Tag Archives: translation
AlterNet / By Richard Schiffman
Right-Wing Group Seeks Help Rewriting the Bible Because It’s Not Conservative Enough
The King James Bible and more recent translations are veritable primers of progressive agitprop, according to the founder of Conservapedia.
December 20, 2013 |
Liberal bias in the media pales in comparison to what you’ll find in your standard-issue Bibles, according to Conservapedia.com, a kind of Wikipedia for the religious right. The King James Bible, not to mention more recent translations like the New International Version (NIV), are veritable primers of progressive agitprop, complains Andy Schlafly, the founder of Conservapedia.com. (His mother, Phyllis, is an activist best known for her opposition to feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment.)
But not to worry. Andy Schlafly’s group is on the case, and they have invited you to pitch in. Well, maybe not you, exactly, but the “best of the public,” whose assistance is solicited in proposing new wording for left-leaning Bible verses.
Don’t know Aramaic, Hebrew or ancient Greek? Not a problem. What they are looking for is not exactly egghead scholarship, but a knack for using words they’ve read in the Wall Street Journal. They have a list of promising candidates on their website—words like capitalism, work ethic, death penalty, anticompetitive, elitism, productivity, privatize, pro-life—all of which are conspicuously missing from those socialist-inspired Bibles we’ve been reading lately.
In the several years since their translation project was inaugurated, all of the New Testament and several books of the Old have been thoroughly revised. But lots still remains to be done. If you’ve got a soft spot for Leviticus, the Book of Amos, Lamentations or Numbers, they are all still available for rewrite, so get cracking!
To give a sense of how to go about your own retranslation, here are some examples of changes the editors have already made.
Take that story where the mob surrounds a woman accused of adultery and gets ready to stone her, but Jesus intervenes and says, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 7:53-8:11). It might have been a later addition that wasn’t in the original Gospels, according to some right-thinking, or rather right-leaning scholars. So the editors have excised this bleeding-heart favorite from the Good Book, and they’ve also removed Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
“The simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing,” Schlafly points out, proving that, “Jesus might never had said it at all.”
Another thing Jesus might never have said at all is, “Blessed are the meek.” Change that one to, “Blessed are the God-fearing,” the translation’s editors advise, which is far less touchy-feely than the King James version.
Where Jesus teaches that, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24) our mentors at Conservapedia recommend that we scratch the word “rich” and replace it with either “fully fed and entertained” or, if you prefer, “idle miser,” which have none of the Occupy Wall Street-ish sour grapes of the better-known translation.
When Jesus greets his disciples with the blessing, “Peace be with you” (John 20, 26), the editors cleverly change the wording to, “Peace of mind be with you,” so that nobody gets the wrong idea and thinks Jesus was some kind of lilly-livered pacifist.
Likewise where Jesus says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but to save it” (John 3, 17), they change “world” to “mankind,” so it is clear the Christian savior is not advocating environmentalism here. Hey, you can’t be too careful!
Finally, when Jesus admonishes hypocrites to, “Cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,” the conservative Bible replaces the word “hypocrite” with “deceiver,” since hypocrite is often “misused politically against Christians.” Good point!
Once you start tweaking the Bible, the possibilities are endless. One smart aleck on the Internet has suggested an alternate rewrite for the one about the rich guy who wants to become a disciple: “It is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a poor camel driver.” Brilliant! You know, it still kind of sounds like the original, but with a far more capitalist-friendly takeaway message.
While we’re at it, why not use verbatim Monty Python’s politically neutered mishearing of the Sermon on the Mount from Life of Brian: “Blessed are the cheesemakers…”
But don’t stop there. The Ten Commandments could use a little judicious revision as well. Just add an asterisk after Thou Shall Not Kill*
*Except to blot out terrorists
*Fight neocolonialist wars
*Bomb abortion clinics
Be creative. Include some brand new commandments of your own such as, “Thou shalt not … raise taxes on the rich, regulate the financial industry, permit gay marriage, take climate change seriously, feed the poor, clothe the naked, heal the sick….”
Richard Schiffman is an environmental journalist, poet and author of two books. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Reuters, NPR and the Guardian, among other outlets.