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 Peter 1:19)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Peter 1:19:

  • Uma: “but something very expensive, that is the blood of Kristus. Kristus was treated like a lamb that had no faults or lacks, that was slaughtered as your bodily substitute [redemption].” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But that is what he used to redeem, the most valuable blood of Isa Almasi which was poured out at his death. Isa Almasi is like the offspring of a sheep which has no fault or dirt that is made a sacrifice to make our (incl.) sins go away.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “What He redeemed us with was the blood sacrifice of Christ who was very precious. He is like a young sheep without any defect which is sacrificed.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “but rather the valuable blood of Cristo who is compared to a sheep which has absolutely no lack/fault which is offered/sacrificed to God.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “On the contrary the far-from-ordinary blood of Cristo which was shed, that’s what enabled your release. For a likeness of him is a young of sheep which was sacrificed which had nothing at all wrong with his body.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Rather you were redeemed by the holy blood shed by Christ when he died. Christ was killed like a lamb is killed to make a sacrifice and he was without any fault, but was completely good.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)