complete verse (Matthew 25:20)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 25:20:

  • Uma: “The ordered-one who had gotten five thousand gold coins came and turned-over to his noble ten thousand, he said: ‘Noble, what you (sing.) turned over to me the other day was five thousand. Look, here is its increase [lit., child], five thousand more.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “His servant who had been given five thousand pesos went and took his gain/profit of five thousand and he said, ‘Sir, you gave me five thousand pesos, I was able to gain also five thousand.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And the servant to whom he had given five thousand pesos, he went there and he brought the money along with the five thousand pesos gained. He said, ‘You gave me five thousand pesos. Here is the gain of five thousand pesos.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “So then the one-entrusted with five talents went and said to his master, ‘Sir, five talents are what you (sing.) entrusted to me. Here also are the five that it earned (lit. gave-birth to).'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The first one to hand-over was the one left in charge of five thousand. He said, ‘Master, here is that five thousand of yours. I was able to increase it by another five thousand which I got in profit, for I traded with it.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “First he called the worker to whom he had given five thousand monies. This one gave back to the boss all ten thousand monies he held. He said: ‘Listen, boss, five thousand monies you gave me, but here is another five thousand monies I have gained,’ he said.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal 2nd person pronoun (Spanish)

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Spanish uses a formal vs. informal second-person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Spanish Bibles all use only the informal second-person pronoun (), with the exception of Dios Habla Hoy (third edition: 1996) which also uses the formal pronoun (usted). In the referenced verses, the formal form is used.

Sources and for more information: P. Ellingworth in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 143ff. and R. Ross in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 217ff.

See also the use of the formal vs. the informal pronoun in the Gospels in Tuvan.

master (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage of appropriate suffix title referred to as keishō (敬称) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017 by either using -san or –sama with the latter being the more formal title.

These titles are distinct from nominal titles such as “master.” This is evident from the forms such as go-shujin-sama (ご主人様) “master” or “lord” which is the combination of the nominal title shujin “master,” the honorific prefix go- and the suffix title –sama.

In some cases, it can also be used as go-shujin (ご主人), i.e. with the honorific prefix go- but without the suffix title –sama. You can find that in Genesis 19:2, 23:6, 23:11, 23:15, 24:51, 32:18, 39:8, 39:9, 44:8, 44:9; 1 Samuel 25:17; and 2 Kings 2:16 and 4:26.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

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.

behold / look / see (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. When the referent is God or a person or persons to be greatly honored, the honorific prefix go- (御 or ご) can be used, as in go-ran (ご覧), a combination of “behold / see” (ran) and the honorific prefix go-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also

Translation commentary on Matthew 25:20

Both Revised Standard Version and Good News Translation are potentially ambiguous; the servant did not give just the five thousand he had made, but the entire amount of ten thousand. Rather radical restructuring may be necessary in order to avoid possible confusion to the reader; for example, “The servant who had received five thousand coins came in and said, ‘You entrusted me with five thousand coins, and with them I have earned five thousand more. Here they are!’ ” (Bibel im heutigen Deutsch, 1st edition).

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 .