Letter from the President of OneBook – Wayne Johnson

April 29, 2013

Dear OneBook friends,

Thank you for being a supporter of OneBook Bible translation and literacy projects. What an encouragement you are, as we work together to provide access to God’s Word for the language groups still waiting to hear of His love!

In every Bible translation project, both we and our national partners desire to meet the highest standards:

  • Accuracy to the original languages of the Bible, seeking to retain the original meaning.
  • Clarity of understanding and naturalness in the mother tongue, so the original message will be fully grasped by those hearing God’s Word for the first time.
  • Relevancy to the people groups involved, so it will be clearly understood within their own language and cultural context.

Over the past two years, a controversy has arisen concerning the translation of the term “Son of God” in Bible translations done in Muslim-predominant areas. Much of the controversy has involved misunderstanding of language dynamics, the specific cultural contexts, or the intricate processes involved in Bible translation.

Although these misunderstandings have not involved any of our OneBook projects (past or present), as one of the 118 member organizations of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, we are naturally affected.

Some donors, concerned about this issue, withheld donations (over $100,000) over the past 16 months. This was very difficult for us. It placed some of our most needy projects in jeopardy, and caused discouragement for local translators overseas, who already struggle to carry out their calling in difficult circumstances.

We were extremely pleased, therefore, when Wycliffe Global Alliance and SIL (a key partner organization in Bible translation) requested the World Evangelical Alliance to facilitate an independent review of SIL’s best practices regarding the familial terms fo “Son of God” and “God the Father.” and to present their results and recommendations. The World Evangelical Alliance, led by Canadian Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, is a highly respected global organization representing the Church worldwide. Their final decision can be considered wise and trustworthy.

On Monday, April 29, 2013, the World Evangelical Alliance released 10 recommendations.

  • The first three recommendations concern translation methodology involving familial terms in Muslim-predominant areas. Specifically, they examined the policies for translating the terms that refer to “God the Father” and “Son of God” within a Muslim context. These impact a very small number of Bible translations. Although none of the projects under scrutiny are OneBook projects, these recommendations will be very helpful for any future Bible translation projects OneBook may become involved with in Muslim areas.
  • The fourth recommendation concerns the use of other literature developed alongside Bible translations, for the purpose of ministry in a Muslim- cultural context.
  • The final six recommendations concern processes for ensuring accuracy and accountability in Bible translation. They are excellent points, clarifying methodology already in place with OneBook’s 14 national partners. All of our partner organizations will be examining these guidelines carefully to ensure ongoing excellence in translation.

More information, including a series of in-depth articles and a copy of the full WEA report (link), is available on our website www.onebook.ca/resources. Look on the left side under the title: “Great translations and the Son of God.” If you do not have access to the internet, or have any questions at all, please give me a call. I would be delighted to speak with you.

 

Moving forward: approximately 1,960 remaining languages still need Scripture translation to begin!

Many of these language communities are in regions that are difficult to access. The challenges may be political, geographical, and/or spiritual. Resistance may come from opposing worldviews, major world religions, or division within the body of Christ. Challenges sometimes come in an active form, such as persecution, bureaucracy, geographical isolation, health issues, etc. But challenges may also come as a result of apathy, lack of awareness, or misunderstandings.

Much prayer is needed so that the Church worldwide will remain alert, attentive to God’s Word and His Spirit, and answer His call to spread the gospel clearly to everyone. Please pray for the unity of true believers as we seek to work together as a light to the nations. Thank you for your partnership!

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Wayne Johnson

President – OneBook

416-707-9066 Cell, 1-866-489-2261 office

wjohnson@onebook.ca

P.S.      God’s Word is changing lives. Exciting things are happening around the world through OneBook projects! Be sure to read the short update attached.