(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.


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 23:27)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 23:27:

  • Uma: “‘Disaster on you, you religious teachers and Parisi people! You are just good on the outside! You are like graves that are painted white: on the outside how good they look, but on the inside there is nothing but the bones of corpses and all kinds of disgusting stuff.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘You are to be pitied teachers of the religious law and Pariseo because God will punish you. You are only pretending to follow God. You are like a painted grave. It’s appearance from the outside is good but inside it is full of bones and rotten flesh.” (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 are like a stone house which is a coffin painted white where the bodies of dead people are placed. It is good to look at on the outside, but inside are the bones of dead people which are already rotten.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Pitiful are you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! Because you are like a tomb painted white. Its view is very-nice but it is full of the bones of the dead and other filthiness.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Really very hard is being reserved for you, you explainers of law and Pariseo, who pretend to believe/obey God. What you’re like are graves which have been painted white, which look nice on the outside. But the inside is disgusting for they’re full of rotten-things and bones of those who have died.” (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. Because you are like tombs which are pretty in appearance on the outside, being whitened, but inside the tombs, it is corrupt with the bodies of dead people.” (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.