What then are we to say

In Kadiwéu, it is not possible to use a rhetorical question for the purpose of linking subjects as is done in this case in the Greek (and English) text. Instead, the translators translated the whole verse as “Our forefather Abraham, how did he become just (righteous) before God?” (Source: Glyn Griffiths in Notes on Translation June 1986, p. 25ff.)

See also here.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Rom. 4:1)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 inclusive form (including the writer of the letter and the readers).

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

complete verse (Romans 4:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 4:1:

  • Uma: “So now we-take / let’s-take as an example Abraham, our forefather [lit., grandparent long ago]. What was the way that Abraham became straight in God’s sight?” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then what do we (dual) say about Ibrahim, the forefather of us (excl.) Yahudi?” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “For example Abraham, the ancestor of us (excl.) Jews,” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Let us consider Abraham who is the ancestor of us Jews. What was the reason for which he was counted as righteous?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “How about our ancestor Abraham? What did he do so that God cleared his sin?” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)