Islamic-friendly Bibles

Many missionary groups in Islamic countries are using Bible translations that avoid offending Muslim sensibilities, getting rid of phrases such as “the Son of God” and “God the Father.”   All in the name of church growth.  And yet Christians in these countries, beleagured as they are, are strenuously objecting to these translations.  Mindy Belz of World Magazine reports:

A team of translators with Frontiers helped produce the disputed translation of Matthew in Turkish, and SIL said some of its consultants helped at certain points in the process. Sabeel Media, a partner organization of SIL, published the translation in August 2011, printing it in book form and posting it online. In the Turkish Matthew, the “alternative form” for “Son of God” is something along the lines of “representative of God,” according to Turkish speakers, and “God the Father” has become “great protector.” A footnote explains the alternate terms: “According to the Jews, ‘God’s Son’ means ‘God’s beloved ruler’ and is equivalent with the title ‘Messiah.’”. . .

The translators emphasize their desire to promote evangelism. Bob Blincoe, the U.S. director of Frontiers, cited in an email lack of growth as one reason for the translation: “The big problem is that church planting among the tens of millions of religious Muslims in Turkey has not been successful; it has not even begun.” Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook. Turks estimate that their country has about 5,000 Christians now, but when Bocek became a Christian in 1988, he was one of a total of 80 Protestants in the country. “One significant barrier may be the existing translation of the Bible,” Blincoe wrote in an email: “These are paraphrases that help a conservative Sunni Muslim audience know what the Bible really says.” . . .

Thomas Cosmades, a Turkish Christian who translated the New Testament into Turkish from the original Greek, mailed a letter to Frontiers at the end of 2007 after he saw a copy of the Turkish Matthew. (Several hundred were printed before the official publication in 2011). Cosmades died in 2010, at age 86, just after he published a new edition of his New Testament. In his letter he wrote that he was “highly disquieted” by the paraphrased Matthew and proceeded to analyze the debatable phrases in detail.

“This translation is not seeking to emphasize the value of the incarnation,” he wrote. “Should the trend continue, who knows where it will lead the coming generation? If Athanasius of old would have encountered such departure from biblical Christology he would have placed these redactors far below the Arians.” . . .

The Pakistan church at large may not know about the debate, but the Pakistan Bible Society (PBS) does. After 20 years of work together, the Bible society and SIL are parting ways over the issue, which is a blow to SIL because now it must operate without the imprimatur of the premier local publisher. SIL said in a statement that the decision not to work together on one project was mutual, the result of “translation style differences,” not just the debate on divine familial terms.

But the general secretary of the Pakistan Bible Society, Anthony Lamuel, wrote in a letter on Jan. 26 that the issue of altering terms for target audiences was central in the decision, and added that such translations have resulted in the “water downing” of Christian concepts: “We the Pakistan Bible Society will not promote experiments with the translation at the cost of hurting the church.”

A woman working on another translation project in Central Asia, who asked for anonymity for the sake of her work, said the debate on the “Son of God” issue in her translation team has deadlocked their project and stirred confusion among local believers who don’t have a Bible in their own language as a reference: “It has eroded their faith in the authority of the Word of God and in us as foreigners who are supposed to be the ‘teachers’ but can’t seem to agree on some basic truths of who Christ said he was. … Sadly it raises doubts and endless discussion, wasting a lot of time.”

Anwar Hussain, the head of the Bangladesh Bible Society, has been at the forefront of efforts in his country the last few years to repel Bible translations from various groups that change divine familial terms. Hussain grew up Muslim, and when he professed Christ as a young man, his family cut ties with him. Edward Ayub, another Christian of Muslim background, is the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh and—alongside Hussain—has vigorously opposed the translations. “I want to die for the Bible,” not a misleading translation, Ayub said. “The harm they are doing now for the church will be long-lasting.”

via WORLDmag.com | Translation battle | Emily Belz | Feb 25, 12.  (Subscription required to read full text.

What connections do you see between this particular tactic on the mission field and the church growth movement here?

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.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    What I see is that numbers are more important than sound doctrine.

    Ironically, I was reading something put out by the Barna group last night that my wife’s coworker’s pastor was passing out to people, and it’s really along these same lines: numbers first. It gives the impression that larger numbers in church mean healthier churches, and while it’s certainly desirable to see more people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, larger head counts do not necessarily translate to changed lives.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    What I see is that numbers are more important than sound doctrine.

    Ironically, I was reading something put out by the Barna group last night that my wife’s coworker’s pastor was passing out to people, and it’s really along these same lines: numbers first. It gives the impression that larger numbers in church mean healthier churches, and while it’s certainly desirable to see more people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, larger head counts do not necessarily translate to changed lives.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Yea, let’s all be heretics in the name of evangelism!

    “These are paraphrases that help a conservative Sunni Muslim audience know what the Bible really says.” . . .

    Somebody explain to me how this works. I must be way to dumb to be understanding how these changes actually help people understand what the Bible really says. Why invite a resurgence of the Arian Heresy?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Yea, let’s all be heretics in the name of evangelism!

    “These are paraphrases that help a conservative Sunni Muslim audience know what the Bible really says.” . . .

    Somebody explain to me how this works. I must be way to dumb to be understanding how these changes actually help people understand what the Bible really says. Why invite a resurgence of the Arian Heresy?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • larry

    Religious “zeal” always wishes to “build God’s house for Him” and it cannot see that what it is doing is nothing short than original sin, which was religious zeal enthusiasm. It is tempted, as the article clearly shows, by the temptation to “build the church” in some way or another, or numbers as JD well points out. It’s an implied serpentine version of “hath God really said…(he’ll build His church with such dogmatic Words concerning His Son)”, “no you shall not surely die…(no surely you must do evangelism this way and…), “…for God knows in the day you eat of it you shall surely become as God (for when you do evangelism this way God will surely bless it and grow the church). Thus, the false teachers and teachings always abandon the Word which is the ONLY way the church is built. It does so having fallen for a false teaching on “growth” if you will and it looks like good religious zeal for the Kingdom. The OT is PACKED with examples of this and when we read them with our old Adam eyes we often react with “what was so bad about that didn’t X want to help God build or do Y”. Remember when Uzzah touching the ark to prop it up and keep it out of the mud. Many years ago when I first read that I thought, “What was wrong with that, didn’t he mean well.” I mean that’s an example of the shocking reality of God’s Word being prime (a real “gut check” on sola scriptura on ALL articles of faith).

    I’ve quoted this before but it is apropos to this I think from Paulson:

    Paulson writes, “How does God repent someone? The old understanding of repentance was that God used the law both as carrot and stick, penalizing sin and promising rewards for better effort next time. The cause of David’s famous plea for mercy in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God,” was thought to be “actual sin”-a willful offense against the law because David let his love become disordered. He supposedly let his higher love for God and the law be overtaken by the lower, bestial form of love by lusting after a beautiful, married woman taking a bath. Luther began to see that this whole scenario missed what happened to David because it considered sin only by comparing it to the law. “We do not think of sin as lightly as do the pope’s theologians, who define sin as ‘anything said, done, or thought against the Law of God.’ So that sin is simply opposing God’s Law.” One of the consequences of that halfway definition of sin was to miss the finality of God’s judgment, and then a series of false distinctions of sins followed that denied the reality of baptism as a death and burial with a crucified Jesus Christ. After all, if the will is going to be the actor in repentance and the law its means, it cannot very well be dead-so thought these “pope’s theologians.” Luther simply began with David receiving a word from God and then playing hide-and-seek with it, looking for better words. The specific promise God gave David (through the preacher Nathan) forms one of the key parts of all Scripture: “I will make for you a name…a house…a place for My people…and your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7). But instead of trusting the promise, David immediately showed himself to be what Luther called “an enthusiast” (a “God-within-er” or a “naval theologian”) who looked for better words than ones he got. David, for example, was not content with God building him a house; he immediately wanted to seize the reins and build God a house. Isn’t that good, religious fervor? (are you listening LCMS pro church growth movers and shakers?) What is wrong with David wanting to give something back to God? David launched off into creating his own words and worship of God, and by doing so David lost his ear for the shepherd’s voice. God responded to him as if to say, “No, David, you have mixed up the subject and the object- I will build your house.” Luther observed that sin cannot be revealed in its depth and breadth until it is compared not only with the law but finally with God’s word of promise.”

  • larry

    Religious “zeal” always wishes to “build God’s house for Him” and it cannot see that what it is doing is nothing short than original sin, which was religious zeal enthusiasm. It is tempted, as the article clearly shows, by the temptation to “build the church” in some way or another, or numbers as JD well points out. It’s an implied serpentine version of “hath God really said…(he’ll build His church with such dogmatic Words concerning His Son)”, “no you shall not surely die…(no surely you must do evangelism this way and…), “…for God knows in the day you eat of it you shall surely become as God (for when you do evangelism this way God will surely bless it and grow the church). Thus, the false teachers and teachings always abandon the Word which is the ONLY way the church is built. It does so having fallen for a false teaching on “growth” if you will and it looks like good religious zeal for the Kingdom. The OT is PACKED with examples of this and when we read them with our old Adam eyes we often react with “what was so bad about that didn’t X want to help God build or do Y”. Remember when Uzzah touching the ark to prop it up and keep it out of the mud. Many years ago when I first read that I thought, “What was wrong with that, didn’t he mean well.” I mean that’s an example of the shocking reality of God’s Word being prime (a real “gut check” on sola scriptura on ALL articles of faith).

    I’ve quoted this before but it is apropos to this I think from Paulson:

    Paulson writes, “How does God repent someone? The old understanding of repentance was that God used the law both as carrot and stick, penalizing sin and promising rewards for better effort next time. The cause of David’s famous plea for mercy in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God,” was thought to be “actual sin”-a willful offense against the law because David let his love become disordered. He supposedly let his higher love for God and the law be overtaken by the lower, bestial form of love by lusting after a beautiful, married woman taking a bath. Luther began to see that this whole scenario missed what happened to David because it considered sin only by comparing it to the law. “We do not think of sin as lightly as do the pope’s theologians, who define sin as ‘anything said, done, or thought against the Law of God.’ So that sin is simply opposing God’s Law.” One of the consequences of that halfway definition of sin was to miss the finality of God’s judgment, and then a series of false distinctions of sins followed that denied the reality of baptism as a death and burial with a crucified Jesus Christ. After all, if the will is going to be the actor in repentance and the law its means, it cannot very well be dead-so thought these “pope’s theologians.” Luther simply began with David receiving a word from God and then playing hide-and-seek with it, looking for better words. The specific promise God gave David (through the preacher Nathan) forms one of the key parts of all Scripture: “I will make for you a name…a house…a place for My people…and your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7). But instead of trusting the promise, David immediately showed himself to be what Luther called “an enthusiast” (a “God-within-er” or a “naval theologian”) who looked for better words than ones he got. David, for example, was not content with God building him a house; he immediately wanted to seize the reins and build God a house. Isn’t that good, religious fervor? (are you listening LCMS pro church growth movers and shakers?) What is wrong with David wanting to give something back to God? David launched off into creating his own words and worship of God, and by doing so David lost his ear for the shepherd’s voice. God responded to him as if to say, “No, David, you have mixed up the subject and the object- I will build your house.” Luther observed that sin cannot be revealed in its depth and breadth until it is compared not only with the law but finally with God’s word of promise.”

  • Steve Billingsley

    The church-growth movement has its issues, to be sure. But conflating a heretical translation which effectively denies the core of Christian teaching with the church-growth movement is a bit of a stretch. The most sketchy English translations of recent vintage have not been tied to the church-growth movement or even evangelicalism. They are typically more of a product of liberal mainline Protestantism. That would be the more apt comparison in this case.

  • Steve Billingsley

    The church-growth movement has its issues, to be sure. But conflating a heretical translation which effectively denies the core of Christian teaching with the church-growth movement is a bit of a stretch. The most sketchy English translations of recent vintage have not been tied to the church-growth movement or even evangelicalism. They are typically more of a product of liberal mainline Protestantism. That would be the more apt comparison in this case.

  • Michael B.

    It’s hard to judge them. I know I wouldn’t want to die in an Islamic country for preaching Jesus Christ — otherwise I’d be over there.

  • Michael B.

    It’s hard to judge them. I know I wouldn’t want to die in an Islamic country for preaching Jesus Christ — otherwise I’d be over there.

  • Larry Wilson

    Having grown up in liberal protestantism and then come to Christ as a young adult, I’ve often reflected that such liberalism (theological secularism) didn’t pop up overnight. There was a gradual downgrading of the faith, often out of at least partially noble motives, such as we see — I think — both in the “seeker-sensitive” movement and this “insider” movement. This dynamic — repeated again and again — illustrates to me that in many cases the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

  • Larry Wilson

    Having grown up in liberal protestantism and then come to Christ as a young adult, I’ve often reflected that such liberalism (theological secularism) didn’t pop up overnight. There was a gradual downgrading of the faith, often out of at least partially noble motives, such as we see — I think — both in the “seeker-sensitive” movement and this “insider” movement. This dynamic — repeated again and again — illustrates to me that in many cases the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

  • helen

    The “CoWo” preacher who says “We don’t do absolution very often” is not admitting on line that he doesn’t preach about sin and repentance, but that is usually what it means. People who go to a church to be entertained don’t want to be told they are ‘poor miserable sinners’ and so the “CoWo” preachers avoid telling them.
    [Without sin, why do you need a Savior?]

    Wouldn’t church be more fun if we could leave all the stories about suffering and crucifixion out of it?
    No doubt that bowdlerized Bible does, because Muslims are quite sure that Jesus didn’t die on a cross.

  • helen

    The “CoWo” preacher who says “We don’t do absolution very often” is not admitting on line that he doesn’t preach about sin and repentance, but that is usually what it means. People who go to a church to be entertained don’t want to be told they are ‘poor miserable sinners’ and so the “CoWo” preachers avoid telling them.
    [Without sin, why do you need a Savior?]

    Wouldn’t church be more fun if we could leave all the stories about suffering and crucifixion out of it?
    No doubt that bowdlerized Bible does, because Muslims are quite sure that Jesus didn’t die on a cross.

  • Joe

    Heart in the right place, but the phrases they are dealing with seem kinda important. It looks like they are trying to make the real Jesus a little easier too fit into the Muslim idea of Jesus (one of many profits – i.e. representative of the Lord). I don’t dispute that this could be a starting point for a discussion of Jesus – but you can’t alter the biblical truth to do so.

  • Joe

    Heart in the right place, but the phrases they are dealing with seem kinda important. It looks like they are trying to make the real Jesus a little easier too fit into the Muslim idea of Jesus (one of many profits – i.e. representative of the Lord). I don’t dispute that this could be a starting point for a discussion of Jesus – but you can’t alter the biblical truth to do so.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    No confidence in the Word of God…alone.
    A sad reality for many Christians.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    No confidence in the Word of God…alone.
    A sad reality for many Christians.

  • larry

    Larry W. has nailed the point well. It’s not that apparent “good intention” number 1 today means literally the next day suddenly one is a gross Arian or some such. Rather one religious good intention after another (which are all incremental divorces from the Word) eventually lead to, one day X years, decades or generations down the road to a “group” that are in fact “gross heretics” from the point of view of another group that holds still to the original orthodoxy once delivered. That’s the “yeast of the Pharisees” principle if you will, small at first, further down the road gross and overt revealing the more subtle false spirit earlier. Similarly, if I begin to let my reason and emotions drive me to not believe that Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said on an article of faith and thus “try to find other words” to say “what Jesus meant”, I will then on the next article of faith change and thus deny it. Then the next, then then the next, and the next and depending on how fast I do this and how long I live I could end up anywhere from denying the sacraments to an Arian to ultimately crass epicurean unbeliever again. The danger is always not believing articles of faith in affront to fallen reason and well intended emotions. That is more dangerous than anything external, the flesh within that does this whereby I (or anyone) begins to deny X article of faith. E.g. the JW’s and Mormons didn’t just “pop up” out of thin air, one article of faith after another was denied, not in theory for intellectual exercise, but in the essence of faith (other words believed for real) until one day one arrives at formalization of a heresy.

    RC Sproul once well pointed out a similar analogy, “Once the pulpit goes (physically) doctrine is soon to follow.” Same point. One might say, “But Dr. Sproul surely you are not saying there is anything sacred about a wooden pulpit in a church as opposed to some other form of lectern.” That misses the point of “another spirit” (as opposed to the Holy Spirit), the spirit behind what removed that pulpit is a spirit that has subtly turned away from the Word.

    This is why the OT is hard for us in many ways to read where God harshly overtly deals with turning away from His Word even for “good intentions”. The same shock and struggle one has reading the event with Uzzah, well intended good religious zeal is the same shock and struggle one has when reading “well intended” religious zeal even for so called evangelism. Even the great apostle Peter struggled with this numerous times. He didn’t want Jesus to go and die, on face value sounds like “good religious zeal and love for one’s Lord” and Jesus called that Satan.

  • larry

    Larry W. has nailed the point well. It’s not that apparent “good intention” number 1 today means literally the next day suddenly one is a gross Arian or some such. Rather one religious good intention after another (which are all incremental divorces from the Word) eventually lead to, one day X years, decades or generations down the road to a “group” that are in fact “gross heretics” from the point of view of another group that holds still to the original orthodoxy once delivered. That’s the “yeast of the Pharisees” principle if you will, small at first, further down the road gross and overt revealing the more subtle false spirit earlier. Similarly, if I begin to let my reason and emotions drive me to not believe that Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said on an article of faith and thus “try to find other words” to say “what Jesus meant”, I will then on the next article of faith change and thus deny it. Then the next, then then the next, and the next and depending on how fast I do this and how long I live I could end up anywhere from denying the sacraments to an Arian to ultimately crass epicurean unbeliever again. The danger is always not believing articles of faith in affront to fallen reason and well intended emotions. That is more dangerous than anything external, the flesh within that does this whereby I (or anyone) begins to deny X article of faith. E.g. the JW’s and Mormons didn’t just “pop up” out of thin air, one article of faith after another was denied, not in theory for intellectual exercise, but in the essence of faith (other words believed for real) until one day one arrives at formalization of a heresy.

    RC Sproul once well pointed out a similar analogy, “Once the pulpit goes (physically) doctrine is soon to follow.” Same point. One might say, “But Dr. Sproul surely you are not saying there is anything sacred about a wooden pulpit in a church as opposed to some other form of lectern.” That misses the point of “another spirit” (as opposed to the Holy Spirit), the spirit behind what removed that pulpit is a spirit that has subtly turned away from the Word.

    This is why the OT is hard for us in many ways to read where God harshly overtly deals with turning away from His Word even for “good intentions”. The same shock and struggle one has reading the event with Uzzah, well intended good religious zeal is the same shock and struggle one has when reading “well intended” religious zeal even for so called evangelism. Even the great apostle Peter struggled with this numerous times. He didn’t want Jesus to go and die, on face value sounds like “good religious zeal and love for one’s Lord” and Jesus called that Satan.

  • John

    While I believe translators should not change the meaning of the text, I don’t think this issue is simple. Some Muslims read “Son of God” and understand it to mean that Jesus is the son of God in much the same way that Pollux was the son of Zeus in Greek mythology. They find this repulsive, and so would Christians. The text should not create the impression that Jesus came into existence at the incarnation or that God approached Mary as Zeus approached Leda.

  • John

    While I believe translators should not change the meaning of the text, I don’t think this issue is simple. Some Muslims read “Son of God” and understand it to mean that Jesus is the son of God in much the same way that Pollux was the son of Zeus in Greek mythology. They find this repulsive, and so would Christians. The text should not create the impression that Jesus came into existence at the incarnation or that God approached Mary as Zeus approached Leda.

  • Steve Billingsley

    John @ 12
    Good point. I don’t pretend to be an expert on translation or the Turkish language. At first glance, the translation offered to me appears to be beyond the pale – but then again I don’t know the whole story.

  • Steve Billingsley

    John @ 12
    Good point. I don’t pretend to be an expert on translation or the Turkish language. At first glance, the translation offered to me appears to be beyond the pale – but then again I don’t know the whole story.

  • Steve Billingsley

    The thing that I see in many of these comments also is the tendency to categorize the church-growth movement (or seeker sensitive) as if it is all one thing. I see the same thing with contemporary worship or megachurches. These terms actually cover a pretty broad spectrum. There are church-growth oriented churches that do tend to water down the gospel and preach a “feel-good” message that bears little resemblance to the New Testament or historic Christian orthodoxy. But others who have a very strong biblical message with a well-thought out and thoroughly orthodox theological perspective. By the same token – I have seen lyrics to contemporary praise choruses that are sappy and ankle-deep, while others are literally taken word for word from the Scripture.

    There are legitimate criticisms to be made regarding many of these churches and approaches. But some of the criticisms that I have read seem less to me about legitimate theological concerns and more of the category of “things I don’t like”.

    Categorizing “church growth” churches all in one big group is the same as saying “all Lutheran churches are the same”. And there is a pretty broad spectrum of churches that have the term “Lutheran” in the mix somewhere.

  • Steve Billingsley

    The thing that I see in many of these comments also is the tendency to categorize the church-growth movement (or seeker sensitive) as if it is all one thing. I see the same thing with contemporary worship or megachurches. These terms actually cover a pretty broad spectrum. There are church-growth oriented churches that do tend to water down the gospel and preach a “feel-good” message that bears little resemblance to the New Testament or historic Christian orthodoxy. But others who have a very strong biblical message with a well-thought out and thoroughly orthodox theological perspective. By the same token – I have seen lyrics to contemporary praise choruses that are sappy and ankle-deep, while others are literally taken word for word from the Scripture.

    There are legitimate criticisms to be made regarding many of these churches and approaches. But some of the criticisms that I have read seem less to me about legitimate theological concerns and more of the category of “things I don’t like”.

    Categorizing “church growth” churches all in one big group is the same as saying “all Lutheran churches are the same”. And there is a pretty broad spectrum of churches that have the term “Lutheran” in the mix somewhere.

  • Pingback: Muslim-Christian News Picks for March 3-March 9, 2012 | Is the Quran the Word of God? Is the Quran the Word of God?

  • Pingback: Muslim-Christian News Picks for March 3-March 9, 2012 | Is the Quran the Word of God? Is the Quran the Word of God?

  • SKPeterson

    If the issue is Muslim sensibilities about the person of Jesus, then translate the Bible correctly, but put John as the first book of the New Testament. Then Matthew, Mark and Luke (so it can roll directly into Acts). John does a pretty good job of laying out the Trinity – the problem is that it comes 3 books after Jesus gets introduced and translations often miss the context by which the divinity of Jesus within the Trinity is brought forth and explicated in the Synoptics. So, keep the translations, put the Gospel of John first, then the Synoptics, Acts and then the Pauline Epistles.

  • SKPeterson

    If the issue is Muslim sensibilities about the person of Jesus, then translate the Bible correctly, but put John as the first book of the New Testament. Then Matthew, Mark and Luke (so it can roll directly into Acts). John does a pretty good job of laying out the Trinity – the problem is that it comes 3 books after Jesus gets introduced and translations often miss the context by which the divinity of Jesus within the Trinity is brought forth and explicated in the Synoptics. So, keep the translations, put the Gospel of John first, then the Synoptics, Acts and then the Pauline Epistles.

  • Mike

    Two assumptions that are behind this supposed need to alter the message for the sake of the lost:

    1. The person communicating the gospel must be somehow more objective and intelligent since he understands the Gospel as it is. As the higher life form, he feels the need to patronize and talk down to those who don’t know what he knows. The poor poor fools, they are incapable of rising to his level of consciousness.

    2. The Holy Spirit simply does not blow where he wills as the scriptures say… one cannot depend on him to call, gather, and enlighten people by the proclamation of the word.

    These two assumptions are what the translators and church growthers have in common. Both lead to them assuming the role of God.

  • Mike

    Two assumptions that are behind this supposed need to alter the message for the sake of the lost:

    1. The person communicating the gospel must be somehow more objective and intelligent since he understands the Gospel as it is. As the higher life form, he feels the need to patronize and talk down to those who don’t know what he knows. The poor poor fools, they are incapable of rising to his level of consciousness.

    2. The Holy Spirit simply does not blow where he wills as the scriptures say… one cannot depend on him to call, gather, and enlighten people by the proclamation of the word.

    These two assumptions are what the translators and church growthers have in common. Both lead to them assuming the role of God.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    SKP, that is a cool suggestion.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    SKP, that is a cool suggestion.

  • larry

    It has the appearance, emotionally, of a good thing, but it is NEVER safe to in essence say the Word of God does not mean precisely what it means. It’s no different than saying in English with English culture behind the language, “is” is offensive because ‘how can we eat flesh and drink blood’ that is offensive to every “normal” non-cannibalistic human on earth at face value, so let’s interpret it to read “represents”. The offense of Christ incarnate being the Son of God is not new and in fact occurs directly in the Scriptures themselves, “…is this not the son of Joseph…” but the Scriptures even in the recollection of that event don’t apologize or say, “Oh know you misunderstand”.

    SK is right, start with John for clarity, then move on, because He was the Son of God before the incarnation as well. Apparently they are inserting footnotes simply insert the article of the Nicene creed on the matter as the simple explanation of what is meant which precisely and very simply speaks to this.

  • larry

    It has the appearance, emotionally, of a good thing, but it is NEVER safe to in essence say the Word of God does not mean precisely what it means. It’s no different than saying in English with English culture behind the language, “is” is offensive because ‘how can we eat flesh and drink blood’ that is offensive to every “normal” non-cannibalistic human on earth at face value, so let’s interpret it to read “represents”. The offense of Christ incarnate being the Son of God is not new and in fact occurs directly in the Scriptures themselves, “…is this not the son of Joseph…” but the Scriptures even in the recollection of that event don’t apologize or say, “Oh know you misunderstand”.

    SK is right, start with John for clarity, then move on, because He was the Son of God before the incarnation as well. Apparently they are inserting footnotes simply insert the article of the Nicene creed on the matter as the simple explanation of what is meant which precisely and very simply speaks to this.

  • Nathan Girdner

    I can’t speak to the issue with the Turkish translation, because I’m not specifically knowledgeable about it. But I know a little bit about problems with the Urdu translation of the NT in Pakistan, as I used to live there and interacted with workers and local Believers there. One of the debates that I remember dealt with what phrase to use to refer to the Holy Spirit. The old Urdu translation, used by the Church of Pakistan, essentially used an English phrase like “holy spirit” and literally rendered it into Urdu. Now, there’s a phrase in Urdu used by Muslims (and by some Muslim-background Believers) “Ruallah,” which literally means “Breath of God.” Some muslim-background believers, and some Christian workers suggested using “ruallah” as the translation for “Holy Spirit,” because it references a concept already known to Muslims, that might make that aspect of the Trinity more understandable. Believers from the CoP were appalled, saying that such a change would equate the Holy Spirit with a false notion of God/Allah. There are probably other disagreements that have led to the SIL/CoP split, but that’s one I remember being an issue in the past.

    The problem to me comes down to a question of how best do you communicate meaning when precise definitions don’t exist across dissimilar languages? To what degree can you use concepts or ideas in another language/culture to explain the Truth of the Gospel? We already have examples of words or phrases that are translated into English in a different form than the original languages: for example, the OT writers often referred to the kidneys as a seat of the will, while modern translations point to the mind, brain, or soul.

    I appreciate the concern of those who do not want to water down the Truth or mislead people about the Gospel, but I am inclined to listen to those converts from and dedicated missionaries to “difficult” cultures when they propose language that will make the Gospel truth more understandable.

  • Nathan Girdner

    I can’t speak to the issue with the Turkish translation, because I’m not specifically knowledgeable about it. But I know a little bit about problems with the Urdu translation of the NT in Pakistan, as I used to live there and interacted with workers and local Believers there. One of the debates that I remember dealt with what phrase to use to refer to the Holy Spirit. The old Urdu translation, used by the Church of Pakistan, essentially used an English phrase like “holy spirit” and literally rendered it into Urdu. Now, there’s a phrase in Urdu used by Muslims (and by some Muslim-background Believers) “Ruallah,” which literally means “Breath of God.” Some muslim-background believers, and some Christian workers suggested using “ruallah” as the translation for “Holy Spirit,” because it references a concept already known to Muslims, that might make that aspect of the Trinity more understandable. Believers from the CoP were appalled, saying that such a change would equate the Holy Spirit with a false notion of God/Allah. There are probably other disagreements that have led to the SIL/CoP split, but that’s one I remember being an issue in the past.

    The problem to me comes down to a question of how best do you communicate meaning when precise definitions don’t exist across dissimilar languages? To what degree can you use concepts or ideas in another language/culture to explain the Truth of the Gospel? We already have examples of words or phrases that are translated into English in a different form than the original languages: for example, the OT writers often referred to the kidneys as a seat of the will, while modern translations point to the mind, brain, or soul.

    I appreciate the concern of those who do not want to water down the Truth or mislead people about the Gospel, but I am inclined to listen to those converts from and dedicated missionaries to “difficult” cultures when they propose language that will make the Gospel truth more understandable.

  • larry

    What is key in this debate, from the article, is what other “of the language” translators voiced like Thomas Cosmades who the article indicates translated the NT into Turkish from the original Greek. His concern in part before he died and where it would lead had to do with the “paraphrasing” in the language he translated. Where he states, “This translation is not seeking to emphasize the value of the incarnation,” and the Christology related to that.

    What makes the incarnation offensive to fallen man of any tongue or stripe is not the language barrier or an intellectual “road block”, but the very essence of the incarnation itself which is due to the fallen view of God. In short the offense is of the fact that God Who is utterly Holy in everyway conceivable to man and then some, comes all the way down to mysteriously (at the end of the day) become two natures with the unholy and very, very, very earthy. It’s why for example men like Zwingli would not have a problem with a statement like, “there goes Jesus (man implied) walking down the street to pick up some bread.” But would reject utterly the statement, “there goes God walking down the street to pick up some bread”. The offense includes the entire idea of God bodily, God walking and doing things unbecoming and unnecessary for God. This is why many are offended at the Christological statement, “Mary was the mother of God”. It says not so much about Mary, but speaks tremendously to the weightiness of the incarnation, Christology and so forth. In fact the entire two natures in and of themselves is not the real offense but the very intimate communication of attributes between the holy other and the mundane. That Christology is the offense, especially when we get to Galatians and 2 Cor. where Paul says “he was made sin…who knew no sin” not just bearing it and “became a curse” not just a participant. That’s the root of the offense. The incarnation lays ruin to and utterly offends that fallen nature that (captured often formerly as Plato/Aristotle, but is quite natural to all fallen thought) that basically says, “flesh/earthly/mundane” is a lesser form to the greater “ideal” (it’s intrinsic to the Latin language, e.g. the declining from the nominative case to the lesser cases) – when God so unites His nature with our nature and so communicates between the two the attributes of each that we can say, “God was carried in a womb”. The offense has to do with the “fallen picture” of God. And this communication of attributes is ultimately linked to our very own resurrection and eternal life via in Christ, and is linked to the sacraments (this is why they two are offensive).

    So, the offense is not some intellectual barrier whereby an appeal to reason (the problem is fallen human reason) makes the Word more palatable. The Word of God, in particular the Gospel, which is the incarnation, justification, sacraments, etc…is more offensive to our fallen human reason than would a scoundrel showing up a refined ladies meeting reeking of whisky and cursing up a storm.

  • larry

    What is key in this debate, from the article, is what other “of the language” translators voiced like Thomas Cosmades who the article indicates translated the NT into Turkish from the original Greek. His concern in part before he died and where it would lead had to do with the “paraphrasing” in the language he translated. Where he states, “This translation is not seeking to emphasize the value of the incarnation,” and the Christology related to that.

    What makes the incarnation offensive to fallen man of any tongue or stripe is not the language barrier or an intellectual “road block”, but the very essence of the incarnation itself which is due to the fallen view of God. In short the offense is of the fact that God Who is utterly Holy in everyway conceivable to man and then some, comes all the way down to mysteriously (at the end of the day) become two natures with the unholy and very, very, very earthy. It’s why for example men like Zwingli would not have a problem with a statement like, “there goes Jesus (man implied) walking down the street to pick up some bread.” But would reject utterly the statement, “there goes God walking down the street to pick up some bread”. The offense includes the entire idea of God bodily, God walking and doing things unbecoming and unnecessary for God. This is why many are offended at the Christological statement, “Mary was the mother of God”. It says not so much about Mary, but speaks tremendously to the weightiness of the incarnation, Christology and so forth. In fact the entire two natures in and of themselves is not the real offense but the very intimate communication of attributes between the holy other and the mundane. That Christology is the offense, especially when we get to Galatians and 2 Cor. where Paul says “he was made sin…who knew no sin” not just bearing it and “became a curse” not just a participant. That’s the root of the offense. The incarnation lays ruin to and utterly offends that fallen nature that (captured often formerly as Plato/Aristotle, but is quite natural to all fallen thought) that basically says, “flesh/earthly/mundane” is a lesser form to the greater “ideal” (it’s intrinsic to the Latin language, e.g. the declining from the nominative case to the lesser cases) – when God so unites His nature with our nature and so communicates between the two the attributes of each that we can say, “God was carried in a womb”. The offense has to do with the “fallen picture” of God. And this communication of attributes is ultimately linked to our very own resurrection and eternal life via in Christ, and is linked to the sacraments (this is why they two are offensive).

    So, the offense is not some intellectual barrier whereby an appeal to reason (the problem is fallen human reason) makes the Word more palatable. The Word of God, in particular the Gospel, which is the incarnation, justification, sacraments, etc…is more offensive to our fallen human reason than would a scoundrel showing up a refined ladies meeting reeking of whisky and cursing up a storm.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Pardon the interuption, but I’d like to share a link with you good folks to a NEW, cross centered, daily devotional blog site :

    http://www.lightofthemaster.com/apps/blog

    I think you’ll be edified by the good stuff.

    Thanks.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Pardon the interuption, but I’d like to share a link with you good folks to a NEW, cross centered, daily devotional blog site :

    http://www.lightofthemaster.com/apps/blog

    I think you’ll be edified by the good stuff.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s a little easy to pile on here, but translation is never an easy thing to do, much less to explain in the context of just one language (here, English).

    As such, I am thankful for (and sympatheti to) the insights that John (@12) and Nathan (@19) have provided.

    SK’s suggestion (@15) isn’t a bad one, but he very much misses the issue at hand when he says:

    … then translate the Bible correctly, but …

    I mean, well, which translation is the “correct” one? Is there only one? And is that one the one that, when it is translated back to you in English, sounds the most like the translations you’re used to reading?

    And if we’re all truly, deeply opposed to taking into account cultural sensitivities when translating the Bible, then I assume we all are equally opposed to the euphemistic translations found in most English Bibles today in Isaiah 64:6 and Philippians 3:8.

    Right? I mean, why have countless translations soft-pedaled us with inaccurate translations like “filthy rags” or “a polluted garment” (in the first case) or “rubbish” (in the second case)? Just to save us English speakers from having to ponder the concepts of used menstrual rags and, um, “dung” (to use the KJV’s mildly more accurate translation)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s a little easy to pile on here, but translation is never an easy thing to do, much less to explain in the context of just one language (here, English).

    As such, I am thankful for (and sympatheti to) the insights that John (@12) and Nathan (@19) have provided.

    SK’s suggestion (@15) isn’t a bad one, but he very much misses the issue at hand when he says:

    … then translate the Bible correctly, but …

    I mean, well, which translation is the “correct” one? Is there only one? And is that one the one that, when it is translated back to you in English, sounds the most like the translations you’re used to reading?

    And if we’re all truly, deeply opposed to taking into account cultural sensitivities when translating the Bible, then I assume we all are equally opposed to the euphemistic translations found in most English Bibles today in Isaiah 64:6 and Philippians 3:8.

    Right? I mean, why have countless translations soft-pedaled us with inaccurate translations like “filthy rags” or “a polluted garment” (in the first case) or “rubbish” (in the second case)? Just to save us English speakers from having to ponder the concepts of used menstrual rags and, um, “dung” (to use the KJV’s mildly more accurate translation)?

  • Grace

    Trying to fool people as to who Jesus Christ is, or God the Father- is not being honest. Spreading the Gospel isn’t about numbers it’s about telling the truth about Salvation, and who we believe in for our Salvation.

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    Romans 1:16

    Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
    Matthew 1:23

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    John3:16

    The piece below is very interesting and informative.

    Jihad Watch

    Report: American Bible translators bowdlerize scriptures to avoid offending Muslims: no “Father” and “Son”

    If this is true, for the parties they are trying not to offend, anything short of Islam — of professing that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger — would be “offensive.” This is not making Christianity more palatable. It is de-Christianizing it. It is manufacturing yet another Christian heresy.

    Indeed, for many denominations, the validity of baptism depends on the words used: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” No euphemisms, no nicknames: for example, trial balloons aiming to portray a more gender-neutral God have already been burst: the use of “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” in baptism has been rejected by the Catholic Church, if not others.

    Those who truly believe they are winning souls for Christ would not risk the validity of baptism, and those who are genuinely convinced that they possess the truth will not apologize or worry it is offensive.

    As a technical matter, one wonders how the translators handle the words: “Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). And “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/01/report-american-bible-translaters-bowdlerize-scriptures-to-avoid-offending-muslims.html

  • Grace

    Trying to fool people as to who Jesus Christ is, or God the Father- is not being honest. Spreading the Gospel isn’t about numbers it’s about telling the truth about Salvation, and who we believe in for our Salvation.

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    Romans 1:16

    Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
    Matthew 1:23

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    John3:16

    The piece below is very interesting and informative.

    Jihad Watch

    Report: American Bible translators bowdlerize scriptures to avoid offending Muslims: no “Father” and “Son”

    If this is true, for the parties they are trying not to offend, anything short of Islam — of professing that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger — would be “offensive.” This is not making Christianity more palatable. It is de-Christianizing it. It is manufacturing yet another Christian heresy.

    Indeed, for many denominations, the validity of baptism depends on the words used: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” No euphemisms, no nicknames: for example, trial balloons aiming to portray a more gender-neutral God have already been burst: the use of “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” in baptism has been rejected by the Catholic Church, if not others.

    Those who truly believe they are winning souls for Christ would not risk the validity of baptism, and those who are genuinely convinced that they possess the truth will not apologize or worry it is offensive.

    As a technical matter, one wonders how the translators handle the words: “Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). And “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/01/report-american-bible-translaters-bowdlerize-scriptures-to-avoid-offending-muslims.html

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Nathan @ 19,

    As a foreign language teacher with experience regarding cultural differences in language nuance, I understand your point; but is it really a good thing to use the term “ruallah” if in the process of using it you bring an unscriptural understanding of the Holy Spirit to the table?

    We translate to make ideas understood, and in the case of Scripture it is to make sound doctrine understood, and the gospel in particular. If in translation we give a false understanding of our ideas (or in this case, the third Person of the Trinity), we are not doing our job well.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Nathan @ 19,

    As a foreign language teacher with experience regarding cultural differences in language nuance, I understand your point; but is it really a good thing to use the term “ruallah” if in the process of using it you bring an unscriptural understanding of the Holy Spirit to the table?

    We translate to make ideas understood, and in the case of Scripture it is to make sound doctrine understood, and the gospel in particular. If in translation we give a false understanding of our ideas (or in this case, the third Person of the Trinity), we are not doing our job well.

  • http://michaeljdonahue.blogspot.com Michael J Donahue

    I understand that it is not easy to translate the Bible into other languages, but this looks like this translation is purposefully confusing. I don’t see how putting John first would help anything because John has almost all the references to Jesus as the Son of God. I’m thinking these translations are on the level with N. T. Wright’s ‘Kingdom New Testament,’ in which righteousness is translated as ‘covenant faithfulness’ and faith is translated as faithfulness. Just look at Romans 3:21-22 in Wright’s version: “Now God’s covenant faithfulness has been unveiled through the faithfulness of the Messiah for the benefit of all who are faithful.”
    The second we compromise what the Bible clearly says to promote some other agenda, we have ceased preaching the gospel.

  • http://michaeljdonahue.blogspot.com Michael J Donahue

    I understand that it is not easy to translate the Bible into other languages, but this looks like this translation is purposefully confusing. I don’t see how putting John first would help anything because John has almost all the references to Jesus as the Son of God. I’m thinking these translations are on the level with N. T. Wright’s ‘Kingdom New Testament,’ in which righteousness is translated as ‘covenant faithfulness’ and faith is translated as faithfulness. Just look at Romans 3:21-22 in Wright’s version: “Now God’s covenant faithfulness has been unveiled through the faithfulness of the Messiah for the benefit of all who are faithful.”
    The second we compromise what the Bible clearly says to promote some other agenda, we have ceased preaching the gospel.

  • Gary

    @Michael J D–I am greatly impressed by Wright’s approach to exegesis. His work might rightly be considered the most important stuff going on in New Testament studies today. Wright is not offering a compromise if his insights are helping us better grasp what the Gospel is really all about.

  • Gary

    @Michael J D–I am greatly impressed by Wright’s approach to exegesis. His work might rightly be considered the most important stuff going on in New Testament studies today. Wright is not offering a compromise if his insights are helping us better grasp what the Gospel is really all about.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I don’t think that using concepts already avaolable to a culture is problematic per se, provided that it is carefully done. Remember St. Paul in Athens, or the more recent “Peace Child” story from New Guinea. In the Zulu bible, “God” as in the first Person of the Trinity, is translated as “uNkulunkulu”, which comes from pre-Christian concepts, meaning “Great Spirit”. The idea is similar to St. Paul’s use of the , WHIch comes from pre-Christian concepts, meaning “Great Spirit”. The idea is similar to St. Paul’s use of the “Unknown God”。

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I don’t think that using concepts already avaolable to a culture is problematic per se, provided that it is carefully done. Remember St. Paul in Athens, or the more recent “Peace Child” story from New Guinea. In the Zulu bible, “God” as in the first Person of the Trinity, is translated as “uNkulunkulu”, which comes from pre-Christian concepts, meaning “Great Spirit”. The idea is similar to St. Paul’s use of the , WHIch comes from pre-Christian concepts, meaning “Great Spirit”. The idea is similar to St. Paul’s use of the “Unknown God”。

  • formerly just steve

    With all due respect to Dr. Veith, I think the title of this post is misleading. Though we may disagree with some of the details, these Bibles are not intended to be “Islamic-friendly”. They might be more properly titled “Muslim-friendly” since the translations are aimed at evangelizing Muslims. This would make them extremely Islamic-unfriendly.

    As others here have mentioned, translation is a tricky business. I think they are trying to be faithful to the original message while making it linguistically relevant. In this respect, it’s not much different than some of the idiomatic translations like the Living Bible. Now, personally, I would hope people would move beyond the Living Bible translations but I also know it helped a lot of people who find the more formal translations unapproachable.

  • formerly just steve

    With all due respect to Dr. Veith, I think the title of this post is misleading. Though we may disagree with some of the details, these Bibles are not intended to be “Islamic-friendly”. They might be more properly titled “Muslim-friendly” since the translations are aimed at evangelizing Muslims. This would make them extremely Islamic-unfriendly.

    As others here have mentioned, translation is a tricky business. I think they are trying to be faithful to the original message while making it linguistically relevant. In this respect, it’s not much different than some of the idiomatic translations like the Living Bible. Now, personally, I would hope people would move beyond the Living Bible translations but I also know it helped a lot of people who find the more formal translations unapproachable.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean asked (@24),

    is it really a good thing to use the term “ruallah” if in the process of using it you bring an unscriptural understanding of the Holy Spirit to the table?

    But isn’t your point here one that could be made in defense of the translations in the article we’re discussing? After all, John (@12) makes the point that it’s quite possible for the Turkish translations of “Father” and “Son” to be more misleading (in that language and culture) than helpful. If use of those terms causes Muslim readers to believe that God the Father somehow had relations with an (unnamed) mother so as to bring about his Son, then who would argue that’s a good thing?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J. Dean asked (@24),

    is it really a good thing to use the term “ruallah” if in the process of using it you bring an unscriptural understanding of the Holy Spirit to the table?

    But isn’t your point here one that could be made in defense of the translations in the article we’re discussing? After all, John (@12) makes the point that it’s quite possible for the Turkish translations of “Father” and “Son” to be more misleading (in that language and culture) than helpful. If use of those terms causes Muslim readers to believe that God the Father somehow had relations with an (unnamed) mother so as to bring about his Son, then who would argue that’s a good thing?

  • Grace

    The Biblical text is CLEAR regarding the HOLY SPIRIT and Mary.

    Muslims can understand, IF THEY WANT TO, or they can find fault with an accurate translation.

    came through the HOLY Ghost to Mary’s womb.

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

    19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

    20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

    21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
    Matthew 1

    One can use a number of nonsensical excuses to mistranslate the Bible. It’s a FALSE translation.

  • Grace

    The Biblical text is CLEAR regarding the HOLY SPIRIT and Mary.

    Muslims can understand, IF THEY WANT TO, or they can find fault with an accurate translation.

    came through the HOLY Ghost to Mary’s womb.

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

    19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

    20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

    21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
    Matthew 1

    One can use a number of nonsensical excuses to mistranslate the Bible. It’s a FALSE translation.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – True, I completely passed over the difficulties of translation. I was merely referring to the issues raised by both sides in this article. I probably should have put quotes around “correctly.”

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – True, I completely passed over the difficulties of translation. I was merely referring to the issues raised by both sides in this article. I probably should have put quotes around “correctly.”

  • Nathan Girdner

    J. Dean, @24,

    I absolutely agree that we do not want to communicate an unscriptural understanding of the Holy Spirit (or any other truth) in a new translation. But on what basis would you say that “ruallah” definitely communicates an unscriptural understanding? It is certainly unfamilar to believers who have grown up under the CoP, but to Christians who converted from Islam, it is an understandable way to communicate that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God, and interacts with people intimately. I think most of us tend to view the unfamiliar with suspicion, especially when it comes to formulations of important information, but when precise definitions aren’t readily available, and existing phrases don’t communicate well, I think I’d prefer to use a word that is understandable, if not precisely correct, and trust that the Holy Spirit Himself will continue to teach and lead them into the truth.

  • Nathan Girdner

    J. Dean, @24,

    I absolutely agree that we do not want to communicate an unscriptural understanding of the Holy Spirit (or any other truth) in a new translation. But on what basis would you say that “ruallah” definitely communicates an unscriptural understanding? It is certainly unfamilar to believers who have grown up under the CoP, but to Christians who converted from Islam, it is an understandable way to communicate that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God, and interacts with people intimately. I think most of us tend to view the unfamiliar with suspicion, especially when it comes to formulations of important information, but when precise definitions aren’t readily available, and existing phrases don’t communicate well, I think I’d prefer to use a word that is understandable, if not precisely correct, and trust that the Holy Spirit Himself will continue to teach and lead them into the truth.

  • helen

    SKPetersen @ 15 said it best: Teach the Gospel of John first. When it’s thoroughly absorbed that Jesus is eternal, with God from the beginning, then His entrance into time and humanity can be raised.
    I recommend reading John first to those who don’t know, or don’t know much, about Christianity.

  • helen

    SKPetersen @ 15 said it best: Teach the Gospel of John first. When it’s thoroughly absorbed that Jesus is eternal, with God from the beginning, then His entrance into time and humanity can be raised.
    I recommend reading John first to those who don’t know, or don’t know much, about Christianity.

  • JunkerGeorg

    To play a little bit of Devil’s advocate here, I recall a professor in seminary who, typical of his style, loved to get a rise out of his students by making what ‘appeared’ to be extreme, provocative statements. Recall the account of Phillip with the Ethiopian eunuch who read the Scriptures, knew what they SAID but didn’t know for certain “what they MEAN?” apart from the Apostle Philip’s help in carrying out his office in teaching the Scriptures to him in terms of what it meant. In light of that account, this professor once said, “The Bible never converted anyone!” No doubt this might get a rise out of some posters here, but nevertheless, I’ll add to it by asking: Are we right to assume anyone is normally converted to a correct, saving faith by simply picking up and reading the Bible, no matter how accurate and clear a translation it is? I say ‘normally’, as in I’m not saying it is impossible, that anything is impossible for God, including that a person picks up and reads the Gideon Bible in their hotel room and is brought to saving faith. But is it ever probable? Is it the normal way? I can see how alot of heretics are made that way, but….

    So my ultimate point in terms of this topic is to ask if even if a Bible translation is correct in what it says, does it really amount to anything apart from the Biblical catechesis in terms of “What does this mean?”, as carried out by the ministry (including evangelists/missionaries under that term)? Is any Muslim able to know, understand, and believe in sound orthodox Christian doctrine on their own, in a ‘do-it-yourself’ sense, even if they have an accurate translation in hand? The Gideon Bible dude says “Yes!” I at very least would say, “Doubtful.”

  • JunkerGeorg

    To play a little bit of Devil’s advocate here, I recall a professor in seminary who, typical of his style, loved to get a rise out of his students by making what ‘appeared’ to be extreme, provocative statements. Recall the account of Phillip with the Ethiopian eunuch who read the Scriptures, knew what they SAID but didn’t know for certain “what they MEAN?” apart from the Apostle Philip’s help in carrying out his office in teaching the Scriptures to him in terms of what it meant. In light of that account, this professor once said, “The Bible never converted anyone!” No doubt this might get a rise out of some posters here, but nevertheless, I’ll add to it by asking: Are we right to assume anyone is normally converted to a correct, saving faith by simply picking up and reading the Bible, no matter how accurate and clear a translation it is? I say ‘normally’, as in I’m not saying it is impossible, that anything is impossible for God, including that a person picks up and reads the Gideon Bible in their hotel room and is brought to saving faith. But is it ever probable? Is it the normal way? I can see how alot of heretics are made that way, but….

    So my ultimate point in terms of this topic is to ask if even if a Bible translation is correct in what it says, does it really amount to anything apart from the Biblical catechesis in terms of “What does this mean?”, as carried out by the ministry (including evangelists/missionaries under that term)? Is any Muslim able to know, understand, and believe in sound orthodox Christian doctrine on their own, in a ‘do-it-yourself’ sense, even if they have an accurate translation in hand? The Gideon Bible dude says “Yes!” I at very least would say, “Doubtful.”

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Just had the Choir of Concordia College-Selma at Church this morning. The President of the college, Rev. Mendedo, gave the sermon. He pointed out that the Lutheran Church in Ethiopia has increased from 10,000 members in 1959 to 6,200,000 members today despite decades of persecution and murder by the formerly communist government.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Just had the Choir of Concordia College-Selma at Church this morning. The President of the college, Rev. Mendedo, gave the sermon. He pointed out that the Lutheran Church in Ethiopia has increased from 10,000 members in 1959 to 6,200,000 members today despite decades of persecution and murder by the formerly communist government.

  • Grace

    Junker @ 34

    YOU WROTE: “Are we right to assume anyone is normally converted to a correct, saving faith by simply picking up and reading the Bible, no matter how accurate and clear a translation it is? I say ‘normally’, as in I’m not saying it is impossible, that anything is impossible for God, including that a person picks up and reads the Gideon Bible in their hotel room and is brought to saving faith. But is it ever probable? Is it the normal way? I can see how alot of heretics are made that way, but…. “

    There are many folks who have read the New Testament and come to believe in Christ as their Savior. Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief at World Magazine, was once a card carrying Communist, joining in 1972 .. and then read the Bible in Russian, in his hotel room, and believed in Christ. He has written over 20 books, and proclaims Christ as Savior. I could give you other examples.

    Your professor was wrong. There is power in God’s Word.

    Hebrews 4:12 tells us: — For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

  • Grace

    Junker @ 34

    YOU WROTE: “Are we right to assume anyone is normally converted to a correct, saving faith by simply picking up and reading the Bible, no matter how accurate and clear a translation it is? I say ‘normally’, as in I’m not saying it is impossible, that anything is impossible for God, including that a person picks up and reads the Gideon Bible in their hotel room and is brought to saving faith. But is it ever probable? Is it the normal way? I can see how alot of heretics are made that way, but…. “

    There are many folks who have read the New Testament and come to believe in Christ as their Savior. Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief at World Magazine, was once a card carrying Communist, joining in 1972 .. and then read the Bible in Russian, in his hotel room, and believed in Christ. He has written over 20 books, and proclaims Christ as Savior. I could give you other examples.

    Your professor was wrong. There is power in God’s Word.

    Hebrews 4:12 tells us: — For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    inform – the people – of the true HIStory – and they will come-

    You will be interested in this-True HIStory of the US Republic:
    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/monumental-true-us-history-moviekirk.html
    Carol-CS
    LA LFL

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    inform – the people – of the true HIStory – and they will come-

    You will be interested in this-True HIStory of the US Republic:
    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/monumental-true-us-history-moviekirk.html
    Carol-CS
    LA LFL

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Grace, #36

    “Your professor was wrong. There is power in God’s Word.”
    ——–

    Dr. Scaer would agree with you as I do too. There is power in God’s Word. But that wasn’t the point.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Grace, #36

    “Your professor was wrong. There is power in God’s Word.”
    ——–

    Dr. Scaer would agree with you as I do too. There is power in God’s Word. But that wasn’t the point.

  • David Harriman

    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

  • David Harriman

    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

  • http://michaeljdonahue@blogspot.com Michael J Donahue

    I know that no one here seems interested in the connection, but doesn’t N. T. Wright’s new translation do the same thing when he translates Christ as King?

  • http://michaeljdonahue@blogspot.com Michael J Donahue

    I know that no one here seems interested in the connection, but doesn’t N. T. Wright’s new translation do the same thing when he translates Christ as King?

  • Pingback: An inside perspective on the Islamic-friendly Bible

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  • Pingback: An Inside Perspective on the Islamic-Friendly Bible | BetterThanSacrifice.org

  • Pingback: An Inside Perspective on the Islamic-Friendly Bible | BetterThanSacrifice.org

  • Mark Hartwig

    As a group, American Christians of the late 20th and 21st centuries have had an awful tendency to “reach” non-Christians by showing that Christianity is compatible with what potential converts already believe. In doing so, they fail to offer their audience a truly different alternative. If Christianity is so compatible with what they already believe, why would they want to change? And what exactly would they be converting to? The offense of the gospel may repel many people, but it will also attract people who are tired of the same-old-same-old and appreciate clarity and candor.

    Having grown up in the Evangelical subculture, I’ve noticed what seems to be a kind of shared inferiority complex among many Evangelicals. I’ve also seen many attempts to render the Bible or Christianity inoffensive to various groups. Some folks have blurred or stripped away so much that I’ve had to wonder: Are they seeking acceptance for the gospel … or for themselves.

  • Mark Hartwig

    As a group, American Christians of the late 20th and 21st centuries have had an awful tendency to “reach” non-Christians by showing that Christianity is compatible with what potential converts already believe. In doing so, they fail to offer their audience a truly different alternative. If Christianity is so compatible with what they already believe, why would they want to change? And what exactly would they be converting to? The offense of the gospel may repel many people, but it will also attract people who are tired of the same-old-same-old and appreciate clarity and candor.

    Having grown up in the Evangelical subculture, I’ve noticed what seems to be a kind of shared inferiority complex among many Evangelicals. I’ve also seen many attempts to render the Bible or Christianity inoffensive to various groups. Some folks have blurred or stripped away so much that I’ve had to wonder: Are they seeking acceptance for the gospel … or for themselves.

  • David Harriman

    Gene, since I’ve picked up the thread of your post on Insider Movements, I will also post here the letter from the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey, opposing the Turkish Matthew translation produced by Frontiers and Sabeel Media, an organization staffed and led by Wycliffe members:

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

    David

  • David Harriman

    Gene, since I’ve picked up the thread of your post on Insider Movements, I will also post here the letter from the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey, opposing the Turkish Matthew translation produced by Frontiers and Sabeel Media, an organization staffed and led by Wycliffe members:

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

    David


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