The PCA Study Committee Report on Translating “Son of God” in Muslim Contexts
The PCA’s Study Committee on Insider Movements has submitted the first part of their report (to be acted upon at the General Assembly in June). This first installment is entitled “Like Father, Like Son: Divine Familial Language in Bible Translation.”
It’s an 89-page PDF. Here is a summary of their conclusion:
Bible translations geared for Islamic contexts should not be driven by concerns that Muslims may recoil from biological terms applied to God or Jesus. That revulsion originates primarily out of religious conviction, not any communicative limitation of the terms themselves. The essentially biological terms (Hebrew, ben and ab; Greek, huios and pater) are divinely given and therefore should be translated into comparable biological terms. Footnotes, parentheticals and other paratextual comments may be used to explain the biblical and theological riches of Scripture, while never subverting the important truths embedded in the biological contours of Scripture’s words.
Not all translation workers share these methodological commitments. Therefore, churches should carefully assess the philosophies and practices of translation workers whom they support. Churches should direct resources toward faithful translation and, if loving attempts at correction fail, away from projects and persons advocating problematic approaches to translation. For the honor of the God who has revealed himself in his Word, churches and agencies involved in translation should collaborate to improve the spread of the Christian message worldwide, ensuring that Bibles oriented towards those in Muslim contexts retain the fullest range of theological meanings resident in the original languages.
The responsibility for faithful translation and worldwide gospel proclamation rests finally in the church of Jesus Christ.
Those interested in this topic should be aware that this November Crossway will publish a new book by D. A. Carson entitled Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed, and the last chapter will look at this specific issue.
Readers may also want to know about a recent interview that Collin Hansen conducted with John Piper on the insider movement in general.