Sarai / Sarah

The Hebrew and Greek that is transliterated as “Sarai” and “Sarah” in English is translated in Spanish Sign Language with the sign depicting coins on a headband, referring to women from the Middle East and North Africa who wear a headband decorated with small coins. (Source: Steve Parkhurst)


“Sarai” and “Sarah” in Spanish Sign Language, source: Sociedad Bíblica de España

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Sarah .

complete verse (Romans 9:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 9:9:

  • Uma: “The child of Abraham named Ishak was born according to the promise of God to Abraham. God said to Abraham like this: ‘I will come here next year, and Sara your (sing.) wife will give birth to a male child.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “This hep is what God promised to Ibrahim, he said, ‘Next year I will come back and your (sing.) wife Sara will give birth to a male.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “For God said to Abraham, ‘A year from now I will return to you and at that time Sarah will give birth to a male child.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because this is what God promised Abraham concerning Isaac: ‘When the right time arrives, I will show you (pl.) my power, and that’s when Sara will give birth to your child who will be a male.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Because this is the word which God told Abraham. He said: ‘There will come the day in which I will show you my power. Your wife Sarah will give birth to a son’ he said.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

word / command (of God) (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. When the referent is God, the “divine” honorific prefix mi- (御 or み) can be used, as in mi-kotoba (みことば) or “word (of God)” in the referenced verses.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

first person pronoun referring to God

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the choice of a first person singular and plural pronoun (“I” and “we” and its various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. The most commonly used watashi/watakushi (私) is typically used when the speaker is humble and asking for help.

In these verses, where God / Jesus is referring to himself, watashi is also used but instead of the kanji writing system (私) the syllabary hiragana (わたし) is used to distinguish God from others.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also pronoun for “God”.

Translation commentary on Romans 9:9

The initial clause for God’s promise was made in these words may be restructured as “for this is what God said when he made the promise to Abraham.”

The scripture quotation in this verse represents a rather free combination of Genesis 18.10 and 14. At the right time (New English Bible “at the time fixed”; Jerusalem Bible “at such and such a time”; New American Bible “at this time”) is shown clearly by the passage in Genesis to mean “at this time next year” (An American Translation*).

Sarah will have a son may be rendered simply as “Sarah will possess a son” or it may be translated as “Sarah will give birth to a son” or “Sarah will have given birth to a son.”

Quoted with permission from Newman, Barclay M. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1973. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .