In Ghari different words are used for a husband divorcing a wife and a wife divorcing a husband. (Source: David Clark)

In Mairasi the term that is used means “discard.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

complete verse (Matthew 19:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 19:8:

  • Uma: “Yesus said: ‘Musa allowed you to divorce, because of your hard hearts [i.e., stubbornness], you are unteachable. But really, it was not like that from the beginning.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa said, ‘Because you are stubborn (lit. you do not want to follow teaching) that’s why Musa allowed you to divorce your wives. But from the beginning it was not like that.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Jesus answered, ‘Moses allowed you to separate from your wives because you reject his teaching. However long ago when everything was created, God did not permit a married couple to divorce.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Jesus also said, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your mind/thoughts, but God’s purpose at the first was different.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus again answered, saying, ‘Because of the hardness of your heads, that’s why Moises permitted you to divorce your wives. But the origin of it really wasn’t like that.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Jesus replied and said: ‘Moses gave permission to make out a paper of divorcement, but it was because the people were very tough in mind, therefore he gave it. But in the beginning that was not the way God had determined people should do.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing religious leaders

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.

As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.

Here, Jesus is addressing religious leaders with the formal pronoun, showing respect. Compare that with the typical address with the informal pronoun of the religious leaders.

The only two exceptions to this are Luke 7:40/43 and 10:26 where Jesus uses the informal pronoun as a response to the sycophantic use of the formal pronoun by the religious leaders (see formal pronoun: religious leaders addressing Jesus).

In most Dutch translations, the same distinctions are made, with the exception of Luke 10:26 where Jesus is using the formal pronoun.


The name that is transliterated as “Moses” in English is signed in Spanish Sign Language in accordance with the depiction of Moses in the famous statue by Michelangelo (see here). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)

“Moses” in Spanish Sign Language (source)

Another depiction in Spanish Sign Language (source: Carlos Moreno Sastre):

The horns that are visible in Michelangelo’s statue are based on a passage in the Latin Vulgate translation (and many Catholic Bible translations that were translated through the 1950ies with that version as the source text). Jerome, the translator, had worked from a Hebrew text without the niqquds, the diacritical marks that signify the vowels in Hebrew and had interpreted the term קרו (k-r-n) in Exodus 34:29 as קֶ֫רֶן — keren “horned,” rather than קָרַו — karan “radiance” (describing the radiance of Moses’ head as he descends from Mount Sinai).

Even at the time of his translation, Jerome likely was not the only one making that decision as this recent article alludes to.