The Hebrew word that is transliterated in Greek and typically in English as “rabbi” is translated in Indonesian and Malay as guru — “teacher” — or bapak guru — “father teacher” in recent translations. (The only exception that is the Alkitab Versi Borneo of 2015 that transliterates as rabi.)

Source: Daud Soesilo in The Bible Translator 1996, p. 335ff,)

complete verse (Matthew 23:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 23:8:

  • Uma: “‘But you, don’t you want to be honored and called ‘Teacher,’ for only one person is your Teacher, and you all are all just relatives of each other.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “As for you, do not want to be called ‘Teacher’, for you all are like brothers and only one is your teacher, I.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Don’t you allow anyone to call you ‘Teacher’, because you are all brothers, and you have only one teacher, I, the one chosen to rule.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘But as-for you, don’t permit that teacher be the spoken-opinion/designation of your companions toward you, because you are all siblings and only I am your teacher.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But as for you, don’t you have yourselves called teacher, because I alone am your teacher. You are all like one brotherhood.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “But as for you, do not want that you elevate yourselves so that people call you their teachers. Because there is only one who is your teacher, that one who is called the Christ. As for you, you are all brethren with each other.” (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.