciation. The following is a (partial) list of forms of Jesus in Latin characters: aYeso, Azezi, Cecoc, Chesús, Chi̍i̍sū, Ciisahs, Ciise, Ciisusu, Djesu, Ɛisa, Ƹisa, Eyesu, Gesù, Gesû, Gesü, Ġesù, Ghjesù, Giêsu, ꞌGiê‑ꞌsu, Giê-xu, Gyisɛse, Hesu, Hesús, Hisus, Hisuw, Ià-sŭ, Iesen, Ié:sos, Iesu, Iesui, Iesusɨn, Iesusiva, Ié:sos, Ihu, Iisus, Ijeesu, iJisọsị, Iji̍sɔ̄ɔsi, Iosa, Íosa, Ìosa, İsa, I’sa, Isiso, Ísu, Isus, Isusa, Iisussa, Isuthi, Itota, Îtu, Isuva, Izesu, Izesuq, Jasus, Jeeju, Jeesus, Jeesus, Jeezas, Jehu, Jeisu, Jeju, Jejus, Jeso, Jesoe, Jesosa, Jesoshi, Jesosy, Jesu, Jesû, Jesua, Jesuh, Jesuhs, Jesús, Jésus, Jesúsu, Jethu, Jezed, Jezi, Jézi, Ježiš, Jezu, Jezus, Jézus, Jėzus, Jēzus, Jezusi, Jėzus, Jezuz, Jiijajju, Jíísas, Jiizas, Jíìzọ̀s, Jisas, Jisase, Jisasi, Jisasɨ, Jisasɨ, Jisaso, Jisesi, Jisɛ̀, Jisos, Jisọs, Jisɔs, Jisu, Jiszs, Jizọs, Jizɔs, Jizọsi, Jizọsu, Jòso, Jusu, Jweesus, Ketsutsi, Njises, Sesi, Sisa, Sísa, Sisas, Sīsū, Sizi, Txesusu, uJesu, Ujísɔ̄si, ŵaYesu, Xesosi, ´Xesús, Xesús, Yasu, Ya:su, Ɣaysa, Yecu, Yeeb Sub, Yeeh Suh, Yeesey, Yeeso, Yeesso, Yēēsu, Yēēsu, Yehsu, Yëësu, Yeisu, Yeisuw, Yeshu, Yeso, Yesò, Yëso, Yɛso, ye-su, Yésu, Yêsu, Yẹ́sụ̃, Yésʉs, Yeswa, Yet Sut, Yetut, Yexus, Yezo, Yezu, Yiisu, Yiitju, Yis, Yisɔs, Yisufa, Yitati, Yusu, ‑Yusu, :Yusu’, Zeezi, Zezi, Zezì, Zezwii, Ziizɛ, Zisas, Zîsɛ, Zjezus, Zozi, Zozii, and this (much more incomplete) list with other writings systems: ᔩᓱᓯ, ᒋᓴᔅ, Հիսուս, ᏥᏌ, ኢየሱስ, ያሱስ, ܝܫܘܥ, Ісус, Їисъ, 耶稣, იესო, ईसा, イエス, イイスス, イエスス, 예수, येशू, येशो, ਈਸਾ, ພຣະເຢຊູ, ජේසුස්, যীশু, ଯୀଶୁ, ཡེ་ཤུ་, ‘ঈছা, இயேசு, ಯೇಸು, ພຣະເຢຊູ, ယေရှု, ઇસુ, जेजू, येसु, เยซู, យេស៊ូ, ᱡᱤᱥᱩ, ယေသှု, యేసు, ᤕᤧᤛᤢ᤺ᤴ, އީސާގެފާނު, ਯਿਸੂ, ꕉꖷ ꔤꕢ ꕞ, ⵏ⵿ⵗⵢⵙⴰ, ଜୀସୁ, يَسُوعَ,ㄧㄝㄙㄨ, YE-SU, ꓬꓰ꓿ꓢꓴ, 𖽃𖽡𖾐𖼺𖽹𖾏𖼽𖽔𖾏, ꑳꌠ, ᠶᠡᠰᠦᠰ (note that some of these might not display correctly if your device does not have the correct fonts installed).

Click or tap here to read more.

In some languages the different confessions have selected different transliterations, such as in Belarusian with Isus (Ісус) by the Orthodox and Protestant churches and Yezus (Езус) by the Catholic church, Bulgarian with Iisus (Иисус) by the Orthodox and Isus (Исус) by the Protestant church, Japanese with Iesu (イエス) (Protestant and Catholic) and Iisusu (イイスス) (Orthodox), or Lingala with Yesu (Protestant) or Yezu (Catholic). These differences have come to the forefront especially during the work on interconfessional translations such as one in Lingala where “many hours were spent on a single letter difference” (source: Ellington, p. 401).

In Chinese where transliterations of proper names between the Catholic and Protestant versions typically differ vastly, the Chinese name of Jesus (Yēsū 耶稣) remarkably was never brought into question between and by those two confessions, likely due to its ingenious choice. (Click or tap here to see more).

The proper name of God in the Old Testament, Yahweh (YHWH), is rendered in most Chinese Bible translations as Yēhéhuá 耶和華 — Jehovah. According to Chinese naming conventions, Yēhéhuá could be interpreted as Yē Héhuá, in which would be the family name and Héhuá — “harmonic and radiant” — the given name. In the same manner, 耶 would be the family name of Jesus and 稣 would be his given name. Because in China the children inherit the family name from the father, the sonship of Jesus to God the Father, Jehovah, would be illustrated through this. Though this line of argumentation sounds theologically unsound, it is indeed used effectively in the Chinese church (see Wright 1953, p. 298).

Moreover, the “given name” of 稣 carries the meaning ‘to revive, to rise again’ and seems to point to the resurrected Jesus. (Source: J. Zetzsche in Malek 2002, p. 141ff., see also tetragrammaton (YHWH))

There are different ways that Bible translators have chosen historically and today in how to translate the name of Jesus in predominantly Muslim areas: with a form of the Arabic Isa (عيسى) (which is used for “Jesus” in the Qur’an), the Greek Iēsous, or, like major 20th century Bible translations into Standard Arabic, the Aramaic Yēšūaʿ: Yasua (يَسُوعَ). (Click or tap here to see more.)

Following are languages and language groups that use a form of Isa include the following (note that this list is not complete):

  • Indo-Iranian languages: Persian, Dari, Central Pashto, Southern Pashto all use Eysa (عيسی or عيسىٰ for Southern Pashto), Sindhi uses Eysey (عيسيٰ), Southern Balochi Issa (ایسّا), Central Kurdish (Sorani) and Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) use Îsa (عیسای and Иса respectively), Turkmen has Isa, and Tajik Isoi (Исои — compare Iso/Исо in the Tajik Qur’an)
  • Turkic languages: Turkish uses İsa, Kazakh, Kumyk, Nogai, Crimean Tatar all have Isa (Иса), Kirghiz has Iysa (Ыйса), Uzbek has Iso (Исо — compare Iiso/Ийсо in the Uzbek Qur’an), Bashkir uses Aaisa (Ғайса), North Azerbaijani İsa, Uighur uses Eysa (ئەيسا), and Kara-Kalpak İysa (Ийса)
  • Caucasian languages: Bezhta and Lezghian use Isa (Иса), Avaric has Aisa (ГІиса), and Chechen Iza (Иза)
  • Various African languages: Somali, a Cushitic language, has Ciise, Kabyle has Ɛisa and Tahaggart Tamahaq has Yeswa (both Berber languages), the Saharan languages Central Kanuri, Manga Kanuri have Isa, the Atlantic-Congo languages Dagbani, Mampruli, and Bimoba use Yisa, and the Chadian Arabic Bible has Isa (عِيسَى)
  • In Indonesian, while most Bible translations had already used Yesus Kristus rather than Isa al Masih, three public holidays used to be described using the term Isa Al Masih. From 2024 on the government is using Yesus Kristus in those holiday names instead (see this article in Christianity Today ).
  • Some languages have additional “TAZI” editions (TAZI stands for “Tawrat, Anbiya, Zabur, and Injil” the “Torah, Prophets, Psalms and Gospel”) of the New Testament that are geared towards Muslim readers where there is also a translation in the same language for non-Muslims. In those editions, Isa is typically used as well (for example, the Khmer TAZI edition uses Isa (អ៊ីសា) rather than the commonly used Yesaou (យេស៊ូ), the Thai edition uses Isa (อีซา) rather than Yesu (เยซู), the Chinese edition uses Ěrsā (尔撒) vs. Yēsū (耶稣), and the English edition also has Isa rather than Jesus.)

In German the name Jesus (pronounced: /ˈjeːzʊs/) is distinguished by its grammatical forms. Into the 20th century the grammatical rules prescribed a unique Greek-Latin declination: Jesus (nominative), Jesu (genitive, dative, vocative), Jesum (accusative), from which today only the genitive case “Jesu” is still in active use. Likewise, in Seediq (Taroko), the morphological treatment of “Jesus” also occupies a special category by not falling under the normal rule of experiencing a vowel reduction when the object-specific suffix an is added “since it was felt that the readers might resent that the name has been changed that drastically.” (Compare Msian for “Moses” (Mosi) as an object, but Yisuan for “Jesus” (Yisu).) (Source: Covell 1998. p. 249)

In Lamba the name ŵaYesu consists of a transliteration Yesu and the prefix ŵa, a plural form for “proper names when addressing and referring to persons in any position of seniority or honor.” While this was avoided in early translations to avoid possible misunderstandings of more than one Jesus, once the church was established it was felt that it was both “safe” and respectful to use the honorific (pl.) prefix. (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff. )

In virtually all sign languages, “Jesus” is signed with the middle finger of each hand pointing to the palm (or wrist) of the other in succession (signing the nails of the cross). In the context of Bible translation this has been pointed out as theologically problematic since the “semantic connections of the original name Jesus do point towards ‘salvation,’ they do not naturally lead to crucifixion.” (Source: Phil King in Journal of Translation 1 (2020), p. 33ff.)

“Jesus” in German Sign Language (source )

Following is the oldest remaining Ethiopian Orthodox icon of Jesus from the 14th or possibly 13th century (found in the Church of the Saviour of the World in Gurji, Ethiopia). As in many Orthodox icons, Jesus’ right hand forms the Greek letters I-C-X-C for IHCOYC XPICTOC or “Jesus Christ.” Another interpretation of the right hand is that it shows three fingers pointing to the Trinity, while the two other fingers point to Jesus’ two natures.

source (c) Jacques Mercier and Alain Mathieu

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 )

The style of the following drawing of Jesus by Annie Vallotton is described by the artist as this: “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their imagination and freedom. That is when the drawings begin to communicate.” (see here )

Illustration by Annie Vallotton, copyright by Donald and Patricia Griggs of Griggs Educational Service.

Other visual representation of Jesus in TIPs include several non-Western styles of art: traditional Korean art, traditional Chinese art, modern Chinese abstract art, northern and central Thailand’s popular art, Japanese prints.

See also this devotion on YouVersion .

Translation commentary on Luke 23:50 – 23:53


These verses comprise a long elaborate sentence, introduced by kai idou (‘and behold,’ cf. on 1.20). The structure of this sentence is as follows: the subject anēr onomati Iōsēph is followed by three appositions bouleutēs huparchōn, anēr agathos kai dikaios and apo Arimathaias poleōs tōn Ioudaiōn which serve to identify him as to his position, his moral character and his local origin, and by the relative clause hos prosedecheto tēn basileian tou theou which identifies him as to his religious conviction. Between the second and third apposition a parenthetical clause is inserted (houtos … autōn) in order to explain his relationship with the trial of Jesus. At the beginning of v. 52 the main clause begins, the subject being resumed by the demonstrative pronoun houtos; it consists of three co-ordinate verbs ētēsato, enetulixen and ethēken, the first two being preceded by a subordinate participle (proselthōn and kathelōn). In each case participle and main verb denote closely connected acts. Finally mnēma is more precisely defined by the closing relative clause hou … keimenos. For details cf. subsequent notes on each verse.

(V. 50) bouleutēs huparchōn lit. ‘being a council member,’ i.e. a member of the Sanhedrin, cf. on 22.66. For huparchō cf. on 7.25. Here huparchōn is virtually redundant. bouleutēs.

anēr agathos kai dikaios ‘a good and just man,’ used in a moral sense, and explained by what follows.

(V. 51) houtos ouk ēn sugkatatetheimenos tē boulē kai tē praxei autōn ‘this man had not agreed with their plan and their action,’ parenthesis serving to explain how he, a member of the Sanhedrin, in the present situation with regard to Jesus could be called good and just. The periphrastic pluperfect has no special meaning. autōn refers to the members of the Sanhedrin, though they are not mentioned in the preceding clauses. boulē, cf. on 7.30.

sugkatatithemai, with dative, ‘to agree with,’ ‘to consent to,’ ‘to vote for.’

boulē here ‘plan,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘policy.’

praxis ‘action,’ ‘act.’

apo Arimathaias poleōs tōn Ioudaiōn lit. ‘from Arimathea a town of the Jews,’ best understood as identifying him as a native, not an inhabitant, of Arimathea. tōn Ioudaiōn has the name of the people instead of that of the country.

hos prosedecheto tēn basilean tou theou ‘who expected the (coming of the) kingdom of God.’ For a similar use of prosdechomai cf. on 2.25, 38. For the coming of the kingdom of God cf. on 17.20.

(V. 52) ētēsato to sōma tou Iēsou ‘(he) asked for the body of Jesus.’ sōma means here ‘(dead) body,’ ‘corpse.’

(V. 53) kai kathelōn enetulixen auto sindoni ‘and after taking it down (from the cross) he wrapped it in a linen cloth.’ auto, referring to sōma ‘corpse,’ goes with both verbs.

entulissō ‘to wrap,’ ‘to wrap up.’

sindōn ‘linen,’ ‘linen cloth,’ ‘linen sheet.’

ethēken auton en mnēmati laxeutō ‘he laid him in a rock-hewn tomb.’ Note auton ‘him,’ referring to a person, i.e. Jesus, after auto ‘it’ in the preceding clause.

laxeutos ‘hewn in the rock.’

hou ouk ēn oudeis oupō keimenos ‘where no one had yet been laid.’ The accumulation of the negations strengthens the negative aspect of the clause. Periphrastic ēn keimenos is to be rendered as a pluperfect, not as an imperfect.


The main clause, vv. 52f, can usually be rendered as two or more separate sentences; the real difficulty is in the introductory clauses, vv. 50f, because of the parenthesis in v. 51. Some translators change the syntactic structure rather radically, redistributing the clauses and phrases according to a clearer, more logical sequence, cf. e.g. Good News Translation. This has the drawback of suggesting relationships which Luke may not have had in mind. Most translators, therefore, think it wiser to restrict themselves to subdividing vv. 50f into two or more sentences, if necessary elucidating the relationships, e.g. ‘Now there was a man called Joseph, a member of the (Jewish) council, a good and just man, who had (or, He was a good and just man; as such he had) not agreed with their … deed. He came from the Jewish town of A. He expected the kingdom of God. This man (or, Joseph) went to Pilate…,’ cf. e.g. New English Bible, Bible de Jérusalem; also Marathi (which puts the locative apposition directly behind the name, as does Good News Translation). It may be necessary to transpose part of the main clause to the first sentence, e.g. ‘Look, a man who was called Joseph, a member of the council, a good and upright man, went to Pilate. He had not agreed with … what they did. He was a man from A., … He was expecting the kingdom of God. Well, he went to Pilate, he asked…’ (Sranan Tongo).

(V. 50) From the Jewish town of Arimathea, or, ‘native from A., a town in the region Judea (Bahasa Indonesia RC, Balinese), or, in the Jewish country.’ For the force of the preposition from see on “of Cyrene” in v. 26, for town cf. on “city” in 1.26.

A member of the council, or, ‘a man of the (or, elder in their) council’ (cf. Balinese, Zarma), ‘one of the men who sat in council’ (cf. Tae’); or a derivation of the word for council, e.g. ‘one of the speechmakers/discussers’ (Ekari). For council see on 22.66; the term may have to be specified, cf. “Jewish council” (Phillips).

Righteous, cf. references on 1.6.

(V. 51) Who had not consented to their purpose and deed, or, ‘who had not approved of what they had decided and what they had done (cf. Sranan Tongo), or, what the other members had designed and done,’ or, ‘he had not agreed with the other men about the things they had planned and done.’ In Ekari consented, or, ‘agreed’ is rendered by the phrase ‘one thought decided.’

He was looking for, or, ‘expecting,’ see on 2.25.

The kingdom of God, or, ‘the day to come that God rules’ (San Miguel El Grande Mixtec), ‘the time when the hour of God’s governing would arrive’ (Tzeltal).

(V. 52) Went to. In this context an honorific term may be preferable or obligatory, e.g. ‘waited upon’ (Balinese, cf. also “went into the presence of”, Good News Translation).

Asked for. In some cases better in direct discourse, ‘said, “Please, give me the body of Jesus” .’

Body, or, ‘corpse,’ ‘dead body,’ as is obligatory in several languages.

(V. 53) He took it down. A locative specification may be preferable, and/or an indication that Joseph probably was not the direct agent, e.g. ‘he had it taken down (or, caused people to lower it) from the cross.’

A linen shroud, or, ‘a grave cloth’; or less specifically, ‘a (good, or, linen) cloth.’

Laid him. In several languages the use of a personal pronoun would suggest a reference to a living person, and therefore one has to neglect the difference and use “it”, or a similar non-personal reference.

A rock-hewn tomb, or, ‘a tomb hewn (or, cut/dug) out of a rock (or, a rock cliff),’ ‘a stone-hole grave’ (Sranan Tongo). If tomb has to be described, one may say here, ‘hole/cave to place dead people in,’ or simply ‘hole/cave,’ the function being sufficiently clear from the context.

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.