The Bible is too liberal


In the spirit of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, celebrated annually the last week of September, The Lead has discovered a site that believes the Bible is too liberal.

Conservapedia is heading up the Conservative Bible Project to “develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.”

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

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

Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; 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”; 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

Some ideas for work include:

The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Is this a liberal corruption of the original? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible.

Dr. Deirdre Good, professor at of New Testament at the General Theological Seminary, writes a few comments after scanning the opening chapters of the Gospel of Mark on the site: “I’ve just dabbled in the conservative translation of Mark’s gospel and it seems tendentious. No one thinks any translation is perfect. But does substituting “The Divine Guide” for the term “Spirit” in e.g. the baptism narrative convey Mark’s ideas about Jesus’ Baptism or the Spirit itself? And the translation of the verb in Mark 1:12 “the Divine Guide then led Jesus into the desert” is just wrong. I simply disagree that translations not using the term “man” to speak of Jesus emasculate him. Changing “scribes” or “Pharisees” to “intellectuals” in passages reporting controversies pits the latter against Jesus. Is this the message we want a bible translation to convey? Finally, the proposed translation of Mark 1:34b: ‘he commanded the devils to be silent, because they knew Jesus as God’ introduces a description of Jesus that simply isn’t in the text.”

h/t to Typographer.

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5 Responses to "The Bible is too liberal"
  1. Reading over their site, "translation" isn't what they're talking about, though that's what they're calling it. It's a wiki-edit on preconceived principles with a general invitation to any to work from not-copyright material (King James Version) or get permission from publishers of still in copyright translations or paraphrases to offer verse by verse edits. It's 1984 or Solzhenisyn's "language of maximum clarity" from Cancer Ward seeking equal time for better conservative proof-texting.

    More of their description of the task - to the end of this note is quoting the site ---

    "Here are possible approaches to creating a conservative Bible translation:

    * 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"

    An existing translation might license its version for improvement by the above approaches, much as several modern translations today are built on prior translations. Alternatively, a more ambitious approach would be to start anew from the best available ancient transcripts.

    In stage one, the translation could focus on word improvement and thereby be described as a "conservative word-for-word" translation. If greater freedom in interpretation is then desired, then a "conservative thought-for-thought" version could be generated as a second stage."

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  2. This is just a more bald-faced expression of a sort of syncretism that is endemic in much American Christianity.

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  3. Matt,

    You say "syncretism" like it is some kind of very bad awful thing. Or like it isn't the reality of just about every religious system on the planet. Especially Christianity with its historical blending of Jewish tradition and ritual, certain local pagan practices and beliefs, and a rather large helping of Platonic Greek philosophy. (Not to mention the cross pollination of Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic and countless secular influences.)

    Purity of tradition is a rare bird, if it even exists at all.

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  4. My favorite part of this personally is the reference to the "logic" of hell. In the context of a just God, I actually see any idea of eternal damnation as illogical because of the contradiction.

    More importantly, this reminds me of a discussion we had at our Cathedral this morning after discussing Jerome's apparent reputation for being a stickler when it came to scripture. At this point, it must be clear that the bible can be made to support nearly any position. And when it comes to the "experiment" of interpreting scripture, the constant is the text itself. The variable is the interpreter. So, why do we allow hermeneutic discussions to be framed in the context of "what the bible tells me?" That ignores the role that the variable plays in the experiment. Rather, we should discuss our interpretations - and all translations are interpretations - in the context of "what I see in the bible." If we did that, everyone would be forced to confront their own preconceived notions, etc., and own them personally. As long as we pretend that we as interpreters are not what brings about the variations in biblical understanding, we can hide our prejudices behind the bible and, by extension, God - "It's not me that is exclusionary, I'm just following the bible!"

    At the end of the day, I'm no longer interested in what "the bible teaches." Rather, I want to know why each individual finds what they find in that sacred text. What is the difference between the variables in the experiment that creates the different results despite to unwavering stability of the constant?

    It seems to me that scripture is not merely a window into God, but also a mirror that reflects the soul.

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