Bible Translators Deny Removal of Familial Terms From Arabic Translations

In response to several rumors and claims, two Bible translating organizations have officially denied that their translations headed for Islamic countries removes familial terms to describe God and Jesus.

Wycliffe Bible Translators and its partner the Summer Institute of Linguistics have both denied that they are sending a more "Muslim-friendly" Bible that removes references to God being "The Father" and Jesus being "the Son."

"Wycliffe is not omitting or removing the familial terms, translated in English as 'Son of God' or 'Father,' from any Scripture translation. Erroneous information and rumors on the internet have recently raised questions concerning this issue," read Wycliffe's statement, released on Wednesday.

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"Wycliffe personnel are committed to working alongside language communities and other partners to translate God's Word with great care from the original languages of Scripture into the languages of the world's people so that all may know the redeeming love and glory of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

SIL International also released a statement in late January in response to what it referred to as "false accusations" regarding its translation work.

"SIL restates emphatically: SIL does not support the removal of the divine familial terms, 'Son of God' or 'God the Father' but rather requires that Scripture translation must communicate clear understanding of these terms," read SIL's statement.

"Campaigns of misinformation can be damaging if left unchallenged, so SIL encourages readers to take time to investigate the erroneous information that has been written elsewhere."

In late January, it was reported by multiple sources that translators at Wycliffe and SIL had produced an Arabic translation of the Bible that excluded familial terms for God and Jesus. Many individuals, including pastors in predominantly Muslim countries and ex-Muslims, denounced the translation created as being a manipulation of the Bible's text.

Biblical Missiology, a consortium of mission groups based in Boulder, Colo., started a petition on, saying "these translations are harming their work." "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," the petition states.

The petition says a Wycliffe/SIL produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible, uses "Lord" instead of "Father" and "Messiah" instead of "Son."

According to the SIL International website, there is a certain methodology regarding translating familial terms into other languages. SIL explains that there are some instances where literally translating familial terms could lead to misunderstandings for prospective readers.

"There are some cases in which it can be shown that a word-for-word translation of these familial terms would communicate an incorrect meaning," reads another statement by SIL.

"In these situations, the translations convey the accurate meaning by using terms that clearly have familial meaning but do not imply a procreative relationship. Where necessary, Scripture translations should include an explanation of the meaning of divine familial terms."

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