WEA Panel Report to Wycliffe and SIL Regarding Translation of Divine Familial Names

Last year Wycliffe and SIL International asked World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) to put an independent panel together to review their translation practices, particularly as it related to translating the Bible in Muslim contexts. As noted, “The review was intended to focus on SIL’s Statement of Best Practices for Bible Translation of Divine Familial Terms, to set boundaries for theologically acceptable translation methodology particularly in Muslim contexts, and to suggest how to implement the recommendations practically.” Specifically, this focused on the translation of the words for “God the Father” and “God the Son.”

The Panel completed their work by publishing their final Report on April 26. Here are some of those updates, with the third link the actual Report from the WEA Global Review Panel.

“WEA Independent Bible Translation Review Panel Concludes its Work, Issues Report with Ten Recommendations for Wycliffe and SIL” 

“Independent Bible Translation Review” 

“Report to World Evangelical Alliance for Conveyance to Wycliffe Global Alliance and SIL International” 

Here is a brief response to the Report that affirms it contains a “Needed Corrective” and also raises some “Potential Concerns”.

I am mostly encouraged by the document. For the most part, I am hopeful in the direction they are intending to move.

I raise a concern, one that I would encourage a more definitive guideline. When translating “Father” or “Son,” the Panel suggests that it the former might be rendered “heavenly Father,” “God who is Father,” or “God who is the true Father,” while the latter might be rendered “divine Son,” “eternal Son,” or “heavenly Son.” Rather than including the adjective in the actual translation of the Bible, which is not in the original text, I would recommend that they use paratextual material, i.e. side-bar notes or footnotes.

At the end of the day, accountability will be critical.

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