Do conservatives need their own Bible translation?

posted at 3:35 pm on October 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Rod Dreher at Crunchy Cons notices a new effort to create a “conservative” translation of the Bible at Conservapedia.  The project promises to correct what Conservapedia sees as the “single biggest distortion” in modern biblical translations — liberal bias.  However, it seems that the backers of this project don’t want to correct for bias by getting more accurate translations, but by improving the Bible by playing around with words that sound better politically to the Right.  They suggest the following techniques for rewriting all existing translations:

  • identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as “government”, and suggest more accurate substitutes
  • identify the omission of liberal terms for vices, such as “gambling”, and identify where they should be used
  • identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations, and propose where they could improve the translation
  • identify terms that have lost their original meaning, such as “word” in the beginning of the Gospel of John, and suggest replacements, such as “truth”

As an alternative, they also suggest going to the original source material and doing their own translation.  While that seems to be the only way to legitimately approach the subject in a scholarly fashion, it’s forgotten in the very next paragraph, which suggests a “conservative word-for-word” translation from existing versions for “word improvement,” followed by a second stage of “conservative thought-for-thought” translation.

Dreher believes this displays an “insane hubris”:

“The liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio”? Hoo-wee! Elitists like to use words, and lots of ‘em! “Unnecessary ambiguities”? But how are you going to abide by the conservative mandate to avoid “dumbing down” Holy Writ while at the same time avoiding big words liberals use?

More seriously, the insane hubris of this really staggers the mind. These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture? They really think it’s wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism? These jokers don’t worship God. They worship ideology.

It depends on how one considers the Bible.  If a person just views it as a series of parables with immense wisdom on life and truth but written by men for their own purposes, then a “conservative version” is as objectionable as making 10 Things I Hate About You from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew — which is to say that the offensiveness depends on the final version.  (For the record, I liked 10 Things, which I thought was both a clever and goofy take on the Bard, so that’s not a dig.)

However, if one believes the Bible to be the Word of God written for His purposes, which I do, then the idea of recalibrating the language to suit partisan political purposes in this age is pretty offensive — just as offensive as they see the “liberal bias” in existing translations.  If they question the authenticity of the current translations, then the only legitimate process would be to work from the original sources and retranslate.  And not just retranslate with political biases in mind, but to retranslate using proper linguistic processes and correct terminology.

The challenge of Christian believers is to adhere to the Word of God, not to bend the Word of God to our preferred ideology.  Doing the former requires discipline and a clear understanding of the the Bible.  Doing the latter makes God subservient to an ideology, rather than the other way around.

Update: Tommy Christopher covers the controversy for Mediaite.  Be sure to read his roundup.

Update II: I sent this to The Anchoress, thinking that she’d have something incisive to add, and she doesn’t disappoint:

The “Conservative” Bible is an attempt by some who are clearly “enthralled” with their ideology to wrestle an age to the ground and conform it to Eternity. But the Age is fleeting; it is already a passing illusion. An attempt to re-translate the Bible to suit one’s worldview is to belong too much to the world, itself, and to worldly solutions. Translate the Bible to gain a wholistic world view, and you may very well forfeit yourself.

These busy bees might best serve themselves, their cause and their Lord by withdrawing a little bit from the world and taking some “time in the desert” away from the television, the radio, the gathering crowds. They need to break away from “enthrallment” to “detachment” or they will become all they despise.

That’s just a taste.  Be sure to read it all.

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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Too bad James White is a dishonest liar.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Easy to say yet harder to prove.

Please demonstrate.

shick on October 6, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Too bad James White is a dishonest liar.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Perhaps you could refute ONE of his arguments or give an example of one of his lies?

shick on October 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Just stay away from the Tanach (the “Old Testament”). The Christians have screwed up the translation of the O.T. beyond imagination. They can mess with the New Testament all they want.

papabrody on October 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM

The Bible is innerrant in it’s original documents

Sorry, but I find that statement a little suspect. So does that mean that God did not preserve his inspired, inerrant word? Did he inspire it only to let it be corrupted from its inerrancy over the years?

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:10 PM

How do you know? God doesn’t love everyone.

2Brave2Bscared on October 6, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

We already have one. It’s called the King James version.

1611, baby. Accept no modern substitutes.

tom on October 6, 2009 at 7:58 PM

The KJV is a modern substitute.

unclesmrgol on October 6, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Buy Danish on October 6, 2009 at 4:58 PM

+1000

unclesmrgol on October 6, 2009 at 8:14 PM

The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Leave the politicking out of it. The original Greek manuscripts should be translated as accurately as possible, not distorted. God chose particular words for a reason, to change them to suit man is blasphemous.

citrus on October 6, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Just stay away from the Tanach (the “Old Testament”). The Christians have screwed up the translation of the O.T. beyond imagination. They can mess with the New Testament all they want.

papabrody on October 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM

I have the JPS version-so it’s totally Jewish.

annoyinglittletwerp on October 6, 2009 at 8:22 PM

Perhaps you could refute ONE of his arguments or give an example of one of his lies?

shick on October 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Be glad to. From page 13 of Dr. White’s book, The King James Only Controversy:”

By the early 16th century, the Vulgate was everyone’s Bible. It held the position in the minds of Christians that the Septuagint held a millennium before.
[end quote]

This statement is completely false and misleading. This ignores the many and widely used translations that had been around for hundreds of years prior to the translation of the Vulgate, including, but not limited to the translations of:
John Wycliffe, Miles Coverdale, William Tyndale, the Greek Bibles that were in widespread use throughout the Orthodox churches, as well as Bible translations into other languages. The Vulgate was a Roman Catholic translation and was popular among Catholics, not the rest of the world. The Orthodox churches outnumbered the Roman ones. It was not everyone’s Bible.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM

learn Hebrew

jp on October 6, 2009 at 4:06 PM

And Greek of course.

Esthier on October 6, 2009 at 4:12 PM

If you want to learn Hebrew and Greek, go ahead. But unless you’re as comfortable in Hebrew and Greek as you are in English, trying to read the Bible in “the original languages” is a spectacularly bad idea.

Seriously, it would be much better to read the King James and learn the extremely few minor archaic words, because it’s a translation that is tried and true (you are a conservative, right), translated literally except where the literal translation is clearly wrong, and was translated by experts who really were as comfortable Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek as they were in English. And no one can deny its clear literary merit.

I’ve seen way too many people who dabble in Greek who try to read complicated passages in a language they barely understand, with extensive use of a lexicon, and actually think their Bible is mistranslated because the lexicon has a different meaning for a word than the translators used.

Newsflash: translation is hard. If you want to do your own translation, start with liberal doses of humility.

/Off my soapbox

tom on October 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM

Pay attention now you dumb Christians, the great wise scholar is here to show you all how ignorant and simple-minded you all are. How foolish you all are for thinking that God left us his Word. Don’t you all know that the only way to find God is through scholarship and worldly wisdom?

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 5:53 PM

The Bible is “worldly wisdom.” The Christian way to God is through the Christ.

q2600 on October 6, 2009 at 6:07 PM

And here I thought all the Gnostics had died out centuries ago.

No sale.

tom on October 6, 2009 at 8:46 PM

The left already has their version out.

Sagebrush Rebel on October 6, 2009 at 8:51 PM

woops! the link http://greenletterbible.com/

Sagebrush Rebel on October 6, 2009 at 8:52 PM

tom on October 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM

Well said

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:53 PM

woops! the link http://greenletterbible.com/

Sagebrush Rebel on October 6, 2009 at 8:52 PM

I watched the video. That was really bizarre. Romans 1:25 automatically came to mind upon hearing them speak. What strange times we live in.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Don’t quote me on this but I do believe King James tried to extinguish the Geneva Bible that the Separatists were using at the time. The Geneva has/had commentary notes of a Calvinist/Reformed persuasion.

PrincipledPilgrim on October 6, 2009 at 6:17 PM

It was not even King James idea to translate the Bible into English, nor was it to be named after him. The reason for making another translation was stated in the preface.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Exactly. When King James took the throne, many religious leaders from all sides of the disputes in the Church of England met with him. Most of what they asked for was rejected for one reason or another, frequently because of a lack of consensus.

The one thing that pretty much everyone agreed on was that there needed to be a better Bible translation. King James gave his blessing — and approved funding — to the project, and they were off and running.

As for the Geneva Bible, King James had no particular complaints with the translation itself. What he did object to were some of the footnotes that the translators had added to the text, that stepped all over his toes. It was agreed that the new Bible would have no footnotes, so James was happy with it.

And that was the extent of his involvement.

The only reason it is commonly called the King James version is that the translators put a dedication page to King James at the front when they were done. In fact, until new translations started to come out, it was commonly called the Authorized Version.

tom on October 6, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Probably best to leave His words stand alone.

Dillo on October 6, 2009 at 8:03 PM

who’s words?

eh on October 6, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Umm… if you want a “conservative” translation of the Bible… why not just go with the King James Version?

Sackett on October 6, 2009 at 9:07 PM

Actually NONE of the English versions of the Bible are completely accurate. Even the Amplified Bible has problems. The problem is that many of the Hebrew and Greek words have nuances that are missing in English, or else there are multiple Hebrew and Greek words with various meanings for which there is only one English word. Better to have many different English translations of the Bible, then have a good Interlinear Hebrew and Greek Bible with a Strong’s concordance.

Just this week I learned something that the King James version translates very badly, and that was brought out by going back to the original Greek text. Quite an eye-opener, but really brought out a greater truth from the New Testament.

MeAlice on October 6, 2009 at 9:13 PM

Exactly. When King James took the throne, many religious leaders from all sides of the disputes in the Church of England met with him. Most of what they asked for was rejected for one reason or another, frequently because of a lack of consensus.

I was reading a book about it and they were discussing the conversations that went on between King James and some of those religious leaders when he first rose to power. The one guy in attempting to make a point about something, referred to how one of the earlier church leaders decided to baptize a new convert with sand because there was no water available. King James responded in point, “he should have just used piss, that would have been more like unto water than sand.”

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 9:14 PM

Just stay away from the Tanach (the “Old Testament”). The Christians have screwed up the translation of the O.T. beyond imagination. They can mess with the New Testament all they want.

papabrody on October 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM

I have the JPS version-so it’s totally Jewish.

annoyinglittletwerp on October 6, 2009 at 8:22 PM

Then you will see some stark differences between that and the KJV. As a Jew, I rely on the Artscroll Stone Tanach, but truly best if you know hebrew. And as a Jew the NT holds no truth IMHO.

papabrody on October 6, 2009 at 9:31 PM

The challenge of Christian believers is to adhere to the Word of God, not to bend the Word of God to our preferred ideology.  Doing the former requires discipline and a clear understanding of the the Bible.  Doing the latter makes God subservient to an ideology, rather than the other way around.

Amen.

tartan on October 6, 2009 at 10:04 PM

In siding with Roger Wilco and skirting the edge of Q2600′s camp where allahpundits if not angels fear to tread, I offer this long comment as a former student of Greek and Hebrew and recovering fundamentalist veteran of internecine ‘version wars’ (in the same vein as Laura Ingraham’s ‘recovering attorney’).

Dillo’s resentment notwithstanding, it’s impossible to go back to the ‘original’ manuscripts, because we don’t have them. We have around 3,000 fairly early/late copies (depending on which ‘scholar’ you ask and your view of ‘late’) and fragments or copies of copies.

Even this shows the fundamental problem: unthinkingly using modern standards in an internet to ‘judge’ or interpret a fragmented, several-thousand-year-old compilation of books. Examples:
– We see “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren” and presume a genealogy that can be limited to 6,000 years, when obviously and unavoidably it was a written record of an existing oral tradition that meant a great deal more to them than to us, as a source of pride and connection to important figures from their past. The Washington Post recently twisted this kind of structure for their own purposes: “How Bush Begat McCain”. I’m sure Glenn Beck would consider “And Thomas Paine begat Glenn Beck” high praise. Not that there aren’t direct father son references in those texts, but those aren’t the ONLY meaning for ‘X begat Y’.

Also, when John 5:4 shows up ‘missing’ in the NIV, the Dillos of the world are probably sure it’s a big liberal plot to omit verses. The problem is, the ‘missing’ verse about the angel ‘troubling’ the water and the people in the water being healed is also missing from manuscripts which are much older than those originally used for the KJV. (The Textus Receptus compilation had nothing older than about 1100 AD, but the NIV translators had access to manuscripts that dated about 150 years after the originals would have been written.) So when translating, do you simply bow to church pressure to reproduce a (probably well-intentioned) copying error that dates more than 1,000 years after the better manuscripts to which you can refer? (This was likely the result of taking a scribe’s comment, the type frequently written in the margins, and incorporating it into the text.)

Or take 1 John 4:19 – the forms for “we love” and “let us love” are identically spelled in Greek due to the rules of how you combine vowels in endings and accent them (one vowel subsumes the other). Which meaning do you choose? Not an earthshaking difference, but it’s a thorn in the side of Mr. Inerrant.
One would hope, if salvation hinges upon getting the EXACT meaning of every word (with no tolerance for even well meaning error) that God would see fit to ENSURE that no such ambiguities exist – but as the student of Greek finds out, these are numerous.

That said, both the scribes of those days and many translators of today took great care to preserve and bring the Bible to the world, so I share Roger’s disdain for these presumptuous conspiracist comments. Certainly the Bible is more well attested textually than numerous works of past literature, and you have your pick of ‘versions’. Greek and Hebrew don’t translate well “word for word” to English however- producing a readable translation without adding something to clarify (or simply reproduce) the meaning one believes the text to have is impossible. Even punctuation changes meaning: would the literalists have us remove periods and commas as ancient Greek is often written without them?

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:19 PM

The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Leave the politicking out of it. The original Greek manuscripts should be translated as accurately as possible, not distorted. God chose particular words for a reason, to change them to suit man is blasphemous.

citrus on October 6, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Wasn’t the Greek itself a translation of Christ’s Aramaic? If the specific words God used were critical, we don’t seem to have them. Isn’t it more likely that we should view the Bible as containing essential truths, without the requirement that we parse words like a pharisee?

dedalus on October 6, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Just a postscript: the dividing of the text into numbered chapters and verses as in the King James is “adding to” the Bible, as the manuscripts do not have them.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:25 PM

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:19 PM

Interesting and informative comment.

dedalus on October 6, 2009 at 10:26 PM

jbh45 on October 6, 2009 at 4:50 PM

+1

That’s well done.

tartan on October 6, 2009 at 10:38 PM

Buy Danish on October 6, 2009 at 4:58 PM

+1
lol

tartan on October 6, 2009 at 10:44 PM

Dedalus:

Christ spoke Aramaic, but would have been quite able in Greek, as it was the language of commerce like English today(assuming English hasn’t already been replaced by Spanish or Chinese).

There was a recent find of an old version in Syriac (a later dialect of Aramaic) which provoked the usual stupid claims, tales of looting and fights over its age – I tend to side with those who think it’s from about the 15th century. These finds are interesting for their divergences from the usual editions though, as an introduction to the endless exegetical catfights that rage in the mire of Biblical ‘scholarship’. Lamsa’s “Lamsa Bible” from the 30s, with its controversy over Matthew 27 and many more, was probably the most famous of these Syriac-based translations in Biblical studies departments. It is presumed that the Peshitta was based on the Byzantine textual tradition. Lamsa was a maligned oddball and native speaker of Aramaic who was nonetheless probably right on some terms and wrong on others, but I’ll leave those battles to others lest I get a speck or splinter in my eye.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:52 PM

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:19 PM

Excellent post.

dedalus on October 6, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Also an excellent post.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:52 PM

I respect your position (I hope that doesn’t get you labelled a… *gasp*… Gnostic!), however, the Syriac Bible was not the original Peshitta. I strongly recommend the book, Was the New Testament Really Written in Greek? , by Raphael Lataster, which I think you will find both interesting and enlightening.

q2600 on October 6, 2009 at 11:05 PM

Post postscript:

The manger of the famed “away in a manger” was actually inside the house, as everybody from similar areas in the Middle East knows even today: they tied their animals up outside in the day, and brought them in the house at night. So the whole “for there was no room for them in the inn” reference would more accurately be written “for there was no room for them in the guest (or “spare”) room” (in Gk, ‘kataluma’). So Jesus Mary and Joseph weren’t freezing by themselves in some lonely stable: relax.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 11:09 PM

Q2600:

“Peshitta” is a shorthand way of describing two separate translations each with their own complexities: the earliest Syriac OT was done in the 2nd century with the NT, missing some books, arriving in the 5th century. I meant no confusion and should have clarified that Lamsa was using the KJV along with Syriac versions for his work. The syriac copies of I Peter etc are the oldest copies we have of those epistles, and came about through some combination of 3 Syriac textual traditions. The older combined narrative of the 4 gospels was replaced by a Syrian bishop with a translation dividing it into the 4 separate gospels like we have today.

I don’t want to get in to the whole Aramaic primacy catfight as we could just as profitably argue about Abraham’s shoe size.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 11:25 PM

Post post post transcript:

Bear in mind when you evaluate these claims on translations that in general they are substituting a shorthand term for a long process (i.e. “Byzantine” etc). The KJV is a product of centuries of choices within and between traditions of copying textual versions and omitting others, picking and choosing within the 2nd language copies of those versions (which are themselves the products of their own long histories). There is not one Syriac version, or Greek version, just as there is not one KJV, contrary to popular belief. There are differences between KJVs published today and ones from 1611, believe me.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 11:32 PM

Be glad to. From page 13 of Dr. White’s book, The King James Only Controversy:”

By the early 16th century, the Vulgate was everyone’s Bible. It held the position in the minds of Christians that the Septuagint held a millennium before. [end quote]

This statement is completely false and misleading. This ignores the many and widely used translations that had been around for hundreds of years prior to the translation of the Vulgate, including, but not limited to the translations of: John Wycliffe, Miles Coverdale, William Tyndale, the Greek Bibles that were in widespread use throughout the Orthodox churches, as well as Bible translations into other languages.

I don’t have a copy of this book but I have a friend who does and I’m going to look through it. Because I have nearly nine other books from Dr. White, which cover topics like Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, the Trinity, same-sex marriage, justification and reformed theology and find them quite reliable, I have a feeling that this quote was taken out of context. But I will verify. I think it’s plainly obvious that he wasn’t suggesting it was the only Bible. He’s merely suggesting it was in the greater majority, which it was.

Let’s look at some dates of those bibles you mentioned.
Jerome’s “Roman Catholic” Latin Vulgate bible – 5th century
Wycliffe bible – 14th century
Miles Coverdale bible – 16th century
Tyndale bible – 16th century
KJV bible – 17th century

Prior to the translation of the Vulgate? Look at those dates again. And Dr. White did mention the greek versions when he referred to the Septuagint. It’s in your own quote. Wycliffe, Coverdale and Tyndale didn’t retranslate the bible because the Vulgate was a corrupt “Catholic” bible but did so to give the bible to the common man in his own tongue. If there is any question of corruption an argument could be made that King James wanted the text to conform to Anglican ecclesiology.

…The Vulgate was a Roman Catholic translation and was popular among Catholics, not the rest of the world. The Orthodox churches outnumbered the Roman ones. It was not everyone’s Bible.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM

“Roman Catholic” translation popular among Roman Catholics? The 5th century christian church was hardly the same as today’s Roman Catholic church. Your just trying to poison-the-well with that statement.

shick on October 6, 2009 at 11:49 PM

Off topic, but tonight Michael Moore used the “I’m a Christian” angle to justify his anticapitalism film on Hannity, bashing war “in our name” but conveniently ignoring Romans 13:

“1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

For those just joining us if any, “sword” in the ancient world = “death”.

The arguably oxymoronic ‘Christian left’ then, logically, should have been so outraged by Hussein’s repeated violations of UN resolutions (the only true authorities as far as they’re concerned) including his murder of the kurds that they called for his death.

Those “Christian” lefties who bash Bush as some sort of barbarian for believing that “God told him” to wage war on Iraq show no grasp of either Testament. Don’t be fooled by these dopes: the State is always their true god.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 11:57 PM

see Matthew 7:21-23

skydaddy on October 7, 2009 at 1:16 AM

What I’m saying is that if the historical reliability of scripture is tested by the same criteria that all historical documents are tested, then the Bible is more reliable based on numbers of manuscript copies and time intervals between the originals and extant copies. And, no, we don’t have the originals anymore.

Using all the above criteria, scholars that provided us with translations checked and double checked meanings and data to provide us with the translations we have. Thus, we have positively the best that we could possibly have in terms of the Bible we read today. Thus we can know for certain God’s heart, and we can be assured of peace with God through this Bible, and in His Son whom He sent.

Dillo on October 7, 2009 at 1:52 AM

Just stay away from the Tanach (the “Old Testament”). The Christians have screwed up the translation of the O.T. beyond imagination. They can mess with the New Testament all they want.
papabrody on October 6, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Well I’ve got news for ya, people have been screwing with both sections of the bible since its inception. To give you an example people think that one of the 10 commandments is: “THO SHALT NOT KILL!” this is NOT what the original Hebrew text says. The original text is: “THO SHALT NOT DO MURDER”. Murder and killing are not the same thing. I may have to kill in order to survive, or to protect my family. Murder is well…. Murder!

Confederate on October 7, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Tell me this isn’t a thing. Tell me this is a few crazies who’ve drunk too deeply of the Party Politics Kool-Aid.

Holy crap!

TheUnrepentantGeek on October 7, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Father John Corapi is explaining the Catholic catechism on his website. I think many here would appreciate his exegetic presentation.

JKahn913 on October 7, 2009 at 11:49 AM

I sent this to The Anchoress, thinking that she’d have something incisive to add, and she doesn’t disappoint

Certainly not. I’m surprised she could find time to comment on this what with her frequent bashing of Protestants.

pabarge on October 7, 2009 at 11:50 AM

As an individual who holds an advanced degree in this subject matter, let me say that this is a really, really bad idea.

The modern English translations we have today are just fine, especially the NAS and NET versions.

jediwebdude on October 7, 2009 at 11:52 AM

The accuracy of the scripture as translated from the original languages(Hebrew or Greek) is not that complicated an issue. “Thou shalt not lie” or “Love your neighbor as yourself” is pretty easy to translate and understand in any language. There are obviously intricacies, after all it is God’s word, but love, righteousness, goodness, truth, etc. are the point, not some hidden linguistic meaning. Jesus did not say, Blessed are the seminarians, but Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and do it.

longfeet on October 7, 2009 at 12:09 PM

This is an odd post by Ed. If a group of theologians want to publish their own English translation, and they make honest disclosures about their interpretation preferences, isn’t that a step forward? One of the complaints about translations in vogue today is there is no disclosure on those preferences — other than modern attempts gender neutrality. If the work is scholarly and persuasive, why shouldn’t it be published? It’s not like they want to take away the Morrissey family bible and substitute theirs in its stead.

Mark30339 on October 7, 2009 at 1:04 PM

I’m coming in late on this discussion but I’d like to share the LDS perspective on the debate going on here. Granted, given that a majority of the people who left comments on this thread are Christians and that many don’t view Mormons as Christians, I’m in the minority here.

I am fully aware of the theological debates between Christians and Mormons about the Bible and the Book of Mormon since Christians don’t view LDS as Christians and that the Book of Mormon is heretical because some see the Book of Mormon as a violation of Revelations 22.

However, I’m enjoying the variety of perspectives here and I think many of you would simply enjoy an LDS perspective on this issue.

Just a postscript: the dividing of the text into numbered chapters and verses as in the King James is “adding to” the Bible, as the manuscripts do not have them.

BemusedMalkinite on October 6, 2009 at 10:25 PM

+100. Excellent point. If we accept that Revelations 22:18-19 (a) applies to the whole Bible and (b) is taken literally, then any changes to the Bible, small or great, is an automatic violation of that passage.

Which brings up another point: A common criticism of the Book of Mormon is that it is a violation of Revelations 22:18-19.

But as BemusedMalkinite pointed out, people through out history have been repeatedly violating the warning in Revelations long before Joseph Smith introduced the Book of Mormon to the world.

The original Greek manuscripts should be translated as accurately as possible, not distorted.

citrus on October 6, 2009 at 8:21 PM

If the specific words God used were critical, we don’t seem to have them. Isn’t it more likely that we should view the Bible as containing essential truths, without the requirement that we parse words like a pharisee?

dedalus on October 6, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Exactly. We don’t have THE original manuscripts for the OT or NT. This is a problem in other religions as well. We don’t have the original manuscripts for the Koran nor do we have the Golden Plates for the Book of Mormon.

It would be nice to have THE original manuscript for such sacred texts but we don’t.

I agree with dedalus that we should focus on the essential truths of the Bible rather than the textual or translation issues of the Bible.

IMHO, given the numerous translations, versions, interpretations and editions of the Bible, I think the balanced approach is to (1) appreciate and respect the Bible for its essential truths and (2) to tread carefully when attempting to learn the various translations of the Bible.

Some translations of the Bible are better and more “correct” than others and as a result, much care and thought should go into studying the various interpretations of the Bible. A small change in meaning can have a huge impact on the way a particular doctrine is presented and understood.

Thus, its wise to be aware of the various translations but not to get overly fixated on them since living by the teachings is more important than parsing out each word in the Bible.

As James 1: 22 states, “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

By the way, for all you atheists out there, the Skeptics Annotated Bible is for you. Enjoy. ;)

Conservative Samizdat on October 7, 2009 at 1:16 PM

If the work is scholarly and persuasive, why shouldn’t it be published?

Mark30339 on October 7, 2009 at 1:04 PM

How can the work be scholarly when it starts off based on a particular ideology. Rush has been on the air for many years but I’m willing to bet that St. Paul wasn’t a Rush Limbaugh listener. I chalk this right up there with the feminist Bible that replaced all the pronouns with gender-neutral terms.

highhopes on October 7, 2009 at 1:55 PM

There is no difference between this and the many other attempts to manipulate scripture, from the dropping of accepted books by the reformation to the “gender neutral” texts.

Scripture is what it is, once you attempt to manipulate it you are taking what is God’s and using it for your own ends.

Once people decide to use religion for a cause they invariably make the cause more important than the belief. That is unhealthy body and soul

But hey its a free country and there are so many different protestant denominations with so many different rules from the almost Catholic Anglicans to the Anything goes Episcopal Church that one more in the pot isn’t going to make a lot of difference.

petertheslow on October 7, 2009 at 2:45 PM

Oh thank God!!! After I read the headline I thought maybe Allah had posted this…. whew

kg598301 on October 7, 2009 at 4:01 PM

As a Jew, I rely on the Artscroll Stone Tanach, but truly best if you know hebrew.
papabrody on October 6, 2009 at 9:31 PM

You are relying on fraudulent and much changed documents.

The ONLY accurate translation of the Old Testament is the SEPTUAGINT!

This is the Greek translation from 300 BC.

The hebrews sent 72 of the best scholars to egypt to produce a translation. They went into seperate cells and all came out when they were finished and the results were EXACTLY THE SAME!

The hebrews ALWAYS held an extremely high regard for the Septuagint until way later 700 years AD when they produced their own fraudulent documents in order to stem the massive growth of Christianity of the Orthodox Church.

Do not forget that ALL of the hebrew Bibles were destroyed(as were the Priestly Lineages) when the Temple was destroyed in 70AD(exactly as Jesus Christ prophecied that it would be).

The Masoretic texts are fraudulent and have many documented changes added to them. For instance the hebrews 700 to 1000AD tried to even alter and hide the fact that the jews were always waiting for a Messiah who born of a VIRGIN Birth.

And as a Jew the NT holds no truth IMHO.

That is where you are wrong.

The New Testament holds All Truth and the Old Testament is useless without it.

JESUS CHRIST IS THE JEWISH MESSIAH!

Remember that.

JESUS CHRIST IS THE JEWISH MESSIAH!

As a jew why don’t you tell us about the Talmud that Jesus Christ condemned in Mark 7:9(For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men)?

Why don’t you enlighten some of these protestants as to what the Talmud actually teaches?

Are you afraid that they would be horrified? Is that why you do not mention it?

MaximusConfessor on October 7, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Let’s look at some dates of those bibles you mentioned.

Allow me to clarify what I meant. I wrote that somewhat sloppy. Prior to the translation of (or from)the Vulgate. I was referring to the Catholic translation done from the Vulgate that was done around the time of the King James Bible. I was thinking of Wycliffe when I wrote “hundreds of years.” Yes, I know, Tyndale and Coverdale were not hundreds of years earlier than the Douay, but I was getting bored of blogging and wanted to play World of Warcraft. Kind of like how I feel right now.

Anyways, the translations I mentioned were done in or before the 16th century, which is the time he mentioned, as well as around when the Catholic church decided to translate the Vulgate in the common tongue. Christians far and wide did not use Jerome’s Vulgate. Wycliffe himself complained of its corruption and translated his Bible from the vulgar Latin, which is not to be confused with the Latin Vulgate. To say that the Vulgate was generally the Bible of all Christians is not true. The Catholic church made their own translation of the Bible because of the popularity of the translations already extant which did not use the Vulgate. To say that the Vulgate is everyone’s Bible is not true, even generally speaking. As I already mentioned, the Greek churches outnumbered the Roman ones, and they did not use the Latin Vulgate. I am aware what White’s intent was, and it was wrong.

“Roman Catholic” translation popular among Roman Catholics? The 5th century christian church was hardly the same as today’s Roman Catholic church. Your just trying to poison-the-well with that statement.

shick on October 6, 2009 at 11:49 PM

I did not poison the well. Jerome and the rest of the crew poisoned the well with their corruption and adoption of pagan influence. The 5th century church as well as every century of the Roman Catholic church’s existence before and after was full of heresies.

NeverLiberal on October 7, 2009 at 5:10 PM

The Vulgate was a Roman Catholic translation and was popular among Catholics, not the rest of the world. The Orthodox churches outnumbered the Roman ones. It was not everyone’s Bible.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM

You are absolutely right.

The original Vulgates were translated FROM THE SEPTUAGINT.

Later Jerome screwed up and took in corrupted jewish masoretic texts that were modified hundreds of years after Christ by the jews in an effort to stop Christianity.

You are also absolutely right that there were way more Orthodox Churches at the time when the lone Bishop of Rome decided to go into heresy and alter Christian Doctrine, change the Faith and leave the Church.

You Roman Catholics and all of your protestants need to come home to the Orthodox Church so that all of us Christians can be united in the One True Faith and the Church established by our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah and God Incarnate!

MaximusConfessor on October 7, 2009 at 5:22 PM

The ONLY accurate translation of the Old Testament is the SEPTUAGINT
MaximusConfessor on October 7, 2009 at 4:30 PM

That is by far the dumbest thing any Christian has ever quoted to me in all my 55 years…and you wonder why Jews don’t trust Christians. Excuse me…I have to go puke….

papabrody on October 8, 2009 at 12:04 AM

How about we all read the King James Version enough that we don’t need to be told what words used to mean… I speak King James English very well and wish every one else did too. That would mean there was a lot of bible study going on.

petunia on October 8, 2009 at 1:50 AM

The ONLY accurate translation of the Old Testament is the SEPTUAGINT!

This is the Greek translation from 300 BC.

The hebrews sent 72 of the best scholars to egypt to produce a translation. They went into seperate cells and all came out when they were finished and the results were EXACTLY THE SAME!

The hebrews ALWAYS held an extremely high regard for the Septuagint until way later 700 years AD when they produced their own fraudulent documents in order to stem the massive growth of Christianity of the Orthodox Church.
….
MaximusConfessor on October 7, 2009 at 4:30 PM

So where is this Septuagint? Anybody have a copy? Some even question whether there ever really was such a thing!

Most accept the tale of a Septuagint, because there seems to be no good reason anyone would make up such a story. But there’s also a distinct lack of physical evidence.

Which always makes it seem so odd when someone goes to so much trouble to talk about the Septuagint that no longer exists anywhere, and may never have been that widespread in the first place.

ThereGoesTheNeighborhood on October 8, 2009 at 3:14 AM

The Vulgate was a Roman Catholic translation and was popular among Catholics, not the rest of the world. The Orthodox churches outnumbered the Roman ones. It was not everyone’s Bible.

NeverLiberal on October 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM

You are absolutely right.

The original Vulgates were translated FROM THE SEPTUAGINT.

Later Jerome screwed up and took in corrupted jewish masoretic texts that were modified hundreds of years after Christ by the jews in an effort to stop Christianity.

You are also absolutely right that there were way more Orthodox Churches at the time when the lone Bishop of Rome decided to go into heresy and alter Christian Doctrine, change the Faith and leave the Church.

You Roman Catholics and all of your protestants need to come home to the Orthodox Church so that all of us Christians can be united in the One True Faith and the Church established by our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah and God Incarnate!

MaximusConfessor on October 7, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Now that is a Dude! worthy post!

I’m beginning to think all MaximusConfessor posts should come with a disclaimer: the opinion expressed above should not be construed as representative of other Christians.

Seriously, the Jews deliberately corrupted their own scriptures to try to stop Christianity?!?!

I think this belief may be peculiar to Eastern Orthodox. Maybe a Catholic could clarify if it’s part of Catholicism, but I don’t think so.

It is DEFINITELY not part of any Protestant faith I’m aware of, or of Baptist doctrine. And just for clarity, the King James translators worked from the Massoretic Hebrew text for the Old Testament, so they didn’t adopt that theory.

The only thing that stops me from saying that all modern translations work from the Hebrew Massoretic text is that, frankly, there are a lot of translations around, some done by single individuals, and there may be a fringe case or two.

ThereGoesTheNeighborhood on October 8, 2009 at 3:26 AM

The hebrews sent 72 of the best scholars to egypt to produce a translation. They went into seperate cells and all came out when they were finished and the results were EXACTLY THE SAME!

MaximusConfessor on October 7, 2009 at 4:30 PM

This is simply folklore. I think even Augustine and Jerome believed it but it has since been labeled as unlikely. I don’t say proven false because it can’t be proven one way or another because there is no evidence to back it up or deny it one way or another.

shick on October 8, 2009 at 5:16 AM

I was referring to the Catholic translation done from the Vulgate that was done around the time of the King James Bible. I was thinking of Wycliffe when I wrote “hundreds of years.”

NeverLiberal on October 7, 2009 at 5:10 PM

I don’t put much weight in translation reliability based on when it was composed before or after another. I was trying to show where your argument was self-contradictory. Now that you’ve explained yourself better my response at that point is irrelevant. Instead of when a translation was composed, I put more weight on two things; the method of translation and the sources from which the translation is being drawn from.

It must be understood that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Imperfect giants, but giants none-the-less. Jerome’s work in producing the Vulgate benefits us to this day. There were flaws in his translation but it would be harder for us to make modern translations (including the 14th-16th century versions already discussed) without his hard work. Those who penned translations a millennial after Jerome used the very methods (with improvements of course) passed down from him through the ages.

Yes, I know, Tyndale and Coverdale were not hundreds of years earlier than the Douay, but I was getting bored of blogging and wanted to play World of Warcraft. Kind of like how I feel right now.

I appreciate your honesty. I’m a Call of Duty 4 man myself.

Christians far and wide did not use Jerome’s Vulgate.

Please direct me to a source for this information because I haven’t been able to verify it one way or the other.

Wycliffe himself complained of its corruption and translated his Bible from the vulgar Latin, which is not to be confused with the Latin Vulgate.

I’m not sure he complained of its corruption as much as he did of its inaccuracy. As I said before Wycliffe translated it to English because it was a common tongue not because it was corrupt.

To say that the Vulgate was generally the Bible of all Christians is not true. The Catholic church made their own translation of the Bible because of the popularity of the translations already extant which did not use the Vulgate.

Know your throwing me off again I’m afraid. Your first sentence here mentions the Vulgate but then in the next sentence you refer to the newer Catholic translation.

Another thing. Until you clarify you still haven’t proven the first sentence. In researching my responses to you I discovered that there were popular vulgar latin translations before Jerome’s. His was meant to improve what was faulty in those.

I am aware what White’s intent was, and it was wrong.

How can you be aware of any man’s intentions?

I did not poison the well. Jerome and the rest of the crew poisoned the well with their corruption and adoption of pagan influence. The 5th century church as well as every century of the Roman Catholic church’s existence before and after was full of heresies.

From your statement above I don’t think you know what poisoning the well means. I’ve provided a link to it to clarify. After reading your recent response I no longer think you were intentionally obfuscating. Instead I have concluded that you are missing some understanding of church history.

The ancient church suffers from the very same problems that modern churches today suffer and this is imperfection in understanding and wisdom. We however are blessed to have learned the consequences from our bad translations and knowledge of the original languages.

I’ll say it again. It is highly inaccurate to think that the ancient church is the same as today’s Roman Catholic church. Cardinal Henry Newman wouldn’t have come up with development of doctrine theory if he didn’t notice it himself.

shick on October 8, 2009 at 6:14 AM

Do conservatives need their own god??
That’s the root of this question.
The Bible, if translated accurately, is what it is.
King James is the best translation. I trust it the most, although it can be difficult to read. American Standard and NIV I use to help out. No one should be messing around with the Big Guy’s Word though. He said what He said. And if you try to twist it to fit your agenda,, well, I don’t want to be around when it all comes down on you.

JellyToast on October 8, 2009 at 7:22 AM

I don’t put much weight in translation reliability based on when it was composed before or after another.

Which explains, ‘shick’, why you have no business spouting off on this “issue”.

In Biblical manuscript study, the oldest texts are given the most weight initially, because the idea is that the closer you get to the time of the orignals, the fewer people there would have been copying it. It is worth remembering that those who copied texts were frequently illiterates themselves.

The methodology used to determine age of a manuscript takes in many factors, including letter shape etc, and is key in debunking the many antiquities frauds that have come up over the years.

Enjoy your catfight.

BemusedMalkinite on October 8, 2009 at 9:39 AM

My point is (the argument of original language aside, because I am by no means a Biblical scholar or theologian) that Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. And we believe he did use specific words for a reason – He’s God, there’s a purpose behind every action, He’s sovereign in all things, including how his Scriptures are translated.

Twisting His words to suit a particular political ideology is blasphemy.

And I’ve been called a lot of things, but this is the first time I’ve had Pharisee tossed at me. Heh!

citrus on October 8, 2009 at 9:56 AM

Conservatives do not need the Bible translated in any way shape or form.

But, Liberals just need to start reading the Bible. Of course, if you offered them various versions to choose from (large print, the original language, the King James version, or the readers digest version) and dollar to donuts, they would choose the King James version. Why? Because the King James version, was written by one of their own kind (a King) so the contents must be totally credible because these are the words of the “KING”.

They fail to understand that the “KING” spoke the words to millions and king James just transcribed them. On the other hand, Conservatives would question the words of a lowly king transcribing the words of the “KING” and choose the original language so nothing gets lost in the tranlation.

MSGTAS on October 8, 2009 at 10:42 AM

I think even Augustine and Jerome believed it(the Septuagint) but it has since been labeled as unlikely. I don’t say proven false because it can’t be proven one way or another because there is no evidence to back it up or deny it one way or another.

shick on October 8, 2009 at 5:16 AM

What do you mean unlikely?

We Orthodox HAVE the Septuagint in Greek and have always used it,no translations necessary(GREEK Orthodox remember).

Even our translations of the Bible in english etc are from the Septuagint.

You can buy them here:

The Orthodox Study Bible

http://www.orthodoxstudybible.com/index.php/articles/who_decides/ (includes interesting article regarding background of Septuagint and proven jewish corruption of Scriptures to counter Christianity)

Holy Apostles Convent translation

http://www.holyapostlesconvent.org/HacWebStore/product_info.php?products_id=8

MaximusConfessor on October 8, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Blasphemous, and idolatrous, because these people want to remold the Word of God to fit their real deity: their political ideology.

rightwingprof on October 8, 2009 at 11:18 AM

There are an untold number of Bible translations already out there. We would only need to have one, except, the meanings of words change and we have people that come along and don’t agree with the prior translations from the ancient languages. Whatever they come up with, if it brings a person more in harmony with their Creator, I can see nothing wrong with it. If the translator has any other purpose than to comment and clarify the Word of God, to their highest understanding, then I could see great mischief coming from their translation.

DL13 on October 8, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Yeah, re-translate the Bible so it fits your political views.

Amazingly stupid.

Dave Rywall on October 8, 2009 at 12:01 PM

eh,
It must be a good site. It makes the libs nuts. Heh. I really feel like this is a subject people need to suss out for themselves. I dont feel the need for this “bible” but they are free to make it. No one has to read it. I wont bother, but maybe it is helpful to someone? I just dunno. I form my own opinions from the several different texts I have read.

Oh, and Rod Dreher is a tool of epic proportions.

di butler on October 8, 2009 at 12:52 PM

It is never wise to make the Standard conform to a mere mortal but always the mere mortal to the Standard. Check your Standard …. our color guard has fallen and is bleeding out into the mud of our collective dispair.

Tony Blare would likely approve of such an effort, as would most of the G20 representatives. Confusion serves their adjenda well.

Prepare yourselves … make His ways strait.

mcplumbercuda on October 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Which explains, ’shick’, why you have no business spouting off on this “issue”.

In Biblical manuscript study, the oldest texts are given the most weight initially, because the idea is that the closer you get to the time of the orignals, the fewer people there would have been copying it. It is worth remembering that those who copied texts were frequently illiterates themselves.

The methodology used to determine age of a manuscript takes in many factors, including letter shape etc, and is key in debunking the many antiquities frauds that have come up over the years.

Enjoy your catfight.

BemusedMalkinite on October 8, 2009 at 9:39 AM

Please reread my sentence that you quoted. Here it is.

I don’t put much weight in translation reliability based on when it was composed before or after another.

My subject was the translation and not the manuscripts. I agree with you 100%.

shick on October 11, 2009 at 3:23 PM

What do you mean unlikely?

We Orthodox HAVE the Septuagint in Greek and have always used it,no translations necessary(GREEK Orthodox remember).

Even our translations of the Bible in english etc are from the Septuagint.

You can buy them here:

The Orthodox Study Bible

http://www.orthodoxstudybible.com/index.php/articles/who_decides/ (includes interesting article regarding background of Septuagint and proven jewish corruption of Scriptures to counter Christianity)

Holy Apostles Convent translation

http://www.holyapostlesconvent.org/HacWebStore/product_info.php?products_id=8

MaximusConfessor on October 8, 2009 at 11:00 AM

You miss understood me completely but it doesn’t seem you really tried to understand. The folklore I mention is not that the septuagint exists but that 70 scholars translated it seperately and came out with the exact same translation.

Try reading someone else’s post more carefully before replying.

shick on October 11, 2009 at 3:30 PM

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