Jeff Hayes and Al-Injil: Another Mistranslation of the New Testament in Arabic Intended for “Insider Movements of Muslims” or C5 (C5/IM)

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is article also has a companion article written by Adam Simnowitz entitled, “Nine Rasons Why I Named Jeff Hayes as the Main Translator and Responsible Party for Al-Injil

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JeffhayesJeff Hayes has done it again. 1 Hayes’ indefatigable efforts to spawn multiple versions of “Muslim Idiom Translation” (MIT) 2 has resulted in yet another mistranslation of the New Testament in Arabic. It is entitled, Al-Injil (الانجيل; i.e. the Gospel).

As with most versions of MIT, the text of Al-Injil does not contain literal translations for “Father,” “Son/Son of God,” and “Son of Man,” apart from a very few occurrences. Other extreme liberties are taken with the text. These include inserting the first part of the shahāda, or Islamic confession of faith (i.e. “There is no god but God”) in more places than occur in the Qur’an; reducing the meaning of “eternal life” in John 3:16 to simply avoiding everlasting punishment; and obscuring and even eliminating the deity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in numerous passages. Examples for each of these specific mistranslations are provided through charts and commentary.

Following these examples is a section on the background to Al-Injil, which include Hayes’ own descriptions of his involvement in a number of previously-produced versions of MIT in Arabic, including:

Within this section is a lengthy quote from David Owen, with whom Hayes worked on Sirat Al-Masih, that clearly indicates that the rationale for MIT is to create so-called Insider Movements for Muslims (C5/IM). The background to Al-Injil is followed by sections on its physical appearance, some general features of the text, and a brief conclusion.

For a greater understanding of MIT the reader is referred to the following resources:

  • “Translation” page of this website (see here)
  • Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting An Islamized Gospel (or here)
  • “Muslim Idiom Translation: Assessing So-Called Scripture Translation For Muslim Audiences With A Look Into Its Origins In Eugene A. Nida’s Theories Of Dynamic Equivalence And Cultural Anthropology” (M.A. thesis by the author. This title will be hyperlinked to the paper once it is available online)

 

Specific Examples of Mistranslation in Al-Injil

  1. The first part of the Shahada 3

The first part of the Shahada, that is, the Islamic confession of faith, “There is no god but God,” and the almost identical counterpart, “There is no god but He,” occur multiple times in this publication. This is one of the Islamic features that Al-Injil shares in common with the Sharif Bible, for which Hayes had “significant input.” 4 The following chart shows a number of places where these two phrases appear in both MIT versions:

The Islamic Expression from the Qur’an Where it appears in the Sharif Bible Where it appears in Al-Injil
There is no god but God* 2 Sam 7:22; 22:32; 1 Chron 17:20; Ps. 18:31; Isa 45:14; 1 Cor 8:4; 1 Tim 2:5; James 2:19 1 Cor 8:4; 1 Tim 2:5; James 2:19
there is no god but He** Mark 12:32 Mark 12:29, 32
* Both the Sharif Bible and Al-Injil utilize this phrase more than the Qur’an! The Sharif Bible has 8 occurrences; Al-Injil has at least 3 occurrences; the Qur’an only has 2 (Sura 37:35; 47:19).

** This phrase occurs 30x in the Qur’an (Sura 2:163, 255; 3:2, 6, 18 (2x); 4:87; 6:102, 106; 7:158; 9:31, 129; 11:14; 13:30; 20:8, 98; 23:116; 27:26; 28:70, 88; 35:3; 39:6; 40:3, 62, 65; 44:8; 59:22, 23; 64:13; 73:9).

There is no textual justification in the Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts of the Old Testament, nor the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament for either of these two Islamic phrases. It is theologically reckless to give the impression that God’s inspired word, the Bible, affirms Islam. The Bible contains an exclusive message and its teaching of monotheism (i.e. there is only one God) is incompatible with the monotheism of Islam.

 

  1. “Father” in Al-Injil
Total Occurrences of “Father” in the New Testament in NA27 Total Occurrences of “Father” literally translated in Al-Injil Scripture

References

 

 

260*

 

 

4

1. John 8:19** (first occurrence)

2. John 8:41**

3. John 8:42**

4. Heb 1:5***

* This number is based on the chart created by the author found here.

** To find the corresponding verses in Al-Injil for John 8 one must subtract 11 from the above references as the story of the woman caught in adultery is not included (v. 19 = v. 8; v. 41 = v. 30; v. 42 = v. 31).

*** The non-literal rendering of “king” is inserted prior to the literal translation for “Father.” It reads: “I the king will be a father to him.”

Almost all of the non-literal renderings for “Father ” are rendered as “king.” There are 3 places where “Father” is omitted: Matt 6:6 (first occurrence), 18 (second occurrence) and Mark 11:25. There are also only 3 times in which “king” appears without additional wording: John 5:22, 23 (first occurrence), and 2 Cor 6:18.

The insertion of descriptive words not found in the Greek text of the New Testament for the rendering of “Father” is one of its distinctive features. The two most frequent non-literal renderings for “Father” are variations of “the merciful king” (al-malik al-raḥmān; الملك الرحمن) and “the friendly king.” (al-malik al-wadūd; الملك الودود). There seems to be no determining factor as to when “Father” is rendered “merciful king” or “friendly king.” The chart below gives 21 examples indicating this bewildering lack of uniformity. This lack of uniformity is a feature that Al-Injil has in common with Sirat Al-Masih, 5 one of the MIT versions for which Hayes had “significant input”: 6

Selected Non-Literal Renderings

for “Father” in Al-Injil

Scripture

References

1. Your merciful king Matt 5:16; 6:8; 10:20; Luke 6:36; 12:30
2. The merciful king Matt 28:19; Mark 13:32; Luke 9:26;

John 1:18; Acts 2:33; Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph 2:18; Phil 2:11; Col 1:12;

1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; James 1:27; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 John 1:2, 2 John 1:3; Jude 1

Rev 14:1

3. Your merciful king who is in the heavens Matt 5:48; 6:1; 7:11; 18:14; Mark 11:26
4. Oh God, oh merciful king who is in the heavens Matt 6:9
5. Your merciful, hidden king Matt 6:4, 6 (second occurrence), 18 (first occurrence)
6. My friendly king who is in the heavens Matt 7:21; 10:32; 12:50; 16:17; 18:10
7. The friendly king Matthew 22:29; John 3:35; Acts 1:4;

Gal 1:1; 1 John 2:22

8. My friendly king the exalted Matt 15:13; 18:35
9. Oh friendly [one]! Oh my beloved king Mark 14:36
10. The merciful, glorious king John 1:14; 2 Pet 1:17
11. My friendly king, my ruler John 5:17
12. The living king John 5:26
13. Oh friendly king, the answerer John 11:41
14. Oh loving, glorious king John 12:28
15. The merciful king, the giver John 14:16
16. Oh friendly, majestic king John 17:1, 5
17. Oh friendly [one]! Oh merciful king Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6
18. The friendly, glorious king Rom 15:6; Eph 1:17
19. Our Lord the merciful king 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2;

Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thes 1:3; 2 Thess 1:1; Philem 1:3

20. The merciful, kind king and Lord of all comfort 2 Cor 1:3
21. The merciful king, the Creator of our spirits Heb 12:9

 

The following are examples of how “Father” is non-literally rendered by wording other than “king”:

Selected Non-Literal Renderings

for “Father” in Al-Injil without “king”

Scripture

References

1. He commands me John 14:31 (second occurrence)
2. Next to him John 15:26 (second occurrence)
3. The exalted [one], light of the heavens James 1:17
4. The merciful [one] 1 John 4:14

 

One of the greatest problems with rendering “Father” as “king” is that the New Testament clearly refers to Jesus as “king” in numerous places. For instance, Jesus is explicitly referred to as “King of Kings” in 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14 and 19:16. All of these occurrences are literally translated in Al-Injil. If Jesus is “the king’s beloved prince” how can He also be “King of Kings”? The reader is left with a confused message that fails to maintain the proper, triune distinctions within God’s eternal nature had “Father” and “Son” terminology been literally translated. Literal translations of this key terminology are the only safeguard against such errors.

 

  1. “Son” in Al-Injil
Total Occurrences of “Son” in the New Testament in NA27 Total Occurrences of “Son” literally translated in Al-Injil Scripture

References

 

 

79*

 

 

5

1. Matt 1:21

2. Matt 1:23

3. Matt 1:25

4. John 8:36**

5. Heb 1:5***

* This number is based on the chart created by the author found here.

** To find the corresponding verses in Al-Injil for John 8 one must subtract 11 from the above references as the story of the woman caught in adultery is not included (v. 36 = v. 25).

*** The non-literal rendering of “prince” is inserted prior to the literal translation for “Son.” It reads: “the prince, a son to me”

Almost all of the non-literal renderings for “Son” are rendered as “beloved prince.” The insertion of the adjective, “beloved,” is in keeping with additional liberties seen above for the rendering of “Father” (i.e. the insertion of unnecessary words not found in the Greek text of the New Testament manuscripts).

The use of “prince” is the same word used in place of “Son” (and “Son of God”) in the “Shellabear Revision,” a Malaysian MIT. 7 The use of the adjective, “beloved,” is also a distinctive feature of The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ (see here), for which Hayes had “significant input.” 8

The following chart shows where “Son” is not just rendered as “beloved prince”:

Non-Literal Renderings for

“Son” in Al-Injil without “beloved prince”

Scripture

References

1. the prince John 5:19, 22, 23
2. the prince, the beloved of God Mark 14:61; Luke 1:32; 1 John 5:10
3. the prince, the beloved of the merciful king 2 John 1:3

 

  1. “Son of God” in Al-Injil
Total Occurrences of “Son of God” in the New Testament in NA27 in reference to Jesus Total Occurrences of “Son of God” literally translated in Al-Injil Scripture

References

 

45*

 

0

 

N/A

 

* This number is based on the chart created by the author found here.

Almost all of the non-literal renderings for “Son of God” are rendered as “the prince, the beloved of God.” The chart below lists the 10 exceptions to this. As seen above with the non-literal renderings for “Son,” the use of the adjective, “beloved,” is also a distinctive feature of The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ (see here), for which Hayes had “significant input.” 9

Non-Literal Renderings

for “Son of God” in Al-Injil without

“the prince, the beloved of God “

Scripture

References

1. this one is from God Matt 27:54
2. omitted Mark 1:1
3. this man is from God Mark 15:39
4. the expected king, the chosen of God John 1:34; 20:31
5. the beloved prince Rom 1:4; 1 John 3:8; 4:15: 5:12
6. his beloved prince 1 John 5:20

The rendering for “son of God” in Luke 3:38 is non-literal 10. Instead of “Adam, son of God,” it reads:

Adam, a creation of God

This rendering is very similar to that of The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ for which Hayes had “significant input” 11 and the Urbed (or, Bedouin) version of LoP/SoP for which Hayes’ had “majority input”: 12

MIT Title* Renderings for “Adam, son of God”

in Luke 3:38

The Life of Jesus from LoP/SoP, Urbed Adam whom God created
The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ Adam whom God created
* This chart is modified from Simnowitz, Muslim Idiom Translation, 85.

 

  1. “Son of Man” in Al-Injil
Total Occurrences of “Son of Man” in the New Testament in the NIV (1984)* Total Occurrences of “Son of Man” literally translated in Al-Injil Scripture

References

 

86**

 

1

 

Heb 2:6**

 

* The occurrences of “Son of Man” correspond exactly to those in the NIV 1984.

** This verse is a quote from Psalm 8:4. It literally reads, “son of Adam” (the meaning of “Adam” is “man”).

With two exceptions, “Son of Man” is rendered as “master of humanity.” This is the exact wording used in The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ (see here) for which Hayes had “significant input.” 13 The two exceptions are Matthew 26: 24 (second occurrence) and Mark 14:21 (second occurrence). In both instances, the pronoun “his” is used in place of “Son of Man.”

 

  1. John 3:16 in Al-Injil

و احب الله العالمين حباً عظيماً، فضحى باميره الحبيب الفريد، ليفدي من عذاب الخلد كل متوكل عليه و يهبه حياة الخلد.

God loved the worlds with a great love that he sacrificed his unique, beloved prince to redeem from the torment of eternity all who rely upon him and he gives them life [in]eternity.

This rendering poses a number of thorny linguistic and theological issues. As extreme liberties have been taken in the renderings for “Father,” “Son,” “Son of God,” and “Son of Man,” extreme liberties have also been taken with this verse. Several words in the Greek text are changed with very daring non-literal renderings that move the text closer to the teachings of Islam. The following chart shows some of these difficulties:

Selected Non-literal Renderings

from

John 3:16

in Al-Injil

Selected Literal Renderings

from

John 3:16

Comments
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

worlds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

world

An Arabic speaker’s understanding of this verse, including Muslims, would not be affected by the use of the singular. The use of the plural needlessly discards the Greek text in favor of borrowing quranic terminology as the Qur’an does not use the singular for this word.

 

It also presents a theological problem. Upon a former Muslim reading this verse in the presence of the author of this article, this believer asked out loud if “worlds” meant that the jinn were included within the meaning of this verse. Islamic belief holds that jinn are a created order of spirit beings that can either be good or evil and manipulated towards either end. The latter results in much occult activity and superstitious beliefs. This well illustrates one of the dangers of “contextualizing” Scripture instead of faithfully translating its text. The Bible is divinely inspired and is meant to be faithfully translated. It is not to be rendered in ways that accommodate other religions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sacrificed

 

 

 

 

 

 

gave

An Arabic speaker’s understanding of this verse, including Muslims, would not be affected by the use of “gave.” Although this non-literal rendering does not greatly affect the immediate meaning of this verse, it implies that the translator is the authority and not the text.

 

Substituting “sacrificed” for “gave” needlessly discards the Greek text as if the verbal inspiration of Scripture did not exist. It also keeps the reader from appreciating the verbal consistency in the Greek text. Understanding the verbal consistency of scriptural terminology is essential for a proper understanding of its text.

 

 

beloved

 

 

n/a

The insertion of this adjective is tied to the use of “prince” in place of “Son.” It is textually and linguistically unjustified. This verse is understandable without the use this additional word. The translator has usurped the authority that belongs only to the text.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

prince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Son

The Greek text of the New Testament contains the same words for “Father” in reference to God and “Son” in reference to Jesus as is used of human fathers and sons. To render these terms otherwise is textually and linguistically unjustified.

 

The teaching that God’s eternal nature has plurality within itself and is lovingly relational is primarily understood through the use of Father and Son terminology. These terms are presented in Scripture as reciprocal terms (i.e. one cannot exist without the other). The 384 occurrences of Father, Son, and Son of God in the Greek text of the New Testament is one of the distinctive features of the Gospel, or message of the Bible. Non-literal renderings for this key terminology do not merely obscure, but pervert the message of the Bible. It becomes a different Gospel (Gal 1:6-9).

 

The Islamic misunderstanding that “Son of God” implies physical procreation between God and Mary does not justify changing this terminology. The Old and New Testaments provide us with enough of a context to understand that Father and Son terminology do not refer to any kind of physical procreation (it rather points to the fact that human fathers and sons, even the very institution of the family has its source in the eternal nature of God being Father, Son, and Spirit).

 

To use non-literal renderings for this key terminology implies that Muslims are unable to understand words in context. It also provides Muslims with “proof” that “Christians” have changed the text of Scripture.

 

 

redeem

 

 

n/a

The insertion of this word is textually and linguistically unjustified. This verse is understandable without the use this additional word. The translator has usurped the authority that belongs only to the text.
rely upon believe An Arabic speaker’s understanding of this verse, including Muslims, would not be affected by the use of “believe.” Although this non-literal rendering does not greatly affect the immediate meaning of this verse, it implies that the translator is the authority and not the text.

 

Substituting “rely upon” for “believe” needlessly discards the Greek text as if the verbal inspiration of Scripture did not exist. It also keeps the reader from appreciating the verbal consistency in the Greek text. Understanding the verbal consistency of scriptural terminology is essential for a proper understanding of its text.

 

 

 

torment of eternity and

life [in]eternity

 

 

 

not perish

and

eternal life

These changes reduce eternal life to freedom from punishment in the afterlife, which while true, is only part of eternal life. The teaching of this verse is that eternal life is received upon believing in God’s Son, Jesus. Salvation from sin is not merely “going to Heaven” and not suffering in Hell, but entering into an immediate and intimate relationship with God. This rendering is very similar to how “eternal life” is rendered in The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ (see here) for which Hayes had “significant input.” 14

 

  1. John 1:1 in Al-Injil

في الازل كانت الكلمة. و كانت الكلمة عند الله. و الكلمة هي ذات الله.

In eternity was the word. And the word was with God. And the word is the essence of God (or, that selfsame God).

 

Selected words

from

John 1:1

in Al-Injil

Comments
 

 

eternity

This verse can be understood by all Arabic speakers, including Muslims, with a literal translation of the word, “beginning.” The substitution of “eternity” for “beginning” eliminates the explicit reference to Genesis 1:1. The translator has usurped the authority that belongs only to the text. In so doing, he has obscured one of the most important cross-references in the Bible.
 

 

 

 

was

The feminine past tense for the verb, “to be,” is used. This is because the word for, “word,” is a feminine noun in Arabic. According to the rules of Arabic grammar, when accompanied by verbs it should be conjugated by the third person, feminine, singular. In the long tradition of Scripture translations into Arabic, however, this verse has been rendered by use of the third person, masculine, singular conjugation of “to be” in this verse. The reasoning behind this tradition is this: because “word” refers to Jesus, masculine pronouns must be used.
 

 

is

This verse does not contain the present tense of the verb “to be” in the Greek text. It can be understood by all Arabic speakers, including Muslims, with the past tense. The translator has usurped the authority that belongs only to the text.
 

essence

or,

selfsame

The insertion of the word, “essence,” is unnecessary for an Arabic speaker, including Muslims, to understand this verse. This same insertion is also found in the Sharif Bible and The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ. Hayes had “significant input” for both of them. 15

 

  1. Hebrews 1:8 in Al-Injil

لكنه خاطب الامير الحبيب قائلاً: عرشك قائم عند الله الى ابد الابدين، و صولجان ملكوتك صولجان الاستقامة.

However, he addresses the beloved prince, saying: your throne stands with God for ever and ever, and the scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.

Selected phrase

from

Hebrews 1:8

literally

translated

Selected phrase

from

Hebrews 1:8

in Al-Injil

mistranslated

Comments
 

 

Your throne, O God is forever and ever

 

 

 

your throne stands with God

for ever and ever

The rendering of this verse is simply inexcusable and unjustified on textual and linguistic grounds. Since this verse is quoting from Psalm 45:6, it also implies that this is how the Hebrew should be rendered. It is evident that there is a clear agenda to obscure Jesus’ deity in this verse.

This rendering in Hebrews 1:8 is very similar to the Greek-Balochi New Testament, another MIT, that was led by Tim Farrell of Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL (WBT-SIL). 16 In this publication, the phrase under consideration reads:

God has established your kingdom forever…

It is shameful that professing evangelicals would render this verse that is more in keeping with the New World Translation (2013) of the Watchtower Society (i.e. the Jehovah’s Witnesses) which reads:

God is your throne forever and ever…

As with the Greek-Balochi New Testament as well as the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the rendering of Hebrews 1:8 in Al-Injil is a clear example of the willful removal of one of the most explicit references to Jesus’ deity in the Bible.

  1. Mistranslating “God our Father” through the insertion of “Lord” in contrast to Jesus Christ as “master” in Al-Injil

One of the most shocking features of Al-Injil is the avoidance of using al-rabb (الرب ; the Lord) in reference to Jesus. This is in keeping with the Sharif Bible and The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, for which Hayes had “significant input” for both of them. 17 It is also in keeping with what Larry Ciccarelli wrote, of WBT-SIL, who collaborated with Hayes on The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, 18 under the pseudonym of “Leith Gray” along with his wife, Andrea: 19

As for the messianic title “Lord,” one of the most common of the titles for the promised Messiah, its traditionally translated form has created significant offense and confusion among Muslim audiences. Many translations do not distinguish between the Greek word kurious as referring to YHWH and “the kurios” as referring to the Messiah, even though the Greek itself very consistently makes distinctions in usage (as do ancient translations such as Syriac). As a result, some Muslims understand the title to mean “the deity Jesus,” and that the Bible is declaring the existence of Jesus as another God besides God the Father. Others take it to mean that Jesus is the same being as the Father. This has been corrected in a recent Muslim-sensitive translation of the Bible, The Noble Book (Al-Kitaab al- Shareef ) [i.e. the Sharif Bible], which uses the term as-sayyid (the master) when “the kurios” is found as a title for the Messiah, and Allah when the the [sic]Greek kurios is referring to God. 20

Al-Injil uses such terms as “sayyid” and various forms of “mawlā” for Jesus. The first term is often rendered into English as “master” or “mister” while the latter one is often rendered as “master,” “lord,” or “patron.” As if abandoning al-rabb were not enough, Hayes goes even further by creating an artificial distinction between God being al-rabb and Jesus not being al-rabb. This is done through the insertion of al-rabb in reference to God that is not in the Greek text of the New Testament but where kurios is used in reference to Jesus. The following chart gives several examples of this:

The Rendering

in the

New American Standard Bible

The Rendering

in

Al-Injil

Verse References
God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ God, the merciful king and from our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ Rom 1:7
God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Lord (al-rabb) the merciful king and from our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ 1 Cor 1:3

2 Cor 1:2

Gal 1:3

Eph 1:2

Phil 1:2

2 Thess 1:1

Philem 3

the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ The friendly, glorious king, Lord (al-rabb) of our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ Rom 15:6
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ The friendly king, Lord (al-rabb) of our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ 2 Cor 1:3

Eph 1:3

1 Peter 1:3

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ God, the friendly king, Lord (al-rabb) of our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ Col 1:3
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory The friendly, glorious king, Lord (al-rabb) of our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ Eph 1:17
the God and Father of the Lord Jesus God, the friendly king, Lord (al-rabb) of our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ 2 Cor 11:31
our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of God the Father our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ before our Lord (al-rabb) the merciful king 1 Thes 1:3
our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord our Lord (al-rabb) the merciful king and our master (mawlānā) Jesus 1 Thes 3:11
our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus our Lord (al-rabb) the merciful king at the coming of our master (mawlānā) Jesus 1 Thes 3:13
God our Father our Lord (al-rabb) the merciful king and from our master (mawlānā) Jesus Christ Col 1:2

 

In the long tradition of translating Scripture into Arabic, al-rabb (الرب ; the Lord) has been used to render the divine name in Hebrew, YHWH (or, Yahweh). It is also used to render the Greek word, kurios, in the New Testament when referring to Jesus as Lord. The New Testament use of kurios for Jesus is a clear identification of Him with Yahweh as this is the same word used for Yahweh in in the Septuagint, i.e. the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament that was used by Jews prior to, during, and after the First Century AD.

Another clear identification of Jesus with Yahweh in the New Testament is through the application of Old Testament quotes to Him:

  • all of the “I am” sayings in John, especially John 8:24, 28, 58
  • Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 with Joel 2:32
  • John 12:39-41 contains a quote from Isaiah 6:10 attributing Isaiah’s vision of Yahweh as identical to seeing Jesus’ glory and Jesus Himself
  • Romans 14:9-12 and Philippians 2:10-11 with Isaiah 45:21-25

It is bewildering why any true believer in Jesus would seek (or appear to seek) to obscure, suppress, or eliminate Jesus’ deity in any way. Salvation is dependent on the reality of the Incarnation, i.e. God became man (e.g. John 1:1, 14). Without the Incarnation, Jesus’ death on the cross would not atone for sin as Jesus would have no authority to forgive sins. He would not be the ladder or stairway that reaches from heaven to earth making it possible for people to have direct access to God (John 1:51 with Genesis 28:12-13). He would not be the answer to Job’s anguished cry for a Mediator who could “lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33), that is, One who could make it possible for him as a sinner to approach God who is holy (see Job 9:27-35).

The deity and Incarnation of Jesus Christ are joyful boasts of every true Christian. It is part of the “great…mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16). This is why Jesus can save everyone who calls on His name (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32). Any so-called translation of Scripture that obscures Jesus’ deity, regardless of motive, is a mistranslation. It poses a hindrance to saving faith in Jesus Christ, which all people need, including Muslims. As Jesus said, “unless you believe that I am [i.e. Yahweh – see Exodus 3:14], you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

 

Background to Al-Injil

To better understand the rationale and immediate history behind this MIT, we must look to a file created by Hayes in September 2004. Its title is, “Current Status of Arabic Scriptures with special emphasis on applicability to Insider Movements of Muslims.” This file was included with a number of other files on an unmarked CD-Rom. Hayes distributed this disc at the Common Ground conference that took place from January 21-24th, 2008, at Central Christian Church (Central Mesa Campus), 933 N Lindsay Rd, Mesa, AZ 85213.

Hayes wrote that he had “significant input” for the following MIT versions:

[The bullet points, hyperlinks, and pictures have been added by the author of this article and are not part of Hayes’ file. Quotation marks are used to provide extra clarity for the reader to readily distinguish Hayes words from the supplemental material.]

SiratAlMasih“Sirat Almaseeh (The life of the Messiah) translated by David Owen (American) and Adnan Baidun (Palestinian), 1987. Chronological harmony of the Gospels. Very Muslim. Language is beautiful, but is less so in the last half (Adnan was not as closely involved). Has missing verses, mistakes, and some added Koranic phrases. Style is rhymed prose suitable for chanting (like Koran). Uses not only Muslim names but has adapted to insider theological thinking patterns. Has been used in several insider movements around the world in the form of a diglot (local language + Arabic) by Milton Coke (driving force behind the largest Muslim insider movement in the world). Available digitally, but some copyright problems due to David Owen withdrawing previously given permission. Appropriate as a starting point for an insider movement.”

 

AlKitabAlSharif“Alkitaab Alsharif (honorable book) translated by Subhi Malik (Egyptian) (AOG). NT 1990? Bible 1999? Only translation in print that is intended for Muslims. Language is VERY simple – intended for barely literate. Mazhar Mallouhi (see below) says it reads like a translation done by a Westerner. Clearer meaning but not beautiful. Uses Muslim names, but otherwise has not adapted to Muslim audiences. Best option in print [for an insider movememt [sic]].”

 

TheTrueMeaningoftheGospelofChrist“Gospels plus Acts (in beginning stages) (organized by MM)” [i.e. Mazhar Mallouhi)

 

Hayes also wrote that he had “majority input” on the following MIT versions for which he gives the following descriptions:

“Al-Sabeel (The Path) revision of above based on suggestions by Lebanon group, 2004. Vocabulary altered to be more insider. Changes solve copyright problems. Digital. To be used in diglots in insider movements who have already started translation. Appropriate as a starting point for an insider movement.”

“Al-Siraat (the Way) major revision of Sirat to reflect insider movement terminology in insider movement in Southern Lebanon (expected 2004) – will include Acts 1-2 and be more faithful to content of the gospels. Being done digitally by Lebanese MB,; needs grammatical and stylistic revision (to be done). Appropriate as a starting point for an insider movement.”

GospelofLuke“Gospel of Luke (J, R, L), 1995. Islamic in style (has both a rhymed and de-rhymed version), vocabulary, and insider theology. Wycliffe [i.e. Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL] is using this as the basis for their spoken Arabic translations. Appropriate as a starting point for an insider movement.” [This production is the basis for the life of Jesus in the “audio panoramic Bible” produced by WBT-SIL, “Lives of the Prophets/Stories of the Prophets” (LoP/SoP), of which there are many versions. The picture has been added by the author of this article.]

“Mark, Matthew, John, Acts (so far – whole NT planned). (Jeff Hayes). As above. Appropriate for an insider movement.” [NT = New Testament. This is referring to Al-Injil. This explanatory comment is from the author of this article.]

 

MIT Is Necessary for C5/IM

The latter description about the “whole NT planned” refers to Al-Injil. It is important to point out that Hayes sees a direct correlation between the wording of Scripture translations and so-called Scripture translations and C5/IM. This is in agreement with David Owen, with whom Hayes’ collaborated on Sirat Al-Masih, arguably the first MIT, 21 by providing “significant input” (see above description). In the article, “A Jesus Movement Within Islam,” published in 1991, Owen wrote:

It is a necessary requirement that Islamic-styled Bible translations be produced in order for a Jesus movement in an Islamic context [i.e. C5/IM] to ever get off the ground. Bibles employing either ecclesiastical language or a so-called “neutral” style vocabulary (neither ecclesiastical nor Islamic) will not be adequate. It is also inconceivable that, as is the practice of some more innovative mission groups, Islamic terminology would be used to draw a Muslim to the point of conversion, but then the arduous task of discipleship would begin using ecclesiastical or neutral language. The two obvious problems with this method are: first, there would be no biblical text synchronized to support the oral witness; second, upon becoming a believer, there would be a total semantic disorientation.

Bible translators will play a foundational role in the initial stages of a Haraka lsawiyya [i.e. “Jesus movement,” or, C5/IM]. In carrying out their task they will also take a consolidating step in the work of re-theologizing the Christian message within their particular context. The culturally bound confessions of Nicea and Chalcedon will not prove to be an adequate theological support for the Body of Christ in a Muslim context. New “councils” will have to be called by those involved in the Jesus movement to hammer out new and more appropriate statements of faith.

But this cannot be done apart from Scripture itself. From Scripture will arise all forms of discipleship, worship and witness that will enable a fledgling Jesus movement to be a permeating yeast in Islamic society. The use of traditional ecclesiastical language, or even a neutral approach, WILL NOT support a Jesus movement. If these traditional styles continue to be used, those with conversion experiences will quickly be isolated from their society with no avenues for growth and continued witness within their own society. [Owen, A Jesus Movement, 17-18]

Physical Description of Al-Injil

The book is designed to look like a Qur’an. It has a green, hard cover, with Arabic calligraphy on the front and back covers as well as the spine. The page edges are embossed in gold color to give it an overall, exquisite appearance. It measures approximately 8” x 5.5” (20 cm x 14 cm) and about 1.5” (3.5 cm) thick.

The paper used is of a very heavy stock such as is found in more fancifully produced Qur’ans. It weighs over 2 pounds (~ 1 kilo). It consists of 683 numbered pages with some additional unnumbered pages in both the front and back of the book. The first 4 pages have the typical, colored borders surrounding the text found in many Qur’ans.

Publication Information for Al-Injil

The only publisher information given within its pages is that it is owned by “Dar Al-‘Ilm,” with the Islamic calendar date of 1434 AH which corresponds to any time between November 15, 2012 and November 3, 2013.

The Table of Contents in Al-Injil

The Table of Contents is placed in the back of the book. This is the traditional order for books written in Arabic but not for most Bibles.

Personal Names of the Books, Letters, and Persons

The names of the books and letters use a combination of unique and traditional spellings. For instance, the traditional spellings for Matthew, Mark, and Luke are employed while John is slightly altered from yūḥannā (يوحنا) to yuḥanná (يحنى). Sometimes completely different names are given to a book or letter, such as the quranic word for Jesus’ disciples, al-ḥawārīyūn (الحواريون) for the book of Acts rather than ‘amāl al-rusul ( اعمال الرسل; i.e. the Acts of the Apostles), or banū isrā’īl (بنو اسرائيل ; i.e. sons of Israel) for the letter to the Hebrews rather than al-risālah ilā al-‘ibrānīyīn (الرسالة الى العبرانيين ; i.e. the letter to the Hebrews). As to be expected in a MIT, the quranic spelling for Jesus, ‘aīsā is employed rather than yasū’a, the traditional, more accurate transliteration from the Greek.

Chapter and Verse Numbers in Al-Injil, the “shorter ending” of Mark and the woman caught in adultery

The format for verse numbering in the Qur’an is used. The verse number is placed after the verse (rather than preceding it as in most Bibles). The verse numbers are set within a colored, ornamented “circle” found in various printings of the Qur’an. The word for “chapter” differs from the traditional word used in most Arabic Bibles (aṣḥāḥ). The word, “bāb” is instead employed along with the spelling for ordinal numbers. No numerals are used in conjunction with the chapter numbers.

Evoking memories of the original publication of the Revised Standard Version (RSV), Mark 16 only contains the first 8 verses instead of 20 (known as the “shorter ending”) and the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) is excluded. No indications are given that these two passages have not been included or to the textual issues surrounding them. This is especially problematic for John 8 as the verse numbering is completely reconfigured. What is John 8:1 in Al-Injil is John 8:12 in traditional verse numbering for this chapter. For each of the 48 verses in this chapter, one must add 11 to find the corresponding verse in other versions.

Islamic Introduction & Conclusion in Al-Injil

On the first page, facing the title page, as well as at the start of the book of Mathew, is the Islamic phrase, “bismillāh al-raḥmān al-raḥīm” ( i.e. in the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate), in Arabic calligraphy. This phrase also appears at the beginning of each book or letter in a different type of calligraphy, the kind used in the Qur’an at the start of most of its chapters.

At the end of the book are three unnumbered pages. The first of these faces the last page of the book of Revelation. It has the Islamic phrase used after the reading of any part of the Qur’an, ṣadaqa allah al-aẓīm (God, the great, has spoken the truth). The second consists of the Table of Contents (see next section). The last of these pages contains the bismillah in the same Arabic calligraphy at the beginning of each book or letter along with the following statement:

With the help of God, the exalted, the translation of this unique copy of the Gospel was completed from the manuscript of the Gospel which [dates]back to the third century before the Hijra 22 and God has preserved it in the lands of the Arab.

God is the granter of success.

Conclusion

Al-Injil is not merely a bad translation but a willful mistranslation of Scripture. As seen in the representative examples given in this article, there is no textual or linguistic justification for the extreme liberties taken in it. It is clear from Hayes’ own writings that Al-Injil, as with many of his previous efforts, is for the purpose of effecting or helping “Insider Movements of Muslims” (i.e. C5/IM). It is this unbiblical agenda that has driven the wording for this book. Rather than helping Muslims better understand the Gospel, Al-Injil presents a “different Gospel” (Gal 1:6). For this reason the Apostle Paul’s warning to the Galatians, by inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit, is applicable:

…only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Gal 1:7-9)

Such a condemnation is indeed tragic but deserved. May there be repentance by all those involved in the production of Al-Injil, an immediate halt to its distribution in all forms and formats, and a destruction of their existing copies. The honor and glory of “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) who is the eternal Son of God (Heb 7:3) as well as love of neighbor as oneself deserves and demands no less.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is article also has a companion article written by Adam Simnowitz entitled, “Nine Rasons Why I Named Jeff Hayes as the Main Translator and Responsible Party for Al-Injil

Notes:

  1. Hayes has been a long time missionary with The Navigators. As of November 26, 2013, in a phone call to The Navigators’ headquarters, “Heidi” confirmed that Hayes’ was “on staff” which is how their missionaries are described. According to his LinkedIn profile, Hayes has been a “consultant” with Common Ground Consultants since 2003 (LinkedIn Profile). He has his own translation company, “Hayes Consulting & Translating Corp.” Hayes is also part of the Trac5 “Leadership Summit – Speakers (http://www.trac5.org/leadershipsummit_speakers.php).
  2. a.k.a. Scripture translation for Muslim audiences; contextualized translation; transformational translation; heart language translation; meaning-based translation, ad nauseum.
  3. For the majority of this section, the author of this article has relied upon previously-written material, with some modifications from his thesis: Adam Simnowitz, “Muslim Idiom Translation: Assessing So-Called Scripture Translation For Muslim Audiences With A Look Into Its Origins In Eugene A. Nida’s Theories Of Dynamic Equivalence And Cultural Anthropology” (M.A. thesis, Columbia International University, 2015), 95-96.
  4. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  5. Simnowitz, Muslim Idiom Translation, 72
  6. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  7. Joshua Lingel, ed., et. al., Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting an Islamized Gospel, (Garden Grove, Calif.: i2 Ministries, Inc., 2011), 169-171.
  8. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  9. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  10. this occurrence of “son of God” is the only time that this phrase is not used of Jesus in the New Testament. Technically, the phrase itself does not appear in the Greek text but is understood from verse 23. The genealogy is written as a long, genitive, or possessive construction
  11. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  12. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  13. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  14. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  15. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  16. Simnowitz, Muslim Idiom Translation, 70-71.
  17. See section below, “Background to Al-Injil.”
  18. Simnowitz, Muslim Idiom Translation, 69
  19. According to Michael Marlowe, “Leith Gray” is a pseudonym for “Larry Ciccarelli.” See Michael Marlowe, “Notes to Against the Theory of ‘Dynamic Equivalence’,” Chapter 6, note 4; and Chapter 10, note 13, last modified January 2012, accessed September 12, 2015, http://www.bible-researcher.com/dynamic.equivalence.notes.html.
  20. Leith Gray and Andrea Gray, “A Muslim Encounters the Gospel of Mark: Theological Implications of Contextual Mismatch,” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 25, no. 3 (Fall 2008):128.
  21. Simnowitz, “Muslim Idiom Translation, 18-19.
  22. i.e. A.D. 622; according to the traditional Islamic narrative of Muhammad’s life, this is the year when Muhammad is said to have “emigrated” from Mecca to Medina.
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About Author

Adam Simnowitz is a minister with the Assemblies of God. He lives in Dearborn, MI. He recently completed his M.A. thesis, "Muslim Idiom Translation: Assessing So-Called Scripture Translation For Muslim Audiences With A Look Into Its Origins In Eugene A. Nida's Theories Of Dynamic Equivalence And Cultural Anthropology." He was one of the contributing authors to the adopted Assemblies of God paper, "The Necessity for Retaining Father and Son Terminology in Scripture Translations for Muslims," from which this paper is partially drawn (http://fatherson.ag.org/).

2 Comments

  1. Adam Simnowitz on

    Pierre, it would not surprise me if some of The Navigators’ leadership is unaware of these features. How many of them can read Arabic? This is one of the ways in which MIT has been able to “fly under the radar.” At the same time, native speakers of the languages of a given MIT assume that there is full knowledge by these leaders regarding these inexcusable renderings. People keep thinking that “heart language” means a person’s native language, when in fact it is being used by MIT proponents to alter the Gospel via “translation” into an Islamic message.

  2. Pierre Houssney on

    It’s sad to see something like this happening within Navigators, such a great organization with a richly biblical history.

    I hope and pray that the leadership of Navigators will put a stop to this mistranslation and others like it!

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