An inside perspective on the Islamic-friendly Bible

You probably missed the comment on the Islamic-friendly Bibles post last week by David Harriman, who worked for the missionary agency that put out the translation in question.  (I continue to be amazed at who all reads this blog.)  He offered an insider’s perspective that I wanted all of you to see:

Dear Gene,

For 18 years I served as director of development/director of advancement for Frontiers, the ministry which produced this  Turkish translation of Matthew.  While I believe the workers behind this project have good motivations, I also believe they effectively rendered the text compliant with Islam.  While the volume in question thankfully included a properly-translated Greek to Turkish Interlinear, the purpose of the contextualized translation–and the related footnotes–is to cast a specific “Muslim friendly” meaning upon the text itself.

This translation, and others produced and advised by Wycliffe, SIL, and Frontiers, have been the subject of a recent petition organized by Biblical Missiology:  http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible

The petition Fact Check document (http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LostInTranslation-FactCheck.pdf) shows how even the footnotes to this Turkish translation fail to properly convey Christ’s ontological Sonship:

“The focus of our concern is the text of the Matthew translation, not the Greek-Turkish interlinear. In the Matthew text, “Son” is rendered as “representative” or “proxy,” and “Father” is translated as “protector” or “guardian.” However, “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God” should be translated literally in the text, with explanation provided in the footnotes—and not the other way around…

“One example will illustrate the problems with the Turkish translation. At the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:17, “Son” is translated as “representative” in the text. In the footnote to this verse, “Son of God” is defined in several ways, such as “God’s representative,” “the king, Messiah,” and “God’s beloved monarch.” The note incorrectly says the term “is synonymous with the title of Messiah.” Jesus is portrayed only in kingly terms, with no recognition of his divinity or actual Sonship. Needless to say, such explanations have the effect of obscuring the full and true meaning of “Son” and “Son of God,” even if the terms are translated correctly in the footnotes.”

To get a sense of how Christian witness to and among Muslims has changed profoundly in recent years, I would encourage all Patrick Henry students to read the following article by former Muslim Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund:  http://barnabasfund.org/Recent-Changes-in-Christian-Approaches-to-Islam.html

Patrick Sookhdeo’s piece shows the organic relationship between the ideas and assumptions behind certain interfaith dialogue approaches (such as the Common World and related Yale Response), and “insider movement” approaches to work among Muslim.

David Harriman

In correspondence with me, Mr. Harriman adds this:

I work with a lot of former Muslims and they are outraged by this approach to translation.  What you have, actually, is the spectacle of Western translators (actually, only a couple of highly-committed advocates, but who are acting with the support of senior WBT/SIL leadership) attempting to tell native speakers of Arabic, Turkish, and other languages what their languages actually mean.

There are other translations that are actually far worse — one is an Arabic translation of the Gospels and Acts in which Father is not rendered literally, in any instance, and in which Son, Son of God, and Son of Man is redefined by paratext and footnote.  Similar to the footnote I noted on your blog, the commentary portion of this volume (advised by SIL, but funded by Frontiers) describes Christ’s Sonship as metaphorical.

An audio “Stories of the Apostles” volume is in fact far worse than this — Son of God is translated “Caliph of God” — Caliph of course referring to religious/political rulers of Islam who defended and promoted Islam by force; “saints” is replaced with “umma”; Islamic honorifics like “upon him be peace” are used after the mention of Christ’s name (an Islamic prayer for the dead).  This audio “Bible” produced by WBT/SIL is still online, BTW.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • Michael B.

    Hopefully a Christian-friendly Koran will be made. I suppose they will have to leave out the part about Christians going to hell.

  • Michael B.

    Hopefully a Christian-friendly Koran will be made. I suppose they will have to leave out the part about Christians going to hell.

  • MissionMobilizer

    As a Lutheran who works in Bible translation, I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot. It has not yet directly impacted my organization since we don’t work in any of these languages, but we do have to think about it.

    Gene, in your last post you asked about the connection between church growth here and missiology there. Here’s some of my thoughts on that, which I think are made clearer by Harriman’s comments. A primary driving force in this debate and church growth is the idea that “everyone deserves a chance to choose Christ and we need to remove as many barriers as we can to make that happen”. Obviously as a Lutheran, this goes against pretty much all of our soteriology and our anthropology. We don’t “deserve” anything but damnation. Our will is bound so we can’t “choose” Christ. Our work doesn’t bring anyone to Christ. He is the one that softens hearts and draws them to himself through the clear preaching of the pure Gospel. But I think when it comes to missions, many Lutherans have operated under evangelical missiology without even thinking about the obvious incompatibilities and contradictions. We also see this happening in our own Lutheran churches through church growth and seeker-driven initiatives.

  • MissionMobilizer

    As a Lutheran who works in Bible translation, I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot. It has not yet directly impacted my organization since we don’t work in any of these languages, but we do have to think about it.

    Gene, in your last post you asked about the connection between church growth here and missiology there. Here’s some of my thoughts on that, which I think are made clearer by Harriman’s comments. A primary driving force in this debate and church growth is the idea that “everyone deserves a chance to choose Christ and we need to remove as many barriers as we can to make that happen”. Obviously as a Lutheran, this goes against pretty much all of our soteriology and our anthropology. We don’t “deserve” anything but damnation. Our will is bound so we can’t “choose” Christ. Our work doesn’t bring anyone to Christ. He is the one that softens hearts and draws them to himself through the clear preaching of the pure Gospel. But I think when it comes to missions, many Lutherans have operated under evangelical missiology without even thinking about the obvious incompatibilities and contradictions. We also see this happening in our own Lutheran churches through church growth and seeker-driven initiatives.

  • David Harriman

    Gene, thanks for your post above, which included my previous comment and one of our email exchanges. For an eye-opening glimpse of the extent to which the Scriptures have been Islamized, your readers will find these charts, posted on Answering Islam, to be of interest — these are from the Bedouin (Urbed Arabic) “Stories of the Prophets”/”Stories of the Apostles” produced by Wycliffe/SIL:

    http://www.answering-islam.org/fileadmin/reviews/lop-lk1_26-35.pdf

    http://www.answering-islam.org/fileadmin/reviews/lives-of-apostles.pdf

    Amazingly, these audio files are still online, even after SIL’s claim to have pulled material that did not meet their standards. As I may have indicated, what’s driving this is more theological than linguistic — the theological presuppositions behind this are as alarming as the the textual changes themselves.

    There is a reason that both the PCA and the Assemblies of God have drawn a line in the sand — the Pakistan Bible Society also, which ended its relationship with Wycliffe/SIL over this very issue.

    David Harriman

  • David Harriman

    Gene, thanks for your post above, which included my previous comment and one of our email exchanges. For an eye-opening glimpse of the extent to which the Scriptures have been Islamized, your readers will find these charts, posted on Answering Islam, to be of interest — these are from the Bedouin (Urbed Arabic) “Stories of the Prophets”/”Stories of the Apostles” produced by Wycliffe/SIL:

    http://www.answering-islam.org/fileadmin/reviews/lop-lk1_26-35.pdf

    http://www.answering-islam.org/fileadmin/reviews/lives-of-apostles.pdf

    Amazingly, these audio files are still online, even after SIL’s claim to have pulled material that did not meet their standards. As I may have indicated, what’s driving this is more theological than linguistic — the theological presuppositions behind this are as alarming as the the textual changes themselves.

    There is a reason that both the PCA and the Assemblies of God have drawn a line in the sand — the Pakistan Bible Society also, which ended its relationship with Wycliffe/SIL over this very issue.

    David Harriman

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  • Grace

    The New Islamic Bible takes Matthew 29:19 a very important passage of Scripture and translates it,

    FROM:

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matthew 29:19

    TO:

    “cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.”

    There is no excuse for this, it’s an insult to the LORD, who died for us on the Cross, who made clear the way of Salvation, and to HIS being both Deity and part of the Trinity. Making clear in the Greek translation what HE stated, not a painted up version to suit others who believe differently. So differently that they deny Christ as the Messiah, but instead, wait for the 12th Imam Mahdi, the Muslim Messiah.

    If you think that you’re fooling the Muslim community you’re mistaken. We live in an area with thousands of Muslims, they are very aware of the Christian community, and the FACT we would love to talk with them about Christ the Savior. Living among them, trying to have any sort of social exchange outside of speaking in a superficial way, in a public setting, is most always not forthcoming.

    There comes a time when I refer to the passage below, many times it isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s painful. I did not state the words below from Matthew but Jesus spoke these words. Never did Christ run after someone to beg them to turn from sin. HE spoke the Gospel plainly that even a small child could understand. We must realize that when we spread the Gospel we must keep going, those who hear it will either believe or they won’t.

    And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Matthew 10:14

    I believe strongly that we are to spread the Gospel to everyone, but be prepared to give the Gospel, AS IT IS, not a version which demotes the LORD Jesus Christ, God the Father and HIS HOLY Spirit. There should never be trickery when claiming God’s Word.

    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
    16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
    17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
    18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
    19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
    20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
    Ephesians 6:16

    If you’re going to spread the Gospel, do it BOLDLY, just as Paul stated. The SWORD is the WORD of GOD, it’s not to be watered down. If you you have a plastic sword, you aren’t going to teach anyone a single thing, it’s worthless, you need the real thing, HIS Word, as it is in nearly 6,000 manuscripts.

  • Grace

    The New Islamic Bible takes Matthew 29:19 a very important passage of Scripture and translates it,

    FROM:

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matthew 29:19

    TO:

    “cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.”

    There is no excuse for this, it’s an insult to the LORD, who died for us on the Cross, who made clear the way of Salvation, and to HIS being both Deity and part of the Trinity. Making clear in the Greek translation what HE stated, not a painted up version to suit others who believe differently. So differently that they deny Christ as the Messiah, but instead, wait for the 12th Imam Mahdi, the Muslim Messiah.

    If you think that you’re fooling the Muslim community you’re mistaken. We live in an area with thousands of Muslims, they are very aware of the Christian community, and the FACT we would love to talk with them about Christ the Savior. Living among them, trying to have any sort of social exchange outside of speaking in a superficial way, in a public setting, is most always not forthcoming.

    There comes a time when I refer to the passage below, many times it isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s painful. I did not state the words below from Matthew but Jesus spoke these words. Never did Christ run after someone to beg them to turn from sin. HE spoke the Gospel plainly that even a small child could understand. We must realize that when we spread the Gospel we must keep going, those who hear it will either believe or they won’t.

    And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Matthew 10:14

    I believe strongly that we are to spread the Gospel to everyone, but be prepared to give the Gospel, AS IT IS, not a version which demotes the LORD Jesus Christ, God the Father and HIS HOLY Spirit. There should never be trickery when claiming God’s Word.

    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
    16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
    17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
    18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
    19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
    20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
    Ephesians 6:16

    If you’re going to spread the Gospel, do it BOLDLY, just as Paul stated. The SWORD is the WORD of GOD, it’s not to be watered down. If you you have a plastic sword, you aren’t going to teach anyone a single thing, it’s worthless, you need the real thing, HIS Word, as it is in nearly 6,000 manuscripts.

  • http://engagingislam.org Georges

    Thank you for posting these. It is time for the court of public opinion of the global church to pronounce the verdict that anyone who tempers with the word of God is diverting from the biblical faithfulness.

    God chose to reveal himself as our Father and that Jesus is his beloved Son. How dare us defy God himself and tell him he is wrong?

    May the Lord restore the Church to her head.

  • http://engagingislam.org Georges

    Thank you for posting these. It is time for the court of public opinion of the global church to pronounce the verdict that anyone who tempers with the word of God is diverting from the biblical faithfulness.

    God chose to reveal himself as our Father and that Jesus is his beloved Son. How dare us defy God himself and tell him he is wrong?

    May the Lord restore the Church to her head.

  • Grace

    John Wycliffe (1384) was the first person to produce a manuscript copy, hand written of the Bible, all 80 books. I believe Wycliffe would be appalled and sorely disappointed in the way in which the organization, by his name. has misconstrued the Scriptures.

    The link below will give you insight into the slippery way in which the questions are answered.

    Wycliffe answers questions Islamic Bible‏

    http://www.wycliffe.org/SonofGod/QA.aspx

  • Grace

    John Wycliffe (1384) was the first person to produce a manuscript copy, hand written of the Bible, all 80 books. I believe Wycliffe would be appalled and sorely disappointed in the way in which the organization, by his name. has misconstrued the Scriptures.

    The link below will give you insight into the slippery way in which the questions are answered.

    Wycliffe answers questions Islamic Bible‏

    http://www.wycliffe.org/SonofGod/QA.aspx

  • Jimz

    As I read it, although the Quran pretty much assumes most Christians are going to Hell, it also pretty clear on a couple of other things, that righteous People of the book who do good deeds and believe in the last (judgement) day will not go to Hell, and that Jesus is the messiah, while it specifically says “God has no son,” and denies Christ’s divinity, assuming that Nicea or other meddlers distorted Jesus’ role, in a manner similar to the deification of Mary. Stepping back from this, it is clear why one would change the term in order to make the meaning more clearly understood, and not to be belligerent just for the sake of belligerence, particularly because the word “son” generally is used quite liberally as “descendant of” in the ancient Middle East, whereas its absolute connotation of divinity is later imbued by the church in its trinitarian doctrine. While it is certain that the divinity of Christ is orthodox doctrine, I don’t think there is anywhere in scripture where it claims that this is essential for salvation. Believing in the Son of God, as understood by Christians as I understand it, means trusting Jesus as saving messiah and with that Sheep and Goats passage, (conservatives would say by extension) serving the poor and doing good deeds. As a translator myself, (although not of Bibles) there are many different types of translations which aim to achieve different things. A translation like “The Message” downplays religious language and the original constructions to allow people to see the meaning behind the words. Although we may criticize inaccuracies in these looser translations, in English I’ve never heard someone call for the burning of NLTs or Amplified bibles. Why are we using a separate standard here?

  • Jimz

    As I read it, although the Quran pretty much assumes most Christians are going to Hell, it also pretty clear on a couple of other things, that righteous People of the book who do good deeds and believe in the last (judgement) day will not go to Hell, and that Jesus is the messiah, while it specifically says “God has no son,” and denies Christ’s divinity, assuming that Nicea or other meddlers distorted Jesus’ role, in a manner similar to the deification of Mary. Stepping back from this, it is clear why one would change the term in order to make the meaning more clearly understood, and not to be belligerent just for the sake of belligerence, particularly because the word “son” generally is used quite liberally as “descendant of” in the ancient Middle East, whereas its absolute connotation of divinity is later imbued by the church in its trinitarian doctrine. While it is certain that the divinity of Christ is orthodox doctrine, I don’t think there is anywhere in scripture where it claims that this is essential for salvation. Believing in the Son of God, as understood by Christians as I understand it, means trusting Jesus as saving messiah and with that Sheep and Goats passage, (conservatives would say by extension) serving the poor and doing good deeds. As a translator myself, (although not of Bibles) there are many different types of translations which aim to achieve different things. A translation like “The Message” downplays religious language and the original constructions to allow people to see the meaning behind the words. Although we may criticize inaccuracies in these looser translations, in English I’ve never heard someone call for the burning of NLTs or Amplified bibles. Why are we using a separate standard here?

  • Grace

    Jimz @7

    “Why are we using a separate standard here?”

    The standard is God’s, HE is the one who made clear that HIS Son was the Savior of the world, if one believed, and repented of their sins. There is no other way to the God the Father but through Christ HIS Son.

    6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

    7 If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know him, and have seen him.

    8 Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.

    9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?

    10 Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works. John 14

  • Grace

    Jimz @7

    “Why are we using a separate standard here?”

    The standard is God’s, HE is the one who made clear that HIS Son was the Savior of the world, if one believed, and repented of their sins. There is no other way to the God the Father but through Christ HIS Son.

    6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

    7 If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know him, and have seen him.

    8 Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.

    9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?

    10 Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works. John 14

  • David E Mowen

    David E Mowen
    I was like most horrified at the suggestion we were making Muslim friendly Bibles, Especially since it involved Wycliffe know to be the best in the translation industry, and Frontiers, With which I was greatly involved in it’s formation and early years of formation. SO I did what the Bible encourages, I checked into it with The founder and former International Director, Who is still involved with Frontiers though I believe in more of a coaching role these days.

    Here is what He had to say:

    “It isn’t true as it is so bluntly and simplistically stated by my disciple, and long time friend. What is true is that a few Frontiers people use a Malay, Turkish, and Arabic translation that is more of a commentary (“the meaning of” (compare THE MESSAGE, or Living Bible) in an effort to remove stumbling blocks that have included words like “Prince of God” inter-changably with Son, and experimented with synonyms for ‘father’; which I agree had good motives…

  • David E Mowen

    David E Mowen
    I was like most horrified at the suggestion we were making Muslim friendly Bibles, Especially since it involved Wycliffe know to be the best in the translation industry, and Frontiers, With which I was greatly involved in it’s formation and early years of formation. SO I did what the Bible encourages, I checked into it with The founder and former International Director, Who is still involved with Frontiers though I believe in more of a coaching role these days.

    Here is what He had to say:

    “It isn’t true as it is so bluntly and simplistically stated by my disciple, and long time friend. What is true is that a few Frontiers people use a Malay, Turkish, and Arabic translation that is more of a commentary (“the meaning of” (compare THE MESSAGE, or Living Bible) in an effort to remove stumbling blocks that have included words like “Prince of God” inter-changably with Son, and experimented with synonyms for ‘father’; which I agree had good motives…

  • David E Mowen

    David E Mowen
    Sorry the first post was cut off; Here’s the whole quote
    I was most horrified at the suggestion we were making Muslim friendly Bibles, Especially since it involved Wycliffe know to be the best in the translation industry, and Frontiers, With which I was greatly involved in it’s formation and early years of developemnt. SO I did what the Bible encourages, I checked into it with The founder and former International Director, Who is still involved with Frontiers though I believe in more of a coaching role these days.

    Here is what He had to say:

    “It isn’t true as it is so bluntly and simplistically stated by my disciple, and long time friend. What is true is that a few Frontiers people use a Malay, Turkish, and Arabic translation that is more of a commentary (“the meaning of” (compare THE MESSAGE, or Living Bible) in an effort to remove stumbling blocks that have included words like “Prince of God” inter-changably with Son, and experimented with synonyms for ‘father’; which I agree had good motives, but was a mistake…the text should say Father and Son, and both Wycliffe and Frontiers have reiterated that, and gone back to putting commentary in the notes, not in the text.

    Personally, I don’t think its the words “Father/Son” that are keeping Muslims from seriously checking out the claims of Christ Jesus…becoming a Christian
    is simply a traitorous act (in their minds) and certainly not honoring their Father and mother.”

    Lets be careful not to use hyperbolic language and a focus on the dramatic to ruin the reputations of those laboring for the cause of Christ, weather we totally agree with their methods or not. They have said it was a mistake, people still make them, when and if you find yourself on the front line you might make a few as well.

    So lets move on and allow them to do the same.

    *I did remove the names of the people involved in this conversation, felt they were unnecessary to the point of the conversation.

  • David E Mowen

    David E Mowen
    Sorry the first post was cut off; Here’s the whole quote
    I was most horrified at the suggestion we were making Muslim friendly Bibles, Especially since it involved Wycliffe know to be the best in the translation industry, and Frontiers, With which I was greatly involved in it’s formation and early years of developemnt. SO I did what the Bible encourages, I checked into it with The founder and former International Director, Who is still involved with Frontiers though I believe in more of a coaching role these days.

    Here is what He had to say:

    “It isn’t true as it is so bluntly and simplistically stated by my disciple, and long time friend. What is true is that a few Frontiers people use a Malay, Turkish, and Arabic translation that is more of a commentary (“the meaning of” (compare THE MESSAGE, or Living Bible) in an effort to remove stumbling blocks that have included words like “Prince of God” inter-changably with Son, and experimented with synonyms for ‘father’; which I agree had good motives, but was a mistake…the text should say Father and Son, and both Wycliffe and Frontiers have reiterated that, and gone back to putting commentary in the notes, not in the text.

    Personally, I don’t think its the words “Father/Son” that are keeping Muslims from seriously checking out the claims of Christ Jesus…becoming a Christian
    is simply a traitorous act (in their minds) and certainly not honoring their Father and mother.”

    Lets be careful not to use hyperbolic language and a focus on the dramatic to ruin the reputations of those laboring for the cause of Christ, weather we totally agree with their methods or not. They have said it was a mistake, people still make them, when and if you find yourself on the front line you might make a few as well.

    So lets move on and allow them to do the same.

    *I did remove the names of the people involved in this conversation, felt they were unnecessary to the point of the conversation.

  • David Harriman

    Dear David (Mowen),

    Thank you for your comment above. Allow me to comment briefly on the assertions made by Frontiers’ founder and former International Director.

    First, it is not that a few Frontiers people “use” a Malay, Turkish, or Arabic translation, but rather that they were (in the cases of Turkish and Arabic) directly responsible for the production of these volumes. This is readily acknowledged by Frontiers.

    Second, the Arabic translation, toward which I helped raise $214,000, was never presented to Frontiers’ donor public as a “commentary.” It was sold as a “new translation with commentary.” In fact, the page describing this translation project is still up on Frontiers’ website — you can clearly see that it is described as a “translation and commentary:”

    http://www.frontiersusa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=gospels_acts

    Moreover, the project director’s private website (to which I am not linking here, as a courtesy to this man), describes this as “a new meaning-based translation of the four Gospels and Acts.” Note the description of accompanying material and assertion of fidelity to the original Greek: “The text is accompanied by introductory articles which tackle key topics such as ‘Son of God’ and the inspiration of Scripture…The text has been extensively checked for both faithfulness to the original Greek and understandability to our readers.”

    Second, Frontiers itself has described the Turkish translation of Matthew as a “translation.” In his detailed, four-page paper (dated 2/8/12) titled, “Why a New Translation of the Gospel of Matthew in Turkish?”, Frontiers’ U.S. Director describes the Turkish Matthew as a “translation” eight times and a “meaning-based translation” once, but never as a “commentary.”

    However, Frontiers has since attempted to describe this translation as a commentary. The U.S. Director’s public letter of May 11, 2012, refers to the Turkish Matthew as a “translation” at least eight times and a “meaning-based translation” twice. It is referred to as a “commentary” once. Nonetheless, Appendix B attached to this letter is titled, “Why a New Translation of the Gospel of Matthew in Turkish?”

    More importantly, Frontiers’ Turkish Matthew is understood by the Turkish church as a “translation.” The following letter from the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey, a body representing evangelical churches of all persuasions, outlines their specific concerns and objections:

    http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Matthew-TR-Translation-TeK-Ltr-Eng.pdf

    Because of the danger posed by this volume to both Christians and Muslims, the Turkish Alliance felt compelled to write member churches and warn them of this translation.

    Third, Frontiers has not acknowledged that these translations are a a”mistake.” Frontiers continues to defend these translations, including the assertion that “Son of God” is metaphorical, which inherently denies that Jesus actually is God’s Son. This assertion is made in four footnotes to the Arabic translation, and the introduction. The Arabic translation is still for sale on Amazon UK and on the project director’s private website. The Turkish translation is available online here:

    http://www.allahinhazinesi.net/AnaSayfa/Ana_Sayfa.html

    Lastly, please bear in mind that that these volumes have a very long provenance. Frontiers’ awareness of the problems with the Turkish Matthew began at least in December 2007, when a letter from Turkish Christian leader Thomas Cosmade’s was received by Frontiers. That letter, sent to others by Thomas Cosmades, can be seen here:

    http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/AnAnalysisoftheParaphrasedNewTestamentbyFRONTIERS.pdf

    What these letters demonstrate is that Frontiers proceeded with the publication of the Turkish Matthew over the objections of the Turkish church, which had been in dialogue with them since 2007.

    Those objecting to Frontiers’ mis-translation of scripture, including the leaders of the Turkish Church, are concerned first and foremost for faithful translation, the protection of the church, and truthful witness among Muslims. As detailed in papers by the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterian Church in America, Frontiers’ translations compromise all three.

    Yours sincerely,

    David Harriman

  • David Harriman

    Dear David (Mowen),

    Thank you for your comment above. Allow me to comment briefly on the assertions made by Frontiers’ founder and former International Director.

    First, it is not that a few Frontiers people “use” a Malay, Turkish, or Arabic translation, but rather that they were (in the cases of Turkish and Arabic) directly responsible for the production of these volumes. This is readily acknowledged by Frontiers.

    Second, the Arabic translation, toward which I helped raise $214,000, was never presented to Frontiers’ donor public as a “commentary.” It was sold as a “new translation with commentary.” In fact, the page describing this translation project is still up on Frontiers’ website — you can clearly see that it is described as a “translation and commentary:”

    http://www.frontiersusa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=gospels_acts

    Moreover, the project director’s private website (to which I am not linking here, as a courtesy to this man), describes this as “a new meaning-based translation of the four Gospels and Acts.” Note the description of accompanying material and assertion of fidelity to the original Greek: “The text is accompanied by introductory articles which tackle key topics such as ‘Son of God’ and the inspiration of Scripture…The text has been extensively checked for both faithfulness to the original Greek and understandability to our readers.”

    Second, Frontiers itself has described the Turkish translation of Matthew as a “translation.” In his detailed, four-page paper (dated 2/8/12) titled, “Why a New Translation of the Gospel of Matthew in Turkish?”, Frontiers’ U.S. Director describes the Turkish Matthew as a “translation” eight times and a “meaning-based translation” once, but never as a “commentary.”

    However, Frontiers has since attempted to describe this translation as a commentary. The U.S. Director’s public letter of May 11, 2012, refers to the Turkish Matthew as a “translation” at least eight times and a “meaning-based translation” twice. It is referred to as a “commentary” once. Nonetheless, Appendix B attached to this letter is titled, “Why a New Translation of the Gospel of Matthew in Turkish?”

    More importantly, Frontiers’ Turkish Matthew is understood by the Turkish church as a “translation.” The following letter from the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey, a body representing evangelical churches of all persuasions, outlines their specific concerns and objections:

    http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Matthew-TR-Translation-TeK-Ltr-Eng.pdf

    Because of the danger posed by this volume to both Christians and Muslims, the Turkish Alliance felt compelled to write member churches and warn them of this translation.

    Third, Frontiers has not acknowledged that these translations are a a”mistake.” Frontiers continues to defend these translations, including the assertion that “Son of God” is metaphorical, which inherently denies that Jesus actually is God’s Son. This assertion is made in four footnotes to the Arabic translation, and the introduction. The Arabic translation is still for sale on Amazon UK and on the project director’s private website. The Turkish translation is available online here:

    http://www.allahinhazinesi.net/AnaSayfa/Ana_Sayfa.html

    Lastly, please bear in mind that that these volumes have a very long provenance. Frontiers’ awareness of the problems with the Turkish Matthew began at least in December 2007, when a letter from Turkish Christian leader Thomas Cosmade’s was received by Frontiers. That letter, sent to others by Thomas Cosmades, can be seen here:

    http://biblicalmissiology.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/AnAnalysisoftheParaphrasedNewTestamentbyFRONTIERS.pdf

    What these letters demonstrate is that Frontiers proceeded with the publication of the Turkish Matthew over the objections of the Turkish church, which had been in dialogue with them since 2007.

    Those objecting to Frontiers’ mis-translation of scripture, including the leaders of the Turkish Church, are concerned first and foremost for faithful translation, the protection of the church, and truthful witness among Muslims. As detailed in papers by the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterian Church in America, Frontiers’ translations compromise all three.

    Yours sincerely,

    David Harriman


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