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Bible translators accused of deleting “Father” and “Son”

Bible translators accused of deleting “Father” and “Son”

Yahoo News “breathlessly” reports that “New Arabic and Turkish translations of the Bible from three reputable North American Christian organizations are brewing controversy because they no longer contain the words “Father” and “Son” in the Holy Trinity. In addition, the phrase “Son of God” has been removed.

Why? “These terms are offensive to Muslims,” say the publishers, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers.

They give these examples:

Stories of the Prophets from Wycliffe and SIL is an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of “Lord” instead of “Father” and “Messiah” instead of “Son.”

Meaning of the Gospel of Christ from Frontiers and SIL is an Arabic translation that removes “Father” in reference to God and replaces it with “Allah.” In addition, the word “Son” is either removed or redefined. Matthew 28:19 reads: “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit” instead of “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

In a Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew, Frontiers and SIL have used the Turkish language equivalents of “guardian” for “Father” and “representative” or “proxy” for “Son.”

Here is the response from SIL:

(January 2012) In response to various recent public accusations, SIL restates emphatically: SIL does not support the removal of the divine familial terms, “Son of God” or “God the Father” but rather requires that Scripture translation must communicate clear understanding of these terms.

Without reservation, SIL’s Scripture translation practice is to use wording which accurately communicates to the intended audience the relationship of Father by which God chose to describe Himself in relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ, as is stated in the original languages of Scripture. SIL affirms the eternal deity of Jesus Christ and insists that it be preserved in all translations.

SIL appreciates assistance in dispelling the falsehood that “SIL supports the removal of the divine familial terms.” Campaigns of misinformation can be damaging if left unchallenged, so SIL encourages readers to take time to investigate the erroneous information that has been written elsewhere. Please feel free to link to this page explaining SIL’s position and refer others to this information.

How would you phrase a translation to communicate concepts that are not part of a culture?


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Bill Dilworth

Only if they were begetting other fleas there, JC!

It does highlight something I was taught in a class on translating, which is that a word for word translation of a text is NOT the way to do it. You end up with things like “The Lord is a man of war” (Ex 15:3, KJV) and the current translation of the Roman Catholic Mass.


“He said that the Arabic word doesn’t admit of metaphorical interpretations”

{tries to imagine “May the fleas of 1000 camels infest your armpits!” literally}


JC Fisher

rick allen

Bill, that’s very interesting. I suppose it’s true that the Antiochene school was reputedly more literal than the Alexandrines. I never thought one would take it that far.

I’m curious about the original story, which leaves out a lot. Surely there are plenty of Arabic and Turkish bibles with the ordinary references to the Father and the Son. Why the special concern here?

I wonder whether this isn’t an edition for Moslems, who want to own a Christian bible, as a matter of general culture, but who might be concerned about being in possession of a blasphemous book. “Messiah” is, if I recall correctly, a title given Jesus son of Mary in the Qur’an.

Kind of like those old editions of the bible prominently displaying on their cover, “The Bible, designed to be read as literature.” Lest, I suppose, one be suspected of reading it for another reason.

Bill Dilworth

Damn my fat thumbs and my iPhone’s autocorrect! TSS = as

Bill Dilworth

Rick,TSS I understood it, it wasn’t the word itself that was shocking, but the affirmation that God engages in it. He said that the Arabic word doesn’t admit of metaphorical interpretations as in English, so “eternally begotten” sounded like an affirmation of God the Father eternally siring God the Son, physically. As far as I know, the scandal was the product of attributing a physical body – used in a sex act, no less – to God.

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