<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/tduguma/" target="_self">Tekalign Duguma</a>

Tekalign Duguma

I was born in 1979 in West shoa zone in Ethiopia. I was atheist until August 15, 2003 but I became a Christian on August 2003. From September 2003 up to now, I am serving the Lord in the church of the Nazarene Horn of Africa Field as Literature Coordinator, Bible School Teacher and as book Translator. In addition, I was ordained as elder of the Church (Rev.) of the Nazarene on October 2008. I graduated from Evangelical Theological College in June 2010 with Bible Transition as Major. Currently, I am first year Master of Biblical and Theological Studies at Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology.

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Foibled, you cry “straw man” in regards to the phrase “Muslim Friendly” and then raise your own “straw man” when you claim that others “make it sound like any bad translation will do.” This is a claim that no one has made.
    Let’s first examine your claim that “Muslim Friendly” is a phrase that is being used as a “Straw Man” as opposed to being a real and legitimate concern that people have with these new translations. First, these translations are technically known as “Muslim Idiomatic Translations” or MIT’s and “Muslim Friendly” is a very good non-technical description of an MIT. Second, these new translations are primarily being used by “insider” proponents who teach that Muslims who come into the kingdom of God should remain Muslims. Third, these new versions are used precisely because they are friendlier to the Muslim ear and can be more easily incorporated into the Muslim worship experience. I believe that for most who oppose the “insider movement,” it is the syncretism that is most troubling and that is what people are trying to convey with the phrase “Muslim Friendly;” these new translations are simply one of the many ways this syncretism is being expressed.
    Now let’s look at the “straw man” you have raised by claiming that other believe that “any bad translation will do.” If that is truly what people believed then there would be no opposition to MIT’s; people oppose these translations precisely because they believe them to be bad translations and want the people to have translations that more accurately convey the word of God into their native language. In other words, they want precisely the opposite of what you have claimed.

  2. Avatar

    Foibled, you’re are correct in saying that no other person can know what motivates a translator to produce a translation that is contextualized in the way that MIT’s have been, but not knowing the motivation of the translators is not a reason to refrain from rejecting their work. The motivation of the translator for producing an MIT does not make the MIT translation any more “right.” I personally have a friend that I have known for many years who is one of the leading advocates for “insider missions.” He is a warm, loving, and caring individual who has a passion for the Muslim people; however, the ministry choices he has made to reach Muslim’s are wrong and unbiblical. Knowing him, I struggle to understand his motivation for making the compromises that he has made, but that doesn’t make his compromises any less serious. I may not understand why he is doing what he is doing, but I do understand that what he is doing is wrong. Very consistently I have seen insider proponents try to blur the distinction between judging a person’s actions and judging their heart. We all need to recognize that only God can judge a person’s heart, but we also need to recognize that Scripture calls us all to recognize sin and lovingly confront it when it arises in the body of Christ.

  3. Avatar

    Carl Medearis is right when he says that “muslim-friendly” translations is almost always a straw man. It amounts to “I don’t like your method, so even though you are a brother in Christ I will tell the world what your motives are without any reference to what they actually are.” What if those of us on the other side said did the same to you and said that your motives were to obscure the Bible message? The words “muslim-friendly” imply a motive on the part of the translator, and they therefore have not part in debate conducted between brothers in Christ, unless the translators themselves have so identified their translation.

  4. Avatar

    In reply to John Span, I agree with you that a “reader-friendly” translation cannot undo “by some miraculous method, the rebellion in the human heart against the Sovereignty of Jesus.”

    You wrote that a someone did not read the Bible because he understood it. I would like to dig into that. Did someone verify that he really understood it? In many cases, people claim to understand the Bible, but they do not understand it in reality. Then they develop objections based on their false understanding.

    I am in Bible translation. We recognize (at least most of us) that the job of the translator is not the job of the Holy Spirit. However, it is the job of the translator to translate in a way that the objections of the reader are objections to the Bible message, not to some messed-up understanding conveyed by a faulty translation.

    You make it sound like any bad translation will do and then the Holy Spirit will fix that.

  5. Pierre Houssney

    Markomus,

    Would you mind explaining what you mean? How would the word “Christians” cause confusion?

  6. Avatar

    So if “Allah” should not be used as a translation, in that language, for “theos”, since it might lead to confusion, should we also, in our English translations, not translate “christianos” as “christians”, since that might lead to confusion?

  7. Avatar

    Greetings Mr.Duguma:
    I came across a very comprehensive critique of what used to be called “Dynamic Equivalence’ translation theory. It touches on translation for Muslim contexts, and I believe it will also address Mr. Medearis’ concerns about over-simplification and his worry about straw-man arguments.

    The article is long and very detailed, but worth the mining for the gold that is in it. Here is the reference.

    Michael Marlowe , “Against the Theory of ‘Dynamic Equivalence'” (revised in 2000)
    http://www.bible-researcher.com/dynamic-equivalence.html
    Be sure to get his footnotes at:
    http://www.bible-researcher.com/dynamic.equivalence.notes.html

    Marlowe’s conclusion reads as such:
    “We have shown that the dynamic equivalence method represents a departure from tradition, and from the principles of translation used by the Biblical authors themselves. Its pretensions to “scientific” principles of linguistics are dubious, as has been pointed out by numerous linguists and biblical scholars. It results in a simplification of the text in which important features of the Bible are erased. It proceeds from false assumptions about the relationship of Scripture to the Church and to the reader. Finally, as a practical matter, we have seen that the versions produced with this method cannot “get along” with other versions already in use.

  8. Avatar

    The issue has never been “friendlier” versions. That’s just
    a straw man argument. It’s always been about “accurate”
    translations. Conveying the heart of a matter and it’s equivalency
    in another language is the issue. If we agree that our hope is for
    our Muslim friends to actually understand the Bible – not just read
    words – then we need to do whatever it takes to actually translate
    those words into a language the Muslim reader can understand –
    while maintaining theological integrity. Within the above
    parameters, there are many options. Simply saying “people don’t
    want to repent so it’s okay if they’re offended” is simplistic and
    offensive to the heart of God to reach all people.

  9. Avatar

    Muslim groups are often very culturally different from their Christian neighbors, and words might mean something different to them. Thus, a “Muslim” translation need not be motivated by watering down the message, but by using words that communicate the concepts better to their worldview.

    A question I would want to ask is this: What do the Muslims understand when they hear the terms, “Egziyabher,” “Amelak,” and “Allah”? The term Allah might convey distinctively Muslim connotations, but perhaps the alternatives might convey even worse connotations — A god whose people are worldly, a god who is not holy, a god who is not to be respected, or a god who treats Israelis as superior to Arabs. I would think that no matter how you translated it, you would run into problems of translation.

    I’m also curious about why the same word in Greek or Hebrew needs to be consistently translated by the same word. There’s not always a one-to-one correspondence between words in different languages. For example, πνεύμα and רוח can mean wind, spirit and breath. Words have different meanings in different contexts.

  10. Avatar

    Regarding John Spam’s comment, point a. I remember back in the 1970s when there was some activity in translating the Bible, one of the workers described an experience he had with a non Christian. That person’s comment was that he doesn’t read the Bible because he doesn’t understand it. Rather he doesn’t read it because he does understand it. The rebellion in the human heart is not overcome by “friendlier” translations but by a consciousness of sin and separation from God.

  11. Avatar

    Dear Tekalign,

    I have argued with same stand point, though you have elaborated it well. I had also a discussion with my professor who is well informed in all matters regarding language, theology, Middle East…. He beliefs the name Allah can be used in the Arab or Arabic speaking society to substitute God. However, it will be weak in the meaning it will convey.

    I think, in countries like Ethiopia, where the people consciously make a difference between the two religions and culture (to the extent of not eating in one another restaurant), substituting Allah for God can be taken as a blasphemy!

    There are few things I would like to comment on regarding some words you used; let it be saved for the time we meet face to face.
    It would be interesting to know how the new converters responded to this trial version.

    Blessings

  12. Avatar

    Dear Mr. Duguma:

    It was with interest that I read your article. It seems like you are feeling the wave of
    “Muslim-friendly” Bible translation. Your analysis was very wise. As to the question to rationale, I think that a few different dynamics are at play:
    a. I can’t help but wonder if it is presupposed that by making the Bible more “reader-friendly” then by some miraculous method, the rebellion in the human heart against the Sovereignty of Jesus will somehow disappear. Yet, “the unspiritual man cannot and will not comprehend the things of God.” (I Cor 2:14)
    b. Might it be presupposed that by scrubbing out any words that the translator in his infinite wisdom deems to cause offense to the hearers—even though the Holy Spirit put them in the Bible— then by some miraculous method things like the offense of the cross will melt away and presto, add another number to the so called converts or sales of the translation?. It would seem that this is a clever combination of presumption, pragmatism and self-congratulation., all under a spiritual guise.
    c. Might a lot of this “user-friendliness actually be a statement that we really do not believe in the power of the gospel unto salvation?. Maybe it needs some help.
    d. At times I wonder if some translators give much credence to the fact that the Bible is really the book of the church, and it is in the context of the word preached and expounded that the text comes “alive” so to speak.

    May God continue to give you great wisdom and boldness as you “contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” Foreign consultants with their smooth talk and statistics will come and go, but the Word of the Lord will stand forever. Continue to think Biblically as you do. Thank you for being an asset to your country.

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