Both houses of parliament in Afghanistan are holding emergency sessions to debate a new translation of the Koran into the vernacular language. Scholars are outraged, there are protests in the streets, and everyone is calling for the translator (a mullah) to be punished. He has been arrested and faces prison or worse.

Exactly what did the Afghan Koran distributor do to deserve all this infamy? According to reports from the BBC, the translation is considered ‘un-Islamic’. The objections seem to come from the way the new translation interpreted several of the passages having to do with the strict provisions of Islam against Alcohol, homosexuality, and adultery.

Comments: When a new translation of the Bible in introduced in the West, there may be a few critics who voice their opinions, but the new translation is displayed for sale along with the rest in the local book store without incident.

There was a time when a Christian translator might face prison or even death, but that was over 400 years ago. Now, new translations and opinions about the Biblical text are commonplace. There was some controversy when the RSV English translation was introduced in the 1950’s and a few books were burned as a show, but that was it.  Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, the editor and a major contributor to the RSV made the following observation at the time:

”Well, we have come a long way since William Tyndale. Now, at least, they burn the translations rather than the translators!”

One cannot envision a Western country in complete disarray over a translation. Goes to show again the huge disconnect between the Islamic countries and the Western world.            

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