How’s That Conservative Bible Translation Coming?

You may remember that a few years ago the site Conservapedia made themselves virtually immune to parody by launching the Conservative Bible Project, which sought to re-translate the Bible to be more right-wing than it already is. Because King James, as we all know, was a raving Marxist. Richard Schiffman at Alternet checks in on how it’s going.

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.

Gee, you mean scholars with an expertise in Hebrew and Greek studied the extent manuscripts and concluded that these were better translations of those verses? Nope. This is a populist project, utilizing the “best of the people” instead of those ivory tower academics with their education and expertise. So those verses can mean whatever they want it to mean. This must be the translation that David Barton is using.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Well, if you’re going to excise everything Jesus may not have said …

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    This is a populist project, utilizing the “best of the people” instead of those ivory tower academics with their education and expertise.

    Conservapedia is Wikipedia, but with morons.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    “Blessed are the meek.” Change that one to, “Blessed are the God-fearing,”

    Well, you’ve gotta be pretty meek to fear a god that’s as incompetent as the god of the bible.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    ” instead of those ivory tower academics

    Ah, yes. These would be cinderblock tower academics?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It might have been a later addition that wasn’t in the original Gospels, according to some right-thinking, or rather right-leaning scholars.

    Pthththt. Right-leaning my ass. It simply was not in Gospel manuscripts for several centuries after the alleged life of Christ. Anyone who has read Bart Ehrman knows that. Wikipedia:

    The pericope is not found in any place in any of the earliest surviving Greek Gospel manuscripts; neither in the two 3rd century papyrus witnesses to John – P66 and P75; nor in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, although all four of these manuscripts may acknowledge the existence of the passage via diacritical marks at the spot. The first surviving Greek manuscript to contain the pericope is the Latin/Greek diglot Codex Bezae of the late 4th or early 5th century…

    The Conservative Bible project certainly deserves criticism, but someone schooled in textual scholarship ought to be doing the criticising.

  • Randomfactor

    Conservapedia is a satire site, written by folks who don’t realize that fact.

  • cswella

    It always amazes me how easily people are able to accept this sort of thing and still revere the book as the Word of God. If they’re going to excise entire portions of the bible because “it may have been added later and is not real”, how in hell can they justify blindly believing anything else?

  • dingojack

    Reginald Selkirk – have at it! Clearly, with all your Wiki skills. you’re just the man for the job!

    @@

    Dingo

  • Reginald Selkirk

    RE #8 DingoJack: No I’m not, and I’m intelligent enough to realise it.

  • petemoulton

    Marcus Ranum: “Ah, yes. These would be cinderblock tower academics?”

    Actually, I’d say they’re underground bunker academics.

  • blf

    I’d say they’re underground bunker academics

    with defective tin-foil hats.

  • raven

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” might be a late addition.

    But most bible scholars don’t get too worked up about it.

    The whole New Testament is early, late, and middle additions. It’s mostly fiction. Something like a quarter of the books are known forgeries, some of the letters of Paul.

  • raven

    It’s what the Ipso Facto and Barna polls have indicated.

    Many or most US xians don’t really believe what they say. It’s a tribal marker. Or right wing extremist politics with a few crosses stuck on for show.

    PS It’s been said that Conservapedia exists to document Andew Schlafly’s descent into madness.

    Unfortunately that isn’t necessarily so. A lot of kooks are stable within their categories. They never get better but they never get worse either.

  • busterggi

    I’m sure they won’t excise “Blessed are the Peacemakers” because there is nothing like Jesus singling out his favorite classic revolver for praise.

  • John Hinkle

    Wow, that “Best of the Public” page is one humongous load of self-congratulatory bombast. Did you know Andrew Schlafly coined the phrase? And various influential thinkers throughout human history implicitly endorsed the concept of the “Best of the Public”?

    Boy oh boy, that Andrew Schlafly, he’s right up there with the intellectual giants of our time. [eyeroll]

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    raven “The whole New Testament is early, late, and middle additions. It’s mostly fiction. Something like a quarter of the books are known forgeries, some of the letters of Paul.”

    Lies! You’ll have to pull Paul’s Epistle to Penthouse Letters from my cold, dead Bible!

  • david

    Thomas Jefferson did something similar, centuries ago. Perhaps all people pick and choose which parts of the bible they want to respect. The only non-valid option is to claim that all of it is accurate (due to internal inconsistencies). The claim that none of it is accurate is, however, a valid option.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    The Conservative Bible project certainly deserves criticism, but someone schooled in textual scholarship ought to be doing the criticising.

    Really? Why should actual Bible scholars bother? Randomly selected members of the FTB commentariat are all but certain to exceed the talents of the Conservapedia Bible vandals.

  • raven

    Barna.com:

    Post-Christian Totals

    Based on Barna’s aggregate metric, nearly two-fifths of the nation’s adult population (37%) qualifies as post-Christian.

    This includes 9% of Americans who are highly post-Christian—lacking engagement in 80% or more of the measures of belief, practice or commitment. And another one-quarter is moderately post-Christian (28%), without engaging at least 60% of the factors.

    Barna, an evangelical pollster who seems accurate enough (amazingly for a xian) claims that 37% of the US population are post Christians. Including many who are census xians.

    I’d say it is higher. A lot of the Oogedy Boogedy set are just tribalists whose perversion of xianity is made up as they go along. Like Andrew Schlafly and most of the fundie xian leaders. US xianity is hollowing out into and filling up with right wing extremist politics, hate, lies, and hypocrisy.

  • gshelley

    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

    That’s a rather dishonest spin.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_and_the_woman_taken_in_adultery

    The pericope is not found in any place in any of the earliest surviving Greek Gospel manuscripts; neither in the two 3rd century papyrus witnesses to John – P66 and P75; nor in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, although all four of these manuscripts may acknowledge the existence of the passage via diacritical marks at the spot. The first surviving Greek manuscript to contain the pericope is the Latin/Greek diglot Codex Bezae of the late 4th or early 5th century. It is also the earliest surviving Latin manuscript to contain it; 17 of the 23 Old Latin manuscripts of John 7-8 contain at least part of the Pericope. Papias (circa AD 125) refers to a story of Jesus and a woman “accused of many sins” as being found in the Gospel of the Hebrews, which may well refer to this passage;

    Many scholars, including Bart Ehrman, consider it a likely interpolation

  • raven

    We’ve all seen the latest GOP/Tea Party target. The poor.

    One of their main campaign issues is cutting food stamps. They’ve already cut the program by 10%.

    This is, as mostly nonxians have pointed out, nothing like what the jesus of the NT taught. He was a champion of the poor and critical of the rich and powerful of his time. Enough so that they ended up killing him.

    It also is senseless. 70% of all food stamp households have children. 40% have one working member. You can work for McDonalds or Walmart and qualify for food stamps these days. One GOP representative was called on the fact that many food stamp recipients are children. He just said they should be put to work. Because child labor has historically been a positive condition.

    Just one more data point that US xianity is dying. When your gods are sockpuppets that agree with you always and hate what you hate, you can be sure that they are just something you yourself created.

  • Evan Brehm

    This is only the tip of the iceberg on this hilariously stupid project. I did some research and found out that Andrew Schlafly is convinced of a few things:

    * The publicity he recieved by going onto the Colbert Report was positive

    * The New International Version of the Bible is written with a “pro-abortion bias”

    * Jesus may never have actually said the things that he said, but he definitely said the things Andy thought he said and most certainly did not say the things Andy doesn’t think he said.

    http://mythbuster43.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-conservative-bible-project.html

  • blf

    I suppose the nutters should be given a brownie point for realizing the mythology wasn’t first craved in “American” and thus needs to be translated…

  • kevinalexander

    Give Andy time and Jesus will have said things that weren’t noticed at the time but that Andy will just know that he said.

  • kevinalexander

    Like that whole loaves and fishes thing. What actually happened was the LORD took the food for his speaking fee and then told the freeloading bums in the crowd to get a job.

  • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

    Methinks Andy & Friends are in for a rude surprise, assuming the religion they are setting up to be heretics from is true: Rev. 22:18-19

    @15: Agreed, and I recommend disconnecting the irony meter before reading that page. Andy Schlafly: an ego on two legs.

  • peterh

    @ #12:

    Of the 13 Pauline writings in the anon, 6 are known or greatly suspected to be from other, unknown writers, Also, I & II Peter fal into that category.

    A

    @ #26:

    That verse properly applies only to the text of Revelation itself. (It was a very common ‘copyright’ provision of the times, since the lawyers couldn’t get you but the boogeyman could.)

  • peterh

    “…writings in the canon…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    In fairness to Reginal Selkirk, there are many legitimate biblical scholars (I know that sounds like an oxymoron) who do believe that the story of the prostitute about to be stoned is a later addition and is not in the earliest versions of the gospel texts.

    So, Andy may have stumbled upon the correct answer but for the wrong (and incredibly stupid) reason. As others have noted, Andy’s main criteria appears to be “I don’t like it, therefore Jesus must never have said/done that.” That kind of throws the whole “The Bible is the inerrant word of Gawd” idea out the window.

  • colnago80

    Re Evan Brehm @ #22

    Andy is also convinced that the Theory of Relativity is all wrong, despite the fact that 99.99% of physicists accept it.

  • raven

    It’s job security at least.

    After he finishes rewriting the bible, he can rewrite the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, all of history, and all of science.

    Since Andrew Schlafly is a Solipsist living in his own world, why not? At least his world has only one person and our world the other 7 billion humans. It’s a win-win situation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1360322113 aaronbaker

    The Conservative Bible project certainly deserves criticism, but someone schooled in textual scholarship ought to be doing the criticising.

    I have to disagree here. As the article makes very plain, there’s plenty in the project that immediately strikes any intelligent non-textual scholar as ridiculous. I don’t think it’s sinking into fundamentalist-style anti-intellectualism to say that lay readers have every right to criticize where their possession of normal intelligence enables them to do so.

    A (maybe) interesting aside. The German-American philosopher Walter Kaufmann wrote some pretty vigorous anti-religious polemics, Critique of Religion and Philosophy and The Faith of a Heretic, which are largely (and undeservedly) forgotten today. In one or both of those books, Kaufmann mentions the episode of the woman taken in adultery, notes that it’s most likely a late interpolation, and includes that probability in his indictment of the New Testament; in other words, nothing else in the NT approaches that text as an expression of compassion; nowhere else in the NT are people told NOT to punish, given their own sinfulness.

  • raven

    Tea Party jesus really exists. Schlafly knows.

    This is part of a much longer column. It’s very funny.

    addictinginfo. org:

    Author: Justin “Filthy Liberal Scum” Rosario October 23, 2013 10:08 am

    Tea Party Jesus really does hate. He hates so much, he’s completely forgotten that he’s not supposed to say this stuff out loud. Republican Jesus™ figured out, decades ago, that open racism is bad for business. The same goes for openly treating women like whores and property. Even gay bashing is out of favor among the general public. But Tea Party Jesus doesn’t care. He just can’t keep his mouth shut. Worse, he’s proud of his hate!

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates homosexuals. But don’t you call him a bigot!

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he despises the poor.

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how little he thinks of women’s rights.

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know he thinks rape isn’t really a crime.

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates porch monkeys crackheads n*ggers black people. But don’t you call him a racist!

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much wetbacks drug mules dirty illegals Latinos disgust him. Still not a racist!

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he sneers at the lazy young who only want the same affordable college and job opportunities and pensions and Social Security benefits that HE got. Tea Party Jesus EARNED all that good stuff by being born at the right time to the right family! Get your own!

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates Muslims.

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he loathes contraception in all its forms. If whores have sex, they should pay for it with disease and pregnancy. Just like the Conservative Bible says.

    ■Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates the very idea of government and that’s why you should put him in charge of it.

    Tea Party Jesus says these things in private, in public, on stage and in front of cameras. Over and over and over again. It’s like a form of Tourette’s except instead of cursing, he says what he’s really thinking. Loudly.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” — Deuteronomy 4:2

    “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6

  • thecalmone

    Have the readers of Conservapedia no objectivity or self-knowledge at all? I mean, for a start, the logo is based on an American flag. More importantly, most of the material presented by Conservapedia has an American focus. Do none of these people wonder why the “knowledge” and “facts” presented to them have to have any association at all to any particular country, let alone a conservative spin?

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

    Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

    Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus said that the poor shall buy their own damn insurance and fuck ’em if they can’t afford it.

  • felidae

    ” instead of those ivory tower academics

    Ah, yes. These would be cinderblock tower academics?

    No, it would be the double-wide academics

  • Wylann

    Randomfactor@6: that comment is full of win. Your internets is on its way. (Along with half the NSA…sorry, we tried to scrape them off).

  • pocketnerd

    I wish people would stop legitimizing Andy Schlafly’s little project by calling it a “translation.” That would imply they have volunteers who can read classical Hebrew or Koine Greek. They don’t. Andy is not re-translating the Bible; he’s simply re-writing it.

  • Ichthyic

    The Conservative Bible project certainly deserves criticism, but someone schooled in textual scholarship ought to be doing the criticising.

    That’s like saying Jon Stewart’s newsworthiness should be judged only by Walter Cronkite.