wild animal

The Hebrew, Latin and Greek that is translated in English as “wild animal” or similar is translated in Newari as “animal that lives in the jungle.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)

pale, pale green

The Greek that is translated as “pale green” or “pale” in English is translated in Tsafiki as “sickly yellow” which is used related to health. (Source: Bruce Moore in: Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.)

complete verse (Revelation 6:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 6:8:

  • Uma: “I saw a pale horse. The name of the person who rode it was Death, and behind him there was one who followed-him-closely that was named Dwelling-place of the Dead. To those two was given the authority/power to kill one fourth part of mankind. There were those who were killed in war, there were those who died of hunger or died in epidemics/plagues, there were those who were killed by carnivorous animals [lit., eater animals].” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When I watched I saw a very pale horse. The name of the rider was Death and someone followed from behind who was called Afterworld. They were given authority to kill one part of the people on earth, three parts not. Fighting, famine, sickness and forest beasts, these could be used by the two for killing.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And I looked and I saw a horse whose yellowness was somewhat white. Death was the name of the one riding, and Infierno was the name of the one who followed him. And those two were given authority over one fourth of all mankind that they might kill them by means of contagious disease, and war, and hunger, and hamrful beasts.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “As I looked, a pale/anemic horse suddenly-appeared. The one riding-on-his-back, he was named Death and the one accompanying him who was following, it was Hades which is the place of the dead. They were given authority to kill a fourth of the people on the earth by means of war, famine, sickness and wild animals.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “There was a horse which I saw next whose body was pale/anemic. The name of the one riding on that was Death. Basad (i.e. the place of the dead) was coming right behind him (lit. acting as his tail). Given to them was authority to kill the fourth part of the population here under the heavens, that killing being by fighting-with-blades, starvation, epidemic and killings by wild animals.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “I looked and I saw a horse that was deathly colored. The horseman was named death. Behind the horseman came what was the place where the dead are. These were given the power to kill one fourth of the people who live on the earth. They brought about that the people would be killed in wars, the people would die of hunger, the people would die of sickness, the people would die by being bitten by wild animals.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Revelation 6:7 – 6:8

For verse 7 see verses 1, 3, 5.

And I saw, and behold: see Rev. 6.2.

A pale horse: the Greek word can be taken to mean “green” or “yellowish green”; New Revised Standard Version translates “pale green”; New Jerusalem Bible “deathly pale”; Revised English Bible “sickly pale.” At least one language translates this as “a light dusty color.”

Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him: this is the only horse whose rider is given a name. It is not certain whether the verb followed means that Hades also was riding a horse; it does not mean that Hades was on the same horse that Death rode. So translators need to use a very general word for followed. For Death and Hades see 1.18.

And they were given power over a fourth of the earth: the passive they were given means that God gave them this power. Since the focus of this clause is really not on the agent, in many languages one may say “they received power over one quarter…” and thus avoid a passive construction. In 2.26 the word for power (or, authority) meant to “rule over”; here in this verse it means “to have the power to hurt (or, kill) people.” So in languages where one must state the domain of the authority, this clause may be rendered “they received the authority to hurt (or, kill) one quarter of the people in the world.” The phrase a fourth of the earth is not used in a spatial sense, that is, one fourth of the surface of the globe, but in a numerical sense, one fourth of the world’s population.

To kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence: here sword (translating the Greek word used in 1.16; 2.12, 16) translates a different Greek word from the one used in verse 4; in translation, however, the same word may be used. Sword stands for battle; death by famine is starvation caused by shortage of food; andpestilence translates the Greek word “death” (as the same Greek word translates the Hebrew word for “pestilence” in the Septuagint of Lev 26.25; Jer 14.12; 24.10; and elsewhere), meaning “disease” or “epidemic.”

And by wild beasts of the earth: here the Greek preposition hupo is used, indicating subordinate agency (living creatures as agents); in the case of sword, famine, and pestilence, the preposition en is used, indicating means (as with tools). The phrase of the earth indicates these are wild land animals. Many languages will express agency and means in exactly the same manner.

Alternative translation models for verse 8 are:

• I looked and saw there a pale-colored horse. Its rider had the name Death, and another being named World of the Dead was following close behind the first one. They received the power to kill one quarter of the people on earth by means of war, lack of food (or, starvation), sickness of all kinds, and wild animals.


• … God gave them the power to use war, famine, epidemics, and wild animals to kill one quarter of the people on the earth.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Revelation to John. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1993. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .