Translating Lamb as Pig and Snow as Wool

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    In the thread in General Baptist Discussions, "I have to know. What changed Billy's Mind," Crabtownboy suggested that the renderings in the OP title were necessary. I disagree.

    Here is what Crabtownboy wrote there:
    As a Bible translator, I have to say there is no need for such subterfuges as this. To translate a lamb (Christ the Lamb of God) as a pig or snow as wool does three things wrong:

    (1) It dumbs down the Scripture. People who live where there are pigs but no sheep, or wool but no snow are entirely capable of understanding such things with only a little bit of explanation.

    (2) It thus disrespects the reader, saying in essence that they are too dumb to understand what a lamb is or snow is simply because it doesn't exist where they are. (If I explain a Japanese snow monkey to you, could you understand? Of course you could.) When those nationals get educated after reading such a Bible and find out what snow and a lamb really are, they then lose confidence in their Bible translation.

    (3) Such renderings tear at the very fabric of the illustrations involved. In the case of the snow, new fallen snow is pure white, but wool is not. In the case of the lamb, the illustration rests on the OT sacrificial system, in which the pig is an abomination.

    It is better to transliterate the word snow or lamb. Then, simple footnotes can give the meaning. Easy, accurate, educational.
     
    #1 John of Japan, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2013
  2. Crabtownboy

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    John, I am curious, not arguing at all. What does a translator do if the language that scripture is being translated into does not have a word like "snow" or "shepherd" or "sheep"? I have wondered about this before as there are words and concepts in languages that simply are not there in other languages. I know a bit of Chinese and I know there are words that simply cannot be translated with one word from Chinese to English without loosing a whole bunch of meaning.

    I suppose people in the part of Nigeria the pastor I spoke of has seen pictures of snow. But that is a guess.

    But with a primitive people there may be no word for "sheep" as, at least at the time I heard the story a sheep had never been seen. It was an animal that simply did not exist in that small part of the world.

    So, again ... what would be done? Translating must be exceedingly difficult.
     
  3. Greektim

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    Transliterate as JoJ said above. I think his philosophy is sound in terms of not wanting to present "another gospel". The images that lamb or snow evoke are vital to the picture of Jesus and the gospel. Changing Jesus to a pig herder changes the message. So transliterate the word and footnote what it means. Don't "dumb down" the translation, but rather teach up the people.
     
  4. Crabtownboy

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    How is it dumbing it down if it makes it more understandable and meaningful?

    Has the gospel been dumbed down when it is translated into English and meaning is lost because English does not have an equivalent word. For instance in Greek there are four words for "love" with four distinct meanings. In English we are limited to only one word, "love" and meaning is certainly lost in the translation.

    Is there such a great difference between a Good Shepherd and a Good Pig Keeper? A Good Pig Keeper" might well be an extremely high compliment in some societies.

    Again, not arguing, just discussing and looking for rational replies.
     
  5. kyredneck

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    AMEN!



    The way I understand it, it wasn't that long ago one of the primary reasons for learning to read was to be able to read the scriptures. It's untold what all has been 'learned' from them.
     
  6. Greektim

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    It is dumbed down when the illustrative nature of, say a lamb, has been reduced to something disgusting and repulsive. The illustration of a lamb going silently to slaughter is gone when you change it to a pig. Plus, since so much of Scripture uses the shepherd/sheep analogy in a variety of ways, it is a humongous thing to make shepherds into pig herders.
     
  7. Crabtownboy

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    That which is considered disgusting and/or repulsive is cultural. An example:

    There is a huge scandal going all around Europe just now about hamburger being laced with horse meat. Eating horse meat is very repulsive to many Europeans.

    Now, there are a number of Kzack students here. One morning we asked two that we were talking to, "What do you miss eating from home?"

    "Horse meat" they responded. "We cannot find it anywhere here."

    What meat do they find most repulsive when it is being cooked? Beef.
     
  8. annsni

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    Well, honestly, other than one lamb that is at a local farm/petting zoo, I know nothing of sheep. I've never met a shepherd and know nothing about their job. As I read the Scriptures, I need to further look into that aspect of the Word because it just means nothing to me.

    But I don't expect someone to change that illustration since it is what GOD desired to be put into the Scriptures. If He said "shepherd", I want the word to translate as "shepherd".
     
  9. Greektim

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    But I'm not talking about food they simply eat. I'm talking about the animal that represents crudeness. There were probably very few pigs found in Israel. That is partly what makes the prodigal son story so shocking and illustrative.

    At the same time, when you compare how sheep are maintained vs. pigs, how sheep are slaughtered to pigs, how sheep are herded compared to pig pens, and so on; all of the Bible's clever metaphors and illustrations break down.

    It reaches a critical level when you consider that sheep die silently in a slaughter house. Pigs on the other hand make all kinds of raucous. That was used to illustrate the sacrificial lamb, the way in which Jesus acted at his crucifixion, and a whole host of other things. The illustration breaks down and thus the gospel message is distorted when you change sheep to pigs.
     
  10. Crabtownboy

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    And that is all cultural. In the one instance I related there as no sheep in the country. People there had no idea what "sheep" meant.

    Yes there is a difference. But that has nothing to do with helping people understand Christ.



    Again, we are talking about helping people
    understand Jesus ... not understand about how animals are killed.
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    I believe "words" actually breathed by Jesus and holy Spirit have meaning. Not all will understand and may need education/enlightenment. But I want to be as accurate to take a Greek word and put it exactly into the receptor language as best I can.

    Many English words were simply "made up" by the early translators, poets, writers (like Shakespeare). Some have never caught on; others are part of the vocabulary today.

    Bigger problem is when words change/morph in meaning and we spew out a word or phrase (from Bible translation of our choice) and the listener is deceived into thinking they KNOW what the word means. They do. But not what the word meant 100 or 1000 years ago.
     
  12. Greektim

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    The way animals were killed was used to illustrate the gospel. What could be clearer. In your case it seems as clear as a pig rummaging in mud.

    And just considering the dense amount of references to sheep and shepherds, much of the Bible would have to be changed to accommodate. If you cannot see these 2 things as quite grievous, then I'm shocked at your lack of understanding of the significance of the sheep/shepherd metaphors throughout and their significances especially to the gospel.
     
  13. Amy.G

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    I can't believe Christians are even having this conversation. :tear:

    Jesus was the LAMB slain before the foundation of the world.

    Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.


    A pig was an unclean animal according to God. Therefore to equate a pig to Jesus is at best just stupid and at worst, blasphemy.

    If you don't know what a sheep is, look it up.

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=sheep
     
  14. annsni

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    Looking on Blue Letter Bible at the Hebrew of Isaiah 53:7, we see two words there that speak of an animal:

    lamb = seh = "one of a flock, lamb, sheep, goat, young sheep, young goat"
    sheep = rachel = "ewe"

    Now, my question is why would someone WANT to change those terms to another animal when it would then misrepresent what GOD put in His Word? It's not like there is question as to what those terms mean or that the words may really be other words. I can't imagine anyone would think translating it to "pig" would even be slightly proper!
     
  15. Aaron

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    Not true. It is natural. There's no question that people can be conditioned to find unnatural and disgusting things quite attractive (homosexuality is big example), but there are some things that are simply disgusting and filthy by nature, and a natural disgust is a good and proper response to them.
     
  16. Amy.G

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    Apparently because they don't care what God's word really says. Grrrr.
     
  17. Aaron

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    It's quite understandable, knowing CBT.

    Ah yes, Christ, the Swine slain from the foundation of the world. Rings true in CBT's ears.
     
  18. Aaron

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    This is not a reply to CBT. This is just a response to his belching.

    "Translating" shepherd as "swineherd" is a lie. Christ didn't say He was the good swineherd, He said he was the good Shepherd. And one makes it understandable and meaningful through education.

    The Apostles didn't change the Hebrew Scriptures to make them relevent to the Gentiles. Both the Old and New Testaments contain gallons of milk for even newborn babes. I can't imagine a culture without a word for wife or husband.
     
  19. John of Japan

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    When the target language does not have a certain word, there are two strategies a translator can use:

    (1) As already mentioned, transliteration with an explanatory footnote is one strategy. That is when you carry the spelling of the original word right into the target document, like "baptism" from Greek. The word then may become a "loan word," carrying the meaning of the original into the target language as the reader learns the original meaning and transfers the meaning to the new word in his language. A loan word has become normal word in the target language, like "sushi" has become in English.

    (2) You can translate the original word with a phrase. There is no word in Japanese for justification, so we translate it with gi to mitomeru, which is "recognized as righteous." So "sheep" in a society that doesn't keep sheep can be, "a white, docile animal."

    Rendering "sheep" or "lamb" as "pig" or "piglet" is not translation, but paraphrase. It doesn't even meet the standards of dynamic equivalence, (a method which I oppose), in that the reader's response to "pig" would not be the same as a 1st century Jew's response to "sheep" by any means.

    You use the term "primitive people," which I feel is a mistake. There is no such thing as a "primitive person," because tribal people, while not advanced technologically, are just as capable as the typical American, with the same brain capacity, gifts and abilities, and potential for Christ.

    Also, there is no such thing as a primitive language. Tribal languages are just as complex and capable of conveying meaning as English. Though without special sets of modern technical vocabulary (engineering, medicine, etc.), they may even have their own sets of technical vocabulary not known by an American: words for snow in Alaska, words for jungle plants and animals, etc.

    Edited in: One other thing. After Christianity comes, education always, always follows. Literacy is taught, being necessary for the believers to learn to read their Bible. With education comes further sophistication, so that the tribal Christian can easily learn what snow or a sheep are. If his Bible then has "pig" when he is educated enough to learn what a sheep is, he loses confidence in his Bible translation, which can be a very bad result.
     
    #19 John of Japan, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2013
  20. salzer mtn

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    Someone please tell me the four distinct meanings of love in Hebrew, i would be much abliged.
     

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