06 Noah

06 Noah

You probably still remember (I hope!) Food Stylist Aci’s son Noah who found the shell with cracks resembling Chinese writing. So today I want to share with you what I know about the name Noah.


Noah is traditionally transliterated as 挪亞 (nuó yà) in the Chinese Bible and there’s another modern transliteration that I also like: 諾亞 (nuò yǎ).


Chinese character: 挪
Chinese character: 亞Simplified Chinese: 亚
挪 (nuó) is to move something; e.g., 挪開 (nuó kāi) means to move something away. It’s also a character often used in transliterating names; e.g.: 挪威 (nuó wēi), Norway.


亞 (yà), as you recall (reviewing time!) from Aci, Food Stylist, is associated with 亞洲 (yà zhōu), Asia, and, 亞美利加洲 (yà měi lìjiā zhōu), American continent.


Chinese character: 諾Simplified Chinese: 诺
Chinese character: 亞Simplified Chinese: 亚
諾 (nuò) is associated with 承諾 (chéng nuò), meaning commitment or promise.


With Noah, I also thought about Noah’s Ark.


Ark is translated as 方舟 (fāng zhōu). So Noah’s Ark is 挪亞方舟 or 諾亞方舟.


方 (fāng) can mean square. For example, 方形 (fāng xíng) usually means square. 正方形 (zhèng fāng xíng) is definitely a square. 長方形 (cháng fāng xíng), literally long square shape, is a rectangle.


I know what 方 is and I know 舟 (zhōu) is boat. But honestly I don’t know why the ark was translated as 方舟.


In old Chinese, 方舟 means binding two boats together. When you bind two boats together next to each other, they form a somewhat square shape, making them more stable.


So did the Bible translator think the shape of the ark was a square or a rectangle?


Noah’s Ark is often pictured as a ship even though the Hebrew text only mentions its size and offers no clue about its shape. It’s possible that the ark was a huge rectangular box, although we don’t know at this point. The Hebrew term used for ark only appears twice in the Bible, once as Noah’s Ark and the other time as the reed basket of baby Moses.


Anyway, I mention all this just to help you learn the characters.


Do you know how many people were saved in the ark? In 1 Peter 3:20 in the King James Version (KJV) we read, “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”


Eight souls.


Chinese character: 船Interestingly, the Chinese character 船 (chuán), meaning ship, boat, or vessel, consists of 舟 (zhōu), meaning boat, that we just learned in 方舟, and 八口 (bā kǒu), literally eight mouths, meaning eight people.


So to remember 挪 (nuó), think: Noah moved (挪) people and animals away from the land into the ark to save them from the flood.


To remember 諾 (nuò), think: After the flood the Lord promised (諾) Noah that He would not destroy the earth with a flood again.


Which transliteration do you like more? 挪亞 (nuó yà) or 諾亞 (nuò yǎ)?


If you’re curious about how the above mentioned verses translate into Chinese, the following are two translations:


The most used Chinese Bible version:


彼得前書 3:20 Chinese Union Version (Traditional) (CUV)




A modern translation, though used by fewer Chinese Christians:


彼得前書 3:20 Chinese Contemporary Bible (CCB)






Level 1

Little or no Chinese language proficiency

Look at the animated Chinese characters on this page and copy them on paper or try using a Chinese handwriting input method described to enter on your phone or computer.

Level 2

Able to translate from Chinese to English

Google 挪亞 and 諾亞 and see if you can find anything interesting.

Level 3

Able to translate from English to Chinese

There are many other Chinese characters pronounced “no” and “ah”. What other transliterations of Noah can you come up with?

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