What Is a Pig Translation?


Every missionary to the many tribes in Papua New Guinea has to face the translation issue. There are numerous tribes and each tribe has its own language, usually with no understanding of any outside language. There are very few missionaries for the total number of tribes. When the missionary lives in a tribe and learns the language well enough, he begins translating the Word of God into that language.

“Behold the lamb of God.” But these people have no idea what a lamb is. Some missionaries choose to stay long enough to educate these tribesmen, even paying out of their own pockets to bring a lamb in. The years or decades this takes means that other tribes will never even hear of the Word of God. There are only two alternatives. Use a word these tribesmen will probably never understand or use the closest word these tribesmen already understand. However, the only creature that these tribesmen have ever seen which is anything like a lamb is a pig. If you were the translator and were unable to stay long enough to educate this tribe would you translate John 1:36 “Behold the pig of God?”

No translation is inspired, including the King James. It was an excellent translation for its day and is still one of the best, but the meaning of many words has changed. “Suffer” no longer means “permit,” “quick” does not mean “alive,” and “conversation” does not mean “manner of life.” No modern Standard English speaker uses these words in that way. These are not errors, just obstacles to understanding. At some point, these obstacles will make understanding impossible.

The KJV is not the only translation to face this problem of changing language. All of the many translations which brought people to Christ faced this problem. The Latin Vulgate, which probably holds the “top spot” for bringing people to Christ, now requires a special course in ecclesiastical Latin to be able to read and understand. Another translation greatly blessed by God is Luther’s German (of which there are many, since he revised annually). The Reina-Valera Spanish translation has also had wide influence and been greatly used by the Holy Spirit. We can be thankful that English has no corner on the market of salvation through the Scriptures. It is sad that some people hold to the idea that more people will be in heaven because of the KJV than any other translation. This is simply not true.

The original printing of the 1611 KJV was almost immediately replaced by the 1613 because of the number of spelling mistakes and typographical errors. Most libraries and archivists have the 1613, not the 1611. Both contained the Apocrypha, notes, and significant spelling differences. Because King James never authorized the translation which bears his name, there were thousands upon thousands of changes throughout the years. One of the most famous was the 1629 edition which incorporated the newly acquired Alexandranus text.

Current KJV versions sold throughout the English speaking world come from 1769 revisions. There are actually two 1769 editions, the Cambridge and Oxford editions. They have minor but definite differences. 1. Jeremiah 34:16, the present Oxford KJV has “whom he,” while the present Cambridge KJV has “whom ye.” 2. 2 Chronicles 33:19, the present Oxford KJV has “sins,” while the present Cambridge KJV has “sin.” 3. Nahum 3:16. At this verse, the present Oxford KJV has “fleeth” while the present Cambridge KJV has “flieth.”

There are mistakes, though they are small and relatively insignificant, in the KJV. Just one example is that candlestick should be translated lampstand. Candles did not come into use until Roman times, and so could not have been used in the Tabernacle or Temple. Besides, related passages specify the use of “oil for the light,” which indicates a lamp.

The Greek New Testament produced by Erasmus formed the basis of the KJV translation. Erasmus had only one Greek manuscript for Revelation, which did not have the last six verses. He used the Latin Vulgate for these verses. Revelation 22:19 in the KJV reads: “the book of life;” while every known Greek manuscript read “the tree of life.”

In spite of the facts, many people have made a belief in the word-for-word inspiration of the KJV a test of fellowship. They reject anyone who will not agree that the KJV is the only inspired English translation. This is a heresy.

http://jcsm.org/StudyCenter/john_macarthur/KJV.htm references a pamphlet produced by John MacArthur which provides a fairly thorough treatment of his dealings with one KJV only preacher and his perspective on the subject. It is much more detailed than this brief piece and covers the subject well.

8 thoughts on “What Is a Pig Translation?

  1. The link to the McArthur tract no longer works. I searched but couldn’t find the referenced tract. Any chance you can find it, update this post, and bring peace and harmony to the universe again? (OK, maybe the fix won’t solve that many problems! LOL)

    1. Thank you for pointing that out, John. We have corrected the McArthur link. May peace and harmony be restored. 🙂

  2. As visual as our society, you'd think the modern Bible translator/missionary might have a portfolio of pictures to education the natives. Come on, really?! says:

    As visual as our society, you’d think the modern Bible translator/missionary might have a portfolio of pictures to education the natives. Come on, really?!

    This looks like another one of those “rights of the people” examples where someone is trying to put the 2nd commandment before the 1st. Let the Book stand as it is and then update, change, modify, the language of the people where it is lacking. To some, I guess that might sound very – pig-headed – of me…haha. had to say it. Anyway, maybe some PNG languages could stand to GROW and add a few words here and there. It sure couldn’t be detrimental to anyone, but taking away from the words of God is DETRIMENTAL. Turn the Book loose and expect that it will be an improvement for anyone on anything they have or haven’t had. BTW – I have never seen a unicorn either. 🙂 I live in a remote village on the northern arctic coastline of Alaska. I wonder what the lady would change the words for here??? Behold, the polar bear, caribou, bearded seal, of God! Someone has lost their cotton-picking mind

    1. As visual as our society, you'd think the modern Bible translator/missionary might have a portfolio of pictures to education the natives. Come on, really?! says:

      Translaters ??? your laodecea not philedelphia

  3. sir some of your conclusions might be base on inaccurate information . translating a bible where do you begin when do you stop how often do you redvise . people like you pervert the word of God as though the average person cannot through the Holy spirit be given understanding. You replace the leading of the Holy Spirit with critical scholarism. God finished his work on in Kjv. no where does the translaters refer to originals . I would say to memorize 1 Thess 2;13 the proverbs 26;4,5 again you dont beleive a Bible is the word of God just a bunch of translations that needs you to get the message of God to them. you limit God my friend pride sorry no takers here

    his work in the Kjv. No revisions editions yes.

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