(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Dave Bullock)
Wycliffe Bible Translators denied allegations that it removed the terms "father" and "son" from Bible translations meant for Muslim countries and said any problematic texts are no longer being distributed.
Russ Hersman, senior vice president of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, told The Christian Post that many of the works that critics like the organization Bible Missiology have pointed to as changing familial terms for God and Jesus have either done no such thing or have already been pulled from circulation.
"[Lives of the Prophets] was an audio drama that originally substituted inadequate familial terms in the mid-1990s. Since that time, the translation has been removed from circulation and will not be re-released until it has been corrected and revised," said Hersman.
Biblical Missiology created an online petition demanding that Wycliffe Bible Translators and its partners stop the production of certain Arabic and Bengali translations of the Bible, believing them to have eliminated familial terms to describe God and Jesus.
"Apart from the recent statements, most of them do not clearly state that … the divine familial terms are NOT removed but rather that they are committed to 'accurately conveying' the 'meanings' of this terminology," said the Rev. Adam Simnowitz, a minister with the Assemblies of God of Dearborn, Mich., who is part of Biblical Missiology.
According to Simnowitz and others, Wycliffe and its partners are removing familial terms to describe God and Jesus from their translation of the Bible in order to appease Muslim communities. Examples pointed out by them include replacing "Son of God" with "Messiah of God" and "God the Father" with words like "guardian."
"Western missions agencies Wycliffe, Frontiers and SIL are producing Bibles that remove Father, Son and Son of God because these terms are offensive to Muslims," reads Bible Missiology's online petition.
"By replacing or removing 'Father' or 'Son' from the text of Scripture, these translations fail to portray God as who he is: the familial, eternal, loving God the Father, Son and Spirit."
Among the projects mentioned that Wycliffe Bible Translators and its partner Summer Institute of Linguistics have released included the Bengali Injil Sharif and Wycliffe's "Lives of the Prophets."
Dustin Moody, a spokesman for Wycliffe, told CP that "Wycliffe had little direct involvement with those two particular projects."
In the past couple weeks, both Wycliffe and SIL released statements officially denying that their translations headed for Islamic countries removes familial terms to describe God and Jesus.