Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Politicizing the Bible

Sadly this doesn't seem to be a joke. The website Conservapedia (tag line: "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia") has taken upon itself to start a project to revise the Bible to remove what it describes as "liberal bias." Their Conservative Bible Project starts out:
Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations.
Personally I wasn't aware that Biblical scholars were operating with any political bias when translating Greek to English. Silly me thought they were more concerned with things like accuracy and providing historical context. But I guess now I've been enlightened to the previously secret scandal that most modern Bible translations were made by people wearing Yes We Can! buttons.

So what is Conservapedia's goal? They want a "modern" translation that meets 10 guidelines:

1. Framework against Liberal Bias
2. Not Emasculated
3. Not Dumbed Down
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms
5. Combat Harmful Addiction
6. Accept the Logic of Hell
7. Express Free Market Parables
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples
10. Prefer Conciseness of Liberal Wordiness

Now let me state that I'm not against revising translations from time-to-time. Language can be modernized, scholars can update translations based on new findings, better understanding of historical context can lead to new thinking, etc (in fact, Catholic books of worship were revised a few years ago to reflect some minor translation differences in the Sunday readings from the previous editions). But liberal bias? "Powerful Conservative Terms?" Free market parables? Liberal "wordiness?" Please.

They are actually complaining that the use of the word "comrade" comes from "defective translations" and should be replaced with "volunteer." Personally I thought a synonym for comrade was "friend," but I guess the fact that those leftist pinko Commies used it makes it a bad word.

Also according to Conservapedia, the story of the adulteress (John 8: 1-11) contains the "liberal message" of not judging someone else's conduct when you yourself are not perfect. Personally I'm not familiar with the history of that passage, and if biblical scholars judge it to not be authentic, then I won't argue with its removal from John. But to claim that its inclusion by Liberals undermines the rule of Mosaic law calling for the "God-ordained government" to impose the death penalty is going more than a bit too far.

It seems to me that the Bible's messages don't fit within some people's narrow world view, and rather than re-examining their own values they'd rather change the Bible to better reflect those (sorely misguided) beliefs. It wouldn't surprise me if their finished "Conservative Bible" made Jesus a lot tougher on crime, less likely to turn the other cheek, and a lot more like a vengeful Old Testament God.

Maybe when these guys are finished they can take a look at that pesky U.S. Constitution, too. There are some amendments in particular that were inserted by Liberals (whose idea was it to let women vote, anyway?), and the whole thing is just too wordy.