Clarity On Wycliffe/SIL’s Involvement In The Bengali Injil Sharif

By former missionary, now pastor, Rev. Scott Seaton of Biblical Missiology

As part of their “Pledge to Transparency,” Wycliffe posted a series of “Answers to Commonly Asked Questions[1] on February 15, 2012, relating to a controversy over translation of the divine familial terms, i.e. “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God.” One question related to a translation in Bangladesh known as the Injil Sharif: “What was Wycliffe or SIL’s involvement in Injil Sharif (also known as the Bengali Bible)?” Wycliffe answered that “Neither Wycliffe USA nor SIL had any involvement in the Injil Sharif project. This particular translation was led by a different organization and included non-SIL consultants.” Biblical Missiology offers the following response to the categorical statement that Wycliffe/SIL did not have “any involvement.”

First, we must be clear that Biblical Missiology has never claimed that Wycliffe/SIL directly produced or translated the Bengali Injil Sharif. Rather, as pointed out in our Fact Check,[2] the translation was cited in the petition to show SIL’s general and specific influence on other agencies doing translation work. For years, Rick Brown of SIL has advocated for alternative wording for the divine familial terms, and his articles have often been referenced as a general, authoritative justification for this controversial practice. But he has also had specific influence, offering advice on key terms at critical moments, especially in regards to the translation of “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God.”

Such is the case with the Bengali Injil Sharif, produced by Global Partners For Development.[3] Rick Brown, an SIL translation consultant, spoke at a May 2002 conference in Bangkok sponsored by Global Partners. In his two sessions, he presented his argument that Arabic demands that “son” can only mean a biological offspring, thus giving Muslims the mistaken notion that Jesus was the result of sexual intercourse between God and Mary. What, then, does “Son of God” actually mean? According to Brown at the time of the conference, the meaning of “Son of God” is equivalent to the New Testament terms “Messiah” and “Christ.” Based on Brown’s arguments at the conference and in his articles, Global Partners justified translating “Son of God” as “Messiah” or “Christ.”

Please read more HERE.

Relevant links:

Biblical Missiology petition

Why the Petition was started

Biblical Missiology Fact Check for Wycliffe’s initial response