WEA panel to review Wycliffe Bible translation

Wycliffe Bible Translators, one of the world's biggest Bible translation companies, has agreed to an independent review by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) of its policies on translating terms such as "God the Father" and "Son of God" after complaints about how the terms are presented in some non-English copies of the Bible.

"Recognizing the role of the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission, and respecting the leadership of the WEA and those they will engage in this review process, we commit ourselves to following the wisdom and guidance that this review will produce," announced Bob Creson, president of Wycliffe, in a statement on the company's website.

Wycliffe came under heavy criticism when Biblical Missiology created an online petition alleging that the translation company had eliminated familial terms describing God and Jesus in certain Arabic and Bengali translations of the Bible so as not to offend Muslim readers. Biblical Missiology, a network of missionaries, linguists, theologians and global pastors, demanded that Wycliffe stop replacing phrases such as "Son of God" with "Messiah of God" or "God the Father" with "guardian." Bible Missiology said it had "privately appealed" to Wycliffe "to no avail" to stop producing these controversial translations.

"Western missions agencies Wycliffe, Frontiers and SIL are producing Bibles that remove 'Father,' 'Son' and 'Son of God' because these terms are offensive to Muslims," reads the networks' online petition.

Russ Hersman, senior vice president of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, explained in a February interview with The Christian Post, however, that such accusations are either false, or that Bibles with problematic translations have already been removed.

"[Lives of the Prophets] was an audio drama that originally substituted inadequate familial terms in the mid-1990s. Since that time, the translation has been removed from circulation and will not be re-released until it has been corrected and revised," Hersman told CP.

Still, Wycliffe announced earlier this week its partnership with the WEA, which is seen by observers as a step to further distance itself from accusations of inaccurately translating important terms in the Bible.

"Rejoicing that many Christians globally do not have to learn Hebrew or Greek to read God's Word and wishing to strengthen Evangelical unity on the basis of God's Word, the WEA has agreed to facilitate an independent external audit of Wycliffe and SIL International's practice of the translation of 'God the Father' and the 'Son of God," said Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the WEA, in a statement.