'The Conservative Bible Project'

DemWit’s readership, that I know of, is made up mostly of Christians, a few Jews, at least four atheists. I am certain that among my Middle East visitors there are Muslims. I do not personally know a Rastafarian, but everyone is welcome here.

All, I believe, will find this post of interest. Oh, I thought about being really clever and writing a conservative version of The Beatitudes – “Wretched are the peacemakers, for they shall not be called neocons” - and The Ten Commandments – “Thou shalt not commit adultery unless you are a televangelist or a holder of public office” – but the “Conservative Bible Project” is far too serious to make light of.

The Project is headed by attorney and teacher Andy Schlafly, son of conservative standard-bearer Phyllis Schlafly. Its goal is to expunge “liberal bias” from the Holy Bible. So help me, God!

There are a lot of articles via Google, and I might be one of the last persons on the planet to hear of this project, but I pass this article from The Huffington Post along to you, dear reader. Although I will have a few words to say following it, I cannot improve on this “just when you thought you’d heard it all” story:

Conservative Bible Project Cuts Out Liberal Passages

The Huffington Post Rachel Weiner
October 5, 2009

Lo and behold, the Bible has gotten too liberal, according to a group of conservatives. And it needs a little editing.
That's the inspiration behind the Conservative Bible Project, which seeks to take the text back to its supposed right-wing roots.

Yes, even scripture is not orthodox enough for the modern conservative. Not that it's the fault of the author(s), exactly. The group cites a few reasons why the Bible is too progressive: "Lack of precision in the original language ... lack of precision in modern language" and "translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one."

So how can the Bible be conservatized? The group has proposed a Wikipedia-like group editing project. Some of the ideas would only bring the translation closer to the original. But others would fundamentally change the text.

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. 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[3]
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] 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".
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
6. 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.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. 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
10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

Among the words to be eliminated: "government." A conservative columnist at Beliefnet described the effort as "just crazy ... like what you'd get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin'."


In a post titled “Conservative Bible Project Draws Predictable Liberal Scorn,” the conservative media site NewsBusters warns:

“But whether the Conservative Bible Project is inspired or misguided, liberals should exercise some circumspection before piling on. Even Weiner explained that, ‘Some of the ideas would only bring the translation closer to the original.’ "

NewsBusters omits the rest of her quote: “But others would fundamentally change the text.”

I have had my own problems with the King James Version (KJV) translation, but it’s the version I grew up with and since I am not fluent in Greek or Hebrew, it suffices.

In instances where the original talks about “agape” (the love of God), “philial” (brotherly love) and “erotica” (sexual love), the KJV uses only the word “love.”

Churches base foreign mission work on “The Great Commission,” which in the KJV begins, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations. …” But, the original version means “As you go into the world. …” The latter challenges persons to witness by their daily lives. Two good concepts, two different meanings.

But, I’ve got a little news for NewsBusters: conservatives all over this country grew up with the King James Version of the Holy Bible, and they are not going to cotton to the removal of words like “Jehovah,” “Yahweh” and “Lord God.”

What these new translators really want is an American theocracy, while at the same time – in their zealotry – condemning theocracies like Iran.. Do we really want persons of such reasoning ability to interpret scriptures for us?

I would challenge any members of this project to read Matthew 5: 1-48 – The Sermon on the Mount – and tell me how they would improve this essence of Christianity, this passionate passage of great literature.


Papamoka said...

I'm of the simple belief to do what is right in your own life and in your interactions with others. Pick any two people to read any passage in the bible and you will have two different interpertations. But rewriting it to fit a political ideology is just gross abuse of a simple life manual.

Thou shall not steal is simple and to the point. Rewriting that one alone to fit the needs of big oil and even bigger insurance companies could fill up the library of congress.

Great post BJ!

Frodo, Keeper of the Ring said...

The literal translation of documents is a great problem in the Christian Faith. The span of time between event-chronicle-translation is such that "faith" has to exist merely to approximate the interpretation. Frodo's example remains the conflict he once had with a College Professor Of Religion, a PhD, who told Frodo that the translation of the Ten Commandments was incorrect. It does not say "Thou Shalt Not Kill," Mr.Frodo, rather it addresses the Children of Israel,and says "Thou Shalt Not Kill of Thine Own Kind."
If he's right, God didn't mind much when we wiped out the indigenous population of the Americas, or when we bomb a few innocent Afghanis in search of insurgents.

Perhaps that is why Frodo's faith is more secular than most.

Good Southern Man said...

I knew this was coming. My profession requires me to listen, with scrutiny, to classical vocal music. When I get in the car, I turn the radio off or listen to talk radio. Several times, in my search for talk radio, I came across a preacher. I find it familiar, fascinating and more of a pep talk for believers than anything else. Just a couple of days ago the preacher said that in a survey of religion in America, "no religion" increased from 8 to 15 percent. I can't verify these statistics but the preachers are scared that they will lose their flock. My first thought is that they would revamp their religion to follow the successful Hollywood Scientologists. L. Ron Hubbard who wrote "Dianetics" says in his forward that you need to read his book with a dictionary because you will not know every word. I see this movement is trying to do the same thing. I actually applaud this movement for digging into the bible. As a Christian the bible was very helpful one or two passages at a time but when I doubted its truth and started reading parts of the bible that are rarely read and reading the parts that were omitted by decree of the Council of Trent, I soon came to the conclusion that it was not true. It seemed to be a tool to keep society in check. Ask any Christian what would happen if no one believed and I bet they would say that chaos would ensue. We have socially evolved to the point of caring for our future, caring for our planet, caring for our fellow man and have placed punishments for those who step too far away from these cares. We have a long way to go but the absence of a god will not change this ongoing evolution. Now that I am not a Christian, I feel more compelled to help my fellow man. I realize I am chasing a few rabbits this morning but my point is this; by reading and translating the bible, these people will come across things that will make them question their beliefs. This, no matter the outcome, is a good thing. It could make them stronger in their beliefs or it could make them a non believer. Either way, they will change after this project. If it makes them stronger, then it will also make the people who oppose them stronger by becoming more secure in what they believe. Education by any means is a good move. I too love the KJV because of its poetry. If it was a poem or song, they would translate it into a similar poem or song like structure with alliteration, punctuation, rhyme schemes and meter. So the translation is from art to art rather than mere language to language. Even if they are successful in strict translation, word for word or idea for idea, they will lose the art which is an integral part of the original text. Wow, I didn't think I would have this much to say on the subject. This indeed is worth tracking.

Ranch Chimp said...

Morning Ms.BJ!

I will speak frankly here on this particular piece since it was brought to my attention by invitation.I also want to point out that I'm NOT atheist,christian,muslim,or any of the religious belief system's that are known and praticed or adored or whatever.I dont even follow my familia/ancestor's background or previous belief's.But I am a Texan and an American.I have read the KJV of the bible myself, and enjoyed reading it. But NO ... I absolutely do not take the written word of man as the word of god.

The most interesting part to me of this ... is the stupidity of humanity...the sado masochistic mentality that permeates our modern society,the constant ass kissing of these people in upper rank's who have done nothing for our country,humanity or anything else on this globe but rattle off their jaw's about which one of these classic stories out of the bible is correct,or what to use,what to eliminate,what god personally told them to do to other's and the list is endless of this obviously inbred generational stupidity!

What is even more nauseating to me...is when some spaced out jackass walk's up to me on the street ... and start's reciting off verses to me from the bible,about what Paul said,or what Saul did,etc,etc. they all read off the popular verses that are hand selected by their mentor's...then these flunkies are sent to the street's to rattle it off to people.First place...I dont give a rat's ass about what Saul did, or the Emporer of Rome, or what the popular way to dress was thousand's of year's ago...I dont read the bible for spiritual value, I read it cause I enjoy reading ancient writing's and how folk's and their societies were. Some of these writing's were written under the influence of mind altering drug's as well,drug's were commonly used in spiritualism in those time's and didnt become a menace or evil until modern human's got a hold of them to use for recreation.Then the bible itself was revised and retranslated and redone time and again throughout the ages,there were so many interpretation's and version's it's incredible.I am sure GOD is nauseated with what religion is!And obviously Jesus according to the 4 gospel's was appauled by the church and its manufactured religion's!Even the 4 gospel's talk about the same character Jesus,but all have their own twist to the story. A well known atheist I think summed it up perfectly Dr.Richard Dawkins when he was asked recently..."if there were a god...what religion do you think he would have embraced?"(similar word's)Dr.Dawkins simply said NONE of them.Why? "Because god would be greater than anything they could imagine...with a religion far better than the portrait puny production's of our religion's."

I am a Texan/American ... I DONT wear sheet's,pray in the middle of the desert,bow to religious icon's, or even believe nonsense like the earth is 6000 year's old or whatever...nor do I give a damn about what society done in Leviticus to homo's, nor what Egyptian's done to Jew's or what Christian's done to Muslim's,or the proper way to pray,I live in 2009 ... and I do what they do in America 2009. And all these muslim countries that are at war over these denomination's of their's...I wouldnt have one of our well trained military on their soil,if any of those rag headed flea bearded sob's ever even remotely threatened me with a nuke...I would level their whole country with inter-continental missile's and not one soldier on their soil wasting lives of our finest on these pathetic ingrates!Our churches, and leader's are pathetic whining pussies as well to put up with this crap!

I'll shut the Hell up now.

Thank You Ms.BJ and God Bless you.

Katherine said...

Well, BJ, as you know, this isn't really anything new. How many versions of Biblical translations from Aramaic have we had at this point, and who knows how accurate any of them are after all these centuries? What I recall from my religion class, both Aramaic and Hebrew can be extremely challenging to translate since the same word can have two very different meanings. The meaning that was chosen for a translation was not necessarily the meaning that was meant.

Over the centuries, the Catholic Church has also held a tight grip on the Illumination translations from Latin, and eliminated altogether any gospels that didn't suit. The ancient Gnostic texts include the Gospel of Thomas, for one, and how many of us have read that? That Thomas hasn't been freely available to us is a tip about something big. I've inferred that Thomas was quite clear that we have and can develop direct relationships with God. No church required. This direct personal relationship with God would certainly threaten any church doctrine. I'd love to read what Mary Magdalene said, too.

Unfortunately, after all these centuries, we humans haven't learned much, I guess. Patriarchy and its closeminded, delusionary dominance and self-righteousness march on. We haven't yet outgrown humans playing God. Sigh. In my view, the great paradox and danger with this approach and 'being right' is that there's no room for God in that viewpoint. When do we learn that belief is belief and not necessarily truth? A person can believe anything s/he pleases. That doesn't make it true.

Your blog subject reminds me of a hypochondriac who goes to one doctor after another for the diagnoses that suits. Actually, if these efforts over the centuries didn't cause such terrible pain and harm, I'd find them amusing. As someone said, "If you don't see God in a rose, you won't find God in any book."

It was also pointed out that we have two choices: The power of love or the love of power. We can pretend, although in truth, if there is God, there's no such thing as competition with God. Humans playing God is an utter waste of time. This particular neuroses is called 'infantile megalomania,” I think.

The irony is that it's the underlying belief that's the real motivator underneath that choice. We're wise to dig deep to identify what it is we actually believe--and eliminate the negative beliefs that don't serve us. Otherwise, what's the point of hanging onto them?

Gee whiz, BJ, after all these centuries, I wish we humans would get to know ourselves.

Love you. Katherine

airth10 said...

I can't see the conservatives getting very for with this. The world has a natural liberal bias -attitude.

B.J. said...

Well, welcome to the Tower of Babel Construction Company!

This discussion is amazing to me as we each speak our minds.

As I experience my lifespan within Earth’s timeline, I feel like an ant trying to take a bread crumb beyond the universe. It's a tough trip, but I've got my job to do.

For that reason, I rely on the simplicity of a word mentioned once in these comments and by Frodo: “faith.” And, I am always aware of how much I don’t know. My faith sustains me, when my accumulated knowledge never could.

I am Christian. I am no longer Southern Baptist. I have a one-on-one relationship with my God as I perceive that entity to be, and it provides me with an inner gyroscope which helps me keep my balance. Therefore, it is good for me and allows me to try to do good and help my fellow man.

I know personally each of you who have commented and know there is a belief system within you that allows you to experience the same inner balance. You care for your fellow man and for our home Earth. And, that is good.

I accept what works for you and ask that you respect what works for me.

I agree that God – by whatever name we give that entity - must look down upon what is done under the banners of the various religions of the world and feel something akin to human sadness.

Right now, there is political ideology swirling around me, frought with hatred, and I feel I am caught in a battle between good and evil.

I will always choose to uphold what I believe to be good. And, for that, I am grateful for my faith.


Tiny said...

Tiny finds all this interesting if not a bit puzzling with a lot of it. For instance:

3. Not Dumbed Down: Most adults read only on a 4th to 6th grade level anyway.

Do they think Boss Rush Limbaugh, Vick's Salve tear-jerker Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Mike Steel and Dick Morris, just to name a few, are examples of intelligence? Uhhhhhhhhh, Tiny must have missed
something in my college classes.

5. Combat Addiction: Does this mean politicians and clergy won't have to go on TV anymore with
"Forgive me, for I have sinned against my wife, my children, my congregates/constituent?

6. Hell and Devil: They should know. They look at both in the mirror when they get up each morning!

7. Express Free Market Parables: Uhhhhhhh, did Tiny miss something? Is this why Jesus overturned the money tables and run the money changers out of the temple?

Uhhhhhhhhh, Tiny thinks they missed something on this one too.

Oooooooooph! Tiny bets they think this means to fleece the flock and the taxpayers instead of "Thou shalt not steal."

8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: By all means eradicate those stumbling-block adulteress. Just leave in the gender biased adulterer. Get rid of all the red letters in the Bible.

As a friend of Tiny's wrote "These people are certifiable and need to be put into a straight jacket. Jesus' word is not goog enough ... taking care of the poor, giving to the needy, etc. Get rid of that b.s. liberal crap. Just stay with the smiting, and killing and screwing....nice, eh?"

9. Credit Open Mindedness: Uhhhhhhh, did they miss something? Like rational, logic, reason..." Come let us reason together." Their minds are like cement--mixed and hard set.

10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness:

“Jehovah,” “Yahweh” and “Lord God.”

They are determined to go to their graves trying to create God in
their own image, and convince people that their propaganda came straight from God, just as GW Bush did. Only thing, GW didn't reveal that his God's name was "Donald who became the Rumsfeld" instead of "Jesus who became the Christ."

They want to spread their theocracy from their "Christian House Family" in DC to the rest of the American population.

However, in the Gospel of Thomas: If ya don't find god and heaven within self, ya ain't gonna find it outside of self.

Then there's the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Book of Enoc. The Catholic Bible has 13 books that were not included in the Protestant Bible. Also, there's the Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Eden. Not to mention the "sacred books" of other religions.

Tiny had people argue that "Thou shalt not kill" means not murder, but that it's okay to kill in wars. Uhhhhhhhhh, Tiny musta missed something there too!

Who better to know the answer to the following than the person and
her group who made this statement? They are rewriting the Bible to make themselves God's favorites, just like Moses did for his followers.

“How to recognize living under Nazis & Communists.”
(Kitty Werthmann)

Tiny's friend answered "and they are going to communist countries telling them not to believe anything we say (China .....and Nicaragua) courting them.....5 different congressmen, DeMint is one of them....boy that would have caused treason talk during Bush's term against the Democrats."

Can't argue with that!

Father Tim Farrell said...

Dear Friends,

I was a seminarian in the early 1980s at St. Charles in Philadelphia. I was walking beside the bell tower on the seminary grounds when a young man and a young woman popped out from behind the tower and the young man enthusiastically came up to shake my hand. He then asked me if I was saved. I was startled, but simply said I was trying to get to heaven as best I could. He began to evangelize, telling me I could know for certain, that the Catholic Church had held me in bondage through fear, and on and on. After a moment or two, I simply said, "Sir, you have your beliefs and I have mine. How about us respecting each others' beliefs and praying for each other and leaving it there." He stood there with his mouth agape, but no words came out. "Have a nice day and God bless you," I said, and walked away. "The Conservative Bible Project" and other such silliness is just reactionary. But so are some of the sad comments I have read after Betty's nice commentary. How do I respond to conservative fundamentalism and liberal fundamentalism? I simply say, "God bless you and I'll pray for you," and then I just walk away peacefully. Life is too short and too beautiful to do otherwise.

A college buddy of BJ's.
Father Tim Farrell
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Farmington, New Mexico

Tiny said...

Way to go Father Tim. Each person is at their own stage of understanding and growth. No one is going to change until they themselves see a need to change, if they ever do. So keep up your good work and God bless you.

Frodo, "thinkin' about things", said...

Frodo was in Philadelphia at the same time as Father Tim. Perhaps, unknowing, they passed each other, and smiled, as they contemplated the freedoms won, at such terrible cost, by those who built our land with swords and plowshares in the areas abutting the Palestra. Perhaps, they thought that day, these were better men than us, for they welcomed those from foreign lands, and different faiths, who also dreamed.
Should their paths cross again some day,Frodo will buy the beer.