complete verse (Luke 9:30)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 9:30:

  • Uma: “Suddenly there were two people talking to him, they were the prophets Musa and Elia.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Then suddenly there were two men talking with Isa. They were eymulla (signifying a deceased person) Musa and eymulla Eliyas.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And all of a sudden there appeared two men who talked with him — they were Moses and Elijah, the long ago prophets of God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Right then two men appeared whose appearance was also dazzling talking-with Jesus who were Moses and Elias. What they were talking about was his near-in-time death in Jerusalem to fulfil the plan of God.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When it was like that now, suddenly/unexpectedly there were two men, Moises and Elias,” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)


The name that is transliterated as “Moses” in English is signed in Spanish Sign Language in accordance with the depiction of Moses in the famous statue by Michelangelo (see here). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)

“Moses” in Spanish Sign Language (source)

Another depiction in Spanish Sign Language (source: Carlos Moreno Sastre):

The horns that are visible in Michelangelo’s statue are based on a passage in the Latin Vulgate translation (and many Catholic Bible translations that were translated through the 1950ies with that version as the source text). Jerome, the translator, had worked from a Hebrew text without the niqquds, the diacritical marks that signify the vowels in Hebrew and had interpreted the term קרו (k-r-n) in Exodus 34:29 as קֶ֫רֶן — keren “horned,” rather than קָרַו — karan “radiance” (describing the radiance of Moses’ head as he descends from Mount Sinai).

Even at the time of his translation, Jerome likely was not the only one making that decision as this recent article alludes to.