Tuesday, October 06, 2009

This Reads like Parody, but as Near as I can Tell It's Not

Over at Conservopedia they have started a project to provide a Conservative Translation of the Bible. Or, to be more precise, an accurate translation that removes liberal bias from the translation, restoring it to it's true conservative text. On the notes page, MarkGall explains.
It is important to understand that the retranslation is in no way a new translation based on a political agenda. It is rather a new translation whose primary aim is precisely to remove the influence that political agendas have had on previous translations, and to update certain passages to use new vocabulary that more effectively captures their meaning.
In a sense I don't have a problem with this - they rightly point out there certainly have been previous translations of the Bible with various axes to grind. So why shouldn't they get in on the act? No real reason.

In another sense, however, it is problematic because one of their stated aims is to remove or modify those scriptures that give comfort to Liberal Christians.
Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the "social justice" movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word "volunteer" is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word "comrade" is used three times, "laborer(s)" is used 13 times, "labored" 15 times, and "fellow" (as in "fellow worker") is used 55 times.
Also apparently it's unlikely that Jesus said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."

I think this goes back to what I was talking about earlier - moving into an era when Liberals and Conservatives no longer speak the same language. Fortunately this particular project I see as being more of a niche thing; I don't see mainstream churches embracing it wholesale.


Random Goblin said...

So, the funny thing is, absolutel zero churches are going to "embrace" this. Fundamentalists will give up their King James Translation when you pry it from their cold dead hands. Evangelical scholars, and thus evangelical thinkers, writers, and clergy are pretty savvy about the issues that come up in real translation. They do have their disputes over more liberal translations and translators, but the issues are not really motivated by American partisan politics. And mainline Protestant denominations are the very ones who use the more liberal translations already.

The only people who will even be mildly interested in this "Bible" (except as a novelty item) would be extremely partisan Republicans who are only casually religious, or who are not really religious at all.

Before you write more about this, you might want to look into the real issues that come into Bible Translation, how different translations have their fans among adherents to different kinds of theology, and so forth. No offense, but as a Mormon, it's easy to just be completely ignorant about it.

These guys are cranks. Like if I decided to rewrite the Bible to fit into the Star Wars universe. It would be wacky, and a novelty item at best. But not even Star Wars fans would want to use it as an actual Bible. Don;t give these people the attention they are clamoring after.

Bryant said...

A few points

While as a Mormon I might be ignorant of biblical translation, you'd think as a person with degrees in History and English I might be familiar with the concept. And, as it turns out, I am.

This is a crank project that isn't going anywhere, I agree with you there. That doesn't mean that there's nothing to say about it. The mentality that animates this particular project also plays into the Tea Party Movement, the Birther, the Destruction of ACORN, the paranoid rantings of Glenn Beck, and so on and forth. They are all swimming in the same waters.

You could also argue, as some conservatives do, that these cranks don't have anything to do with Conservatism as a whole. That is not true. These cranks (of various degrees of crankitude) make up a substantial part of the Republican Base. Substantial enough that if they stay home on election day, their candidates don't tend to do very well.

Yes Corporate Conservatives would like to be able to ignore the more flamboyant members of their party, but those cranks do not intend to be ignored.