The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that is typically translated in English as “serve,” “minister,” “walk with,” or “service” is translated in Igede as myị ẹrụ or “agree with message (of the one you’re serving).” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)
Tenango Otomi: “The Man Appointed” (i.e. the man to whom authority has been delegated) (source for this and preceding: Beekman, p. 189-190, see also Ralph Hill in Notes on Translation February 1983, p. 35-50)
Kankanaey: “Child of a Person” (source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “One From Heaven Born of Man/human?” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Tenango Otomi: “Man who came from heaven” (source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
Yatzachi Zapotec: “One who God sent, who was born a human” (a direct translation would have suggested “that the father is unknown due to the indiscretions of the mother” and where “he is the son of people” is used when one wants to disclaim responsibility for or relationship with a child caught in some mischief — source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
Mezquital Otomi: “The son who became a person” (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)
Alekano: “The true man who descended from heaven” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation June 1986, p. 36ff.)
Central Tarahumara: “One who has been stood up to help” (“This suggests that Christ has been given authority to some appointed task. A very generic word, help, was selected to fill in the lexically obligatory purpose required by the word which means to appoint or commission. Usually this word is used of menial tasks but not exclusively. The choice of this generic term retains the veiled reference to the character of Christ’s work which He intended in using the ‘Son of Man’ title.”)
Chicahuaxtla Triqui: “He who is relative of all people.” (“The Triqui word for relative is a rather generic term and in its extended sense sometimes is diluted to neighbor and friend. But the primary meaning is relative.”)
Tepeuxila Cuicatec: “The Person who Accompanies All People” (“The literal equivalents ‘son of man’ and ‘son of people’ were both rejected because of the false inference of natural birth involving a human father. Furthermore, it was necessary to expand any translation of the Bible by the addition of the pronoun ‘I’ so as to clarify the fact that Jesus is using the third person in referring to Himself. A common expression used by the Cuicatecos when difficulties befall someone, is to say to that one, ‘don’t worry, we are accompanying you.’ By this they mean they share that person’s sorrow. When wedding guests arrive at the home of a son who has just been married, they say to the father, ‘We have come to accompany you.’ By this they mean that they have come to share the father’s joy. These expressions do not refer to ordinary physical accompaniment, which is expressed by a set of different verbs. For example, visits are always announced by some such greeting as, “I have come to visit you,’ ‘I have come to see you,’ or ‘I have come to ask you something.’ The desire to accompany a friend on a journey is expressed by saying, ‘I will go with you.’ Translation helpers used the verb ‘accompany’ in constructing the phrase ‘I, the Person who Accompanies All People.'(…) It reflects the fact that Jesus closely identified Himself with all of us, understands our weaknesses, shares our burdens, rejoices with us in times of gladness, etc.”) (source for this and the three preceding: Beekman in Notes on Translation January 1963, p. 1-10)
Guhu-Samane: “Elder-brother-man” (“Since the term denotes an elder brother in every way such as honor, power, leadership, representation of the younger, etc. it is a meaningful and fitting — though not ostentatious — title.” Source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff. )
Navajo: Diné Silíi’ii — “Man he-became-the-one-who” (“This terra presented a difficulty not only in Navajo but also one peculiar to all the Athapaskan languages. It lies in the fact that all these languages, so far as we know, have a word phonetically similar to the Navajo diné which has three meanings: ‘man, people in general,’ ‘a man,’ ‘The People’ which is the name the Navajos use for themselves. (The name Navajo was first used by the Spanish explorers.) Although it seemed natural to say diné biye’ ‘a-man his-son,’ this could also mean ‘The-People their-son’ or ‘a-Navajo his-son,’ in contrast to the son of a white man or of another Indian tribe. Since the concept of the humanity of Christ is so important, we felt that diné biye’ with its three possible meanings should not be used. The term finally decided on was Diné Silíi’ii ‘Man he-became-the-one-who.’ This could be interpreted to mean ‘the one who became a Navajo,’ but since it still would impart the idea of Christ’s becoming man, it was deemed adequate, and it has proven acceptable to the Navajos.”) (Source: Faye Edgerton in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 25ff. )
Toraja-Sa’dan: “Child descended in the world” (“using a poetic verb, often found in songs that [deal with] the contacts between heaven and earth”) (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
Obolo: Gwun̄ Ebilene: “Child of Human” (source: Enene Enene).
Mairasi: Jaanoug Tat: “Person Child” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
Costa Rican Sign Language: “It was impossible to translate the expression ‘Son of Man.’ The son-man sign simply means ‘male child.’ The Costa Rican Sign Language (LESCO) team opted for an interpretation of the term and translated it ‘Jesus.'” (Source: Elsa Tamez (in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 59ff.)
In many West African languages, using a third person reference as a first person indicator is common practice with a large range of semantic effects. Languages that use the exact expression “son of man” as a self-reference or reference to another person include Lukpa, Baatonum, Mossi (“son of Adam”), Yoruba (“son of person”), Guiberoua Béte, or Samo. (Source: Lynell Zogbo in: Omanson 2000, p. 167-188.)
In Swahili the expression Mwana wa Mtu or mwana wa mtu or “son/daughter of human person,” which is used by several Bible translations, also has “the idiomatic meaning of ‘a human being’” (source: Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole in An Intercultural Criticism of New Testament Translations 2013, see here). The same is true for the Lingala expression Mwana na Moto — “son/daughter of human person.” (Ibid.)
In Balinese “we are again bordering on theological questions when we inquire as to which vocabulary shall be used to translate the texts where Jesus speaks of himself as ‘the Son of man.’ One of the fixed rules governing the use of these special vocabularies is that one may never use the deferential terms in speaking of oneself. This would be the extreme of arrogance. Now if one considers the expression ‘Son of man’ primarily as a description of ‘I,’ then one must continually indicate the possessions or actions of the Son of man by Low Balinese words. In doing this the mystery of the expression is largely lost. In any case the vocabulary used in most of the contexts would betray that Jesus means the title for himself.
“However, a distinction can actually be made in Balinese between the person and the exalted position he occupies. For example, the chairman of a judicial body may employ deferential terms when referring to this body and its chairman, without this being taken as an expression of arrogance. Considered from this standpoint, one may translate in such a way that Jesus is understood as using such deferential words and phrases in speaking of himself. The danger is, however, that the unity between his person and the figure of “the Son of man” is blurred by such usage.
“On request, the New Testament committee of the Netherlands Bible Society advised that ‘the sublimity of this mysterious term be considered the most important point and thus High Balinese be used.'”
In Malay, Barclay Newman reports on the translation of “Today’s Malay Version” (Alkitab Berita Baik) of 1987:
“One of the first things that we did in working through the earlier part of the New Testament was to decide on how we would translate some of the more difficult technical terms. It was immediately obvious that something must be done with the translation of ‘the Son of Man,’ since the literal rendering anak manusia (literally ‘child of a man’) held absolutely no meaning for Malay readers. We felt that the title should emphasize the divine origin and authority of the one who used this title, and at the same time, since it was a title, we decided that it should not be too long a phrase. Finally, a phrase meaning ‘the One whom God has ordained’ was chosen (yang dilantik Allah). It is interesting to note that the newly-begun Common Indonesian (Alkitab Kabar Baik, published in 1985) has followed a similar route by translating ‘the One whom God has chosen’ (yang depilih Allah).”
Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 10:45:
Uma: “Even I the Child of Mankind, my purpose in coming to the world was not to be an orderer. I came to be a servant [one-ordered], and to give myself to be killed to redeem the wrongs of many people.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “For even I, the Son of Mankind,’ said Isa, ‘I did not come here to ask help of mankind but to help mankind. And I came to submit my life for redeeming many people so that they will not be punished because of their sins.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Because I, the older sibling of mankind, I did not come to the world for mankind to help me, but rather that I might help mankind and that I might also let myself be killed so that I might redeem many people.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “You should follow-my -example, who am Child of a Person, because I did not come to be served but rather so that I would serve the many-people and give my life to redeem many.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “For the truth is, even as for me who am the One From Heaven Born of Man/human, what I came here for wasn’t to be served by others, but on the contrary that I would be the one who serves and to cause my life/breath to be severed, that being by which to take the punishment for the sin of the mass (of people).'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
The following words have already been dealt with: for ho huios tou anthrōpou ‘the Son of man’ cf. 2.10; ēlthen ‘came’ in a profoundly theological sense, cf. 2.17 (diakoneō ‘serve,’ ‘be a servant (diakonos),’ cf. 1.13.
kai gar ‘for even’ (cf. Montgomery, Translator’s New Testament, Manson): American Standard Version and Revised Standard Version ‘for also’ could be misunderstood as meaning that someone else also came not to be served, etc. The Modern Speech New Testament ‘for indeed’ Moffatt, Goodspeed, O Novo Testamento de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo. Revisdo Autorizada ‘for the Son of man himself.’
dounai tēn psuchēn autou ‘to give his life’: which is to say, ‘to give himself’ (cf. discussion of psuchē in 3.4; 8.35).
lutron (only here in Mark; elsewhere in the N.T. only in the parallel Mt. 20.28; cf. antilutron 1 Tim. 2.6) ‘ransom,’ ‘price of release.’ As Deissmann points out, the word in koiné Greek signified the money paid for the release of slaves. In his discussion of the Biblical use of lutron and its cognates, however, Westcott shows that in the Bible the word loses its idea of the purchase price paid someone, and means rather ‘redemption,’ ‘release,’ as a theological term, based upon the experience of Israel’s release from the Egyptian bondage. There is, therefore, no connotation of someone to whom the price of release is paid, as would be the case if lutron were to be literally understood as ‘ransom.’ While the word ‘ransom’ correctly translates lutron, it must not be pressed to mean more than is justified by Biblical usage of the term.
anti (only here in Mark) ‘instead of,’ ‘in behalf of,’ this proposition is the object of debate. The majority of translations have simply ‘for’ (and its equivalents in other languages: pour, por, pro, für). Arndt & Gingrich classify its meaning here as being ‘in behalf of.’ Taylor, however, contends that it means ‘in the place of,’ ‘instead of,’ quoting Moulton & Milligan to the effect that the simple ‘instead of’ is by far the commonest meaning of the word. Certainly ‘in the place of,’ ‘in exchange for’ is the usual meaning of the preposition in the N.T. (cf. Mt. 2.22, 5.38 (bis), Lk. 11.11, Jn. 1.16, Rom. 12.17, 1 Thess. 5.15, 1 Pet. 3.9 (bis), 1 Co. 11.15, Heb. 12.16, Jas. 4.15).
Robertson, in his discussion of anti and huper (ibid., 630-32), points out that it is the action involved in the passage in which the preposition is used, which determines whether anti (and huper) indicates ‘in the place of’ or ‘in behalf of.’ With this Taylor agrees, saying that it is the meaning of lutron which determines the meaning of anti in this passage.
In light of these considerations (and of the similar phrase antilutron huper pantōn in 1 Tim. 2.6), it would seem that the majority of translations are justified in rendering lutron anti pollōn ‘a ransom for many.’
pollōn ‘of many’: it is generally agreed that ‘many’ here is not to be taken strictly in the sense of ‘some but not all,’ but in the general sense of ‘many’ as contrasted with the single psuchē which is given for their lutron.
As noted above also must be translated with care, since it may imply that Jesus, along with others, came to serve. The interpretation of ‘Son of man himself’ is much to be preferred.
For Son of man, especially in connection with a first person pronoun, see 2.10.
Not to be served but to serve may be rendered quite explicitly as ‘did not come to have servants but to give himself to be a servant’ (Tzeltal). One may also translate as ‘not to have servants but rather to be a servant.’
In many languages give his life cannot be rendered literally. The meaning here, of course, is ‘to die,’ but the implication is that he surrenders himself to death, rather than being forced by others.
A ransom is easily translated in those parts of the world which employ such a term, e.g. as a ransom for someone captured, whether in fighting or in kidnapping. However, in some regions ransom is translated by a descriptive phrase meaning ‘to pay for something.’ For example, in Guerrero Amuzgo one may say ‘he died in order to pay for many,’ but this does not really convey the meaning of the original, for the implication of the Greek text is that by this payment many were ‘released.’ This is indicated in Guerrero Amuzgo by saying ‘paid for the sins of many,’ in which case the expression fits the religious context, but does obviously introduce an added factor. In Huastec the rendering has been ‘he will die in order to make many live.’ This translation has the advantage of showing the purpose of the dying in terms of the rescuing of those who are given life. In Mitla Zapotec the release is made explicit in ‘die to pay for many being released,’ the implied result of a ransom payment.
Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1961. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .