The Greek that is translated in English as “hearts were hardened” or similar is rendered in Pwo Karen as “with thick ears and horns” (source: David Clark), in Shipibo-Conibo as “ears without holes” (source: Bratcher / Nida), and in Saint Lucian Creole French as Tèt yo té wèd toujou: “Their heads were hard still” (source: David Frank in Hearts and Minds).
The Greek that is translated as “hardness of heart” in English is translated as “large heart” into San Mateo Del Mar Huave, “tightness of heart” in Shilluk, “blind in their thoughts” in Copainalá Zoque, “hard heads” in Chicahuaxtla Triqui, “ears without holes” in Shipibo-Conibo and “do not have pain in their heart” in both Tzotzil and Tzeltal.
The Greek that is translated as “anger” in English in this verse is translated with a variety of solutions (Bratcher / Nida says: “Since anger has so many manifestations and seems to affect so many aspects of personality, it is not strange that expressions used to describe this emotional response are so varied).
- Chicahuaxtla Triqui: “to be warm inside”
- Mende: “to have a cut heart”
- Mískito: “to have a split heart”
- Tzotzil: “to have a hot heart”
- Mossi: “a swollen heart”
- Western Kanjobal: “fire of the viscera”
- San Blas Kuna: “pain in the heart”
- Chimborazo Highland Quichua: “not with good eye”
See also God’s anger.
Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 3:5:
- Uma: “Yesus turned around looking at them. He was angry and upset because their hearts were very hard. That is why he said saying to the man whose one hand was dead: ‘Put out your (sing.) hand.’ He put out his hand, he was healed.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “Isa looked around at them. His liver was very grieved and he was angry because they had no pity for the people. So-then he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ Na, he stretched it out, then his hand was already healed.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “As Jesus was looking around at the many people, he became very angry with them, and his breath became very painful because those people had no pity. Then he said to the man whose hand was destroyed, ‘Friend, straighten out your hand.’ And the man straightened out his hand and was immediately healed.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “Jesus was angry as he looked-fixedly at them. He also felt sad (lit. his thoughts hurt) because of their stubborn/unresponsive minds (lit. hard minds). Then he said to the one with the atrophied arm/hand, ‘Stretch-out your (singular) arm/hand.’ He stretched it out and it was totally made-well.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “Jesus stared at that crowd of people around him. Part of his mind/inner-being was angry. The other part was sad because of their stubbornness (lit. the hardness of their heads). He transferred his look to that person-with-something-limp and said, ‘Raise-and-stretch-out your hand/arm.’ He truly did raise-and-stretch-it -out, that limpness of his at once becoming completely better.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
God transcends gender, but most languages are limited to grammatical gender expressed in pronouns. In the case of English, this is traditionally confined to “he” (or in the forms “his,” “him,” and “himself” in many English Bible translations when referring to the persons of the Trinity with the capitalized “He,” “His,” “Him,” or “Himself”), “she” (and “her,” “hers,” and “herself”), and “it” (and “its” and “itself”).
Modern Chinese, however, offers another possibility (click or tap here to read more):
In modern Chinese, the third-person singular pronoun is always pronounced the same (tā), but it is written differently according to its gender (他 is “he,” 她 is “she,” and 它/牠 is “it” and their respective derivative forms). In each of these characters, the first (or upper) part defines the gender (man, woman, or thing/animal), while the second element gives the clue to its pronunciation.
In 1930, after a full century with dozens of Chinese translations, Bible translator Wang Yuande (王元德) coined a new “godly” pronoun: 祂. Chinese readers immediately knew how to pronounce it: tā. But they also recognized that the first part of that character, signifying something spiritual, clarified that each person of the Trinity has no gender aside from being God.
While the most important Protestant and Catholic Chinese versions respectively have opted not to use 祂, many other Bible translations do and it is widely used in hymnals and other Christian materials. (Source: Zetzsche)
Early versions of Lü Zhenzhong’s (呂振中) version (New Testament: 1946, complete Bible: 1970) also used 祂 to refer to “God.” Kramers points out: “This new way of writing ‘He,’ however, has created a minor problem of its own: must this polite form be used whenever Jesus is referred to? Lü follows the rule that, wherever Jesus is referred to as a human being, the normal ta (他) is written; where he is referred to as divine, especially after the ascension, the reverential ta (祂) is used.”
Source: R. P. Kramers in The Bible Translator 1956, p. 152ff.
In Kouya, Godié, Northern Grebo, Eastern Krahn, Western Krahn, and Guiberoua Béte, all languages of the Kru family in Western Africa, a different kind of systems of pronouns is used (click or tap here to read more):
In that system one kind of pronoun is used for humans (male and female alike) and one for natural elements, non-liquid masses, and some spiritual entities (one other is used for large animals and another one for miscellaneous items). While in these languages the pronoun for spiritual entities used to be employed when referring to God, this has changed into the use of the human pronoun.
Lynell Zogbo (in The Bible Translator 1989, p. 401ff) explains in the following way: “From informal discussions with young Christians especially, it would appear that, at least for some people, the experience and/or concepts of Christianity are affecting the choice of pronoun for God. Some people explain that God is no longer ‘far away,’ but is somehow tangible and personal. For these speakers God has shifted over into the human category.”
In Kouya, God (the Father) and Jesus are referred to with the human pronoun ɔ, whereas the Holy Spirit is referred to with a non-human pronoun. (Northern Grebo and Western Krahn make a similar distinction.)
Eddie Arthur, a former Kouya Bible translation consultant, says the following: “We tried to insist that this shouldn’t happen, but the Kouya team members were insistent that the human pronoun for the Spirit would not work.”
In Burmese, the pronoun ko taw (ကိုယ်တော်) is used either as 2nd person (you) or 3rd person (he, him, his) reference. “This term clearly has its root in the religious language in Burmese. No ordinary persons are addressed or known by this pronoun because it is reserved for Buddhist monks, famous religious teachers, and in the case of Christianity, the Trinity.” (Source: Gam Seng Shae in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 202ff.)
The English “Contemporary Torah” addresses the question of God and gendered pronouns by mostly avoiding pronouns in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (unless God is referred to as “lord,” “father,” “kind,” or “warrior”). It does that by either using passive constructs (“He gave us” vs “we were given”), by using the adjective “divine” or by using “God” rather than a pronoun.
Translator: Simon Wong