WEA Panel Report to Wycliffe and SIL Regarding Translation of Divine Familial Names

Greg Strand – May 16, 2013 2 Comments

Last year Wycliffe and SIL International asked World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) to put an independent panel together to review their translation practices, particularly as it related to translating the Bible in Muslim contexts. As noted, “The review was intended to focus on SIL’s Statement of Best Practices for Bible Translation of Divine Familial Terms, to set boundaries for theologically acceptable translation methodology particularly in Muslim contexts, and to suggest how to implement the recommendations practically.” Specifically, this focused on the translation of the words for “God the Father” and “God the Son.”

The Panel completed their work by publishing their final Report on April 26. Here are some of those updates, with the third link the actual Report from the WEA Global Review Panel.

“WEA Independent Bible Translation Review Panel Concludes its Work, Issues Report with Ten Recommendations for Wycliffe and SIL” 

“Independent Bible Translation Review” 

“Report to World Evangelical Alliance for Conveyance to Wycliffe Global Alliance and SIL International” 

Here is a brief response to the Report that affirms it contains a “Needed Corrective” and also raises some “Potential Concerns”.

I am mostly encouraged by the document. For the most part, I am hopeful in the direction they are intending to move.

I raise a concern, one that I would encourage a more definitive guideline. When translating “Father” or “Son,” the Panel suggests that it the former might be rendered “heavenly Father,” “God who is Father,” or “God who is the true Father,” while the latter might be rendered “divine Son,” “eternal Son,” or “heavenly Son.” Rather than including the adjective in the actual translation of the Bible, which is not in the original text, I would recommend that they use paratextual material, i.e. side-bar notes or footnotes.

At the end of the day, accountability will be critical.

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to WEA Panel Report to Wycliffe and SIL Regarding Translation of Divine Familial Names

  1. Salaam Corniche May 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Greg, thank you for the post. I could not say a more whole-hearted AMEN to your last statement. Yet there is accountability and there is accountability. A few questions:
    1.Who will monitor organizations that are at arm’s length with WBT/SIL? The Seed Company, Kalaam Media just to name two. How do I know they are complying?
    2. An SIL Vimeo video was shown to the panelists about a mysterious language where there is reputed to be no word for son. This suggestion has been made before with Zulu, and a Pacific Island language. Why was this video shown? I believe there are still elements in SIL who will push for their Muslim Idiom agenda. Who are they accountable to?


    • Thank you for your response, Salaam. As I stated and you concurred, accountability is and will be critical.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>