There are phrases in some bible translations which are sometimes referred by American Christians as "biblical terms". I "wonder" should our perspective be to hold these terms as "biblical terms" or should it be "in another culture they have an idiom…" (or in an older stage in our own culture, or in another culture that also used English). My point is that it seems that we intentionally or unintentionally elevate the language of the Bible without focusing on the culture in which the events and letters are sent. It seems that by taking this approach we decontextualize the original message. One inadvertent result of removing the cultural context is that it allows us to recontextualize the text in our own mental framework. Instead of looking at the message as it was conveyed from party "A" to party "B"along with the cultural abnormalities of the methodology used to convey that message.
My example is comes from sitting in church and hearing the preacher reference the following verse while explaining the phrase "he fell asleep".
And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. - Acts 7:60
Similarity by not understanding the context of the common culture in which the stories were generated it allows an errant contextual vacuum to form in our understanding of the original text. In the following verse what does "Son of Man" mean?
And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." - Acts 7:56
In recent time there has been a lively discussion over several issues in the translation of the Bible between various denominational and church leaders and those conducting the translation. I am not aware of all the issues, nor all the details. However, my financial supporters and friends are very interested in this discussion. Many of them are coming to the conversation late in the discussion. They do not always start to observe the discussion from the beginning of the discussion. They usually get introduced in the middle, and they do not know enough of the context of the discussion to make heads or tails of the discussion.
In the end I lose credibility with my supporters if they are confused and their confusion goes unaddressed. So, I have a vested interest in explaining this conversation to my supporters and friends.Here is an example from 15 February 2012 (14:21CST) of the question I have had and the type of response I have given:
Hugh, I recognize you are not a spokesperson for Wycliffe but there is a lot of “buzz” right now of WBT ad SIL creating Bible versions that are less offensive to Muslims by taking out references to Jesus being the Son of God and to God as the Father. Do you know of this and what is your understanding of it?
Yes. I know a little bit about it. The issue has been brewing for the last 6-7 months. But I don’t know very much about the issue because I do not deal with that part of the world. I do work in External Communications. So my boss works with the people who are crafting the responses. There are several issues going on at the same time.
Wycliffe as a corporation, and as a partner of the evangelical church has not been proactive in communicating the challenges in translation to the churches.
The church has had an attitude of “support and forget”: until someone gets offended and then doesn’t know all the facts and comes at the issue with a particular theological (denominational) view.
To complicate the matter. SIL has been dragged into this media firestorm but has traditionally been silent on translation around the world and left that discussion to Wycliffe. But now SIL has had to respond. So this is new and virgin territory. SIL has said more on Bible translation in the last 6 months than it has in the last 15 years.
Neither Wycliffe nor SIL has taken the lead on explaining to onlookers to the discussion, what the whole discussion on a time line looks like or what the facts are. There are two sides in this discussion and both NGOs would do well to present the objections and the replies in a manner where onlookers could get all the facts. I do not even have a good grasp on this. But there is a lot of fear on the part of the NGOs that if they do this that they will reveal too much, because this is not an area of the world that either company publicizes that it works in. I think there are only like 9 translations in question. The only thing I have read about the issue was here: http://www.wycliffe.net/stories/tabid/67/Default.aspx?id=2408
My question has been if you use the analogy that Jesus is socially the “son” of God, rather than being sired through sexual intercourse with (the virgin) Mary, then how is the zygote formed? I have always believed in a virgin birth (No intercourse), but I also believe that the sperm must have been from God and the egg from Mary.
At any rate the controversy has pitted the churches against the Mission and churches are pulling their support for missionaries.
However, I need to do it understanding the issues they can see and read about. I am not a spokesman for any company. But, as this discussion has turned into a media war, it has increasingly become hard to tell what WycliffeUSA has or has not said when. Content at the same URL can change through time. WycliffeUSA, Wycliffe Global Alliance and SIL International do not use two things consistently in their communications strategy which would make communications clearer to viewers. (Examples in footnotes
WycliffeUSA Page without a date published on it.
SIL Uses month and year but no specific day.
Translations with the same dates but posted later.
Wycliffe Global Alliance
Wycliffe Global Alliance has no date posted, date.
Wycliffe Global Alliance has a date someone else posted on an item which is republished with permission.
Wycliffe Canada does have a date something was published!
Wycliffe Canada has the date something was published.
). These two issues are:
Update Notices with Dates/time stamps.
It is common practice when issuing a statement online to provide a date on which the content was posted. It is also common practice to show when content has been updated or altered and to tell what has been altered, often it is in response to something left in a comment (in the blogging and columnist worlds).
(I do not necessarily espouse the views of the following post but I use them to present visually what is socially a common practice.)
An article on Ron Paul. Michael Conrad. 23 December 2011. Against Ron Paul (Obligatory Ron Paul post – Updated). Progressive Blue. http://www.progressiveblue.com/diary/6291/against-ron-paul-obligatory-ron-paul-post … Continue reading
Ron Paul article update example
An Article on the iPad2Matt Peckham. 29 December 2011. Rumor: Two New iPads in January, iPad 2 Price Drop Expected [Updated]. Time: Techland. … Continue reading
Techland article update example
An article about one of Google’s servicesAmit Singhal. 3 November 2011. Giving you fresher, more recent search results. Google Official Blog. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html [Accessed: 5 … Continue reading
Google Blog post update example
It has been claimed that WycliffeUSA has altered their FAQHussein Wario. 25. February 2012 10:22 AM ET. After 7 Weeks of Denial, Wycliffe now Admits it was involved in producing Bengali Bibles. … Continue reading in a manner which would lead current viewers to think this is always been the way the data has been presented, and therefore always the way the story has been told. If there has been some change then this change should be clearly expressed. (And there are functional, well designed, and tactful ways to express this change without spending lots of page space or focus to the reader in the process of doing so.) However, it is this lack of date giving which makes a time oriented anthology of communication so valuable.
[Update: 5 March 2012: As the following image shows, it would appear that Wycliffe does have an update notice for each item on their FAQ sheet, but it still remains unclear what the content was updated from, or alternatively if the FAQ element was added at this later date as the FAQ page itself has no date published.]
Jeremy Weber. 22 June 2012. Stop Supporting Wycliffe’s Current Bible Translations For Muslims, PCA Advises Churches. on ChristianityToday.com [Link]
Assembly Approves Report Condemning Muslim Bible Translations
21 June 2012
Travis Hutchinson. 21 June 2012. Assembly Approves Report Condemning Muslim Bible Translations. [Link]
Day 3 of the General Assembly of the PCA
21 June 2012
John Wesley White. 21 June 2012. Day 3 of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. [Link]. A play by play report of the day including on the ad interim study committee on the Insider Movement.
Report to the PCA 40th General Assembly
14 May 2012
General Assembly of the PCA. 14 May 2012. A Call to Faithful witness. Part I. Like Father Like Son: Divine familial language in Bible Translation. [PDF]
Chairman of WEA Panel announced
09 May 2012
WEA Announces Dr. Robert E. Cooley as Chairman of Wycliffe and SIL Review Panel [Link]
Video by OneBook
03 May 2012
Hart Wiens of the Canadian Bible Society and Wayne Johnson of OneBook work through the issues of key terms, particularly God and Allah. [Video on YouTube]
Bible Translator Criticized Over Word Substitution
26 April 2012
Tom Breen. 26 April 2012. Bible Translator Criticized Over Word Substitution. Associated Press and others via syndication. [Link to NPR]
Is the Scandal for Muslims the How or the Who?
23 April 2012
Rev. Fred Farrokh. 2012. Is the Scandal for Muslims the How or the Who?. St Francis Magazine. Vol. 8:2, pp. 213-224. (April 2012). [PDF]
14 April 2012
Discusses Jack Van Impe (JVI) Ministries handling of the Son of God discussion. [Link]
Authored by Judi Mickey, Sumerset.
Christianity Today India
02 April 2012
runs an article discussing the WEA panel to review the translation practices of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Dibin Samuel. 2 April 2012. WEA panel to review Wycliffe Bible translation. Christianity Today India. [Link]
02 April 2012
A news article in the Evangelical Times by Richard Buggs addresses the Son of God Issue. [Link]
World Evangelical Alliance
27 March 2012
WEA to Form Independent Review Panel on Wycliffe and SIL Bible Translation. [Link] In the light of certain controversies about Bible translation, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), as a respected and trusted global evangelical association, has been asked to form a panel to independently review Wycliffe and SIL International’s translation of “God the Father” and the “Son of God.”
Warthogs at Wycliffe
21 March 2012
Russ Hersman, Senior Vice President at Wycliffe talks to his alma mater, Multnomah University, about some of the controversy Wycliffe has been involved with.
Rob Willmann posts and it seems like every Pastor with a blog has something to say [Link]
Wycliffe, SIL and the 340-Million Problem
10 February 2012
Hussein Wario publishes saying
Wycliffe USA Senior Vice President Russ Hersman admitted to the World Magazine last October there were about 30 to 40 translations that “”employ some alternate renderings” for the divine familial terms.
Wycliffe and SIL need to marshal and use their resources wisely. Wycliffe USA claims on its website, “Today about 340 million people do not have any Scripture in their language. Wycliffe’s vision is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best.” This statement reveals two problems about the present crisis. First, modern translations of the Bible are already available in both Turkish and Arabic. Why are Wycliffe and SIL even bothering with these languages? Second, Wycliffe and SIL translations contain so many mistranslations about divine filial terms that the indigenous church in Turkey doesn’t want them. The same is true for Arab Christians. Why are these organizations wasting their resources on them and now defending them? Have they lost sight of their 340-million problem?
Is it true that SIL supports removing “Son of God” and “God the Father” in Scripture translations?No.More….
Joshua Lingel calls for defunding of translation projects
30 January 2012
World Net Daily, prints a quote from Lingel saying:
According to reports, of the roughly 200 translation projects Wycliffe/SIL linguists have undertaken in Muslim contexts, about 30 or 40 remove the terms father and son with reference to God and Jesus.
Lingel’s response is quite direct, “These projects need to be defunded.”
World Net Daily. 30 January 2012. NEW BIBLE YANKS ‘FATHER,’ JESUS AS ‘SON OF GOD’. [Link]
New Bible Versions Remove
30 January 2012
‘FATHER’ and ‘SON OF GOD’ Because it offends Muslims.
Congressman Tod Tancredo reposts an Essay [Link] first published on Atlas Shrugged [Link] by Pamela Geller the day before. This work criticizes christians as being hypocritical for “changing the scriptures”.
‘Father’ and ‘Son’ Ousted from the Trinity in New Bible Translations
27 January 2012
Hussein Wario Publishes on Yahoo! News (which gets some really insightful comments from some more informed people then he.) and also 2 days later on his blog.
Petition reaches 100 signatures
05 January 2012
Lost In Translation: Keep “Father” & “Son” in the Bible on change.org reaches 100 signatures.
The Terms of Translation A New Look at Translating Familial Biblical Terms
03 January 2012
Rick Brown, Leith Gray, and Andrea Gray publish The Terms of Translation A New Look at Translating Familial Biblical Terms in International Journal of Frontier Missiology. Dated fall 2011 but it is not type set till 3 January 2012. (I am not sure when the exact release data is.) [Link to published PDF version] [Link to whole Journal]
David Irvine Claims that SIL is favorable to the insider movement.
13 December 2011
Upon my retirement we joined Wycliffe USA and spent a year and a half training and preparing to go to West Asia to run an SIL NGO. We learned that SIL Eurasia had adopted the Insider Movement and resulting Muslim Idiom Translation style for the region and resigned 3 weeks prior to our departure. We are now with Horizons International.
Wycliffe Bible Translators agrees to new standards in debate over contextualizing Scripture for Muslim settings by Emily Belz [Link]
Matthew Carlton Publishes
14 August 2011
Jesus, the Son of God: Biblical Meaning, Muslim Understanding, and Implications for translation and Bible Literacy
Matthew Carlton. 2011. Jesus, the Son of God: Biblical Meaning, Muslim Understanding, and Implications for translation and Bible Literacy.St Francis Magazine Vol 7:3. 1-30. [Link]
(Note: Some have suggested that this publication was released on August 1st, prior to the Istanbul conference, but the metadata in the PDF suggests that this version of the PDF was created on the 12th and modified on 14th of August.)
SIL International Statement for Best Practices for Bible Translation of Devine Familial terms
01 August 2011
Some sort of draft of SIL’s statement is made. Steve Taylor will later publish this on World Reformed Fellowship. [PDF]
01 August 2011
World Magizine reports later that:
In the basement of a hotel in Istanbul, 30 people from around the world met in August to talk about how to translate the phrase “Son of God” and “God the Father” in Muslim contexts.
(I do not know the exact date of the Istanbul Summit. It is marked here as 1 August 2011.)
An Historic Consultation on Contextualizing the Gospel to Muslims
04 July 2011
Warren Larson. 4 July 2011. An Historic Consultation on Contextualizing the Gospel to Muslims. Blog entry: [Link]
Christianity Today publishes the article: The Son and the Crescent Bible translations that avoid the phrase “Son of God” are bearing dramatic fruit among Muslims. But that translation has some missionaries and scholars dismayed. Hussein Wario is the first commenter.
Subbing "The Son of God": A Response to Christianity Today (Part 1)
04 February 2011
Brian Branam responds to Christianity Today.
Brian Branam. 4 February 2011. Subbing “The Son of God”: A Response to Christianity Today (Part 1). [Link]
Rick Brown Publishes Who is Allah? in International Journal of Frontier Missions 23:2 Summer 2006. pages 79-82 [PDF]
SIL International Publishes Exegetical summary of Romans
03 June 2006
David Abernathy is listed as the author. An exegetical summary of Romans 1-8. Exegetical Summary Series. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. 599 pages [Link] This book is released as a second edition in 2008 [Link].
Rick Brown. 2001. What Must One Believe about Jesus for Salvation?. International Journal of Frontier Missions, Vol. 17:4, Winter. [Link to PDF Pre-Print]
The “Son of God” Understanding the Messianic Titles of Jesus
26 October 2001
Rick Brown. 2000. The “Son of God” Understanding the Messianic Titles of Jesus. International Journal of Frontier Missions, Vol. 17:1 Spring. [Link to Pre-Print PDF]
But Metadata in the Accessed PDF says that the PDF currently available was not created until 26th October 2001.
Rick Brown becomes Associate Area Director of SIL-Eurasia
01 January 2001
According to Rick Brown’s CV on sil.org, he starts serving as the Associate Area Director of SIL-Eurasia some time during 2001. (marked on this time line as 1 January but the date is not explicitly declared.)
The Trinity had been recognized at the Council of Nicea, but debate about exactly what it meant continued. A rival to the more common belief that Jesus Christ had two natures was monophysitism (“one nature”), the doctrine that Christ had only one nature. Apollinarism and Eutychianism were two forms of monophysitism. Apollinaris’ rejection of Christ having a human mind was considered an over-reaction to Arianism and its teaching that Christ was not divine. [From Wikipedia]
Acacius of Caesarea declared that the Son was like the Father “according to the scriptures,” as in the majority decision at Ariminum and close to the minority at Seleucia. Basil of Ancyra, Eustathius of Sebaste, and their party declared that the Son was of similar substance to the Father, as in the majority decision at Seleucia. [From Wikipedia]
The Council declared that the Father and the Son are of the same substance and are co-eternal, basing the declaration in the claim that this was a formulation of traditional Christian belief handed down from the Apostles. Under Constantine’s influence, this belief was expressed by the bishops in what would be known thereafter as the Nicene Creed. (From Wikipedia Article on the First Council of Nicaea)
If you know of another Publicly available and verifiable resources, event or discussion with a date relevant to the Son of God discussion leave a note in the comments and I will consider adding it to the time line. After I add it to the time line I will delete the comment. The timeline created is This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Another timeline format is also in the works and is appearing here.
If you do not want your comment shared under this license then please do not submit it. – Comments may be edited before appearing.
Michael Conrad. 23 December 2011. Against Ron Paul (Obligatory Ron Paul post – Updated). Progressive Blue. http://www.progressiveblue.com/diary/6291/against-ron-paul-obligatory-ron-paul-post [Accessed: 5 March 2012]
Matt Peckham. 29 December 2011. Rumor: Two New iPads in January, iPad 2 Price Drop Expected [Updated]. Time: Techland. http://techland.time.com/2011/12/29/rumor-two-new-ipads-in-january-ipad-2-price-drop-expected/ [Accessed: 5 March 2012]
Amit Singhal. 3 November 2011. Giving you fresher, more recent search results. Google Official Blog. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html [Accessed: 5 March 2012]
Hussein Wario. 25. February 2012 10:22 AM ET. After 7 Weeks of Denial, Wycliffe now Admits it was involved in producing Bengali Bibles. http://blogs.christianpost.com/cracks-in-the-crescent/2012/02/after-7-weeks-of-denial-wycliffe-now-admits-it-was-involved-in-producing-bengali-bibles-25/ [Accessed: 5 March 2012]