Archive for March 13th, 2012

March 13th, 2012

Wycliffe’s Director of Communications’ Take on Bible Mistranslations

Wycliffe Bible Translators USA leadership has taken to the airwaves trying to mitigate the damage its linguists and missiologists have brought upon this reputable organization. So far, none of the lingering questions Biblical Missiology has raised has been answered. I will share more tomorrow.

I would like to share with you what a colleague brought to my attention a few weeks ago. It is a blog entry by Dawn Kruger, who is the Director of Communications for Wycliffe International Asia Pacific and SIL International Asia area. Here is what Dawn writes about the current controversy. Since she is in charge of communications, I am surprised she wrote this entry four days after Wycliffe USA admitted it was involved in an Arabic translation, which removes ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ from the Trinity. Wycliffe had denied for seven straight weeks it was involved in this translation. Dawn writes:

So I showed you the fun parts of traveling to England. But why were the meetings significant?

The topic discussed was critical to our organization. You may have seen online that Wycliffe and SIL have been the targets of unscrupulous attacks against the principles and practices used in translating certain key terms in the New Testament. Because our goal is meaning-based translations rather than transliterations (which would be utterly meaningless if taken directly from the original language sources), translators often need to carefully search for meaningful ways of expressing difficult concepts in other languages. For example grace, mercy, atonement, sanctification [sic], etc., are often difficult to express in other languages. Even in our own Bibles, Greek terms have been adjusted to carry meaning to English-speaking readers.

But the current attacks are being levied against translations that found culturally appropriate ways of expressing the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son without using familial terms. In some contexts, using the terms father and son can ONLY[sic] imply a family relationship based on the father having sired the son through a physical relationship with the son’s mother. There can be no other understanding of the term. So in deference to the holiness of God and in reverence to the relationship between the first and the second persons of the Trinity, in some translations, terms were used to denote the sacredness of the father and son relationship without using those exact words.

In response, some people who do not understand the principles of accurate and meaningful translation, and are working strictly from English source texts rather than the original Greek, are levying unprincipled, untrue attacks against our organization and our closest partner — attacks that are stirring up a great deal of concern among well-meaning people looking for answers.

I contacted Dawn two weeks ago and she has not responded yet to my comment. I hope she realizes Christians who are opposed to these mistranslations are missiologists, native speakers of languages  where mistranslations have happened, pastors, linguists—some have resigned from Wycliffe and SIL, Bible translators and others who are still with these organizations. (Bold emphasis is mine.)