Sunday, February 13, 2011

“Sonship” and “Lordship” Translation Issues

From koinonia:

The CT article The Son and the Crescent has caused quite a stir. It examined Bible translations that use a substitute for the term “son of God” to make inroads into the Muslim community.

In response Ed Stetzer looks at reasons to retain “son of God”, Trevin Wax hosts an interview with Hansen and Greear on the issues, and Daniel Kirk argues that it’s more important to insist “Jesus is Lord.”

See also Bible Translations for Muslim Readers by Vern Poythress at Mission Frontiers.

I just want to mention that Kirk’s point is just as problematic, as “Lord” is commonly used by Muslims when addressing Allah.  It is common in the Qur’an as well. I don’t know what is worse for my Muslim friends, hearing Jesus called the “Son of God” or “Lord.” Both titles are repugnant.

Andrew Walls in The Missionary Movement in Christian History (1996) indicates that the first use of “Lord” in Acts 11:20 by Jewish Christians with Greek-speaking pagans could have resulted with “the recognition of the Lord Jesus as one more cult divinity alongside the Lord Serapis or the Lord Osiris” (34). Talk about a serious translation issue in the Septuagint!  Claiming Jesus as “Lord” actually “sharpened the confrontation of early Christianity with the popular religion of the Greco-Roman world” (35). The Septuagint would certainly be labeled syncretistic by today’s standards, and yet look how it was used of God.

Communicating the “lordship” of Jesus to Muslims is perhaps an even more problematic  issue than his “sonship” because of all the different words for “Lord” in other languages (especially Arabic).

No comments: