Here is Wycliffe's second response and the Petitioner's reply to their second response:
2. Petition Statement
“Wycliffe/SIL produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses ‘Lord’ instead
of ‘Father’ and ‘Messiah’ instead of ‘Son.’”
“The Arabic Stories of the Prophets is not a Bible but a set of audio dramas. These stories
avoid terms that are understood by ordinary speakers to attribute sexual activity to God.
A few of the dramas use the word rabbuna, which in the normal Arabic means the one
who raises us paternally and governs the family as its head. One early story used ‘the
Christ sent from God’ to translate huios, but these audios were discontinued.”
The audio drama series Stories of the Prophets (SOP) is based on the transcript of the
Jesus film, which is mainly a word-for-word account from the Bible text of the Gospel
of Luke. In adapting the script for Stories of the Prophets, Wycliffe/SIL indeed chose to
“avoid” certain terms, including “Father,” “Son,” and “Son of God.” But doing so
radically changes the meaning of God’s Word.
For example, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he said something extraordinary: “When you pray, say: ‘Father
hallowed be your name . . .” (Luke 11:2, ESV). German theologian Joachim Jeremias
searched the Old Testament and ancient rabbinic writings, and he concluded this was the
first instance of a Jew directly addressing God as “Father.” The Old Testament Israelites
referred to God as “Father,” but never in direct address. What Jesus is introducing here
not only is unprecedented, it was unimaginable to his Jewish audience. And the
remarkable story of the gospel is that God the Son offers to us that same intimate, secure
relationship with God the Father. But all of that is lost to readers when Stories of the
Prophets instead uses rabunna, which native Arabic speakers confirm actually means
“our Lord,” so that the prayer has Jesus saying, “When you pray, say: Our loving,
heavenly Lord . . .” (SOP).7 This replacement of “Father” is not just a linguistic issue.
Rather, it strikes at the heart of our understanding of God as Father.
Former Muslim Hussein Wario confirms this understanding of rabunna:
The Qur'an has the verdict on the meaning of the Arabic word Rabbuna
which Wycliffe wants Christians to believe it has another meaning other than
"Lord." I have searched the entire Arabic Qur'an for the word and it appears 14
times and each time Islamic scholars have rendered it as "Lord." . . . Rabbuna is
found in Surah 2:139, 5:84, 7:44, 89 & 149, 20:50, 21.112, 22.40, 26:51, 34:26,
36:16, 41:14, 42:15, 46:13, 68:32.
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Further info here:
A few of the many examples where Stories of the Prophets “avoids” these terms:
• Luke 9:35 “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my
Chosen One’” (ESV) is translated as “they heard a voice from heaven saying:
‘This is the beloved Messiah’” (SOP).
• Matthew 28:19 “. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit” (ESV) is translated as “. . . baptize them with water in the
name of God and His Messiah and the Holy Spirit” (SOP).
• Luke 22:70 “So they all said, ‘Are you the Son of God, then?’” (ESV) is
translated as “Then You are the Messiah of God?” (SOP).
We contend, however, that the translator does not have the authority to
avoid/remove/replace “Father,” “Son” or “Son of God,” for any reason. The problem of
removing these terms in an audio Bible is compounded by the lack of footnotes, and
explanations in a recorded introduction can be passed over.
Further, Wycliffe’s response that “Stories of the Prophets is not a Bible” does not justify
changing the terms, and even contradicts their own description. A February 11, 2004
Powerpoint presentation by Rick Brown of SIL refers to this series as “An Audio
Panoramic Bible for the 10/40 Window.” In a May 20, 2011 email, Steve Coats,
Wycliffe/SIL staff member and President of Sabeel Media that distributes the series,
refers to it as a “non-print audio panoramic mini Bible.” Sabeel is a partner organization
to SIL (see pg. 9).
Thus, SIL plainly refers to the series as a Bible. The Bible is God’s Word given to us, whether in print, audio, or electronic media.
Wycliffe’s commitment to such translations is having a devastating effect on personnel
who believe it is wrong to remove “Father” and “Son” from Bible translations. Many of
the petition comments have sadly come from current and former Wycliffe/SIL staff,
including one couple who wrote,
There are many within Wycliffe that disagree with this practice and some
encouraging meetings took place, but unfortunately the result of those meetings
was a confirmation that this practice will continue and has been given a free reign
to move forward with the issuance of "SIL International Statement of Best
Practices for Bible Translation of Divine Familial Terms." Because of these
translation practices and the theological