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Collin Hansen: Islam and the Bible

February 10, 2011

Bible translation and contextualization have long divided Christians working to fulfill the Great Commission. When missionary pioneer William Carey translated the Bible into Bengali in 1809, he used the Hindu word for the supreme being, Ishwar, to refer to God. Critics charged him with making a fatal compromise in the name of comprehension. Today, “Son of God” is hardly the only point of contention among missionaries to Muslims. For example, they also tangle over whether Bible translations should use Allah to refer to God. Both sides make a compelling case. Muslims understand Allah in terms of simple monotheism rather than the dynamic Trinitarian theology that Christians profess. Yet Allah, the word for God that Muslims know from the Qur’an, actually predates Islam. Some translators have recovered it so that Muslims reading Scripture for the first time won’t immediately reject the Bible as foreign to their culture.

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