The Greek that is translated in English with “remove the roof” is translated into Avaric with an existing term: t’ox bichize. “Demolishing a roof in order to reach the interior of a house is an entirely familiar action, used, for example, in assaults on strongholds and fortified buildings in wartime; there is even a special phrase for this in Avaric (t’ox bichize).”
The Greek terms that are translated “mat” or “bed” or similar in English are translated in Ebira as odooro or “stretcher.” Hans-Jürgen Scholz (in Holzhausen 1991, p. 42f.) explains the long odyssey of finding the right term: The regular term for “bed” (ode) didn’t work since this only referred to the traditional raised mud floor used for sleeping which was unmovable and could not be used in the story. The term iveedi was used for a movable bed with a metal frame also did not work since it exclusively referred to modern beds imported from Japan which of course could also not be used in the context of the story. The word for “mat” (uvene) was also impossible to use since traditional mats are fragile and and could not possible be used to lower someone down from the roof. Finally the term odooro for “stretcher” was used.
Still the first version that used that term and said “roll up your stretcher and leave” still had to be changed one more time since stretchers are traditionally made of old rags and only used once. Therefore in the final text it had to be emphasized that the odooro had to be just cleared out of the house as a courtesy by the healed paralytic rather than to be kept for further use.
The Greek that is translated as “paralytic” in English is translated by the Panjabi translation in Persian script with the common expression “one struck by paralysis.” (Source; Yousaf Sadiq in The Bible Translator 2021, p. 189ff.)
Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 2:4:
Uma: “There was no way for them to get close to Yesus because it was full of people. That is why they climbed the stairs going to the top of the house, they lifted/pried-off the roof above Yesus, and they lowered their friend with his mat going into the house.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “Because they could not come close to Isa because (there were) so many people, so-then they broke down the flat roof above the head of Isa. When they had made a way, they lowered the sick person on his stretcher.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “They can’t get near to Jesus because of the many people who are gathered there, so then they made a hole in the roof above Jesus, and when the hole was already big they lowered the man on his hammock down to Jesus.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “But they had no way to bring-him-near to Jesus because of the crowded-in people, so they climbed-up-with-him to the roof and they removed some of the roof directly-above Jesus. Then they lowered the stretcher on-which-the cripple -was-lying.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “Those people weren’t able to get that person close to Jesus for (the house) was full of people. Without anything further, what they did was, they made-an-hole in the roof above Jesus. And then they let down that person they had carried, still on what-he-was-lying-on.)” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
“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, Hisuw, Ià-sŭ, 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, Jesús, Jésus, Jesúsu, Jethu, Jezed, Jezi, Jézi, Ježiš, Jezu, Jezus, Jézus, Jėzus, Jēzus, Jezusi, Jėzus, Jezuz, Jíísas, Jiizas, Jiijajju, 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, 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).
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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 Yē would be the family name and Héhuá — “harmonic and radiant” — the given name. In the same manner, Yē 耶 would be the family name of Jesus and Sū 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 Sū 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):
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. )
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.
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 IHCOYCXPICTOC or “Jesus Christ.”
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 )
Instead of prosenegkai ‘bring to’ of the majority of editions of the Greek text, Textus Receptus, Souter, Kilpatrick and Soden have proseggisai ‘approach.’
mē dunamenoi ‘not being able’: the participle is causal ‘because (or, since) they were unable….’
prosenegkai (10.13) ‘bring to’ in its literal sense, not in the meaning of ‘bring (a sacrifice) to (the altar),’ as in 1.44.
ton ochlon (some 37 times in Mark; once in the plural ochloi ‘crowds’ 10.1) ‘the crowd.’ Here not in the sense of a disorganized or an unruly mob, but of the people gathered to hear Jesus speak.
apestegasan tēn stegēn ‘they unroofed the roof’ (literally).
apostegazō (only here in the N.T.) ‘remove the roof.’
stegē (only here in Mark) ‘roof’: although Mark does not specify it, the roof would be reached, of course, by the outside steps (cf. 13.15). “The roof would be flat, and not made of very thick material, perhaps rough rafters with branches laid across, and the whole plastered with mud, so that ‘to take off the roof’ and let someone down through it … would be quite easy.” (Notice that Luke 5.19 speaks of the tiled roof of Roman or Hellenistic construction; cf. Lagrange; Creed, p. 79.)
hopou ēn ‘where he was,’ i.e. just above the place where Jesus was: Manson “above the spot where Jesus was”; The Modern Speech New Testament “just over His head”; Moffatt “under which he stood.”
exoruxantes (only here in Mark) ‘digging out,’ ‘digging through.’ This verb further defines the nature of the roof. Arndt & Gingrich: “making an opening by digging through the clay of which the roof was made, and putting the debris to one side, so that it does not fall on the heads of those in the house.”
chalōsi ton krabaton ‘they let down the pallet.’
chalaō (only here in Mark) ‘let down,’ ‘lower’ (cf. Acts 9.25). How they lowered the pallet is not made clear. The general presumption is that ropes would be used: Vincent, however, is of the opinion that no ropes would be required. In any case no great distance would be involved since the roof would be quite low.
krabatos (2.9, 11, 12; 6.55) ‘pallet,’ ‘mat’: Moulton & Milligan define it: ‘the poor man’s bed or mattress,’ a word better suited to the narrative than klinē ‘bed’ in Mt. 9.2 and Lk. 5.18.
katekeito (cf. 1.30) ‘he was lying.’
Because any reference to Jesus is several clauses removed, it is often necessary to translate ‘and when they could not get near Jesus.’
Crowd is often just ‘many people.’
To remove the roof poses not only problems for the translator but for many readers, especially those who cannot imagine a flat roof such as was common in Palestine in the time of Jesus (and still is). In many instances it is preferable to use rather generalized statements at this point, unless by some picture to be used in the text the fact of flat roofs can be made clear. The first verb may then be translated as ‘they took away part of the roof’ and the second ‘when they had made a hole’ (or ‘an open place’). Of course, the Greek describes graphically the process of digging out a hole, but this may be difficult, if not impossible, to communicate in another language, especially where people are acquainted only with very steep, thatch-covered dwellings.
Since in most areas of the world people use improvised stretchers to carry people, such a term as is used for these objects can be employed here for pallet.
Let down must often be made specific, i.e. ‘by hand’ or ‘with ropes.’ Probably the latter is preferable.
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 .