The root of the problem was of course in the philosophy of Bible translation that informed such a decision. It was grounded in modern linguistics. I've read guys like Eugene Nida and Jan de Waard, and I've read stuff by Moises Silva, among others, and they all make a reasonable argument for a dynamic equivalence philosophy of translation. I'm not saying that they're dummies: they're certainly not. But because their conclusions followed so naturally and reasonably from their premises, and because "Pig of God" was always a most foul stench in my nostrils, I felt compelled to conclude that the problem isn't with the reasoning; it has to be with the philosophy or theology of language beneath the translation philosophy, and beneath the linguistic theory. Unfortunately I'm not a philosopher or theologian of language (nor a linguist, nor a philosopher nor theologian of any other stripe, for that matter).
So I had a problem: a thing with what I consider to be noxious effects, but which was coherent as far as I could tell, and whose presuppositions I could not get at. I asked my Greek instructor about this matter when I was in graduate school, and he said that to his knowledge no one had done any work on a theology of language. So my problem seemed intractable, my formal education came to a conclusion, and my prospects for resolving the matter were dreadful.
And then along came David Knowles and his book The Evolution of Medieval Thought. Towards the end of the book, he writes of Nominalism:
A given thing, a dog or rose, evokes in the human mind a mental 'sign' ... which is the same in all men, as is a laugh or a cry; each race of men then gives to this sign a verbal sign or term or name in its own language, which we attach to our mental image and which recalls that image to our mind. [p. 322]Bingo! This is exactly the way, as far as my linguistic "knowledge" goes, that linguists and translators talk about language!
This seems to me and my limited understanding of things to suggest a link between Nominalism and modern linguistics (and consequently with modern theories of Bible translation as well). I don't have any kind of resolution of this problem yet, but at least I have a direction to go when I get round to the thing again.