Matthew 15:21-28 in Mexican Sign Language

Following is the translation of Matthew 15:21-28 (“The Canaanite Woman’s Faith”) into Mexican Sign Language with glosses (labels for signs) and a back-translation underneath:


© La Biblia en LSM / La Palabra de Dios

Glosas y retrotraducciones en español (haga clic o pulse aquí)

(v. 21)
glosas: JESÚS SALIR CL:índice-dirigió-de-allí ARRIBAR COLONIA LUGAR TIRO Y SIDÓN, ENTRAR.

trad 1: Jesús salió y llegó a lugares (comunidad, región) llamada Tiro y a Sidón
trad 2: Jesús salió, se digirió a la región (de) Tiro y Sidón; arribó y entró (a la región).

(v. 22)
glosas: ALLÁ MUJER VIVIR COLONIA, SU FAMILIA ORIGINAL ANTEPASADO+++ REGIÓN CANAÁN. ESO
MISMO MUJER, SALIR CL:1-ir-triste MIRA(descubre) JESÚS 2-CLAMA FUERTE: ¡SEÑOR SUYO FAMILIA DAVID TRADICIÓN LO-MISMO JESÚS, MI HIJA MUJER GRAVEMENTE FUERTE SUFRIR HAY ADENTRO DEMONIO, TÚ SENTIR(misericordia) AYUDARME++ FAVOR(ruego)++++.

trad 1: Allí una mujer nativa de esa región cananea salió y al ver a Jesús gritó muy fuerte diciendo “¡¡¡Señor!!! Descendiente del (Rey) David (hijo de David) mi hija está sufriendo tiene un demonio
ayúdame (ten misericordia)”.
trad 2: Una mujer que vivía allí, cuya familia era de origen Cananea, salió (caminando con mucha tristeza) y al verle a Jesús gritó muy fuerte (diciendo) “¡Señor, descendiente del (Rey) David! Mi hija está grave, sufre mucho (lit. fuerte sufrimiento), tiene (un) demonio dentro (de ella). ¡Ten misericordia y ayúdame! ¡Por favor, por favor, por favor, por favor”!

(v. 23)
glosas: JESÚS VOLTEAR-VER(dur) RESPUESTA NADA SILENCIO APAGAR. / ELLOS DISCÍPULOS CL:5-acercarse-1(molesta) OYE JESÚS, ELLA MUJER 2-GRITA++ A-TI INSISTIR NOSOTROS CL:5-5-viendo-molesto PEDIR ROGARON(favor) TÚ DICE DESPÍDELA-VETE++++.

trad 1: Jesús no le dio respuesta alguna, se quedó callado, sus discípulos se acercaron a Jesús y le pidieron que le dijera a la mujer que se fuera pues iba detrás de ellos gritando, dando voces y todo mundo le volteaba a ver.
trad 2: Jesús se volvió para verla, (pero) no le dio respuesta, se quedó callado. Los discípulos, (que estaban molestos) se acercaron y le dijeron “Jesús, esa mujer sigue gritando y te está insistiendo. Nosotros (seguimos) volteando a verla. Te pedimos, por favor dile ‘¡Fuera! ¡Largo! ¡Vete de aquí’”!

(v. 24)
glosas: JESÚS CL:ver-volver-gesto-comprender OYE YO DICE(a mujer): COLONIA PERSONA JUDÍOS COMUNIDAD ELLOS COMO PARECE PARECIDO OVEJAS PERDER CL:5-5-dispersar-perder+++, DIOS MANDAR ENVIAR YO CL:1-venir AYUDAR 2-VEN++ SOLO COMUNIDAD.

trad 1: Jesús desvió la mirada de los discípulos hacia ella y le dijo, “Dios me envió a las ovejas perdidas (pecadores) del pueblo de Israel”.
trad 2: Jesús los vio (a sus discípulos) y volvió su vista (hacia ella y delicadamente le dijo) “Yo te digo, las personas judías son parecidas a ovejas perdidas que se han dispersado. Dios me ha enviado, he venido a ayudarles y a llamarles para que vengan, sola (a esa) comunidad”.

(v. 25)
glosas: PERO ELLA MUJER VER CL:1-acercarse-1-Jesús ARRODILLAR OYE(arriba) ¡SEÑOR POR-FAVOR AYUDARME(socórreme)+++!

trad 1: Entonces la mujer se acercó a Jesús y se hinco frente a Él y le pidió “Señor, ayúdame por favor, ayúdame”.
trad. 2 Pero la mujer quedó mirándolo, se acercó (a Jesús), se arrodilló (y le pidió) “Señor, ayúdame por favor, ayúdame”.

(v. 26)
glosas: JESÚS VER-abajo(misericordia) OYE EJEMPLO MESA NIÑOS CL:sentados-alrededor PAN COMERdur. PAPÁ 1-venir QUITAR PAN TOMAR DAR-MUA PERRO CHICO CL:abrir-boca-morder COMER. ¿TÚ PENSAR BIEN? NO+++//.

trad 1: Jesús le respondió “no es correcto que el pan de los hijos el padre se los quite de la mesa y se los dé a los perros chiquitos”.
trad 2: Jesús la vio (con misericordia y respondió): “Oye, por ejemplo: los niños están sentados alrededor de una mesa comiendo pan y el padre se acerca a ellos y les quita el pan, arrancándolo y dándolo al perrito (o los perritos) para comer. ¿Piensas (que esto sería) bueno? (Pues) no”.

(v. 27)
glosas: MUJER VERarriba “SEÑOR SÍ++, TÚ TIENES RAZÓN. PERO EJEMPLO HOMBRE DUEÑO SUYO PERRO CHICO, MESA NIÑOS CL:sentados-alrededor PAN COMERdur, OCURRIR FALLA PAN CL:comida-caer-al-piso+++, PERRO CHICO CL:perrito-patas-animal-mover(der,izq) MORDER+++ COMER.” Palma(misericordia) //

trad 1: La mujer le dijo “Señor, estando comiendo los hijos en la mesa, si se caen pedazos de pan al piso el perro del dueño de allí come”.
trad 2: La mujer le vio (y le dijo) “Señor, sí, tienes razón. Pero, por ejemplo, los niños están sentados alrededor de la mesa comiendo pan, si por casualidad trozos de pan caen al suelo, el perrito del hombre corre a comérselos” (y ella siguió mirándole, suplicando en silencio misericordia).

(v. 28) glosas: JESÚS VER(admirar) OYE MUJER ¡HUY GRANDE FE! ¡TÚ PEDIR-ME YO HACER!/// MISMO-INSTANTE TIEMPO ALLÍ HIJA DENTRO DEMONIO CL:salir-de-persona-postrada PIRARSE. HIJA gesto-aliviar ALIVIAR(rápido) SANO.

trad 1: Jesús le respondió “mujer tu fe es grande y lo que me pides eso voy a hacer” y en ese instante su hija era liberada del demonio y su hija quedó sana al momento.
trad 2: Jesús la vio (con admiración y le dijo) “Mujer, ¡grande es (tu) fe! He hecho lo que me pediste”. Al mismo tiempo, el demonio (que estaba) dentro de su hija salió y se fue. (De inmediato su) hija se alivió (y quedó) sana.

Glosas preparadas por Alfredo González Yáñez (traductor sordo)
Traducción 1 por Fidel Montemayor Zetina
Traducción 2 por Shelley Dufoe

glosses (v. 21) (click or tap here)

JESUS GO-OUT CL:index-windy-path-from-there ARRIVE AREA/REGION PLACE TYRE AND SIDON, ENTER.

translation: Jesus went out, (headed towards), arrived at and entered the region of Tyre and Sidon.

glosses (v. 22) (click or tap here)

THERE WOMAN LIVE AREA/REGION, POSS-3 FAMILY ORIGINAL ANCESTOR+++ REGION CANAAN. THAT THE-SAME-ONE WOMAN, LEAVE/GO-OUT CL:1-go-sadly SPOT(discover) JESUS SHOUT STRONG: LORD POSS-2 FAMILY DAVID TRADITION/MANY-GENERATIONS THE-SAME-ONE JESUS, POSS-1 CHILD/OFFSPRING FEMALE GRAVELY-ILL STRONG SUFFER HAVE INSIDE DEMON, INDEX-2 FEEL(compassion) YOU-HELP-ME++ PLEASE(pleading)++++.

translation: A woman (who) lived in the area, whose family was of Canaanite origin, went out (walking sadly). She spotted Jesus and loudly shouted “Lord, descendent of (King) David! My daughter is gravely ill and suffering a lot, she has a demon inside (her). Feel compassion and help me! Help me! Please, please, please, please!”

glosses (v. 23) (click or tap here)

JESUS TURN-LOOK(woman, dur) RESPOND NOTHING SILENT SWITCHED-OFF. / INDEX-3pl(left) DISCIPLES CL:5-approach-1(upset) HEY JESUS, INDEX-3 WOMAN 2-SHOUT++ TO-INDEX-2 INSIST INDEX-2pl-excl. CL:5-5-multitud-turn-look(upset) REQUEST PLEASE INDEX-2 TELL-HER GO-AWAY++++.

translation: Jesus turned and observed the woman, without responding, he remained silent. The disciples (who were upset) approached him and said “Jesus, that woman continues to shout and insist. We (keep) turning around to look at her. We ask you to please tell her ‘Go away, leave, get out of here, shoo!’”

glosses (v. 24) (click or tap here)

JESUS LOOK(disciples, dur)-TURN-LOOK(to-woman) HEY INDEX-1 TELL-YOU(to the woman): COLONY PEOPLE JEWISH COMMUNITY INDEX-3pl LIKE SEEM SIMILAR SHEEP LOST CL:5-5-disperse+++, GOD ORDER SEND INDEX-1 CL:1-come HELP 2-COME-HERE++, ONLY COMMUNITY.

translation: Jesus looked (at his disciples, then turned his gaze towards the woman, and gently told her), “I tell you, Jewish people are like lost sheep that have scattered. God has sent me, I have come to help them and call them to come, only (that) community.”

glosses (v. 25) (click or tap here)

BUT INDEX-3 WOMAN LOOK CL:1-approach-1(Jesus) KNEEL HEY LORD PLEASE YOU-HELP-ME+++!

translation: But the woman looked at him, approached him, knelt (and pleaded) “Lord, please help me, help me, help me!”

glosses (v. 26) (click or tap here)

JESUS LOOK-DOWN(mercy) HEY EXAMPLE TABLE CHILDREN CL:sitting-in-circle BREAD EATdur. DAD CL:1-come TAKE-AWAY BREAD GRAB GIVE-TO DOG LITTLE-ANIMAL open-mouth-bite EAT. YOU THINK GOOD? NO+++ //.

translation: Jesus looked down at her (with compassion and responded) “For example: the children are sitting around a table eating bread and the dad approaches them and takes away the bread, grabbing it and giving it to the little dog(s) to eat. Do you think (that would be) good? No.”

glosses (v. 27) (click or tap here)

WOMAN LOOK-UP “LORD YES++, INDEX-2 HAVE REASON. BUT EXAMPLE MAN OWNER POSS-3 DOG LITTLE-ANIMAL, TABLE CHILDREN CL:sitting-in-cirle BREAD EATdur, OCCURRENCE FAIL/ERROR BREAD CL:food-fall-to-ground DOG LITTLE-ANIMAL CL:dog-paws-move(right, left) BITE/CHEW+++ EAT.” Palms(mercy) //

translation: The woman looked up (at him and said) “Lord, yes, you’re right. But, for example, the children are sitting around a table eating bread and if scraps happen to fall to the floor, the man’s little dog scurries to eat them,” (and she continued looking at him, silently pleading for mercy).

glosses (v. 28) (click or tap here)

JESUS LOOK-AT(admiration) HEY WOMAN WOW GREAT/LARGE FAITH! INDEX-2 ASK-ME INDEX-1 DO!/// THE-SAME TIME WAY-OVER-THERE CHILD/OFFSPRING FEMALE INSIDE-OF DEMON CL:come-out-of-prone-person LEAVE-QUICKLY. CHILD/OFFSPRING gesture-feel-better FEEL-BETTER(quickly) HEAL/HEALTHY.

translation : Jesus looked at her (with admiration and told her) “Woman, (you have) great faith! You asked me, and I have done it. At that same moment, over there the demon (that was) inside her daughter quickly came out and left, and her daughter was instantly healed.

English glosses and back-translation by Shelley Dufoe

you have great faith

The Greek that is translated as “you have great faith” or similar in English is translated in Meyah as “your liver truly follows me” (source: Gilles Gravelle in Kroneman 2004, p. 502).

See also Seat of the Mind.

complete verse (Matthew 15:28)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 15:28:

  • Uma: “From there, Yesus said to her: ‘Your (sing.) faith is very strong, mother/woman! Therefore, let it be/happen as your (sing.) will/desire.’ At that time, her child did indeed get well.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa answered her, he said, ‘O woman, your trust is really strong. What you ask is given to you.’ Na, at that time her daughter was immediately well.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Jesus answered this woman, ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘your faith in God is very big. I will give you what you ask for.’ And then immediately the child of this woman was cured.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Jesus said, ‘Mother (vocative for woman whose name is unknown), that trust of yours (sing.) is large! What you (sing.) asked for will thus be fulfilled.’ And at that hour/time, her young-lady child became-well.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When Jesus heard that, he said to that woman, ‘Your belief in me really is big. That which you need will be yours.’ At that very hour, that child of hers truly did get better.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Then Jesus said to the woman: ‘Listen woman, you believe well that it can be done as you say. Therefore it will be done.’ Then the woman’s daughter who walked with the evil spirit at once had the spirit depart from her.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

believe, faith

Translations of the Greek pistis and its various forms that are typically translated as “faith” in English (itself deriving from Latin “fides,” meaning “trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence”) and “believe” (from Old English belyfan: “to have faith or confidence in a person”) cover a wide range of approaches.

Bratcher and Nida say this (1961, p. 38) (click or tap here to read more):

“Since belief or faith is so essentially an intimate psychological experience, it is not strange that so many terms denoting faith should be highly figurative and represent an almost unlimited range of emotional ‘centers’ and descriptions of relationships, e.g. ‘steadfast his heart’ (Chol), ‘to arrive on the inside’ (Chicahuaxtla Triqui), ‘to conform with the heart’ (Uab Meto), ‘to join the word to the body’ (Uduk), ‘to hear in the insides’ (or ‘to hear within one’s self and not let go’ – Nida 1952) (Laka), ‘to make the mind big for something’ (Sapo), ‘to make the heart straight about’ (Mitla Zapotec), ‘to cause a word to enter the insides’ (Lacandon), ‘to leave one’s heart with’ (Baniwa), ‘to catch in the mind’ (Ngäbere), ‘that which one leans on’ (Vai), ‘to be strong on’ (Shipibo-Conibo), ‘to have no doubts’ (San Blas Kuna), ‘to hear and take into the insides’ (Kare), ‘to accept’ (Pamona).”

Following is a list of (back-) translations from other languages (click or tap here to read more):

  • Western Kanjobal: “truth entering into one’s soul”
  • Highland Puebla Nahuatl: “following close after”
  • Huichol: “conform to the truth”
  • Loma: “lay one’s hand on it”
  • Mashco Piro: “obey-believe”
  • Mossi: “leaning on God” (this and all the above acc. to Nida 1952, p. 119ff.)
  • Tzeltal: “heart believe / heart obedience” (source: Marianna C. Slocum in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 49f. — see also wisdom (Proverbs))
  • Thai: “place one’s heart in” (source: Bratcher / Hatton 2000, p. 37)
  • Cameroon Pidgin: “to put one’s heart in God” (source: Jan Sterk)
  • Kafa: “decide for God only” (source Loren Bliese)
  • Martu Wangka: “sit true to God’s talk” (source: Carl Gross)
  • Muna: kataino lalo or “stickiness of heart” (for “faithfulness”) (source: René van den Berg)
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “confidence” (source: Larson 1998, p. 279)
  • Limos Kalinga: manuttuwa. Wiens (2013) explains: “It goes back to the word for ‘truth’ which is ‘tuttuwa.’ When used as a verb this term is commonly used to mean ‘believe’ as well as ‘obey.'”
  • Ngiemboon: “turn one’s back on someone” (and trusting one won’t be taken advantage of) (source: Stephen Anderson in Holzhausen 1991, p. 42)
  • Mwera uses the same word for “hope” and “faith”: ngulupai (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)
  • Kwang: “put one’s chest” (Source: Mark Vanderkooi right here )
  • Yala: ɔtū che or “place heart” (in John 5:24; 5:45; 6:35; 6:47; 12:36; 14:1); other translations include chɛ̄ or “to agree/accept” and chɛ̄ku or “to agree with/accept with/take side with” (source: Linus Otronyi)
  • Awabakal: ngurruliko: “to know, to perceive by the ear” (as distinct from knowing by sight or by touch — source: Lake, p. 70) (click or tap here to read more)

    “[The missionary translator] Lancelot Threlkeld learned that Awabakal, like many Australian languages, made no distinction between knowing and believing. Of course the distinction only needs to be made where there are rival systems of knowing. The Awabakal language expressed a seamless world. But as the stress on ‘belief’ itself suggests, Christianity has always existed in pluralist settings. Conversion involves deep conviction, not just intellectual assent or understanding. (…) Translating such texts posed a great challenge in Australia. Threlkeld and [his indigenous colleague] Biraban debated the possibilities at length. In the end they opted not to introduce a new term for belief, but to use the Awabakal ngurruliko, meaning ‘to know, to perceive by the ear,’ as distinct from knowing by sight or by touch.”

  • Language in southern Nigeria: a word based on the idiom “lose feathers.” Randy Groff in Wycliffe Bible Translators 2016, p. 65 explains (click or tap here to read more):


    What does losing feathers have to do with faith? [The translator] explained that there is a species of bird in his area that, upon hatching its eggs, loses its feathers. During this molting phase, the mother bird is no longer able to fly away from the nest and look for food for her hungry hatchlings. She has to remain in the nest where she and her babies are completely dependent upon the male bird to bring them food. Without the diligent, dependable work of the male bird, the mother and babies would all die. This scenario was the basis for the word for faith in his language.

  • Teribe: mär: “pick one thing and one thing only” (source: Andy Keener)
  • Tiv: na jighjigh: “give trust” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)
  • Luba-Katanga: Twi tabilo: “echo” (click or tap here to read more)

    “Luba-Katanga word for ‘Faith’ in its New Testament connotation is Twi tabilo. This word means ‘echo,’ and the way in which it came to be adapted to the New Testament meaning gives a very good idea of the way in which the translator goes to work. One day a missionary was on a journey through wild and mountainous country. At midday he called his African porters to halt, and as they lay resting in the shade from the merciless heat of the sun. an African picked up a stone and sent it ricocheting down the mountain-side into the ravine below. After some seconds the hollow silence was broken by a plunging, splashing sound from the depths of the dark river-bed. As the echo died away the African said in a wondering whisper ‘Twi tabilo, listen to it.’ So was a precious word captured for the service of the Gospel in its Luba Christian form. Twi tabilo — ‘faith which is the echo of God’s voice in the depths of human sinful hearts, awakened by God Himself, the answer to his own importunate call.’ The faith that is called into being by the divine initiative, God’s own gift to the responsive heart! (Source: Wilfred Bradnock in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 49ff. )

J.A. van Roy (in The Bible Translator 1972, p. 418ff. ) discusses how a translation of “faith” in a an earlier translation into Venda created difficult perceptions of the concept of faith (click or tap here):

The Venda term u tenda, lutendo. This term corresponds to the terms ho dumela (Southern Sotho), and ku pfumela (Tsonga) that have been used in these translations of the Bible, and means “to assent,” “to agree to a suggestion.” It is important to understand this term in the context of the character of the people who use it.

The way in which the Venda use this term reveals much about the priority of interpersonal relationships among them. They place a much higher priority on responding in the way they think they are expected to respond than on telling the truth. Smooth interpersonal relationships, especially with a dominant individual or group, take precedence over everything else.

It is therefore regarded as bad form to refuse directly when asked for something one does not in fact intend to give. The correct way is to agree, u tenda, and then forget about it or find some excuse for not keeping to the agreement. Thus u tenda does not necessarily convey the information that one means what one says. One can tenda verbally while heartily disagreeing with the statement made or having no intention whatsoever to carry out what one has just promised to do. This is not regarded as dishonesty, but is a matter of politeness.

The term u sokou tenda, “to consent reluctantly,” is often used for expressing the fatalistic attitude of the Venda in the face of misfortune or force which he is unable to resist.

The form lutendo was introduced by missionaries to express “faith.”

According to the rules of derivations and their meanings in the lu-class, it should mean “the habit of readily consenting to everything.” But since it is a coined word which does not have a clearly defined set of meanings in everyday speech, it has acquired in church language a meaning of “steadfastness in the Christian life.” Una lutendo means something like “he is steadfast in the face of persecution.” It is quite clear that the term u tenda has no element of “trust” in it. (…)

In “The Christian Minister” of July 1969 we find the following statement about faith by Albert N. Martin: “We must never forget that one of the great issues which the Reformers brought into focus was that faith was something more than an ‘assensus,’ a mere nodding of the head to the body of truth presented by the church as ‘the faith.’ The Reformers set forth the biblical concept that faith was ‘fiducia.’ They made plain that saving faith involved trust, commitment, a trust and commitment involving the whole man with the truth which was believed and with the Christ who was the focus of that truth. The time has come when we need to spell this out clearly in categorical statements so that people will realize that a mere nodding of assent to the doctrines that they are exposed to is not the essence of saving faith. They need to be brought to the understanding that saving faith involves the commitment of the whole man to the whole Christ, as Prophet, Priest and King as he is set forth in the gospel.”

We quote at length from this article because what Martin says of the current concept of faith in the Church is even to a greater extent true of the Venda Church, and because the terms used for communicating that concept in the Venda Bible cannot be expected to communicate anything more than “a mere nodding of assent”. I have during many years of evangelistic work hardly ever come across a Venda who, when confronted with the gospel, would not say, Ndi khou tenda, “I admit the truth of what you say.” What they really mean when saying this amounts to, “I believe that God exists, and I have no objection to the fact that he exists. I suppose that the rest of what you are talking about is also true.” They would often add, Ndi sa tendi hani-hani? “Just imagine my not believing such an obvious fact!” To the experienced evangelist this is a clear indication that his message is rejected in so far as it has been understood at all! To get a negative answer, one would have to press on for a promise that the “convert” will attend the baptism class and come to church on Sundays, and even then he will most probably just tenda in order to get rid of the evangelist, whether he intends to come or not. Isn’t that what u tenda means? So when an inexperienced and gullible white man ventures out on an evangelistic campaign with great enthusiasm, and with great rejoicing returns with a list of hundreds of names of persons who “believed”, he should not afterwards blame the Venda when only one tenth of those who were supposed to be converts actually turn up for baptismal instruction.

Moreover, it is not surprising at all that one often comes across church members of many years’ standing who do not have any assurance of their salvation or even realise that it is possible to have that assurance. They are vhatendi, “consenters.” They have consented to a new way of life, to abandoning (some of) the old customs. Lutendo means to them at most some steadfastness in that new way of life.

The concept of faith in religion is strange to Africa. It is an essential part of a religion of revelation such as Christianity or Islam, but not of a naturalistic religion such as Venda religion, in which not faith and belief are important, but ritual, and not so much the content of the word as the power of it.

The terms employed in the Venda Bible for this vital Christian concept have done nothing to effect a change in the approach of the Venda to religion.

It is a pity that not only in the Venda translation has this been the case, but in all the other Southern Bantu languages. In the Nguni languages the term ukukholwa, “to believe a fact,” has been used for pisteuo, and ukholo, the deverbative of ukukholwa, for pistis. In some of the older Protestant translations in Zulu, but not in the new translation, the term ithemba, “trust”, has been used.

Some languages, including Santali, have two terms — like English (see above) — to differentiate a noun from a verb form. Biswạs is used for faith, whereas pạtiạu for “believe.” R.M. Macphail (in The Bible Translator 1961, p. 36ff. ) explains this choice: “While there is little difference between the meaning and use of the two in everyday Santali, in which any word may be used as a verb, we felt that in this way we enriched the translation while making a useful distinction, roughly corresponding to that between ‘faith’ and ‘to believe’ in English.”

Likewise, in Noongar, koort-karni or “heart truth” is used for the noun (“faith”) and djinang-karni or “see true” for the verb (“believe”) (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

See also this devotion on YouVersion .

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Faith (Word Study) .

Jesus

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).

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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 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 (“answer”)

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, kotae-rare-ru (答えられる) or “answer” is used.

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

Translation commentary on Matthew 15:28

Then has been expressed as “So” by Good News Translation. Perhaps the most natural rendering in English is that of Barclay: “At that.”

O woman, great is your faith is translated “You are a woman of great faith” by Good News Translation (New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible “Woman, you have great faith”; Moffatt “O woman, you have great faith”). The shift from great is your faith to “you have great faith” is more natural for English speakers, as is the omission of the noun of address, woman, which explains the shift in Good News Bible. Other translations have also recognized these two factors, and a few of them have even dropped the noun of address: both An American Translation and Barclay translate “You have great faith,” and Phillips renders “You certainly don’t lack faith.” It may be necessary to express faith as a verb, which will simultaneously require an object. Examples are “You certainly believe that I will do what you request (or, are begging me to do)” and “You believe in me a great deal.” Some translators have tried to convey that this is really an exclamation by Jesus. One way is to say “Woman, I can see you really have a lot of faith (in me).”

Be it done for you as you desire translates a third person imperative in Greek, which is represented in Jerusalem Bible as “Let your wish be granted.” However, the problem for English speakers is that English does not have a third person imperative, and so many will understand Jerusalem Bible to have the meaning “You yourself permit that it be granted.” One may translate “Your wish will be granted” or “God will grant your wish.”

Instantly (Good News Translation “at that very moment”) is literally “from that hour” (the same form used in 9.22).

In a Greek sentence it is natural for the subject to precede the verb, but here was healed is placed before her daughter for the sake of emphasizing the healing. If it is necessary to shift to an active form of the verb, one may translate “At that very moment God healed her daughter.”

Quoted with permission from Newman, Barclay M. and Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1988. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .