patience, patient

The Greek terms that are translated as “patient” or “patience” are translated in a variety of ways.

Eugene Nida (1952, p. 130) gives some examples:

“Peace is the quality of the soul; patience is the behavior of the soul. The Aymara of Bolivia have described patience well by the phrase ‘a waiting heart.’

“The Ngäbere of Panama describe patience in more vivid terms. They say that it is ‘chasing down your temper.’ The impatient person lets his temper run away with him. Patience requires one to “chase down his temper” and get it under control [see also Mairasi down below].

“The Yucateco describe patience as ‘strength not to fall.’ This seems to include almost more than patience, but it is important to note that this Yucateco translation recognizes that impatience means ‘falling.’ For some of us, who tend to take a certain secret pride in our impatience—describing it as energetic drive—it might be well to recognize that impatience is failure, while patience is strength.

“The San Blas Kuna in Panama use a rather strange phrase to depict patience. They say ‘not caring what happens.’ But this is not meant as condoning foolhardy indifference to life and danger. It reflects a kind of reckless confidence in God, a confidence not bred of desperation but of utter reliance. The patient person is not concerned about what happens; he is willing to wait in confidence.”

In Mairasi, the phrase that is employed is “stop (our) anger” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Suki “slow careful thinking way” is used (source L. and E. Twyman in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 91ff. )

In Kwang an expression is used that directly translates as “carry one’s head.” (Source: Mark Vanderkooi right here)

In Q’anjob’al it is translated with the phrase “large stomach” (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. ).

See also Seat of the Mind / Seat of Emotions.

worship

The Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek terms that are often translated as “worship” (also, “kneel down” or “bow down”) are likewise translated in other languages in certain categories, including those based on physical activity, those which incorporate some element of “speaking” or “declaring,” and those which specify some type of mental activity.

Following is a list of (back-) translations (click or tap for details):

  • Javanese: “prostrate oneself before”
  • Malay: “kneel and bow the head”
  • Kaqchikel: “kneel before”
  • Loma (Liberia): “drop oneself beneath God’s foot”
  • Tepeuxila Cuicatec: “wag the tail before God” (using a verb which with an animal subject means “to wag the tail,” but with a human subject)
  • Tzotzil: “join to”
  • Kpelle: “raise up a blessing to God”
  • Kekchí: “praise as your God”
  • Cashibo-Cacataibo: “say one is important”
  • San Blas Kuna: “think of God with the heart”
  • Rincón Zapotec: “have one’s heart go out to God”
  • Tabasco Chontal: “holy-remember” (source of this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Q’anjob’al: “humble oneself before” (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. )
  • Alur: rwo: “complete submission, adoration, consecration” (source: F. G. Lasse in The Bible Translator 1956, p. 22ff. )
  • Obolo: itọtọbọ ebum: “express reverence and devotion” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Ngäbere: “cut oneself down before” (“This figure of speech comes from the picture of towering mahoganies in the forest which, under the woodman’s ax, quiver, waver, and then in solemn, thunderous crashing bury their lofty heads in the upstretched arms of the surrounding forest. This is the experience of every true worshiper who sees ‘the Lord, high and lifted up.’ Our own unworthiness brings us low. As the Valientes say, ‘we cut ourselves down before’ His presence. Our heads, which have been carried high in self-confidence, sink lower and lower in worship.)
  • Tzeltal: “end oneself before God.” (“Only by coming to the end of oneself can one truly worship. The animist worships his deities in the hope of receiving corresponding benefits, and some pagans in Christendom think that church attendance is a guarantee of success in this life and good luck in the future. But God has never set a price on worship except the price that we must pay, namely, ‘coming to the end of ourselves.'”) (Source of this and the one above: Nida 1952, p. 163)
  • Folopa: “die under God” (“an idiom that roughly back-translates “dying under God” which means lifting up his name and praising him and to acknowledge by everything one does and thanks that God is superior.”) (Source: Anderson / Moore, p. 202)
  • Chokwe: kuivayila — “rub something on” (“When anyone goes into the presence of a king or other superior, according to native law and custom the inferior gets down on the ground, takes a little earth in the fingers of his right hand, rubs it on his own body, and then claps his hands in homage and the greeting of friendship. It is a token of veneration, of homage, of extreme gratitude for some favor received. It is also a recognition of kingship, lordship, and a prostrating of oneself in its presence. Yet it simply is the applicative form of ‘to rub something on oneself’, this form of the verb giving the value of ‘because of.’ Thus in God’s presence as king and Lord we metaphorically rub dirt on ourselves, thus acknowledging Him for what He really is and what He has done for us.”) (Source: D. B. Long in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 87ff. )

In Luang it is translated with different shades of meaning:

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.

complete verse (Matthew 18:26)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 18:26:

  • Uma: “‘That slave knelt down before the king asking for mercy/pity, he said: ‘Please be patient, King, I really will pay my debt!'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Immediately that servant stood on his knees facing the sultan begging, he said, ‘Sir, give me some time. I will pay you all my debt to you.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And the servant knelt down in front of the king praying to him. He said, ‘Give me yet time because I will look for this to pay you, and I will pay it all.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When that was so, that official immediately-knelt in front of the king and pled-for-mercy saying, ‘Sir, please have-mercy! Be-patient with me still longer so that I will pay it all.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “That one being caused to pay bowed down in front of the king and begged for mercy. He said, ‘Master, hopefully just give me time to earn/find-money and it’s certain that I will pay all that debt of mine to you.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “But the worker knelt before his boss. He asked the favor and said: ‘Listen, Lord, wait a bit while I find the money to pay you,’ he said.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal 2nd person pronoun (Spanish)

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Spanish uses a formal vs. informal second-person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Spanish Bibles all use only the informal second-person pronoun (), with the exception of Dios Habla Hoy (third edition: 1996) which also uses the formal pronoun (usted). In the referenced verses, the formal form is used.

Sources and for more information: P. Ellingworth in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 143ff. and R. Ross in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 217ff.

See also the use of the formal vs. the informal pronoun in the Gospels in Tuvan.

Translation commentary on Matthew 18:26

So may also be rendered “Then” or “At this.” Good News Translation finds it more natural in English to drop this transitional.

Fell on his knees (so also Good News Translation) translates a participle which is literally “falling” or “having fallen,” and the action is best understood as falling face down rather than upon the knees. Moreover, the meaning of the verb imploring (Good News Translation “begged”) is “approach in dog-like fashion,” descriptive of the manner in which a dog approaches its master on all fours in hopes of escaping punishment. Though root meanings may be deceptive, the root meaning seems best to suit the needs of the context. New American Bible, though at a high-language level, is accurate: “prostrated himself in homage and said.” New Jerusalem Bible translates “the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet,” and An American Translation has “threw himself down before him and implored him.” The man is about to lose everything, and so he approaches his king in the most humble way possible. Translators should use whatever expression makes this clear; for example, “knelt down” or “lay down on the ground in front of.”

Have patience translates a verb made from the same stem as the adjective used in the Septuagint, with the meaning “patient” or “long-suffering.” Sometimes an expression such as “be patient” does not fit well, and translators say instead “give me some time.”

I will pay you everything may be expressed as “I will pay you back everything I have taken,” “I will give you everything I owe you,” or “I will pay back the entire debt.” I will pay you everything is, of course, an exaggeration. It is inconceivable that the man could have repaid the enormous amount. For example, the annual income of King Herod was only nine hundred talents, and for this man to have repaid ten thousand talents would have been an impossible feat.

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 .