The Wycliffe Global Alliance features a short and dramatic video by ‘One Verse’ or ‘The Seed Company’ that says in all caps:
BIBLE POVERTY IS A BIG DEAL
The music starts and it transitions to the verse from Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”
Then it says, “There are more people in the world without a single verse of Scripture than the entire population of the United States” and then compares a lack of scripture to a lack of food and water by concluding: “THIS IS BIBLE POVERTY”
The audience is encouraged to think about what it means to them and affirms that “over 7,000 people die every day without hearing the Gospel in their own language”
Then the narrator says: “BIBLE POVERTY, IT’S A BIG DEAL” and suggests that there is a simple solution “TRANSLATE GOD’S WORD INTO EVERY LANGUAGE ON THE PLANET”
Then we are told “WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE, WE NEED YOUR HELP” and “PLEASE JOIN US IN ENDING ONE OF THE GREATEST INJUSTICES TODAY’
As much as we want to rejoice with this video, we could not but help but think of the Turks, Arabs, Bengalis and Pakistanis for whom BIBLE POVERTY is a big deal. They are talking about the Bible poverty which Islamizes the “word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Let us take a closer look at the text that is mentioned above:
Jesus answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus said, “It is written,”…Writing keeps the possible distortion of an oral tradition down to a minimum. This gives the document a timelessness and the indisputable authority like an act of legislation which is committed to print. Literally we read “it stands written” meaning it has been written and is still in force.
Man shall not live by bread alone… The relative value of temporary bread and everlasting ‘bread’ or sustenance are compared and contrasted as are subsistence and real life.
but by every…A strong contrast is set up, which could read, “on the other hand” and then the particular attention to detail…”every”…or all without exception is introduced.
word… a Divine decree spoken by a living being which brings creation and its preservation and re-creation into being.
that comes from… or proceeds from within as it literally “goes out through God’s mouth”
the mouth of God …His Majesty has spoken. Each and every word of His is pronounced for a reason and reflects the Infinite Majesty of His mind.
God said verbally, in one verse at a time and one word at a time that He is Father and Jesus is Son. It is these words that give life more than bread. Now, in some places and in some translations either with the advice or aid of Wycliffe/SIL and Frontiers, the spoken and written word from His majesty for Father is rendered ‘Allah,’ ‘begetter,’ or ‘Lord,’ or ‘guardian.’ These are clearly concessions to make the Bible more palatable to Muslims.
The same is done for Son as that which has been written is rendered ‘beloved’ or ‘proxy’ or ‘Messiah.’
Those who need to hear of the majesty of the Father and the Son are being deprived of what they desperately need. As the video says in all capital letters:
THIS IS BIBLE POVERTY. ITS’S A BIG DEAL.
The video is absolutely right. Join the petition to end one of the GREATEST INJUSTICES TODAY. The video is absolutely right. Wycliffe needs to stop doing IT ALONE, and listen to the voices who are speaking. Wycliffe is right in saying “WE NEED YOUR HELP”
Biblical Missiology would be pleased if Wycliffe would extend the invitation to JOIN US to discuss concrete strategies for eliminating BIBLE POVERTY especially for those in the Muslim world.
It seems to me that more translations should include the original Greek and a literal word-for-word rendering alongside the translation. This would go a long way in providing a “richer” reading experience and help keep any given translation from being “impoverished.”