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Wycliffe Bible Translators

June 2013

Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) has issued a report outlining principles for translating the Bible, particularly with a Muslim readership in mind. This can be seen in full on its web site.

     In a 33-page report, commissioned by WBT and overseen by Dr Robert Cooley and the World Evangelical Alliance’s (WEA) independent panel, WBT explains its need to review its policies and practices in relation to the translation of terms referring to ‘God the Father’ and the ‘Son of God’.

     Within the report, the panel made many recommendations for improving SIL International’s practices for translating these terms. Wycliffe UK said it would ‘offer our full support to SIL through this process, as well as committing to ensure that these recommendations are implemented in full’.

     Pressing among the points to consider was the need to convey correctly the familial definitions of the Trinity — that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These are concepts alien to a Muslim’s understanding of one God.

     The report also explored conveying nuances of language within socio-cultural communities belonging to the same language group and said that multiple translations may be needed.

     The report looked at creating best practice for overcoming exegetical problems. ‘Exegetical decisions should be made by translation teams on the basis of thorough biblical-theological understanding of Scripture, which includes use of original texts, versions, credible commentaries, and respected biblical scholarship, both local and global, in dialogue with their communities, partner organisations and respected ecclesial authorities’.

     In addition, the report drew attention to differences between a Christian understanding of the translated Word of God — as being the Word of God in one’s own language; with a Muslim understanding — as simply rendering the ‘meaning’, since Muslims believe the original should be untranslatable.

     Evangelical Times will carry a review of this report in July.

The report speculates that increased affluence is the most likely explanation for why older couples overall tend to have lower divorce rates.