hell

The Greek that is translated in English versions as “hell” (or “Gehenna”) is translated (1) by borrowing a term from a trade or national language (this is done in a number of Indian languages in Latin America, which have borrowed Spanish “infierno” — from Latin “inferno” Latin “infernus”: “of the lower regions”), (2) by using an expression denoting judgment or punishment, e.g. “place of punishment” (Loma), “place of suffering” (Highland Totonac, San Blas Kuna) and (3) by describing a significant characteristic: (a) the presence of fire or burning, e.g. “place of fire” (Kipsigis, Mossi), “the large bonfire” (Shipibo-Conibo), or (b) the traditionally presumed location, e.g. “the lowest place” (a well-known term in Ngäbere), “the place inside” long used to designate hell, as a place inside the earth (Aymara).

hypocrite

(To view the different translations of this term in a simplified graphical form on a new page, click or tap here.)

The Greek and Hebrew terms that are translated as “hypocrite” in English typically have a counterpart in most languages. According to Bratcher / Nida (1961, p. 225), they can be categorized into the following categories:

  • those which employ some concept of “two” or “double”
  • those which make use of some expression of “mouth” or “speaking”
  • those which are based upon some special cultural feature
  • those which employ a non-metaphorical phrase

Following is a list of (back-) translations from some languages:

The English version of Sarah Ruden (2021) uses “play-actor.” She explains (p. li): “A hupokrites is fundamentally an actor. The word has deep negativity in the Gospels on two counts: professional actors were not respectable people in the ancient world, and traditional Judaism did not countenance any kind of playacting. I write ‘play-actor’ throughout.”

See also hypocrisy.

proselyte

The Greek that is often translated as “proselyte” in English is translated in various ways:

  • Isthmus Mixe: “those that entered the mind of the Israelites”
  • Desano: “people who are of the same religion as the Jews”
  • San Mateo del Mar Huave: “people who were not Jews but have come to believe as the Jewish people believe”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “those who entered the mind of the Israelites”
  • Mayo: “those who live according to Jewish custom”
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “people from other nations who believe the same as those of the nation of Israel”
  • Chuj: “those who have received the religion of the Israel people”
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “those who entered the religion of the Jews”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “those who worship God as the Israel people do”
  • Chichimeca-Jonaz: “those who joined with the Jews because they went to believing like them”
  • Falam Chin: “those who entered/joined the Jews’ religious party from other tribes” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

scribe

The Greek that is translated as “scribe” in English “were more than mere writers of the law. They were the trained interpreters of the law and expounders of tradition.”

Here are a number of its (back-) translations:

complete verse (Matthew 23:15)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 23:15:

  • Uma: “‘Disaster on you, you religious teachers and Parisi people! You are just good on the outside! You go far crossing the sea and journeying overland in order that at least one person becomes your follower. And when you have followers, you teach them to follow your deceiving [ways], with the result that their deeds are worse than yours, and they are more fit to be punished in hell than you are.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘You are to be pitied teachers of the religious law and Pariseo because God will punish you. You only pretend to follow God. You cross the sea going to other countries/places and you go far/walk far to teach so that at least one person will follow your teaching. But when he already follows, he is even more worthy to be put in hell than you because of what you taught him.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Pity you, teachers of the law, and you Pharisees, because your faith in God is a lie. You cross the sea and you travel over a wide country so that you might convert a person, and the person you convert, you make him far more worthy than you of being punished in hell.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Pitiful are you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! Because you cross-over the sea and go to far countries so that you will have a way to persuade even just-one to become your disciple. And when you have persuaded him, you turn-him-into a person more worthy to be punished in hell than yourselves!” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Really extremely hard is what is being reserved for you, you explainers of law and Pariseo, who pretend to believe/obey God. You go all over the land/world, you cross the sea, for you are persevering in rounding up even just one person who isn’t a Judio to join the belief of the Judio. Of course if/when you get someone to join, because of your teaching he will keep-on/overdo copying your evil nature/ways, till his wickedness is much greater. Well, none other will become of him than that his punishment is now double, there in the fire which never dies down.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Listen, you teachers of the law and Pharisees, how great is the suffering you will have, for it is not true that you are good people. All over the world you go, you cross the sea to search for people to follow the word you teach. When you have converted the person to follow what you teach, then the person ends up with twice the punishment in hell that you will have.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing his disciples and common people

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 his disciples, individuals and/or crowds with the formal pronoun, showing respect.

In most Dutch translations, Jesus addresses his disciples and common people with the informal pronoun, whereas they address him with the formal form.