View Full Version : Bible in Rewrite...by Conservatives

Nicholas Carey
10-12-2009, 07:40 PM
From BeliefNet (http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2009/10/conservatizing-the-bible.html), by way of BoingBoing (http://www.boingboing.net/2009/10/05/conservapedia-propos.html):


Apparently, the wingnuts over at Conservapaedia have started a project to produce (http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project) a "conservative" translation of the Bible, according to these principles:
Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

The Toronto Globe & Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/group-of-us-conservatives-rewrite-the-bible/article1319247/) had this to say:
After all these years, one could assume the Bible has held up pretty well, but a group of conservatives in the United States thinks it needs a rewrite.

The folks behind Conservapedia, a right-leaning version of Wikipedia, have launched the Conservative Bible Project, aimed at getting rid of what they call liberal bias, wordiness, emasculation and a general dumbing down of the Old and New Testaments.

A dozen or so users, led by Conservapedia founder Andy Schlafly – the son of conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly – are tackling the 27 books of the New Testament and 39 books of the Old Testament. Anyone can offer suggested changes.

Mr. Schlafly is a Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer and home-school teacher in New Jersey who began Conservapedia in 2006 because he felt Wikipedia was too liberal and anti-Christian. He believes the project will restore the Bible to its original intent.

“The trouble is, new translations of the Bible are done by professors at liberal universities who overwhelmingly voted for Obama,” Mr. Schlafly said. “Their political bias seeps into their translations and we felt it necessary to counteract that with one that uproots and eradicates any liberal bias.”
James McGrath, associate professor of religion at Butler University in Indianapolis, said the translators don't appear to have any knowledge of the text's original meaning.

“If it's an attempt at humour, it's hilarious, but I have a sinking feeling it's something else – that conservatives are realizing the Bible does not always serve their interests, something the rest of us have known for some time,” he said.

“But some element of humour should be part of a healthy response to this, because there's a danger that taking it too seriously gives it credibility it wouldn't otherwise have.”

Good Math/Bad Math (http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2009/10/the_conservative_rewrite_of_th.php) had this to say:
Plenty of people have mocked the foolishness of this. So many, in fact, that I can't decide which one to link to! But what's been left out of all of the mockings that I've seen so far is one incredibly important point.

What the "Conservative Bible Project" is doing is not translating the bible. It is rewriting the bible to make it say what they want it to say, without regard for what it actually says. These people, who insist that every word of their holy texts must be taken as absolute literal truth without interpretation -- are rewriting their bibles to make it say what they want it to say.

You might think that I'm just exaggerating, since I'm a flaky liberal reconstructionist jew. But I'm really not. If you look at their explanation of what they're doing, it's not translating. Translating is going to the original text, which is written in some language X, and trying to convert it to language Y without loss of meaning. They don't even pretend that they're going back to the original sources. They're taking existing translations of the original text into english, and then re-writing them whenever they don't like what they say. They describe looking back to at the original text as a last resort "exception" (their word!) to their "translation" process.

What are they doing? They're taking the King James Version of the bible. Then they're going to go through it, and whenever they find something that they don't like, because it doesn't match their conservative principles, they're just going to change it. Not because analyzing the original text shows that there was a translation error. They don't even pretend to care about that. They're just combing through it and changing anything that, from their perspective, must be wrong because it looks too liberal.

[As an example,] in their early efforts at translation, they're trying to get rid of the word "Pharisees". "Pharisees" is a very specific term; it means a specific group of people. It's not a generic term for "bad people", or "liberal people", or anything like that. They were a group that was distinguished by, among other things, believing in (gasp!) the literal interpretation of the book of Exodus. They were also the grouping that included most of the high priests of the second temple. The conservapedia folks have been suggesting replacing "Pharisee" with "self-selected elite", "intellectual", or (cutting to the chase) "liberals". As a "translation", that's absolute garbage. It completely ignores the meaning of the original text, in order to create the appearance that their political beliefs have some sort of divine support, even though the original text can't support that interpretation.

It's astonishingly brazen on so many levels. But the one that kills me is that there is no way that you can call what they're doing a "translation". They're not translating. They can't read, write, speak, or comprehend the languages that they claim to be "translating". They're not even looking at the original texts that they say they're translating. So why, on earth, are people referring to this as a conservative translation? It doesn't even deserve the miniscule amount of credibility that comes from using the word!


Stephen Colbert, however, is lobbying to be Moses in the new re-write:



Milo Christensen
10-12-2009, 08:17 PM
The "dozen or so" will be taken a lot more seriously by a handful of atheists than by the remaining two billion plus Christians.

10-12-2009, 08:57 PM
Or if you prefer, the Bible translated into Klingon.

It is probably true that not one Christian in a hundred million has the slightest clue about the actual origin of the Bible,
and that a substantial number of those are of the impression that it was dictated by God in Elizabethan English.

Keith Wilson
10-12-2009, 09:12 PM
Oh, that's nothing new, although usually they're not so blatant about it in advance. There have been lots of bible translations from a particular point of view. Probably the best-known recently is the "Living Bible" published in 1971; it's really a paraphrase, not a translation, with a highly conservative evangelical slant.
It'd take some serious work to make Jesus into a free-market capitalist, though.