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Holding translators accountable

"Holding translators accountable" Continued...

Issue: "Finding their way," Oct. 8, 2011

Soon after the Istanbul meeting, Wycliffe/SIL officials began briefing staff members on the new standards, and later met with leaders from Assemblies of God World Missions. Hersman has been meeting with leaders of the PCA. In Birmingham, Ala., Briarwood Presbyterian Church, one of the largest churches in the PCA, has identified a number of organizations that appear to be involved either in controversial translations or in the broader "insider movement." The church has informed the individuals it supports through those organizations that the groups are under scrutiny. Beginning in January, the church will put these individuals' support in escrow until the church makes a final decision on support in June, when a PCA study committee will present its report on the issue to the denomination's General Assembly. Tom Cheely, missions pastor at Briarwood, served for 18 years on the board of JAARS, an arm of Wycliffe that provides air transport. "This is one of the most agonizing things I've done in years," he said.

Ulfers, the translator in the "bush" of Cameroon, said, "There are many wonderful SIL members doing very accurate translations. It would be a shame for them to lose support over concerns that [Wycliffe Bible Translators]/SIL is becoming 'heretical.' Yet on the other hand the issue needs to be pushed into the consciousness of the Christian public so that the church can hold Wycliffe/SIL accountable."

From Wycliffe's revised Doctrinal Beliefs and Translation Standards:

• In particular regard to the translation of the familial titles of God we affirm fidelity in Scripture translation using terms that accurately express the familial relationship by which God has chosen to describe Himself as Father in relationship to the Son in the original languages.

• In particular regard to Bible translations done for Muslim contexts we affirm that in the majority of cases a literal translation of "Son of God" will be the preferred translation. In certain circumstances, specifically where it has been demonstrated that a literal translation of "Son of God" would communicate wrong meaning, an alternative form with equivalent meaning may be used. The alternative form must maintain the concept of "sonship." All translations for Muslim audiences should include an explanation of the meaning of the phrase "ho huios tou theou" (the Son of God) when it refers to Jesus Christ. This may be in a preface, in one or more footnotes, or as a glossary entry, as seems appropriate to the situation.

-see full statement at wycliffe.org/TranslationStandards.aspx

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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