sin

The Hebrew and Greek that is typically translated as “sin” in English has a wide variety of translations.

The Greek ἁμαρτάνω (hamartanō) carries the original verbatim meaning of “miss the mark.” Likewise, many translations contain the “connotation of moral responsibility.” Loma has (for certain types of sin) “leaving the road” (which “implies a definite standard, the transgression of which is sin”) or Navajo uses “that which is off to the side.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida). In Toraja-Sa’dan the translation is kasalan, which originally meant “transgression of a religious or moral rule” and has shifted its meaning in the context of the Bible to “transgression of God’s commandments.” (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff.).

In Shipibo-Conibo the term is hocha. Nida (1952, p. 149) tells the story of its choosing:

“In some instances a native expression for sin includes many connotations, and its full meaning must be completely understood before one ever attempts to use it. This was true, for example, of the term hocha first proposed by Shipibo-Conibo natives as an equivalent for ‘sin.’ The term seemed quite all right until one day the translator heard a girl say after having broken a little pottery jar that she was guilty of ‘hocha.’ Breaking such a little jar scarcely seemed to be sin. However, the Shipibos insisted that hocha was really sin, and they explained more fully the meaning of the word. It could be used of breaking a jar, but only if the jar belonged to someone else. Hocha was nothing more nor less than destroying the possessions of another, but the meaning did not stop with purely material possessions. In their belief God owns the world and all that is in it. Anyone who destroys the work and plan of God is guilty of hocha. Hence the murderer is of all men most guilty of hocha, for he has destroyed God’s most important possession in the world, namely, man. Any destructive and malevolent spirit is hocha, for it is antagonistic and harmful to God’s creation. Rather than being a feeble word for some accidental event, this word for sin turned out to be exceedingly rich in meaning and laid a foundation for the full presentation of the redemptive act of God.”

In Kaingang, the translation is “break God’s word” and in Sandawe the original meaning of the Greek term (see above) is perfectly reflected with “miss the mark.” (Source: Ursula Wiesemann in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 36ff., 43)

See also sinner.

complete verse (Romans 7:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 7:8:

  • Uma: “But when I heard the Lord’s Law that says ‘Don’t desire,’ sin had opportunity to work in my heart with the result that I just desired more-and-more. If for instance there were no Lord’s Law to point out my sin, sin would have no power in my heart.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “After I knew from the law that coveting is not good, then my inborn sinning/old nature moved/stirred that’s why my coveting/greedy desire increased. The meaning of what I am saying here is that if there were no law we (dual) would not know that we (dual) sin.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Sin was already with me, and when the Law taught me what coveteousness was, my coveteousness increased and my sinning also increased. For if there wasn’t a Law for us to break, we would not have known what sin is.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But since I am a sinner, I increasingly covet because of the law that prohibits coveting. Because if there is no law, neither does sin have any power.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “When we know what is said in the law, it seems that more powerfully we want something that is owned by another. During the time when it was not known what the law says, it did not appear what sin is.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

law

The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”) (source: Nida 1947, p. 198) and in Central Tarahumara it is “writing-command.” (wsource: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
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