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 7:14)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 7:14:

  • Uma: “I answered him, ‘I do not know them. Tell me.’ [So] he did tell me: ‘Those are people who have already passed the very big Time of Persecution. They laundered their clothes and made them white [or can be taken passively: Their clothes were laundered and made white] with the blood of the Lamb.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘I don’t know, Sir. You are the one who knows it,’ that is what I answered. He said to me, ‘They are the people who have experienced the great persecution/suffering. They have washed their clothes in the blood of the Sheep and they are white now, that means their sins have been removed.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And I answered, ‘You are the one who knows.’ And he said, ‘These people come from the great tribulation there on the earth. They have washed their clothing in the blood of the young sheep to make it white, which is to say, their sins have been removed.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘I don’t know, sir. Kindly tell (me),’ I said in reply. Then he said, ‘These are the ones who joined-in-experiencing the time of fearful hardship. They laundered their clothes in the blood of the Sheep so they would-become-white.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I answered, saying, ‘Respects to you, I don’t know. I don’t know where those have come from. Probably you are the one who knows.’ He said next to me, ‘They are the ones who experienced great hardship, but even though it was like that, they didn’t give-up/let-go but on the contrary their believing/obeying held fast. They really have cleaned their clothes and made them white in/by the blood of this Young Sheep.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “I then said: ‘Listen, sir, it is you who know about them. He said: ‘Those are the ones who suffered overflowing suffering. And they have washed their clothing, they whitened it with the blood of the Lamb.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)