superlative (Matt 22:36; 39)

Since there is no grammatical superlative in Fuyug, the question that is translated in English typically as “which commandment of the law is the greatest,” becomes “in the middle of the word of God, which word is big?” Then the second most important commandment is “the big word that follows.”

love for God vs. love for others

Balinese uses a honorific system with three levels of how someone can be addressed or talked about. For example, “love” of a superior for an inferior must be indicated by one term and that of an inferior for a superior by another. In the Greek phrase that is translated in English as “you shall love the Lord your God (…) and your neighbor as yourself”, Balinese translates asih subaktija ragane teken Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (…) tur tresnainja sesaman ragane, buka nresnain deweke padidi: “You shall give respectful-love to God, … further, you must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 158ff.

love your neighbor as yourself

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated in English as “love your neighbor as yourself” is translated in Shilluk, Anuak, and Nuer as “love your neighbors as yourselves.” In those and other languages a plural form has to be used if it is to be applied to more than one person where in English a singular can stand for many (compare everyone, each, whoever, any). (Source: Larson 1998, p. 42)

See also he who / whoever and neighbor.

complete verse (Matthew 22:39)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 22:39:

  • Uma: “And the second command that is the same as the first one is: ‘We (incl.) must love our companion like we (incl.) love ourselves.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “And the command next to/following it is equally great, ‘You shall love your companion as you love yourself.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And it’s second is this, ‘You must treat your companion well. Think of him as being like your own breath.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The second most-important is similar: ‘You (sing.) must love your (sing.) fellow like your (sing.) manner-of-loving yourself.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The second is, ‘Value your (sing.) fellowman just like your valuing of your own body.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The second word which God commands and is important for people to do is the word which says: ‘Love your fellowman like you would want to be loved,’ says the word.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it is more explicit in Good News Translation: “The second most important commandment is like it.” The Greek phrase is like it may mean either “similar but not of equal value” or “similar and of equal value.” The context suggests the second of these interpretations, which is well represented by Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch: “The second is equally important.” Barclay has “And there is a second one like it.”

You shall love your neighbor as yourself comes from the Septuagint of Leviticus 19.18, where neighbor is limited to fellow Israelites and foreigners who live among the Israelites. Here, however, the reference is enlarged to include anyone with whom one’s life comes into contact. The verse does not contain two commands (“love yourself” and “love your neighbor as much as you love yourself”). Rather, it contains an assumption (“you do love yourself”) followed by a command (“love your neighbor as much as you love yourself”). See also the comments at 19.19, where the command is first mentioned.

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 .