Forty-Year-Old Light on How to Translate “Son of God” for Muslims
Writing in 1972, J. I. Packer sheds light on the contemporary debate over how to translate the term “Son of God” in Muslim contexts. A common Muslim misconception is that Christians believe Jesus was God’s Son by procreation with Mary, so that there are at least two gods — the Son and the Father.
Motivated by a desire to remove unnecessary stumbling blocks for Muslims, some have advocated translating the Greek behind “Son of God” in a way that does not carry such biological connotations. That means avoiding such Father and Son language. But historically, the problem of ambiguity in Jesus’ Sonship has been solved by context and teaching, not translation.
What Packer contributes to the debate is the observation that the apostle John already faced this ambiguity when he wrote his Gospel. And he points out that the way John dealt with it was not by rejecting the terms…