Lord's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer was translated into Nyulnyul (and back-translated into English) by the German missionary Hermann Nekes in 1939.

It reads:

Our Father on top sky.
Thy name be feared.
Thou art our boss.
Men-women will listen to Thee this place earth
as the good souls of men-women listen to Thee on top sky.
Give us tucker till this sun goes down.
We did wrong; make us good.
We have good hearts to them who did us wrong.
Watch us against bad place.
Thy hands be stretched out to guard us from bad.


The following is a version of the Lord’s Prayer set to Tibetan music:

Source: gSungrab website

See also this commentary on the Lord’s Payer in Tibetan and English from the same website .

tempt, temptation

The Greek that is typically translated as “tempt” or “temptation” in English is translated in Nyongar as djona-karra or “reveal conduct” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang) and in Tibetan as nyams sad (ཉམས་​སད།), lit. “soul + test,” or in some cases as slu (སླུ།) or “lure / lead astray” (for instance in 1 Cor. 7:5 or Gal 6:1) (source: gSungrab website )

See also tempted by Satan.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Matt. 6:13 / Luke 11:4)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding God).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

This story of the translation of a new version of the Bible in Kwara’ae illustrates the importance and the problem of this, especially in this verse: “It is necessary to distinguish in Melanesian languages between the inclusive and exclusive first person plural pronoun. For example in, ‘We must go soon or we will lose the tide,’ ‘we’ here includes the persons addressed. But in, ‘Wait, and we will be with you soon,’ ‘we’ here excludes the persons addressed. Two different pronouns are used. Early missionaries, not knowing this, used the inclusive form in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our trespasses (yours and ours).’ This, of course, had to be corrected.” (Source: Norman Deck in The Bible Translator 1963, 34ff. ).


If the Hebrew or (the transliterated) Greek “Amen” (as part of a prayer) is not transliterated it can also be translated into expressions such as “that is just the way it is” (Huichol), “that’s it” (Shilluk), “may it be thus” (Tzeltal) (source: Bratcher / Nida), or “Let those things thus be” (Kituba) (source: Donald Deer in The Bible Translator 1973, p. 207ff. ).

In Mairasi the translation is aniaut aug or “it’s a tuberful dig.” The preface to Enggavoter 2004 explains: “Truth is like a tuber [sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, yams]. We Mairasi have tubers as our standard food. The leaves are visible above ground. But we planted the plant so that it would produce tubers, but those are beneath the ground. So the vocabulary about ‘truth’ and ‘produce’ or ‘fruit’ is based on words for ‘tubers.’ For example: the word for ‘Amen’ ‘it’s a tuberful dig’ [also used for ‘verily’ or ‘definitely’] has its story like this: We see the leaves of the sweet potato but we do not know: the question is ‘Are there tubers or not?.’ So we dig then we see tubers. Therefore we say that ani ‘dig’ was aut ‘with tubers,’ which is ‘Aniaut!‘ ‘Definitely true!'”

In Huba it is translated as Aɗǝmja or “let it be so.” David Frank (in this blog post ) explains: “Whenever there were persistent problems such as a drought, or a rash of sickness or death, the king (or his religious advisor) would set aside a day and call on everyone to prepare food, such as the traditional mash made from sorghum, or perhaps even goat. The food had to be put together outside. The king or his religious advisor would give an address stating what the problem was and what they were doing about it. Then an elder representing the people would take a handful of that food and throw it, probably repeating that action several times, until it was considered to be enough to atone for all the misfortune they had been having. With this action he was ‘shooting (or casting off) misfortune’ to restore well-being to his people. As he threw the food, he would say that this is to remove the misfortune that had fallen on his people, and everybody would respond by saying aɗǝmja, ‘let it be so.’ People could eat some of this food, but they could not bring the food into their houses, because that would mean that they were bringing misfortune into their house. There is still a minority of people in this linguistic and cultural group that practices the traditional religion, but the shooting of misfortune is no longer practiced, and the term ‘shoot misfortune’ is used now in Bible translation to refer to offering a sacrifice. Aɗǝmja is how they translate ‘amen.'”

“Amen” in American Sign Language (source )

See alsotruly, truly I tell you

complete verse (Matthew 6:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 6:13:

  • Uma: “Don’t allow/let us be tempted, free us from the power of evil [[Because You (sing.) are the King who has power and the one whose life is big until forever. Amin.]]” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Cause us to be far from temptation/tempters and shield us from the leader of demons.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Keep us far away from strong temptation, and keep us away from Satan.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Help-(us) also so that we (excl.) will not be successfully-tempted but rather we (excl.) will escape from evil.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And we request from you that you indeed won’t permit us to be tested too much, but on the contrary that you will free/save us always from Satanas. Because you are the one who has kingship and unequalled supernatural-power, and praiseworthiness/glory without end for ever. This is the truth!'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Help us so that we do not do evil. Save us from evil. Because you alone rule, you alone have power, you surpass forever. Amen.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Chichewa (interconfessional translation, 1999): “And do not allow us to fall into things that tempt us, but save us from the Evil One.” (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 157)

Translation commentary on Matthew 6:13

This final petition is especially difficult to interpret. The Greek word translated temptation may also mean “trial, persecution.” A number of commentators interpret it in light of the Jewish and early Christian belief that a period of trial and persecution would come upon the faithful immediately before the end of the world. But as one scholar observes, the lack of the definite article before temptation is a strong argument against this particularized interpretation. A more general interpretation of temptation seems best in light of the absence of any specific reference to “the” one great and final period of temptation. See further at 26.41.

The Greek verb translated lead … into by Revised Standard Version and “bring … to” by Good News Translation is a verb which may be used in a wide range of contexts (see Luke 5.18, 19; 11.4; 12.11; Acts 17.20; 1 Tim 6.7; Heb 13.11). There is a dilemma here. According to the Old Testament, God does put people to the test to find out if they will obey him (for example, Gen 22.1-2; Exo 16.4), and according to 1 Corinthians 10.13 it is God who creates both the source of testing and the strength to endure it. But one commentator suggests that the original Aramaic was either causative (“and cause us not to enter”) or permissive (“allow us not to enter”), in which case the question of God’s directing people toward temptation is not really of concern. In either case, the question whether God sends temptation is not really of concern here, if either cause or permission is a valid interpretation.

For a discussion of temptation, see 4.1. As we pointed out there, the sense here can be either “to tempt to do wrong” or “to test or try.” If translators follow the former interpretation and at the same time use the causative or permissive interpretation of lead … into, then the sentence can be “Don’t cause us to enter into temptation” or “Don’t let it happen that we are tempted to do wrong.”

Translations that follow the second interpretation, translating “temptation” as “testing,” will have a rendering much like that of Good News Translation, possibly saying “Don’t put us through the ordeal of testing,” “Don’t cause us to undergo testing,” or “Don’t cause us to be tried too hard.”

Deliver … from (Good News Translation “keep … safe from”) translates a verb which may mean either “rescue from” or “protect against.” A number of translations render “save … from” (New English Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, An American Translation, Phillips); Barclay has “rescue … from” and Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch “protect … from.” Translators who prefer the first meaning, “rescue from,” will have a rendering such as “save us from” or “take us out of the hands of.” Those who choose the other possible meaning, “protect against,” will have expressions such as “protect us from,” “keep us safe from,” or “do not let us be conquered by.”

Evil translates a noun which may also mean “the evil one” (RSV footnote). New Testament scholars are divided on their judgment. Some are of the opinion that the word is neuter, inasmuch as neither Hebrew nor Aramaic uses “the evil one” to denote Satan. Others, basing their judgment upon 13.19, believe that the phrase may refer to the Evil One, that is, the Devil. In either case, whether evil or the Evil One, the power of evil is here spoken of as a reality. See comments at 5.37, 39.

Many translators prefer to interpret evil as the Devil, and have either “the Evil One” or “the Devil, the Evil One.” But others will keep “evil” as an abstract idea or force, as in “take us out of evil” or “protect us from evil.”

A number of manuscripts, but not the best or most ancient, include a benediction at the close of the Lord’s Prayer, as TC-GNT notes. For English-speaking readers the most familiar of these is that of King James Version: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Another ancient source simply has “For yours is the power forever and ever.” Several late manuscripts even have “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.” One scholar argues for including the doxology because it is impossible to imagine that either Jesus or Matthew would have ended a prayer without a doxology, since Jewish prayers traditionally concluded in this manner. However, it must be borne in mind that the best textual traditions do not include a doxology. It is unlikely that a scribe would have omitted a doxology when copying the text, but it is far more likely that he would add one to the original text. We assume that it was not in the original text, in light of all the evidence. None of the standard modern translations include the doxology.

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 .