Posts tagged ‘Mission Frontiers’

February 28th, 2012

Wycliffe’s Strategy to Use NT Scholar Vern Poythress’ Article to Justify Mistranslations Backfires

Wycliffe and SIL leaderships need to act quickly. These organizations’ reactions have been dismal. It has taken 7 weeks for them to admit they are responsible for a translation that removed “Father” from the Trinity. They have yet to admit that same translation also removes “Son” from Matthew 28:19.

For starters, I am not in this discussion to tarnish Wycliffe and SIL’s reputations. Their constant denial of culpability has already done that to the attentive observer. I hope and pray a serious change of heart takes place and these organizations admit, accept and take full responsibility. Admitting one issue late in the evening on Friday, February 24, 2012, without even issuing a statement is not a transparent way to deal with this controversy. Even invoking the reputable New Testament scholar Dr. Vern Sheridan Poythress will not detract those of us who will not rest until the truth of the matter of mistranslations has been brought to the light and the causes of such have been dealt with.

Wycliffe is using Dr. Poythress’ “input, feedback and support” according to one of Dr. Rick Brown (real name Darrell Richard Brown) and Leith Gray’s (who also goes by Larry Chico but his real name is Larry Ciccarelli) articles, Translating Familial Biblical Terms: An Overview of the Issue, as an endorsement of their translations in this current controversy. The article is posted on Wycliffe Global Alliance website with this endnote:

The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful input, feedback and support received from many translators and other interested parties, and from Bible scholars such as Prof. Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary and Roy Ciampa of Gordon-Conwell Seminary.

Eddie Arthur, director of Wycliffe UK, wrote a post Bible Translation Controversy: The Problem of English on February 19, 2012.

Mr. Arthur cites Dr. Poythress to defend these mistranslations. He claims elsewhere this controversy has been misunderstood. On January 30, he responded to a tweet, “you might want to get the full facts before spreading Internet rumours [sic] about other Christians.” The tweet in question, “Is this a good translation of Mt 28:19, “Cleanse them by water in the name of God, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit”?”

The person who had tweeted was quoting True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, one of the mistranslations in the controversy, which Wycliffe has admitted as of late last Friday it replaces “Father” with Allah. Wycliffe initially had denied “Allah” was substituted for “Father.” It had also claimed, “This translation is unfinished and still being revised” but you can buy copies of its consulted translation online on Amazon UK. Wycliffe’s FAQ, with all new revisions, mirrors Biblical Missiology’s Fact Check, which is a review of Wycliffe’s initial statement.

Mr. Arthur also wrote and posted a letter which has a link to Dr. Poythress’ article. In that letter he assures, “I trust that this allays your concerns. However, if you have further questions, you may first want to read… Vern Sheridan Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and Editor of Westminster Theological Journal, writing on this issue for the online publication, Mission Frontiers” and gave a link to the article.

Mr. Arthur invokes Dr. Poythress in defense of, among other translations, Turkish-Greek interlinear translation which removes ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ and replaces them with ‘protector’ and ‘representative’ respectively on the right but have an interlinear on the left with a literal translation of the titles.

I have read Dr. Poythress’ blog article on the Mission Frontiers page titled Bible Translations for Muslim Readers. I would like to point out two errors in regards to Islamic understanding of certain terms:

First, he wrote, “As a result, I am critical of any translation that would put into the New Testament text the expression “Messiah” (or equivalent) instead of “Son of God” (or equivalent)–with no further explanation.”

“Messiah” in Islam is a created being and can be destroyed. Qur’an, 3:59, shows the Jesus of Islam was a created being. He can also be destroyed in 5:17. Therefore, Messiah cannot be substituted for “Son” or “Son of God” even with footnotes. True Meaning, the Arabic translation Wycliffe has defended in this controversy, uses “Messiah” for “Son.”

Second, he wrote, “However, it should be noted that the expression “Beloved of God” is being tried out and tested as a possible translation in language situations where the expression is regularly used in the language in question to refer to a man’s only son. So it means more in these languages than it does in English.”

“Beloved of Allah” is a title Muslims exclusively use for Prophet Muhammad. Devout Muslims would not accept its use for other prophets in Islam. Also, using it in place of “Son of God” brings Jesus Christ to the same level with Prophet Muhammad. That certainly is not Wycliffe/SIL and other parties’ involved intentions.

It is apparent Wycliffe is using Dr. Poythress’ good name and connection with Westminster to mitigate further damage to its good reputation while covering its tracks and possibly advancing this agenda. I know he had no intention to contribute to this current crisis with his article. I have contacted him and he is aware of my concerns. Please pray for him.

I have been praying for Wycliffe and SIL leadership to realize how heretical these translations are. They need to pull all the 30-40 translations from circulation and destroy them. An overhaul of its staff and policies is also necessary.

Biblical Missiology’s Fact Check on Wycliffe’s initial statement is found HERE.

Petition to stop these mistranslations is HERE.

FAQ on why the petition was started is HERE.