destroy

The Greek that is translated as “destroy” in English is rendered in Yapese as “untie the words of” and in Chichewa as “wiping from the ground.”

saint

The Greek that is translated as “saint” in English is rendered into Highland Puebla Nahuatl as “one with a clean hearts,” into Northwestern Dinka as “one with a white hearts,” and into Western Kanjobal as “person of prayer.” (Source: Nida 1952, p. 146)

Other translations include:

complete verse (Revelation 11:18)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 11:18:

  • Uma: “All the people who do not follow you (sing.), they are riled-up/all-out wanting to oppose you (sing.). But the time has come you (sing.) make appear your (sing.) anger to them. The time has come when you (sing.) judge the cases of people who have died. The time has come for you (sing.) to give gifts to you (sing.) slaves: to the prophets who carry your (sing.) Word, to people who submit to you (sing.), and to all the people who honor you (sing.), the important or the unimportant ones [lit., the ones with big or little lives]. The time has come for you (sing.) to punish people who wreck /make-evil the world.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “The people who don’t believe-obey you are very angry, because the time has come now for your wrath to come to them, and the time for you to judge the dead. The time has come when you will reward your servants, the prophets, and all people belonging to you, all who respect you, great and small equally. This is the time for destroying all those who destroyed in the world.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Your enemies were very angry with You, but the day for Your punishing them has arrived, and also the day for Your investigating the deeds of those already dead. It is now the time for Your rewarding Your servants the prophets and Your rewarding also all people who belong to You, whether their status is big or whether their status is small, everyone who respects You. This is also the time for You to destroy all people who have destroyed the earth.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Those who oppose you (sing.), extreme is their anger, but now, the time has arrived when-you (sing.) -will-punish them, because now is the time when-you (sing.) -will-judge all the dead. Now also is the time when-you (sing.) -will-recompense the prophets who serve you (sing.) and all your (sing.) people who esteem you (sing.), those who are low (i.e. poor, lacking influence) and also those who are high, while at-the-same-time you (sing.) destroy those who have destroyed people on the earth.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The anger/hatred of those nations who don’t acknowledge you is really terrible. But well, the time has now been reached when you will now cause your anger to be comprehended. The time has been reached to judge/sentence the ones who have died, and to give rewards to the prophets who are your servants, and all your people, as many as have fear and respect for you, high/important blood and low-class/ordinary. Now really is the time when you will cause to suffer greatly those under the heavens who are causing suffering.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The people who live in the world who reject your word were angry. But now has come the day when you also are angry. Concerning those who have died, now has come the time for you to judge them. Concerning your workers who have spoken for you, you will give them their wages. All of the people who are in your hand, little and big, all who reverence you, to all will you give their wages. Now has come the time that you finish the people who do damage here on earth with whatever evil they do.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Chichewa (interconfessional translation, 1999): “Pagan people became angry, but the time has come to show your wrath, that is the time for judging the dead. The time has come for you to give a reward to your servants, the prophets, and to your people, that is all of them, the small ones and the great ones, who reverence your name. The time has come for you to destroy those who destroy this world.” (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 166)

prophet

Eugene Nida wrote the following about the translation of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek terms that are typically translated with “prophet” in English:

“The tendency in many translations is to use ‘to foretell the future’ for ‘prophesy,’ and ‘one who foretells the future’ for ‘prophet.’ This is not always a recommended usage, particularly if such expressions denote certain special native practices of spirit contact and control. It is true, of course, that prophets of the Bible did foretell the future, but this was not always their principal function. One essential significance of the Greek word prophētēs is ‘one who speaks forth,’ principally, of course, as a forth-teller of the Divine will. A translation such as ‘spokesman for God’ may often be employed profitably.” (1947, p. 234f.)

Following is a list of (back-) translations from other languages (click or tap for details):

  • San Blas Kuna: “one who speaks the voice of God”
  • Central Pame and Vai: “interpreter for God”
  • Kaqchikel, Navajo, Yaka: “one who speaks for God”
  • Northern Grebo: “God’s town crier” (see more about this below)
  • Sapo: “God’s sent-word person”
  • Shipibo-Conibo, Ngäbere: “one who speaks God’s word”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “one who speaks-opens” (a compound meaning “one who discloses or reveals”)
  • Sierra Totonac: “one who causes them to know” (in the sense of “revealer”)
  • Batak Toba: “foreteller” (this and all the above acc. to Nida 1961, p. 7)
  • Alekano: “the true man who descended from heaven” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation June 1986, p. 36ff.)
  • Aguaruna: “teller of God’s word” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)
  • Ekari: “person who speaks under divine impulse”
  • Chinese: 先知 xiānzhī — “one who foreknows” (or the 1946/1970 translation by Lü Zhenzhong: 神言人 shényánrén — “divine-word-man”)
  • Uab Meto: “holy spokesman” (source for this and two above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Kouya: Lagɔɔ gbʋgbanyɔ — “the one who seeks God’s affairs” (source: Saunders, p. 269)
  • Kafa: “decide for God only” (source: Loren Bliese)
  • Martu Wangka: “sit true to God’s talk” (source: Carl Gross)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “word passer” (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation November 1964, p. 1-22)
  • Obolo: ebi nriran: “one with power of divine revelation” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Mairasi: nonondoai nyan: “message proclaimer” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Highland Totonac: “speaker on God’s behalf”
  • Central Tarahumara: “God’s preacher” (source for this and above: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Coatlán Mixe: “God’s word-thrower”
  • Ayutla Mixtec: “one who talks as God’s representative”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “speaker for God” (source for this and two above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Mezquital Otomi: “God’s messenger” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Nyongar: Warda Marridjiny or “News Traveling” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)

In Ixcatlán Mazatec a term is used that specifically includes women. (Source: Robert Bascom)

About the translation into Northern Grebo:

“In some instances these spiritual terms result from adaptations reflecting the native life and culture. Among the Northern Grebo people of Liberia, a missionary wanted some adequate term for ‘prophet,’ and she was fully aware that the native word for ‘soothsayer’ or ‘diviner’ was no equivalent for the Biblical prophet who spoke forth for God. Of course, much of what the prophets said referred to the future, and though this was an essential part of much of their ministry, it was by no means all. The right word for the Gbeapo people would have to include something which would not only mean the foretelling of important events but the proclamation of truth as God’s representative among the people. At last the right word came; it was ‘God’s town-crier.’ Every morning and evening the official representative of the chief goes through the village crying out the news, delivering the orders of the chief, and announcing important coming events. ‘God’s town-crier’ would be the official representative of God, announcing to the people God’s doings, His commands, and His pronouncements for their salvation and well-being. For the Northern Grebo people the prophet is no weird person from forgotten times; he is as real as the human, moving message of the plowman Amos, who became God’s town-crier to a calloused people.” (source: Nida 1952, p. 20)

See also prophesy and prophesy / prophetic frenzy.

addressing God

Translators of different languages have found different ways with what kind of formality God is addressed. The first example is from a language where God is always addressed distinctly formal whereas the second is one where the opposite choice was made.

Click or tap here to see the rest of this insight

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.

In these verses, in which humans address God, the informal, familiar pronoun is used that communicates closeness.

Voinov notes that “in the Tuvan Bible, God is only addressed with the informal pronoun. No exceptions. An interesting thing about this is that I’ve heard new Tuvan believers praying with the formal form to God until they are corrected by other Christians who tell them that God is close to us so we should address him with the informal pronoun. As a result, the informal pronoun is the only one that is used in praying to God among the Tuvan church.”

In Gbaya, “a superior, whether father, uncle, or older brother, mother, aunt, or older sister, president, governor, or chief, is never addressed in the singular unless the speaker intends a deliberate insult. When addressing the superior face to face, the second person plural pronoun ɛ́nɛ́ or ‘you (pl.)’ is used, similar to the French usage of vous.

Accordingly, the translators of the current version of the Gbaya Bible chose to use the plural ɛ́nɛ́ to address God. There are a few exceptions. In Psalms 86:8, 97:9, and 138:1, God is addressed alongside other “gods,” and here the third person pronoun o is used to avoid confusion about who is being addressed. In several New Testament passages (Matthew 21:23, 26:68, 27:40, Mark 11:28, Luke 20:2, 23:37, as well as in Jesus’ interaction with Pilate and Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well) the less courteous form for Jesus is used to indicate ignorance of his position or mocking (source Philip Noss).

In Dutch translations, however, God is always addressed with the formal pronoun.