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:
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.
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.