amazed, astonished, marvel

The Greek that is translated as “astonished” or “amazed” or “marvel” in English is translated in Pwo Karen as “stand up very tall.” (In John 5:20, source: David Clark)

Elsewhere it is translated as “confusing the inside of the head” (Mende), “shiver in the liver” (Uduk, Laka), “to lose one’s heart” (Mískito, Tzotzil), “to shake” (Southern Bobo Madaré), “to be with mouth open” (Panao Huánuco Quechua) (source: Bratcher / Nida), “to stand with your mouth open” (Citak) (source: Stringer 2007, p. 120), “ceasing to think with the heart” (Bulu), or “surprise in the heart” (Yamba) (source for this and one above: W. Reyburn in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 1ff. ).

In Mark 5:20 and elsewhere where the astonishment is a response to listening to Jesus, the translation is “listened quietly” in Central Tarahumara, “they forgot listening” (because they were so absorbed in what they heard that they forgot everything else) in San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, “it was considered very strange by them” in Tzeltal (source: Bratcher / Nida), “in glad amazement” (to distinguish it from other kinds of amazement) (Quetzaltepec Mixe) (source: Robert Bascom), or “breath evaporated” (Mairasi) (source: Enngavoter 2004).

In Western Dani astonishment is emphasized with direct speech. In Mark 1:22, for instance, it says: “Wi!” yinuk, pi wareegwaarak — “They were all amazed, saying ‘Oh'” (source: Lourens De Vries in The Bible Translator 1992, p. 333ff. )

In Low German it is translated as grote Oken maken or “make big eyes” (sometime followed by: un kreegn dat Stillswiegen: “and became silent”) (translation by Johannes Jessen, publ. 1933, republ. 2006).

In the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) it is translated as brummte de Lück de Kopp or “the heads of the people buzzed,” Bauklötz jestaunt, lit. “marvel toy blocks,” and vür Staune de Muhl nit mieh zojekräch or “so full of marvel that they couldn’t close their mouths again.”

In the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) it is often translated as baff vor staune or “speechless because of their marvel.” (source: Zetzsche)(Source: Jost Zetzsche)

See also amazed and astonished.


The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that is translated as “wisdom” in English is rendered in Amganad Ifugao and Tabasco Chontal as “(big) mind,” in Bulu and Yamba as “heart-thinking,” in Tae’ as “cleverness of heart” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), in Palauan as “bright spirit (innermost)” (source: Bratcher / Hatton), in Ixcatlán Mazatec as “with your best/biggest thinking” (source: Robert Bascom), in Noongar as dwangka-boola, lit. “ear much” (source: Portions of the Holy Bible in the Nyunga language of Australia, 2018 — see also remember), and in Dobel, it is translated with the idiom “their ear holes are long-lasting” (in Acts 6:3) (source: Jock Hughes).

See also wisdom (Proverbs).


The Greek that is translated as a form of “teach” is translated with some figurative phrases such as “to engrave the mind” (Ngäbere) or “to cause others to imitate” (Huichol). (Source: Bratcher / Nida)

In Noongar it is translated as karni-waangki or “truth saying” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

miracle, miraculous power

The Greek and Hebrew that are often translated as “miracles” or “miraculous powers” into English are translated as “thing which no one has ever seen before” (San Blas Kuna), “thing marveled at” (Tepeuxila Cuicatec), “breathtaking thing” (Ngäbere), “long-necked thing” (referring to the onlookers who stretch their necks to see) (Huautla Mazatec), “sign done by God’s power” (Mossi), “supernatural power” (Javanese), “thing that has heaven-strength” (Highland Totonac) (source for all above: Bratcher / Nida), “amazing thing” (Muna) (source: René van den Berg), “sign no one else could do” (Tenango Otomi) (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125), or “impossible thing” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).

See also wonder.


The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “Sabbath” in English is rendered as “day we rest” in Tzotzil, in Mairasi as “Jew’s Rest Day,” in Quiotepec Chinantec as “day when people of Israel rested,” in Shilluk as “day of God,” in Obolo as Usen Mbuban or “Holy Day,” and in Mandarin Chinese as ānxírì (安息日) or “rest day” (literally: “peace – rest – day”).

(Sources: Tzotzil: Marion Cowan in Notes on Translation with Drill, p. 169ff; Mairasi: Enggavoter 2004; Quiotepec Chinantec: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.; Shilluk: Nida 1964, p. 237; Obolo: Enene Enene; Chinese: Jost Zetzsche)

In the old Khmer version as well as in the first new translation this term was rendered as “day of rest” (Thngai Chhup Somrak / ​ថ្ងៃ​ឈប់​សំរាក). Considered inadequate to convey its religious meaning (not only about cessation of work, but also in honor of Yahweh as the Creator), the committee for the Today’s Khmer Version (publ. 2005) decided to keep the Hebrew word and use its transliterated form Thgnai Sabath (​ថ្ងៃ​សប្ប័ទ). “The Buddhist word Thngai Seil ‘day of merits’ used by some Catholics was once under consideration but was rejected because it did not receive unanimous support.” (Source: Joseph Hong in The Bible Translator 1996, p. 233ff. )

In Spanish, the translation is either día de reposo (“day of rest”) or sábado (usually: “Saturday,” derived from the Greek and Hebrew original. Nida (1947, p. 239f.) explains that problem for Spanish and other languages in its sphere of influence: “In translation ‘Sabbath’ into various aboriginal languages of Latin America, a considerable number of translators have used the Spanish sábado, ‘Saturday,’ because it is derived from the Hebrew sabbath and seems to correspond to English usage as well. The difficulty is that sábado means only ‘Saturday’ for most people. There is no religious significance about this word as the is with ‘Sabbath’ in English. Accordingly the [readers] cannot understand the significance of the persecution of Jesus because he worked on ‘Saturday.’ It has been found quite advantageous to use the translation ‘day of rest,’ for this accurately translated the Hebrew meaning of the term and resolves the problem in connection with the prohibitions placed upon some types of activities.”

In French Sign Language it is translated with a sign that depicts closing of the blinds of a store:

“Sabbath” in French Sign Language (source: La Bible en langue des signes française )

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Sabbath .

Mark 6:1-6 in Mexican Sign Language

Following is the translation of Mark 6:1-6 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)

Jesus y sus discípulos ahora van a Nazaret, el mismo Nazareth donde había vivido y crecido Jesús.

El sábado después, el día de descanso, Jesús empieza a enseñar y predicar en el templo.

Las personas que lo veían estaban sorprendidos y decían: “¿Cómo sabe enseñar y también puede hacer milagros? ¿Quién le da la sabiduría? ¿Cómo?”

Otras personas decían: “Yo lo conozco, el es Jesús que era carpintero, su mamá es María y sus hermanos son Jacobo, José, Judas y Simón, y también hay varias hermanas.”

Las personas que estaban viendolo no lo tomaban en serio, lo conocían y adentro no les gustaba, estaban viendo con desprecio.

Jesús dijo: “Mira, les explico; cuando los profetas van a su pueblo, a la casa donde antes vivían y crecían, las personas de la familia no tienen nada de respeto.

Si los profetas van a otro pueblo las personas allá sí los respetan, ¿entienden?”

Después pocos enfermos se acercaban, y Jesús les imponía las manos y los sanaba. Jesús no podía hacer más milagros porque las personas no creían.

Jesus and his disciples now go to Nazareth, the same Nazareth where Jesus had lived and grown up.

Afterwards on Saturday, the day of rest, Jesus begins to teach and preach in the religious building.

The people who saw him were surprised and said: “How does he know how to teach and also to do miracles? Who gives him the wisdom? How?”

Other people said: “I know him, he is Jesus who used to be the carpenter, his mother is Mary and his brothers are James, Joseph, Judas and Simon and there are also various sisters.”

The people who were watching did not take him seriously, they knew him and inside they did not like it, they were looking on with scorn.

Jesus said: “Look, I will explain; when prophets go to their village, to the house where they used to live and grew up, the people of the family have no respect for them at all.

If the prophets go to another village the people there do respect them, do you understand?”

Then a few sick people came up and Jesus put his hands on them and healed them. Jesus could not do more miracles because the people did not believe.

Source: La Biblia en LSM / La Palabra de Dios

<< Mark 5:21-43 in Mexican Sign Language
Mark 6:7-13 in Mexican Sign Language >>

See also Mark 6:1-6 in Russian Sign Language.

Mark 6:1-6 in Russian Sign Language

Following is the translation of Mark 6:1-6 into Russian Sign Language with a back-translation underneath:

Source: Russian Bible Society / Российское Библейское Общество

The city of Capernaum. Here is the city of Nazareth. This is where Jesus lived and grew up in. Jesus and his disciples came from Capernaum to Nazareth. It was a Sabbath day. There in Nazareth there is a synagogue where the Jews gather. Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. He taught and taught and taught. The people listened to him and marveled:

— We know that Jesus is a former carpenter, he is an ordinary man. His mother is Mary, he has four brothers: James, Joses, Judas, Simon. He also has several sisters. How does he have so much wisdom? How can he teach like that? It can’t be like that!

Some said:

— We heard that Jesus healed people in different towns and places.

Others said:

— That can’t be!

And the people did not believe Jesus.

Jesus looked at them and said:

— It has happened before! God had chosen a prophet. People in different places believed him. But the people from the town where the prophet grew up, his relatives, friends — they did not believe the prophet. It is the same now.

Jesus could not perform a miracle in this place. Only some sick people Jesus healed. Jesus went out and went to different villages. In different places he taught the people.

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

Город Капернаум. Вот город Назарет. Там Иисус жил и вырос в нем. Иисус вместе со своими учениками из Капернаума прибыли в Назарет. Это был день субботний. Там в Назарете есть синагога, где собираются евреи. Иисус зашел в синагогу и начал учить. Он учил-учил. Люди слушали его и удивлялись:

— Мы же знаем, что Иисус бывший плотник, он — обычный человек. Его мать — Мария, у него четыре брата: Иаков, Иосет, Иуда, Симон. Также у него есть несколько сестер. Откуда у него столько мудрости? Как он может так учить? Не может такого быть!

Одни говорили:

— Мы слышали, что Иисус в разных городах и местах исцелял людей.

Другие говорили:

— Не может такого быть!

И люди не верили Иисусу.

Иисус посмотрел на них и сказал:

— Так было и раньше! Бог избрал пророка. Люди в разных местах верили ему. А вот люди из того города, где пророк вырос, его родные, знакомые — они пророку не верили. Так же и сейчас.

В этом месте Иисус не смог совершить чуда. Только некоторых больных людей Иисус исцелил. Иисус вышел и пошел по разным селениям. В разных местах он учил людей.

Back-translation by Luka Manevich

<< Mark 5:21-43 in Russian Sign Language
Mark 6:7-13 in Russian Sign Language >>

See also Mark 6:1-6 in Mexican Sign Language.

synagogue, temple (inner), temple (outer)

In many English translations the Greek terms “hieron” (the whole “temple” in Jerusalem or specifically the outer courts open to worshippers) and “naos” (the inner “shrine” or “sanctuary”) are translated with only one word: “temple” (see also for instance “Tempel” in German [for exception see below] and “tempel” in Dutch, Danish, or Afrikaans).

Other languages make a distinction: (Click or tap here to see more)

  • Navajo: “house in which worship is carried out” (for naos)
  • Balinese: “inner part of the Great Temple” (“the term ‘inner part’ denoting the hindmost and holiest of the two or three courts that temples on Bali usually possess”) vs. “Great Temple”
  • Telugu: “womb (i.e. interior)-of-the-abode” vs. “abode”
  • Thai: a term denoting the main audience hall of a Buddhist temple compound vs. “environs-of-the-main-audience-hall”
  • Kituba: “place of holiness of house-God Lord” vs. “house-God Lord”
  • Shipibo-Conibo: “deep in God’s house” vs. “God’s house” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • German das Buch translation by Roland Werner (publ. 2009-2022): “inner court of the temple” (Tempelinnenhof) vs. “temple”

Languages that, like English, German, Dutch, Danish, or Afrikaans don’t make that distinction include:

  • Mandarin Chinese: “聖殿 Shèng diàn” (“holy palace”)
  • Loma: “the holy place”
  • Pular: “the sacred house” (source for this and the one above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Zarma: “God’s compound”
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “big church of the Jews”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “big house on top (i.e. most important)”
  • Toraja-Sa’dan: “house that is looked upon as holy, that is sacred, that is taboo and where one may not set foot” (lit. “house where-the-belly-gets-swollen” — because taboo is violated — using a term that is also applied to a Muslim mosque) (source for this and the three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Mairasi: Janav Enggwarjer Weso: “Great Above One’s (God’s) House” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Noongar: Maya-maya-Kooranyi: “Sacred House” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “the big church of the Israelites”
  • Aguaruna: “the house for talking to God” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Guhu-Samane: “festival longhouse of God” (“The biiri, ‘festival longhouse’, being the religious and social center of the community, is a possible term for ‘temple’. It is not the ‘poro house’ as such. That would be too closely identified with the cult of poro. The physical features of the building, huge and sub-divided, lend it further favor for this consideration. By qualifying it as ‘God’s biiri’ the term has become meaningful and appropriate in the context of the Scriptures.”) (Source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator, 1965, p. 81ff. )
  • Enga: “God’s restricted access house” (source: Adam Boyd on his blog)

Another distinction that tends to be overlooked in translations is that between hieron (“temple” in English) and sunagógé (“synagogue” in English). Euan Fry (in The Bible Translator 1987, p. 213ff. ) reports on this:

“Many older translations have simply used transliterations of ‘temple’ and ‘synagogue’ rather than trying to find equivalent terms or meaningful expressions in their own languages. This approach does keep the two terms separate; but it makes the readers depend on explanations given by pastors or teachers for their understanding of the text.

“Translators who have tried to find meaningful equivalents, for the two terms ‘temple’ and ‘synagogue’ have usually made a distinction between them in one of two ways (which focus on the contrasting components of meaning). One way takes the size and importance of the Temple to make a contrast, so that expressions such as ‘sacred meeting/ worship house of the Jews’ and ‘big sacred meeting/worship house of the Jews’ are used. The other way focuses on the different nature of the religious activity at each of the places, so that expressions such as ‘meeting/worship house of the Jews’ and ‘sacrifice/ceremony place of the Jews’ are used.

“It is not my purpose in this article to discuss how to arrive at the most precise equivalent to cover all the components of meaning of ‘temple’. That is something that each translator really has to work through for himself in the light of the present usage and possibilities in his own language. My chief concern here is that the basic term or terms chosen for ‘temple’ should give the reader of a translation a clear and correct picture of the location referred to in each passage. And I am afraid that in many cases where an equivalent like ‘house of God’ or ‘worship house’ has been chosen, the readers have quite the wrong picture of what going to the Temple or being in the Temple means. (This may be the case for the word ‘temple’ in English too, for many readers.)”

Here are some examples:

  • Bambara: “house of God” (or: “big house of worship”) vs. “worship house” (or: “small houses of worship”)
  • Toraja-Sa’dan: “house where-the-belly-gets-swollen” (see above) vs. “meeting house for discussing matters concerning religious customs” (and “church” is “house where one meets on Sunday”)
  • Navajo: “house in which worship is carried out” vs. “house of gathering” (source for all above: Bratcher / Nida)
Click or tap here to see a short video clip about Herod’s temple (source: Bible Lands 2012)

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing synagogues in New Testament times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also this devotion on YouVersion .