Liberals Aren’t the Only Ones Who Tweak the Text

Categories: Religion & Theology

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The Huffington Post is reporting (via Beliefnet and other sources) an astonishingly brazen project put forth by (which itself could leave someone speechless): the “Conservative Bible Project.” This project undertakes to eliminate “liberal bias” from the Bible, since the proponent(s) of this project suggest that modern Bible translations are dominated by just such liberalism.

After establishing that “conservative principles” (such as what?) are needed to “reduce and eliminate” the numerous liberal errors that have crept into the Bible, the project sets forth guidelines for the new translation:

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. 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]
  4. 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”.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. 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
  10. 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.”

As if that weren’t enough, this version will make text-critical decisions on the basis of whether the passage is adequately conservative or a simply a liberal intrusion. Variants like Luke 23:34 (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”) and passages like the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11) are to be removed because of the tendency of such passages to be used by greasy liberals to uphold relativism or whatever evil liberal “isms” they are pushing. These passages aren’t so much to be left out because of sound textual criticism (my opinion is that Luke 23:34 is original, while the manuscript evidence and differences in Greek style testify strongly against the originality of the pericope adulterae) but because they supposedly don’t fit modern conservative principles. Wow. It would be hard even for The Onion to improve upon this.

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