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 (Revelation 6:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 6:1:

  • Uma: “After that I saw the Lamb open the first seal of those seven seals. I heard one of those four living things call loudly like the sound of thunder, he said: ‘Come here!’ [singular command]” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Then while I was watching, the Sheep removed the first of the seals on the paper roll. And I heard one of the four angels of-different-kind calling. His voice was like rolling-thunder. The angel said, ‘Go now, proceed.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then I looked and the young sheep removed the first of the seven marks on the scroll, and I heard one of the four creatures speaking, he said, ‘Now get going!’ And the sound of his speaking was like a thunderclap.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “As I was watching, the Sheep detached the first of the seven things-that-were-adhering/affixed, and I heard something like thunder which was the voice of one of the four living creatures. ‘Come (singular) right-now,’ he said.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well I saw that the one referred to as Young Sheep then removed the first fastening from that rolled up writing. At the same time, I heard one of those created living beings speak. He spoke just like claps of thunder in volume. He said, ‘Come now!'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Then I saw the Lamb break the first of the seven seals. Then one of the four who stood at the corners of the chair spoke with force, it sounded to me like thunder. He said to me: ‘Come here so that you can see well,’ he said to me.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)