Saturday, February 11, 2012

Presbyterian Church of Pakistan rejects "contextualized" versions removing "Father" and "Son"

The Presbyterian Church of Pakistan (PCP) has produced a statement denouncing the attempt by SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) or Wycliffe Bible Translators to produce a translation removing the words "Father" and "Son." As Rev. Dr. Altaf Khan, Acting Moderator of the PCP, wrote,

I, Rev. Dr. Altaf Khan, the Acting Moderator of Presbyterian Church of Pakistan [PCP] would like to bring into your attention the recent translation issues brought by Summer Institute of Linguistics [SIL] or Wycliffe Bible Translators.

The controversy arose when the idea of contextualization was first floated by SIL. In the name of contextualization, SIL intended to remove Father or Son from the future translated versions citing that some local Muslims can only see sexual connotations to these terms. PCP in its General Assembly held in November 2011 [around 200 Church leaders participated], executive meeting [around 30 Church leaders] and multiple gatherings in different cities where Christian leaders from all denominations participated, has publicly condemned such justifications for the sake of convenient translation.


As I have said many times before here, the root cause of such mis-translations is the erroneous translational philosophy of Dynamic-Equivalence/ Functional-Equivalence. If you embrace the D-E philosophy and methodology, since all translation is interpretation, therefore the translators gets to decide what they think is the meaning of the word/phrase/sentence. When there is conceived some form of abstract "meaning" that is not bound to the words themselves, then the translator is cut free from the idea of fidelity to the text. Instead of fidelity to the text, the fidelity is to the "meaning" of the text whatever that is conceived to be.

In this case, the translators of Wycliffe have evidently thought that the normal words "Father" and "Son" have a sexual connotation, and therefore it is not suitable. Since the idea is to translate the "essence" or "meaning" of the term "Father" and "Son," therefore any word which they perceive to communicate that meaning will do the job, even if they in fact do not communicate that meaning.

Absent fidelity to the text, fidelity to "meaning" means that the translators gets to interpret the text and translate the perceived meaning. D-E translations therefore are highly subjective interpretations of the biblical text, where the imagination can literally run wild as happened in "translations" such as the Voice. D-E advocating conservatives who object to the translation choices as not translating the meaning are merely pitting their interpretation against the interpretation of the translators, and why should one be held out as closer to the truth over the other? After all, the translators I would think genuinely think that their translation choice IS the one which best express the meaning of the word/phrase/sentence that they are translating! Absent connection to the text, no objective ground can be appealed to.

Let us look at the poisoned fruit of D-E philosophy and methodology, and reject it.

[HT: Apprising Ministries]


Charlie J. Ray said...

Yes, indeed. I heard of one African translation that removed the words for sheep and lamb because that particular tribe was only familiar with goats or cattle, not sheep. Silliness!


Anonymous said...

They went into this mess, as a movie title once said, with "eyes wide shut". It is crystal clear years later that they approached the subject with an agenda, to make verses more palatable to a particular group. It is astonishing to look back and see that they could not see their own bias. Seriously, I mean, Nicea hinged on 1 letter didn't it? I find it beyond belief that at the least they could not see the trouble ahead, based on the past.

Daniel C said...


they have a point, but their solution is the wrong solution

Daniel C said...


yes. The problem is that they opened a Pandora's box by equating lexical interpretation for "meaning" translation. Once the box is opened, everybody have their own ideas of what the "meaning" is.