Posts tagged ‘Wycliffe’

April 18th, 2013

Wycliffe/SIL Bible Translation Scandal Resulted from its Experts’ Confusion of Natives’ Languages and Cultures

One reason Wycliffe/SIL experts give to justify pursuing alternative terms for “Father” and “Son” is because, they claim, Arabic and Turkish do not have “social familial terms” for “father” which “convey a non-procreated familial relationship.” (Before you read any further, please bear in mind this article appears on Wycliffe Global Alliance website, an umbrella organization that represents all Wycliffe Bible Translators organizations worldwide.) Wycliffe/SIL’s experts Larry Ciccarelli** and Darrell Richard (Rick) Brown explain their reason why Arabic and Turkish languages do not have a term equivalent to “father” in English that does not carry a biological relationship. They claim in the article adoption and step-relations are not even recognized in these cultures.

As for Turkish, I do not read or speak the language. I consulted one of my friends who is a native Turkish speaker, an MBB and a pastor who holds a Master of Divinity degree from a seminary in the United States. He says Turkish only has one word for “father” and it is “baba,” which is pronounced “buh-buh.” He told me Muslim parents in Turkey can adopt children and the term for stepfather is “üvey baba.” (By the way, Islamic teachings do prohibit adoption. However, adoption was legal in Islam until about 626 A.D. after Prophet Muhammad married his then adopted son Zayd bin Haritha’s wife Zaynab. For more information, please read Sam Shamoun of Answering Islam’s detailed post HERE.)

I was satisfied with my friend’s answer but I still wanted concrete proof that adoption is indeed recognized in Turkey. That was when I turned to the US Embassy in Ankara for more information. The embassy states on its website:

According to current rules and regulations, Turkish families are given preference in adoption of children between the ages of 0-6.  According to the 21st/b section of the “Children’s Right Agreement” every child has right to be raised in his or her own environment, culture and religion.

So, adoption is legal in Turkey, which means Wycliffe/SIL experts claim about the term “stepfather” not in existence in Turkish is false.

As for the Arabic language—a language I can read and write and speak partly—there are two terms for “father.” Ab and waalid. Ab can apply both as a biological or social term for “father.” For example, one of the most known Muslims during the times of Prophet Muhammad was nicknamed Abu Hurairah. Almost every Muslim knows his name because he collected several thousand of aHadith—sayings of Prophet Muhammad—that Muslims use today. Abu Hurairah means, “father of the kitten,” because he owned a kitten as a child. No Muslim in his or her right mind would claim Abu Hurairah “beget” a kitten.

On the other hand, waalid is strictly biological. When the Qur’an in Suratul Al-Ikhlas (chapter 112 of the Qur’an) says, Allah cannot “beget,” the Arabic word used is “yaalid,” a variant of waalid. Yaalid, which means “beget” in Arabic, obviously is biological and has nothing to do with ab. Wycliffe/SIL experts appear to confuse these two terms. (Ciccarelli has quoted and argued against using “Ab” for “Father” in Bible translations into Arabic HERE.)

Arab Muslims would have minimal struggle reading a Bible version in Arabic that translate “Father” as “Ab.” A little explanation in a footnote might clear their confusion. Translators should do their part and leave the Holy Spirit do His Work.

As for translating the “Son of God,” it is even easier. Terms Wycliffe experts have suggested as equivalent for translating mean created being to a Muslim. The Qur’an says “Messiah” is a created being. “Beloved of God” is a term Muslims exclusively use for Prophet Muhammad. I assume this was not the intention of Wycliffe/SIL to bring Jesus Christ to the same level with Muhammad.

New Testament scholar Dr. Vern S. Poythress once argued for these two terms as equivalent to “Son of God.” Wycliffe/SIL invoked him to justify some of its mistranslations. It still does HERE in the footnote. I talked with him about Muslim views and he has since issued a statement calling for “Son of God” “to be communicated clearly in translation.”

Wycliffe/SIL translations in the current controversy came to fruition because of Ciccarelli and Brown’s faulty reasoning. How Wycliffe/SIL can justify expending its financial resources which Christians have sacrificially given on these translations, which even facts do not support, is beyond me. Turkish and Arabic both have multiple modern translations of the Bible already available and Wycliffe claims “209 million people [still] do not have any Scripture in their language.” Shouldn’t the latter be Wycliffe’s priority?

If you are unfamiliar with this scandal, please read the petition that was started to hold accountable Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers USA HERE.

** Larry Ciccarelli also goes by Larry Chico, Leith Gray, Mansour Ciccarelli.

May 10th, 2012

Frustration in Outreach and Bible Translation Controversy

Saudi Christian Al Fadi appeared on In the Market with Janet Parshall, discussing among other issues, Wycliffe Bible Translators controversy. Wycliffe leadership claims “individuals in the American Church” are opposed to its translation practices while actually the opposition comes from the global church, which includes native speakers, Muslim background believers (MBBs), pastors, missiologists, linguists, Bible translators, and current and former Wycliffe employees. They are not just questioning Wycliffe’s commitment to faithfulness in Bible translation but have evidence in the form of corrupted Bible translations.

A few Arabic translations are featured in this controversy. Al Fadi is a native Arabic speaker and also has studied Greek. When asked about the controversy, he says:

Muslims are always raised up to believe that the bible is corrupted and that Christians corrupted the bible. Besides why are we ashamed of what the Gospel message is, it is clearly going to be troublesome for the world? Why are we ashamed of it? Why are we ashamed of declaring who Jesus is? He himself acknowledged Himself to be the Son of God. They (Wycliffe) claim that Muslims would take it as if it is a sexual relationship. I am sorry. That is not the intent I took from the Bible. So, we need to do a better job of reaching out and trusting the Holy Spirit.

Wycliffe’s translations are marred with gargantuan errors. First, they replace “Son” with “messiah” in at least one Arabic translation. The Qur’an clearly states “messiah” is a created being. Wycliffe’s experts apparently did not realize that. How else would someone who believes and “is committed to preserving the eternal deity of Jesus Christ” render the term to mean a created being?

Second, the Arabic language has two words—“ab” and “waalid”—for “father.” “Ab” does not carry a sexual connotation. For example, Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, means “father of deer” yet no Arab or Muslim can argue there was sex involved in order for the city to bear that name. There are many more examples: Abu Bakr, Abu Hurairah, Abu Graib, etc. “Ab,” even though it does not carry a sexual connotation, is a term Wycliffe has refused to use in these mistranslations.

Wycliffe had used “Allah”—“God” in Arabic—in place of “Father” and now has settled on using “Wali”—which means “helper,” “protector,” “friend” or “guardian.” The latter has become Wycliffe’s preferred term to render “Father” in the revised edition of The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ translation even though “Wali” does not mean “Father.” “Wali” is not equivalent to “father” in Arabic. In fact in the Qur’an “Wali” also refers to Satan.

It is becoming clearer we Christians get easily discouraged when trying to share the Gospel with Muslims. We know the terms “Father” and “Son” put Muslims off. Have we forgotten they were also a hindrance to Jews and Jesus Christ did not concede during his discourse? I agree with Al Fadi “we need to do a better job of reaching out and trusting the Holy Spirit.”

Some of us Christians have a heart for Muslims but are frustrated. Our frustration has manifested itself even in our efforts trying to have the Word of God translated in a language Muslims can understand. We need to go back to the basics (Bible) in our outreach to Muslims.

Let us continue praying for Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers leaderships.

April 26th, 2012

“Son” in Arabic Dialects, Prophet Muhammad, Wycliffe and Translation Controversy

I have a friend, a former Wycliffe Bible Translators missionary kid from Cameroon, who says he has been told this translation controversy resulted due to different Arabic dialects. It is not true. There is no difference in translating “Father” and “Son” in various Arabic dialects. “Father” is “ab” or “waalid” and “son” is “ibn” or “waalad” in every Arabic dialect. “Waalad” has sexual connotation because in Arabic it means [masculine] “begotten.”

Ibn” is used in the Qur’an and it does not imply “sexual connotation” that Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers contend in this controversy. For example, “ibn sabeel” which in Arabic literally means “son of the road” to refer to a traveler appears in two verses. There is no Muslim in his or her right mind who thinks the road has begotten a son.

Muslims also are aware Prophet Muhammad used to have an adopted son and his name was Zayd bin (a variant of “ibn”) Muhammad. Zayd was “son of” Muhammad for the first 16 years of Islam because Muhammad had adopted him. It was only after Muhammad had a heart for Zayd’s wife Zainab when Zayd’s sonship became an issue. Muhammad received a revelation to have it terminated. You can read it all in chapter 33 of the Qur’an. Verses 4 and 6 of the chapter state:

Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his (one) body: nor has He made your wives whom ye divorce by Zihar your mothers: nor has He made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah. But if ye know not their father’s (names, call them) your Brothers in faith, or your maulas. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

The most renowned Muslim commentary on the Qur’an, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, states:

This was revealed concerning Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, the freed servant of the Prophet. The Prophet had adopted him before prophethood, and he was known as Zayd bin Muhammad. Allah wanted to put an end to this naming and attribution.

So, “ibn” does not carry a sexual connotation in Arabic. Not even in the Qur’an. Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers’ arguments against the use of “ibnu’llah” (Son of God) in Arabic Bible translations are unfounded. Wycliffe still maintains:

In particular regard to Bible translations done for Muslim contexts we affirm that in the majority of cases a literal translation of “Son of God” will be the preferred translation. In certain circumstances, specifically where it has been demonstrated that a literal translation of “Son of God” would communicate wrong meaning, an alternative form with equivalent meaning may be used. The alternative form must maintain the concept of “sonship”. All translations for Muslim audiences should include an explanation of the meaning of the phrase “ho huios tou theou” (the Son of God) when it refers to Jesus Christ. This may be in a preface, in one or more footnotes, or as a glossary entry, as seems appropriate to the situation.

Had Prophet Muhammad not married his adopted son’s wife, Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers would not have been making these claims today. I cannot believe three reputable Christian organizations have changed God’s Word over an issue that could easily be explained to Muslims who object to “Son” is being translated accurately in Arabic. It could be explained a) ibn does not carry sexual connotation and (b) Zayd was “son of” Muhammad who Muhammad did not father. The title of choice these organizations have used in the Arabic translation in place of “Son” is “Messiah,” which is a created being in the Qur’an.

April 19th, 2012

Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers’ Translation Controversy and the Ahmadiyya Sect

Al Kalima Editorial Committee—which includes Wycliffe/SIL and Frontiers USA members—has been trying to weather mounting criticisms over mistranslations in The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ. It has gone as far as claiming the translation “was produced in classical Arabic.”[1] Al Kalima also claims The True Meaning is in “Standard [sic] Arabic.” These statements do not add up. Classical Arabic and standard Arabic are not the same but this contradiction is trivial compared with some of its bold claims.

I have some serious concerns about Al Kalima’s rationale behind translating “Father” as the issue is not linguistics in nature but theological. When I read through Al Kalima Responses to Adam Simnowitz’s Criticisms, I was particularly interested in Islamic sources the committee had used to make the case for substituting “Allah” (“God” in Arabic) for “Father.” By the way, I am not opposed to translating “God” as “Allah” in Arabic translations.

Al Kalima claims:

It is true that Muslims are attracted to an intimate relationship with God. And that is an advantage of using a more accurate term that presents the fatherhood of God in terms of his paternal care rather than in terms of sexual procreation. The renderings rabb and wali found in The True Meaning help the reader understand that intimate relationship, whereas the traditional biological term hinders understanding of that intimacy by communicating inaccurate meanings. (The revised edition will regularize the usage to wali.)

There are several errors in the English translation here. First, the term rabbuna in Arabic has the sense of a paterfamilias. Muslims explain its usage in reference to God as meaning he is our “Cherisher and Sustainer.” One source notes: “In their commentary on this sura, Md. Abdul Hakin and Md. Ali Hassain write thus: ‘the real or root meaning of rabb is father.’”[2]

(Rabbuna appears about 14 times in the Qur’an and every time Muslim scholars have rendered as “our Lord.” Wali also appears in the Qur’an and it does not mean “father.” You can read more about wali HERE.)

Al Kalima Source Footnote

The reference to “rabb is father” is on page 8—last page, footnote #5—of Al Kalima Responses to Adam Simnowitz’s Criticisms and has this link to Unchanging Word website. (This website tries to explain the term “Son of God” in Arabic very well. However, I disagree with its claim the title is figurative.)

Al Kalima did not even use the primary source for this quote. When you go to the article on Unchanging Word, the preceding sentence reads, “The first Sura of the Qur’ān, Sura Fateha, begins with the words Bismillah Rabbil Alamin.”

Al Kalima Editorial Committee's Source

First error: This phrase “Bismillah Rabbil Alamin” is not in the Qur’an. Al Kalima committee seems to know so much Arabic and Islam and boasts of rendering The True Meaning in classical Arabic yet it could not even catch how this post misquotes the first verse of the Qur’an. A devout Muslim recites this verse at least 17 times a day.

Second error: Even if this post had quoted the first Qur’an verse correctly, the interpretation is wrong because orthodox Muslims do not interpret “Allah” or “Rabbi” as “Father.” I had thought Wycliffe/SIL and Frontiers USA were coming up with this translation to reach practicing Muslims. Shouldn’t they at least have chosen orthodox Muslims’ interpretation?

Surprises: What is equally telling, first, the quote about the Arabic argument for Allah as “Father” only appears online in one other place and it is on a website run by proponents of Insider Movement.

Second, the Islamic scholar quoted belonged to Ahmadiyya, which is a sect orthodox Muslims consider heretical and even kill its adherents especially in Pakistan and Indonesia. It has “tens of millions” of members worldwide.

A Muslim website dedicated to exposing Ahmadiyya/Qadiani translations and interpretations of the Qur’an states:

Khan, Mohammad Abul Hakim, The Holy Qur’an, (Patiala, 1905), 2 edns. Subtitle: ‘With short notes based on the Holy Qur’an or the authentic traditions of the Prophet (pbuh), or/and New Testaments or scientific truth. All fictitious romance, questionable history, and disputed theories have been carefully avoided. A physician by profession, Abul Hakim Khan was not thoroughly versed in Islam. Initially he had Qadyani leanings which he later recanted. His translation is more of a rejoinder to the anti-Islam missionary propaganda rife in the day than a piece of sound Qur’anic scholarship. Contains scant notes. His translation is badly marred by literalism.” [Emphasis mine.]

Al Kalima quotes a Muslim who was not a scholar of Islam but someone who was just trying to respond to Christian missionaries early in the 20th century. He was a Pakistani not an Arab, and reputable Christian organizations are now using his expertise in Arabic and Islam—while totally ignoring other Arab Christians (Lebanese, Saudis, Iraqis, etc)—to change God’s infallible Word.

Al Kalima is pressing on with the revised edition of The True Meaning and Wycliffe supports this revision, which still removes “Father” from the Trinity:

[T]he translation team decided in May 2011 to proceed with a complete revision of the Gospels and Acts on the basis of friendly user feedback and insights gained while translating the New Testament epistles. The plan is to regularize the usage so that the Arabic translation is concordant with regard to key terms, in order to provide transparency and clarity about which Arabic terms represent which Greek ones. This will include the consistent use of al-wali for the Father. In addition, the articles and footnotes will be revised to incorporate the latest insights. This will be done with the input of approved Bible translation consultants, Arab specialists in Arabic, and Bible scholars, both Arab Bible scholars and others.

However, Simnowitz’s critiques are laced with significant errors and misrepresentations of The True Meaning, the Arabic language, and Muslim culture and practices. We believe it would be best for him to withdraw these documents and consider presenting criticisms that are valid and well-meaning.

The Church of Jesus Christ should be thankful for Adam Simnowitz. Had it not been for his efforts, Wycliffe, SIL, Frontiers USA and Al Kalima wouldn’t have slowed down.

Please, keep on putting pressure on these organizations until all these mistranslations of Scripture that are in print are destroyed and the project scrapped. There are already about a dozen modern Arabic translations of the Bible. Why are these organizations wasting their resources—Frontiers USA spent $214,900 through 2009 on this project—when “about 350 million people” worldwide do not have any portion of Scripture in their languages?

You can read Adam’s criticisms that elicited Al Kalima Editorial Committee’s response at the links below:

  1. “Son” as rendered in The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ
  2. “Son of Man” as rendered in The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ
  3. “Son of God” as rendered in The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ


[1] Al Kalima Editorial Committee, Responses to Adam Simnowitz’s Critique Of Familial Terms in The True Meaning, January 13, 2012.

[2] Unchanging Word, www.unchangingword.com/obj_misc_33sonofgod.php

April 17th, 2012

Wycliffe Invokes Al Kalima, Al Kalima still Defends Removing “Father” from Trinity

Wycliffe Bible Translators USA is directing questions about an Arabic Bible mistranslation, The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, to Al Kalima website. Wycliffe claims, “Al-Kalima has a page answering questions about this translation” but the page raises more questions than it provides answers.

Al Kalima asks, “Is the translation directly translated from the Greek?” It answers emphatically, “Yes, the Greek text of the New Testament was the direct basis of the translation.” Al Kalima is not telling the truth. The first edition of The True Meaning substitutes “God” for “Father.” For example Matthew 28:19 in part reads, “cleansing them with water in the name of God, his messiah and his holy spirit.”

Wycliffe and SIL officials must be unaware Al Kalima’s revised edition still replaces “Father” with an Arabic term which does not mean “father.” So much for this translation using Greek text as “the direct basis of the translation.” Al Kalima—which includes Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers USA members— on its page defends removing the equivalent of “Father” in the revised edition as follows:

The traditional term ab, even though often translated into English simply as “father,” is understood in Arabic to mean “biological father”. This is a problem for Arab readers when they read that Joseph, the husband of Mary, is called Jesus’ “biological father”, and so they assume that this means that Jesus was not born of a virgin. The problem is made worse when this word is applied to the relationship between Jesus and the Father, or believers and the Father. It is understood as a terrible insult to God, and misses the meaning intended in the Scriptures of a close relationship like that between a father and his son. While many Muslims are attracted to a relationship with God characterized by paternal intimacy, love, and care, they are also repelled by terms that would communicate a narrowly sexual meaning.

The first edition of The True Meaning uses various terms to express the meaning of the Greek word Pater. The second edition will feature a consistent translation of the Greek Pater using paternal terms, with an indication of the traditional word used to translate the Greek.

Al Kalima Editorial Committee has already decided on an Arabic word “walî” to replace “Father.” In a document it prepared in its defense during this controversy titled “Al Kalima Responses to Adam Simnowitz Criticisms,” and dated January 13, 2012, which was sent to people who had concerns about this translation, on page 7 Al Kalima claims:

The Greek word pater means social father, as discussed in the IJFM article “A Brief Analysis of Filial and Paternal Terms in the Bible.” Arabic does not have an exact semantic equivalent, so the question of “literal” is meaningless. The issue is which Arabic term is closest in meaning to pater, especially as used of God, without introducing an unbiblical meaning. The main choices are between a term for biological father and a term for paterfamilias, the man who provides the paternal care and authority for a family, whether they are all his biological children or not. This latter is very close in meaning to the Greek pater. The term for biological father means a father by virtue of sexual procreation, and this is not the meaning of God’s fatherhood, nor is it the meaning of the word pater when used of humans. One’s pater might be biological or not. The traditional Arabic translation uses the Arabic term ab, which means “biological father.” So it is not a literal translation of Greek pater. The True Meaning uses wali, which is the man who exercises paternal authority and care-giving (paterfamilias). The True Meaning explains all this in an article “The Relationship of Jesus to God,” which presents the traditional Arabic term and explains what the Greek term really means, especially in reference to God.

(Al Kalima claims in the same document The True Meaning was “produced in classical Arabic by our committee, which consists of Arab Bible scholars and clergy, professional translators, and authors of Arabic literature. It is intended for well-educated unchurched Arabs with little knowledge of the Scriptures who want to know the meaning of the Gospel.”)

I wrote a short post last week to show Wycliffe and SIL experts’ erroneous claims about “Father” if translated accurately from the original Greek into Arabic it would lead Arab Muslims to understand the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer as “Our Begetter who is in Heaven.” Arabic words Ab and waalid both mean “father.” Waalid is only biological while ab is both biological and social. You can read my post HERE.

Even the Qur’an in the original Arabic shows “walî” cannot in any shape or form exclusively mean “father” as a brother can also be a “walî.” Whatever happened to Wycliffe and SIL personnel employing dynamic equivalence in Scripture translation? It is not too late for them to repent and apologize to Christians whose trust they have betrayed. This Arabic translation is not worth defending.

There are examples of Arabic terms known to Muslims that Christians can use to defend translating “Father” as “Ab” in Arabic Bibles. Here are four examples:

  1. Abu Bakr—first Islamic Caliph who succeeded Prophet Muhammad. His name means “the father of the foal of the camel.”
  2. Abu Huraira—Prophet Muhammad’s contemporary, narrator of the Hadith. His name means “father of the kitten.”
  3. Abu Dhabi—the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Its name means, “father of deer.”
  4. Abu Ghraib—a city in Iraq known for its notorious prison bearing same name. Its name means, “father of little crows.”

No Muslim in his or her right mind can argue these examples show the use of “father” is biological.

April 12th, 2012

Wycliffe Experts: Our Begetter Who Is in Heaven (Lord’s Prayer)

It is coming to light that this controversy involving Wycliffe/SIL has been largely orchestrated by the work of two individuals. The Bible mistranslation practices by these organizations highlighted over the past few months can be traced to their experts Larry Ciccarelli[1] and Darrell Richard (Rick) Brown. If this controversy continues to drag on without a resolution, damage to these organizations’ reputations may be irreversible. I pray Wycliffe and SIL will resolve these issues soon.

Ciccarelli and Brown expressed that they are fully convinced Arabic and Turkish do not have “social familial terms” for “father” which “convey a non-procreated familial relationship.” Even when native Turkish and Arabic speakers have voiced concerns about these translations, these Wycliffe/SIL experts have refused to listen. Perhaps they trust the judgment of their Muslim friends over that of their fellow Christians. Wycliffe and SIL are dealing with these “warthog holes” mostly because of this erroneous mindset.

Ciccarelli and Brown explain their reason why Arabic and Turkish do not have a term equivalent to “father” in English that does not carry a biological relationship. They claim adoption and step-relations are not even recognized in these cultures. Brown and Ciccarelli even go as far as claiming if the Lord’s Prayer is rendered accurately from the original Greek—as presently in modern Arabic and Turkish translations—the “mistake” would make the Arab or Turkish reader understand it as, “Our begetter, who is in heaven…”

I knew this concept was false for Arabic, because there are two terms for “father” and only one of them carries a “begetter” connotation. My concern shifted toward the claim’s veracity for the Turkish language. I decided to investigate and here is what I found:

I do not read or speak the Turkish language. I consulted one of my friends who is a native Turkish speaker, an MBB and a pastor who holds a Master of Divinity degree from a seminary in the United States. He says Turkish only has one word for “father” and it is “baba,” which is pronounced “buh-buh.” He told me Muslim parents in Turkey can adopt children and the term for stepfather is “üvey baba.” (By the way, Islamic teachings prohibit adoption. Adoption was legal in Islam until about 626 A.D. when Prophet Muhammad married his then adopted son Zayd bin Haritha’s wife Zaynab. For more information, please read Sam Shamoun of Answering Islam’s detailed post HERE.)

I know another person who knows at lease one case of adoption among Muslims in Turkey. Even the US Embassy in Ankara has information on adoption in Turkey. The embassy websites states:

According to current rules and regulations, Turkish families are given preference in adoption of children between the ages of 0-6.  According to the 21st/b section of the “Children’s Right Agreement” every child has right to be raised in his or her own environment, culture and religion.

So, adoption is legal in Turkey, which means the issue of the term “stepfather” not in existence in Turkish is false.

As for the Arabic language—a language I can read and write and speak partly—there are two terms for “father.” Ab and waalid. Ab can apply both as a biological or social term for “father.” For example, one of the most known Muslim after Prophet Muhammad was nicknamed Abu Bakr. Almost every Muslim knows his name because he was one of the first converts to Islam. He was also the first Caliph (successor after Prophet Muhammad’s death.) Abu Bakr means, “the father of the foal of the camel,” yet no Muslim can claim Abu Bakr “beget” a camel. On the other hand, waalid is strictly biological. In fact, a chapter of the Qur’an, Suratul Al-Ikhlas, which Ciccarelli has quoted HERE to try to argue against using “Ab” for “Father” in Bible translations uses yaalid, a variant of waalid. Yaalid, which means “beget” in Arabic, obviously is biological and has nothing to do with ab. There is no problem translating “Father” as “Ab” in Arabic.

If Muslims have an issue with the correct rendering of “Father” in Arabic or Turkish, Christians should explain to them the meaning behind it. After all, the Qur’an accuses Christians of worshiping a trinity that includes father, mother and son. The work of evangelizing Muslims often begins with first educating them about what Christians actually believe.

Contrary to what Ciccarelli and Brown have claimed, which unfortunately appears to be Wycliffe and SIL’s position, the justification for mistranslating “Father” in Arabic and Turkish new Bible translations is based on false assumptions.

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The Petition to hold accountable Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers USA is found HERE.



[1] Larry Ciccarelli also goes by Larry Chico, Leith Gray, Mansour Ciccarelli

April 3rd, 2012

Insider Movement Advocates Masquerade as Islamic Teachers?

Wycliffe has no official position on the Insider Movement even when it appears there are Insider proponents and advocates among its Bible translators, linguists and missiologists. (The current Bible translation controversy is proof.) Here is a good example of what Insider Movement is about. A Malay Muslim has busted an operation in Malaysia. How can Christians pretend to be Islamic teachers (ustaz) in order to reach Muslims with the Gospel? Have we forgotten how to evangelize?

The news story also shows Southern Baptist International Mission Board endorsed “Camel Method” is used in Malaysia. Parts of the news report read [Emphasis mine]:

A Muslim man claiming to be a former apostate who has since returned to Islam said today his Christian group leaders masqueraded as ustaz to approach Muslims to convert them.

Ramli says in the 42-minute recording that these people, some of whom were ‘orang putih’ (Caucasians), would wear ketayap (turbans) and jubah (robes) and go to mosques in an attempt to get close to Muslims.

“That is how they slowly infiltrate. When they first approach Muslims, they do not use the Bible but they use the Quran… this is called the cameo [sic] method,” claimed Ramli, who had previously worked with the organisation after being converted.

Hasan had previously made similar claims that Christian groups had impersonated as Muslims in an attempt to approach the community.

“I still remember when my wife saw this, she asked me who this ustaz was… Their method was very subtle, they used Quranic verses as a bridge for you to cross over and after you have crossed into Christianity, only then will they give you a Bible,” Ramli says.

The video interview featuring Ramli, 47, and his wife, Zakiah Musa, 42 (not her real name), was screened to journalists at Hasan’s residence in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

The organisation also tasked him with translating a contextual version of the New Testament into Malay, so that it could be easily understood by Muslims.

“It (the translated Bible) was to be Muslim-friendly, so that when Muslims read it, they can accept that the Bible is from Allah,” he said.

Read more HERE.

 

March 27th, 2012

Wycliffe, SIL & the Current Bible Translation Controversy

Three people have asked me in the past week what I would like Wycliffe and SIL to do in order to resolve the current Bible translation controversy. I told them had these organizations heeded Biblical Missiology Society’s petition, which you can find HERE, this controversy would have been resolved in January. It is Wycliffe and SIL’s own fault this matter is on the verge of bringing them down. All the petition has asked them is for “a written commitment… not to remove Father, Son or Son of God from the text of Scripture.” Apparently, that is still too much to ask of these organizations.

There are a lot of unanswered questions. Wycliffe and SIL leaderships know the answers to questions. In October 2011, Wycliffe USA Senior Vice President Russ Hersman openly admitted to the World Magazine, “200 translation projects Wycliffe/SIL linguists have undertaken in Muslim contexts, about 30 or 40 “employ some alternate renderings” for the divine familial terms.”

What are these translations? I contacted Wycliffe and SIL on January 11 via email after their disastrous initial response to the petition and did not get an answer. (Please read Wycliffe/SIL response and Biblical Missiology’s Fact Check HERE.) I called them on January 18 (Wycliffe Orlando and SIL Dallas). Wycliffe Orlando Office promised someone would call me back by the next day. I never heard from anyone. Then again on January 24 I called, and did not get an answer. Mark you; this was before I wrote my first Yahoo! News article. After the article, finally someone returned my calls but did not answer any questions. I am committed to writing on this issue until I get the answers.

So far, all the translations in the current controversy, which Wycliffe has admitted involvement—thanks to the petition—removes ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity.

Wycliffe officials also need to apologize for calling our efforts to hold Wycliffe and SIL accountable as “satanic.”

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.

February 24th, 2012

Wycliffe: Transparency or Spin in Bible Translation Controversy?

Yahoo! News

ANALYSIS | Wycliffe Bible Translators has issued another statement — the fourth one in six weeks — regarding the ongoing controversy about new Bible translations that omit ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity. It has gone from total denial to tacit acknowledgment of its culpability.

Previously, on January 12, Wycliffe insisted — contrary to the allegations in Biblical Missiology‘spetition - that ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ were “not removed, but are preserved in a way that does not communicate incorrect meaning.” This statement also defended True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, an Arabic translation that removes ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity.

Then on February 2, Wycliffe insisted it “never has and never will be involved in a translation which does not translate these terms.” And five days later it claimed, “we have never intentionallysponsored a translation…”

The current press release states Wycliffe “is making every effort to identify translations that may have used terms which do not adequately convey the divine familial relationship and to work with project partners to remove them from circulation.”

Wycliffe’s statements contain glaring contradictions. The newest release raises more questions than it provides answers.

Wycliffe has declined to discuss translations it had defended in prior statements arguing they are from parts “of the world that are extremely hostile to the Gospel and where safety ‘firewalls’ have been built around information in attempts to keep people and projects safe.”

The following evidence strongly suggests Wycliffe’s stance is simply a ploy to keep its good reputation while covering its tracks.

First, these translations are available online. At least…

Please read more on Yahoo! News HERE.