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.

Mark 7:32 - 37 in Mexican Sign Language

Following is the translation of Mark 7:32-37 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)

Un hombre sordo que no hablaba bien, las personas lo ayudaron (y lo dijeron que) vieniera con ellos. Fueron y dijeron a Jesús: “Él es sordo, por favor, ponle la mano y sanalo.”

Jesús (le hizo señal a que) vieniera, y fueron los dos a donde no había gente. Jesús puso los dedos en los oídos del hombre, escupió en sus dedos, metió los dedos y tocó la lengua del hombre. Entonces Jesús miró al cielo, suspiró y dijo: “Efata”, que significa ‘abre’ y al instante los oídos del hombre se abrieron y podía oír y hablar bien.

Los dos regresaron y Jesús dijo a las personas: “No digan nada, silencio, es un secreto.”

Las personas hablaban y lo decían a muchos, y Jesús les dijo que fueran silenciosos. Pero seguían diciendo y contandolo y se difundía: Jesús puede hacer todo bien, igual otra persona sorda que no puede hablar, Jesús puede mandarlo y el oído se abre, y puede hablar bien ¡huy, es increíble!”


A deaf man who didn’t speak well was helped by people who told him to come with them. They went and said to Jesus: “He is deaf, please put your hand on him and heal him.”

Jesus (gestured to him ) to come, and the two of them went to where there were no people. Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, spit on his fingers, stretched them out and touched the tongue of the man. Then Jesus looked up heaved a great sigh and said: “Ephphatha”, which means ‘open’ and at once the ears of the man were opened and he could hear and speak well.

The two of them came back and Jesus said to the people: “Don’t say anything, be quite, it’s a secret.”

The people talked and told many, but Jesus told them to be quiet. They continued telling people and it spread widely: Jesus can do everything well, in the same way another deaf person that cannot not talk, Jesus can order him and his ears open and he can speak well, wow it’s incredible!”

Source: La Biblia en LSM / La Palabra de Dios

<< Mark 7:31 in Mexican Sign Language
Mark 8:1-10a in Mexican Sign Language >>

complete verse (Mark 7:37)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 7:37:

  • Uma: “No kidding the amazement of the crowd, they kept saying: ‘All that he does is good. Deaf people he heals, they hear! People who can’t talk, they become able to talk!'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “And the people were really amazed. They said, ‘Uy, everything he has done is really good. Even the deaf person/s he caused to hear and the dumb person/s he caused to speak.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “They were all amazed, and they said, ‘Everything he does is very good, for he makes those who cannot hear to hear, and those who cannot speak to speak!'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “They were extremely surprised and they said, ‘Everything he has been doing is good. Even the deaf, he removes their deafness, and the dumb, he removes also their dumbness.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “All who heard were really amazed. They were saying, ‘All that he is doing is really good! He can-cause-the ears of the deaf -to-hear-sharply and can cause the dumb to be able to speak!'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

pronoun for "God"

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”), “she” (and “her,” “hers,” and “herself”), and “it” (and “its” and “itself”).

Modern Mandarin Chinese, however, offers another possibility. Here, 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, some Bible translations do and it is widely used in hymnals and other Christian materials. Among the translations that use 祂 to refer to “God” were early versions of Lü Zhenzhong’s (呂振中) version (New Testament: 1946, complete Bible: 1970). R.P. Kramers (in The Bible Translator 1956, p. 152ff. ) explains why later versions of Lü’s translation did not continue with this practice: “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.”

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 <em>The Bible Translator 2002, p. 202ff. )

In Thai, the pronoun phra`ong (พระองค์) is used, a gender-neutral pronoun which must refer to a previously introduced royal or divine being. Similarly, in Northern Khmer, which is spoken in Thailand, “an honorific divine pronoun” is used for the pronoun referring to the persons of the Trinity (source: David Thomas in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 445 ). In Urak Lawoi’, another language spoken in Thailand, the translation often uses tuhat (ตูฮัด) — “God” — ”as a divine pronoun where Thai has phra’ong even though it’s actually a noun.” (Source for Thai and Urak Lawoi’: Stephen Pattemore)

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,” “king,” 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.

Some Protestant English Bibles use a referential capitalized spelling when referring to the persons of the Trinity with “He,” “His,” “Him,” or “Himself.” This includes for instance the New American Standard Bible, but most translations, especially those published in the 21st century, do not. Two other languages where this is also done (in most Bible translations) are the closely related Indonesian and Malay. In both languages this follows the language usage according to the Qur’an, which in turn predicts that usage (see Soesilo in The Bible Translator 1991, p. 442ff. and The Bible Translator 1997, p. 433ff. ).

See also first person pronoun referring to God.

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Gender of God .

Translation: Chinese

在现代汉语中,第三人称单数代词的读音都是一样的(tā),但是写法并不一样,取决于性别以及是否有生命,即男性为“他”,女性为“她”,动物、植物和无生命事物为“它”(在香港和台湾的汉语使用,动物则为“牠”)。这些字的部首偏旁表明了性别(男人、女人、动物、无生命事物),而另一偏旁通常旁提示发音。

到1930年为止,基督教新教《圣经》经过整整一百年的翻译已经拥有了十几个译本,当时的一位圣经翻译者王元德新造了一个“神圣的”代词“祂”,偏旁“礻”表示神明。一般汉语读者会立即知道这字的发音是tā,而这个偏旁表示属灵的事物,因此他们明白这个字指出,三位一体的所有位格都没有性别之分,而单单是上帝。

然而,最重要的新教圣经译本(1919年的《和合本》)和天主教圣经译本(1968年的《思高圣经》)都没有采用“祂”;虽然如此,许多其他的圣经译本采用了这个字,另外还广泛出现在赞美诗和其他基督信仰的书刊中。(资料来源:Zetzsche)

《吕振中译本》的几个早期版本也使用“祂”来指称“上帝”;这个译本的《新约》于1946年译成,整部《圣经》于1970年完成。克拉默斯(Kramers)指出:“‘他’的这种新写法(即‘祂’)产生了一个小问题,就是在指称耶稣的时候,是否一律使用这个敬语代词?《吕振中译本》遵循的原则是,在称呼耶稣这个人的时候,用一般的‘他’,而在称呼耶稣神性的时候,特别是升天之后的耶稣,则用尊称‘祂’。”

Translator: Simon Wong

Honorary are / rare constructs denoting God (“do/make”)

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, s-are-ru (される) or “do/make” is used.

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

third person pronoun with high register

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 choice of a third person singular and plural pronoun (“he,” “she,” “it” and their various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. While it’s not uncommon to avoid pronouns altogether in Japanese, there are is a range of third person pronouns that can be used.

In these verses a number of them are used that pay particularly much respect to the referred person (or, in fact, God, as in Exodus 15:2), including kono kata (この方), sono kata (その方), and ano kata (あの方), meaning “this person,” “that person,” and “that person over there.”

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

See also third person pronoun with exalted register.

respectful form of "do" (nasaru)

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 to do this is through the usage of lexical honorific forms, i.e., completely different words, as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

In these verses, nasaru (なさる), the respectful form of suru (する) or “do” is used.

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

Mark 7 as chanted Injil

The following is an audio representation of a chanted Injil (Gospel) of Mark 7 in Arabic with a back-translation into English underneath:


© Al Kalima (source )

1 A group from Jerusalem from the sect of the Rigorists and the scholars of the Torah sought out Sayyidna Isa.
2 After they saw that some of his followers were not adhering to the washing of hands before eating,
3 they rejected this from them, since the group of the Rigorists held fast to many traditions they inherited from their forefathers, like washing of hands with all care and thoroughness,
4 and ablutions after returning from the market, and washing containers and plates.
5 The Rigorists and scholars demanded of Sayyidna Isa saying: “Why do your followers not hold fast to the heritage from our forefathers and ancient customs, why do they partake of food with unwashed hands?”
6 So Sayyidna Isa rebuked them saying: “You hypocrites! Do you say that my followers do not adhere to your traditions, while you abrogate God’s commandments! The prophecy of the prophet Isaiah was true about you, in that he said in the Book: “This people honors me with the tongue, but their hearts are far from me.
7 Their worship is useless since they follow their whims, and their traditions that they have fashioned with their own hands in falsehood”!
8-9 Sayyidna Isa continued his words saying: ” Do you ignore the instructions of God, and hold fast to your human rules, and oppose the commandments of God? And do you totally ignore it for the sake of carrying out your legislation which you write?
10 For the prophet Musa commanded you saying: ” Honor your father and mother” and he also said to you: “Whoever insults his father and mother, his punishment is certain death.”
11 But you have used trickery in this matter and allowed people to move away from it with a religious ruling you have laid down saying: “Whoever dedicates his money to the worship of God in the sacred courts and dedicates it to Him,
12 has become free from spending on his parents.”
13 So in this way you have negated with your religious ruling the radiant commands of God, and there is much else like this.”

14 Then Sayyidna Isa called the crowds saying: “Listen and pay attention to what I say to you.
15 There is nothing that enters the mouth of a person that enters the mouth of a person and makes him unclean, rather uncleanness comes out of him through his words and actions that make him unclean.
16 Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
17 And after Sayyidna Isa left the crowd of people and then returned to the house, his followers asked him to clarify about the matter of uncleanness that he meant.
18 So he addressed them saying: “I do not see you like other people who do not understand! Don’t you know that the food and drink that enters the inside of you, does not make you unclean?
19 For what enters the body of a person goes into his insides, not his heart, then comes out afterwards from the body as normal.” This was a ruling on the cleanness of all foods.
20 Then he added saying: “That which makes a person unclean is what comes out of him of ethics and actions,
21-22 for the heart is the location of the purity of a person in hiddenness, and his soul that is within him is that which entices him towards evil intentions, of sexual depravity and theft and murder and adultery, and covetousness and wickedness and cheating and licentiousness, and envy and gossip and arrogance and foolishness.
23 These sins in a person are truly the source of his uncleanness, because their origin is the inside of himself.”

24 Sayyidna Isa headed from there to the region of Tyre, and entered a house in the town, hoping that no one would know of his presence, but he was not able to hide his matter as he wanted.
25-26 A woman heard of his coming, and she had a daughter stricken by the devil. So she immediately hurried to him, throwing herself at his feet, begging him to heal her dear child, and to remove the demon who had possessed her body, and the woman was a pagan foreigner from Syrian Phoenician origin.
27 So he addressed the woman saying: “Goodness must spread over my nation first, for the Sons of Ya’qub have the right to my miracles, and it is not right for me to give this right of theirs to every foreigner who comes along, that would be like one who gives his food to the pets and not his children.”
28 The woman immediately responded to him saying: “Yes Lord, but there is a portion even for the animals, which is what they pick up under the table of their masters among the crumbs.”
29 So he said to her: “Go, you have what you have asked, because of what you have said now, and you will find your daughter with the demon having left her.”
30 So the woman left for her home with the demon having departed, and her daughter lying on her mattress at rest.

31 Then Sayyidna Isa left the region of Tyre, going up to Sidon, passing by the Decapolis on the way of his return, to the region around Lake Tiberias.
32 When he arrived some of them came to him with a person who was deaf and mute, and they begged him to touch him so he could hear and speak.
33 So Sayyidna Isa took him far away and alone, then put his two fingers in his ears as he intended, and spit on his fingers and touched the tongue of the man
34 looking up to heaven, sighing deeply and saying in the Aramaic language “Ephatha,” or “Be opened.”
35 Immediately the sense of hearing and normal speech returned to the man, and he rose healed and with sound hearing and able to clearly communicate.
36 Sayyidna Isa commanded those present to conceal this matter, but the more he insisted that they conceal it, they would spread the news more,
37 speaking of him with great amazement saying: “How great are the deeds of this man! For he makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”

Back-translation © Al Kalima