fast (verb)

The Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin and Greek that is translated as “fast” in English is translated in Isthmus Mixe as “going without food to worship God” and in Lacandon as “leaving eating in order to talk to God.” (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

In Vidunda it is translated as “resting to eat.” (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

Mark 2:18-22 in Russian Sign Language

Following is the translation of Mark 2:18-22 into Russian Sign Language with a back-translation underneath:

Source: Russian Bible Society / Российское Библейское Общество

Some people turned to Jesus and asked:

— These are the disciples of John the messenger. And these are the disciples of the Pharisees. They are fasting, refusing to eat, are hungry and sorrowful.

Jesus said:

— Now I am going to explain this to you. I’m going to give you three examples.

The first example. If there is a feast, a feast, a wedding, and the bridegroom has come, will the assembled guests refuse to eat? Will they fast? Will they grieve? Of course not! All together they will rejoice. But when the bridegroom leaves, when the guests see the bridegroom gone, then they will refuse to eat, they will fast and be sad.

Second example. Here are clothes that are worn out, all old, shabby, worn out, with holes, are we really going to sew a patch of new cloth to these old clothes? No one would do that. And if we sew a patch of new fabric, the old clothes will tear even more.

Third example. Here is a wine bag made from skins. This is an old bag. New wine is not poured into such a bag. And if you pour new wine into such an old bag of skins, the bag will burst and all the wine will spill out. Therefore, new wine is poured into new wine bags.

Original Russian back-translation (click or tap here):

Некоторые люди обратились к Иисусу и спросили:

— Есть ученики вестника Иоанна. Вот ученики фарисеев. Они постятся, отказываются от еды, испытывают голод и находятся в печали. Твои ученики почему не постятся?

Иисус сказал:

— Сейчас я вам объясню. Я расскажу вам три примера.

Первый пример. Если сегодня торжество, праздник, свадьба, и пришел жених, разве гости, которые собрались, будут отказываться от еды? поститься? печалиться? Конечно же, нет! Все вместе они будут радоваться. Но когда жениха не станет, когда гости увидят, что жениха нет, тогда они откажутся от еды, будут поститься и печалиться.

Второй пример. Вот одежда износилась, вся старая, ветхая, потертая, с дырками, разве мы будем к этой старой одежде пришивать заплатку из новой ткани? Так никто не делает. А если пришить заплату из новой ткани, то тогда старая одежда порвется еще хуже.

Третий пример. Вот мешок для вина из шкур. Это старый мешок. В такой мешок не наливают молодого вина. А если налить молодое вино в такой старый мешок из шкур, то мешок лопнет и все вино выльется. Поэтому молодое вино наливают в новые мешки для вина.

Back-translation by Luka Manevich

<< Mark 2:13-17 in Russian Sign Language
Mark 2:23-28 in Russian Sign Language >>

See also Mark 2:18-22 in Mexican Sign Language.

Mark 2:18-22 in Mexican Sign Language

Following is the translation of Mark 2:18-22 into Mexican Sign Language with back-translations into Spanish and English underneath:

© La Biblia en LSM / La Palabra de Dios

Retrotraducciones en español (haga clic o pulse aquí)

Algunas personas fueron y dijeron a Jesús: “Hoy vimos que los discípulos de Juan el Bautista ayunan, y también los fariseos ayunan, pero tus discípulos no ayunan, ¿porqué?”

Jesús dijo: “Mira, les doy ejemplos, como idea. Primero: Yo soy el novio, y tengo la fiesta de la body, los invitados comen y beben, ¿pueden decir ‘no gracias, estoy ayunando?’ No es posible, es normal que comen juntos. Cuando en el futuro la gente me arresten y ellos no entienden lo que pasa y están decepcionados van a decir ‘no gracias, estoy ayunando’. ¿Correcto?

Segundo: Si tienes ropa vieja y rota con un ollo, y se corta un pedazo de otra ropa nueva y se lo cose sobre el ollo… uds saben que eso es absurdo. Se lava la ropa y después la ropa rompe y el parche se cae y resulta peor, ¿correcto?

Tercero: Uds conocen los cueros de piel para beber. Yo les pregunto, un cuero viejo que se dejó por mucho tiempo ¿puedes verter vino nuevo, de hoy, adentro? No se puede, uds saben que el cuero se reventará. A fuerzas es necesario tener cueros nuevos para ponerlos vino, y queda bien. Si los dos son iguales, ambos nuevos, está bien. ¿Correcto?”

Some people went and said to Jesus: “We saw today that the disciples of John the Baptist fast, and also the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast, why is that?”

Jesus said: “Look, I will give examples, as an idea. Firstly: I am the bridegroom and I have a wedding party. The people invited eat and drink. Can they say: ‘no thanks, I am fasting?’ Impossible, it is normal that they eat together. In the future when I get arrested and they don’t understand what’s happening and they are disappointed, then they will say ‘no thank you, I am fasting.’ Right?

Secondly: If you have some old, broken piece of clothing with a hole in it, and you cut out a piece of material from a new item of clothing and sew it onto the hole….you know that that’s absurd. When you wash the clothes it will break and the patch will fall off and it will turn out worse, right?

Thirdly: You know the sacks that you drink from, made out of leather. I ask you, an old sack that has been left for a long time, can you pour today’s new wine into it? No you cannot, you know that the sack will burst open. You must have new sacks to pour wine into, and then it will be allright. If both are the same, both are new, it will work, right?”

Source: La Biblia en LSM / La Palabra de Dios

<< Mark 2:13-17 in Mexican Sign Language
Mark 2:23-28 in Mexican Sign Language >>

See also Mark 2:18-22 in Russian Sign Language.

complete verse (Mark 2:19)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 2:19:

  • Uma: “Yesus answered them with this parable [lit., example words], he said to them: ‘As for people at a wedding feast, do they fast while accompanying the bridegroom? Of course not. While the bridegroom is still with them they do not fast.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa answered them in a parable. He compared his disciples to people at a wedding. He said, ‘Can the people at a wedding fast as long as the bridegroom is still there with them? No. As long as the bridegroom is still there with them they cannot fast.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “,” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Jesus answered parabling, ‘If someone has-a-wedding-ceremony, do you think do-you-suppose (rhet. question) that the friends of the man-getting-married will not join-in-eating, whom he invited? They will certainly eat, because it is unseemly if they fast and the man-getting-married is still with them.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus replied, saying, ‘Can the people fast who have been invited to a marriage-feast as long as that man whose marriage is being celebrated is still with them? Of course not.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Ebira: “Jesus said to them: ‘Can the people (the relatives and friends of) a man, who is in the process of getting a wife, fast while the husband is with them? They cannot fast when the husband of the girl is with them.'” (Ebira does not have formal terms for “wedding,” “groom,” and “bride”) (Source: Hans-Jürgen Scholz in Holzhausen 1991, p. 34)
  • Peñoles Mixtec: “Is it fitting that people who are at a wedding feast, that they won’t eat anything? No! They will eat a lot, because they are rejoicing with their friend who is going to marry his wife.” (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)


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 .

Honorary are / rare constructs denoting God (“say”)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the usage of an honorific construction where the morphemes rare (られ) or are (され) are affixed on the verb as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. This is particularly done with verbs that have God as the agent to show a deep sense of reverence. Here, iw-are-ru (言われる) or “say” is used.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

Translation commentary on Mark 2:19


mē dunantai …: ‘are they able…?’: the implied answer to this form of the question in Greek is negative, ‘No!’

hoi huioi tou numphōnos: literally ‘the sons of the chamber of the bridegroom’: the Greek form of the Semitic idiom benei ha-chepah (cf. Koehler: chepah ‘chamber of bridegroom’). Commentators are divided over whether the word means, generally, ‘wedding guests’ (Revised Standard Version, The Modern Speech New Testament, Berkeley), or, in a more restricted sense, ‘the bridegroom’s attendants,’ ‘groomsmen’ (cf. Turner, Translator’s New Testament, Knox, Le Nouveau Testament. Version Synodale).

For other examples of the Semitic idiom ‘sons of…’ see 3.17; Mt. 23.15; Lk. 10.6; 16.8; 20.34, 36.

en hō ‘in (the time) which,’ ‘during the time,’ ‘while.’

hoson chronon ‘so long a time (as)’: the accusative case is used to express duration of time.

hosos (12 more times in Mark) ‘as long,’ ‘how long’ .

chronos (9.21) ‘time.’


Said must in some languages be ‘asked’ (e.g. Chicahuaxtla Triqui).

There are few languages in which the idiom sons of the bridechamber can be reproduced literally. In fact, in some languages it implies the illegitimate children of the couple and in others a crude reference to the consummation of the marriage. One must therefore generally adopt an expression meaning ‘wedding guests’ or ‘friends of the bridegroom,’ and for either of these terms there are usually very satisfactory equivalents (cf. Pamona ‘those who accompany the bridegroom on the way to the bride’s house’). In a number of cultures the second meaning is particularly acceptable since there are customs closely paralleling the wedding practices of N.T. times.

The Greek form of the verse implies a negative reply, hence, ‘the wedding guests cannot fast can they….’ Many languages clearly distinguish between questions implying positive or negative replies, and accordingly, this subtle, but important, distinction in the Greek should be indicated. (The Revised Standard Version tends to overlook such distinctions.)

In asking the question as to fasting during the time that the bridegroom is with the wedding guests, the real problem is not whether the guests can, but whether they would want to fast. However, the form of the question occurs with can, for this makes the question all the more forceful, and hence the assumed inability to fast should, if possible, be clearly noted.

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 .