Posts Tagged ‘Bible Translation’

The Conservative Bible Project

September 30, 2013

There have been attempts to rewrite the Bible almost since the the last books were written and the canon settled. One of the earliest such attempts was that of Marcion of Sinope who lived in the early second century AD. He believed that the Jewish God of the Old Testament was an inferior being to the God of the New Testament who was the real, universal deity. Marcion, therefore rejected the Old Testament entirely and only accepted the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul’s letters which he edited to remove any Jewish influence. More recently, Thomas Jefferson cut out all of the portions of the Gospels which contained miracles, supernatural events, or claims that Jesus was divine. Joseph Smith not only wrote the Book of Mormon, but he “translated’ portions of the Bible to suit the needs of his new creed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses commissioned the New World Translation, which included changes in wording to support their doctrines.

These revisions were all made for religious reasons by members of various sects who believed that either the contents or the existing translations of the Bible were somehow distorted or corrupted. Jefferson was not an exception. He was a Deist and a naturalist who believed that the pure message of Jesus was corrupted by succeeding generations of clergymen. In our more secular age, we have people who seek to revise the Bible to support a particular political or philosophical agenda. Thus we see the very theologically liberal scholars of the Jesus Seminar publishing a Bible that reflects their very liberal views that the Bible most Christians read is unreliable. There is a group of homosexuals who have published the Queen James Bible, in which all of the uncomplimentary references to homosexuality have been removed. And, there is the Conservative Bible Project.

The Conservative Bible Project  is an effort to produce a new translation of the Bible which is free from any liberal bias. As the article on Conservapedia puts it,

The Conservative Bible Project is a project utilizing the “best of the public” to render God’s word into modern English without liberal translation distortions.[1] A Colbert Report interview featured this project.[2] We completed a first draft of our translation of the New Testament on April 23, 2010.

Already our translators have identified numerous pro-abortion distortions that omit or twist clear references to the unborn child.

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning are, in increasing amount:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias, mainly of the liberal kind, in converting the original language to the modern one.

Experts in ancient languages are helpful in reducing the first type of error above, which is a vanishing source of error as scholarship advances understanding. English language linguists are helpful in reducing the second type of error, which also decreases due to an increasing vocabulary. But the third — and largest — source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate.[3]

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[4]

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias. For example, the Living Bible translation has liberal evolutionary bias;[5] the widely used NIV translation has a pro-abortion bias.[6]
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity[7]; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[8]
  4. Utilize Terms which better capture original intent: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent;[9] Defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction[10] by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[11] 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 Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, 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.”

Terms like liberal and conservative are misleading enough when applied to contemporary American politics. They have absolutely no meaning at all in terms of the politics and economics of the societies in which the books of the Bible were written. Any honest translation of the Bible into a modern language seeks to convey the meaning of the words and phrases of the original languages as closely as possible to the intended meaning of the writers, without allowing contemporary issues in politics or theology to influence the translation. Allowing such issues to influence the translation is the same as rewriting the Bible. I don’t think there is very much difference between the Queen James Bible and a Conservative Bible. I also think that attempting to translate the Bible in such a way as to support a claim of divine sanction for any human made political or social system would not only be distorting the meaning of scripture but also close to blasphemy.

 

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Denying the Son

January 30, 2012

It would seem, according to this article in Yahoo News that there are some controversial translations of the Bible being produced for use in Muslim countries.

A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words “Father” and “Son” from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for “producing Bibles that remove “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” because these terms are offensive to Muslims.”

Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations “have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.”

Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.

The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Here are three examples native speakers give:

First, Wycliffe and SIL have produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of “Lord” instead of “Father” and “Messiah” instead of “Son.”

Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ , an Arabic translation which removes “Father” in reference to God and replaces it with “Allah,” and removes or redefines “Son.” For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiahand his Holy Spirit” instead of “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab American who runs Middle East Resources, terms these organization’s efforts as “a western imperialistic attempt that’s inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology.”

Third, Frontiers and SIL have produced a new Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew that uses Turkish equivalents of “guardian” for “Father” and “representative” or “proxy” for “Son.” To Turkish church leader Rev. Fikret Böcek, “This translation is ‘an all-American idea‘ with absolutely no respect for the ‘sacredness’ of Scripture, or even of the growing Turkish church.”

There are always questions about the exact translations of words and to what extent Christians should adapt practices to fit various cultures, but I think this crosses a line by denying some  basic doctrines of Christianity. I think the following selections from Scripure shows them to be in the wrong.

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)

If they are ashamed of the words of the Gospel and are more concerned with offending Muslims then making a correct translation, then Jesus will be ashamed of them at the Judgement.

Not only that, but they are setting themselves up to be the enemies of Christ

21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:21-23)

And of course, if they are misleading anyone who might be interested in converting, Jesus has some harsh words.

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7)

He's not happy about some new translations.


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