lamb

The term that is translated as “lamb” in English is typically translated as “offspring of a sheep” in Ixcatlán Mazatec since there is no specific word for “lamb.” Since this could distract readers with thoughts of God being the sheep when the “lamb” refers to Jesus the translation into Ixcatlán Mazatec chose “little (individual) sheep” for those cases. (Source: Robert Bascom)

In Dëne Súline the native term for “lamb” directly translated as “the young one of an evil little caribou.” To avoid the negative connotation, a loan word from the neighboring South Slavey was used. (Source: NCAM, p. 70)

For the Kasua translation, it took a long process to find the right term. Rachel Greco (in The PNG Experience) tells this story:

“To the Kasua people of Western Province, every four-legged animal is a pig. They call a horse a pig-horse, a cow, a pig-cow, and a sheep, a pig-sheep, because all of these animals have four legs, which is kopolo, or pig, in their language.

“When the translation team would translate the word, ‘sheep’ in the New Testament, they would translate it as ‘pig-sheep’. So when Jesus is referred to as the ‘Lamb,’ (John 1:29; Rev. 12:11; Rev. 17:14), they translated as ‘pig-sheep’ so that in John 1:29 it would read: ‘Behold, the pig-sheep of God.’

“When some members of the translation team attended the Translators Training Course, they had the opportunity to observe and study sheep for the first time. As they watched and learned more about the animals’ behavior, their understanding of these creatures—and God’s Word—rotated on its axis.

“Once during the course, Logan and Konni — the translation team’s helpers — were driving with the team to a Bible dedication when Amos, one of the team members, said passionately, ‘We can’t use the word kopolo in front of the word, ‘sheep’! Pigs know when they’re about to die and squeal and scream.’ The team had often watched villagers tie up pigs so they wouldn’t escape.

“’But,’ Amos said, ‘Jesus didn’t do that.’ The team had learned that sheep are quiet and still when death walks toward them. They had observed, as they translated the New Testament, the words of Isaiah 53 fulfilled: ‘Like a lamb led to the slaughter, he did not open his mouth.’ And now they understood what it meant. For this reason, the team decided not to put pig-sheep in the New Testament for the word ‘sheep,’ but used sheep-animal or, in their language, a:pele sipi.

“The Kasua translation team also chose to discard the word ‘pig’ before sheep because pigs are unclean animals to the Jews. The team knew that Jesus was called the ‘Lamb of God’ in the New Testament to show that he is unblemished and clean. Hopefully the Lord will open up the Kasua villagers’ eyes to these same truths about Jesus as they read of Him in their own language.”

complete verse (1 Corinthians 5:7)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 5:7:

  • Uma: “When the Yahudi people do the custom of Paskah Feast, they remove yeast from their houses, and they slaughter their substitutionary/redemptive sheep. Like the Yahudi people remove yeast from their houses, so also you must remove the sinning person from your fellowship, so that you will become God’s holy people–for you are indeed God’s people, relatives. For Kristus has died as our Paskah sheep to redeem us.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Therefore you should remove that old yeast, that means your bad doings so that there won’t be any bad there with you. If you do this you are/will-be figuratively a new dough not mixed with yeast. I know that you are already clean/holy because you trust in Isa Almasi. Isa Almasi hep died to cause our (incl.) sins to be done away with and he is figuratively like the sheep slaughtered by the Yahudi at the time of the Feast for Remembering God’s Passing by.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “It’s necessary that you remove from yourselves that old yeast which is the former evil-doings, so that there is no evil there among you. If you obey this, you’ll be like the new bread which has no yeast. I know that you are already like this because of your faith in Christ. Because as for Christ, He is like a young sheep which is sacrificed on the Passover Feast, because He was sacrificed so that we might be set free.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “It is necessary then that you stop your bad behavior that is compared to yeast so that your behavior will become like your clean status in God’s estimation. You must do that so that you will be compared to just-cooked bread that has no yeast that is used-in-conjunction-with (lit. companioned-with) the sheep that the Jews butcher at the fiesta called Passed-By. Because Cristo who is the illustration of that sheep has already died to set-us -free from sin.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Yes indeed, remove now all your ways which are contrary to God’s will so that your lives may be renewed. For is it not so that God now regards you as people who now have no sin? His estimation of us is like this because of our believing-in/obeying Cristo, he who was made to be like a sheep which was sacrificed so that we would be passed-by by God’s punishment because of our sins. This is the fulfillment of what is alluded to in that fiesta of us (excl.) Jews in the past that is called Passed-by.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Therefore, throw outside the man who did the sin, in order that he will not spoil other people. Because he still hasn’t spoiled the thoughts of the people. Christ now has died to clear our sins, like when a sacrifice is made on the Passover celebration.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (1Cor. 5:7)

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 addressee).

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