Making the Bible more conservative

Rod Dreher at Crunchycon draws attention to a venture designed to make the Bible more conservative. It’s a project of Conservapedia, a conservative version of Wikipedia. The idea is to use Wiki-style mass collaboration to make a new translation of the Bible that accords with ten principles. From Conservative Bible Project – Conservapedia:

(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.”

So the account of Jesus forgiving the woman who had committed adultery is a “liberal” addition! Revise the parables to reflect free market principles!

If you go to the Bible translating wiki site these people have set up, you will see that they are working from the King James translation. They must think the King James translation is too liberal!

The idea is that thousands of conservatives in a vast self-correcting collaboration will translate the Bible. Never mind that contributors do not need to know the original languages or anything about the Bible. The free marketplace of free market ideas will take care of it.

But more to the point: If you are more conservative than the Bible is, you are too conservative. If you are more liberal than the Bible is, you are too liberal. To read the Bible, you don’t stand above it, evaluating it and passing judgments according to your beliefs. Rather, the Bible evaluates YOU and passes judgment on YOUR beliefs. And if you think the purpose of the Bible is to advance your political agenda or to “combat harmful addictions” and if you think the parts about forgiving sin are “liberal,” you haven’t got a clue about the nature of God’s Word.

I’m totally annoyed that such presumption is labeled “conservative.” Could some of you please explain for the record why this project is NOT conservative?


Ancient Egyptian coins depict Joseph

The Jerusalem Post reports a startling archeological discovery. Coins with Joseph’s name found in Egypt :

Archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph, Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper recently reported. Excerpts provided by MEMRI show that the coins were discovered among a multitude of unsorted artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt.

According to the report, the significance of the find is that archeologists have found scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.

The period in which Joseph was regarded to have lived in Egypt matches the minting of the coins in the cache, researchers said.

“A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait,” said the report.

Bear his PORTRAIT? So we might be able to see what a major figure in the Bible LOOKED LIKE? That would be beyond remarkable. Not to mention strong evidence for the historicity of the Genesis account.

This story says that the coins include pictures of cows and grain, as in Pharoah’s dream that Joseph interpreted.

I can find no published images of the coins or of Joseph’s face. If anyone finds any, let us know.

The new new-NIV may be even more gender-inclusive

We blogged about how a Zondervan editor thinks the handling of the TNIV was a mistake, but, as some of you pointed out, he may have been referring more to mistakes of marketing than of mistakes of translation. Other news reports are suggesting that the new TNIV will have even more gender-inclusive language:

The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible is going to begin its first revision in over 25 years, according to the Associated Press. The changes that will be made will be to make the language more modern, meaning the text will reportedly have more gender neutral and inclusive language. It is expected that the revisions will be completed in late 2010 for publishing in 2011.

The most controversial aspect of the revision is the inclusion of gender neutral language. This new version will not have all gender references removed, only those where the translators feel that the original text did not intend to be gender exclusive. One example, according to the AP, would be changing “sons of God” to “children of God.”

See also this. Creating one impression with Christian publications and another with secular publications is not a good sign.

HT: Rev. James Douthwaite

Its publishers say the TNIV Bible translation was a mistake

Ted Olsen at the Christianity Today site quotes an editor of Zondervan saying that the Today’s New International Version (TNIV)–the new edition of the NIV that eliminated the “sexist” language of the Bible, even when it meant distorting the Word of God into inaccurate and ungrammatical gibberish–was a series of “mistakes.” He says that a new NIV is in the works and that the TNIV will be discontinued.

“In 1997, IBS announced that it was forgoing all plans to publish an updated NIV following criticism of the NIV inclusive language edition (NIVi) published in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made,” Danby said. “We failed to make the case for revisions and we made some important errors in the way we brought the translation to publication. We also underestimated the scale of the public affection for the NIV and failed to communicate the rationale for change in a manner that reflected that affection.”

Danby said it was also a mistake to stop revisions on the NIV. “We shackled the NIV to the language and scholarship of a quarter century ago, thus limiting its value as a tool for ongoing outreach throughout the world,” he said.

“Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. “So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV.”

“We are correcting the mistakes in the past,” Girkins said. “Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days.” She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV “in a way that unifies evangelicalism.”
“The first mistake was the NIVi,” Danby said. “The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV.”

I was at WORLD when we broke the story of the TNIV’s neutered translation, and, oh, did we get grief for criticizing it. It’s gratifying that Zondervan is now, at least in part, agreeing with us.

On the other hand, this account of the upcoming edition of the NIV, the fourth, does not sound too promising. The real problem with the NIV approach is its presumption of explaining what the translators think the words mean, rather than rendering the words accurately, even when they are ambiguous in the original languages. Also its flat style.

I’ll stick with my ESV, especially the new Lutheran Study Bible that has now been released! (I don’t have mine yet, but I hope to get one when I go to the CPH board meeting next week! If anyone has one, please report.)

HT: Joe Carter

ELCA’s principles of Biblical interpretation

The Sunday after the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted in convention to affirm homosexuality, the assigned Bible readings from the lectionary, which are read and preached upon during the service and that many ELCA congregations would be using, were Isaiah 29: 11-29; Ephesians 5:22-33; Mark 7:1-13: two powerful texts condemning the substitution of human teachings for God’s commands, and the classic text on Christian marriage. That strikes me as an even stronger sign than the tornado that smote the steeple of the convention church as the delegates were voting across the street (scroll down for that picture).

One might wonder, what was the basis for the ELCA’s decision? How did the convention get around the passages in the Bible that speak pretty directly to the issues? Here is one delegate’s answer:

“We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus’ time and culture,” Tim Mumm, a lay delegate from Wisconsin and supporter of Lutherans Concerned, an gay-rights organization, said during the debate. “We are responding to something that the writers of Scripture could not have understood.”

New Mt. Sinai site with relics of Bible miracles?

Some people are maintaining that they have found the “real” Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia. And the discovery is accompanied with evidence of Biblical history, including the possibility of actual artifacts of miracles described in Exodus. This is from a secular blogsite. I’ll intersperse some pictures of what the account refers to, which are so mindblowing that they nearly defy belief :

Dr. Moller points out that the site at Nuweiba he identifies as the Red Sea crossing point has an underwater land bridge, upon which damaged chariot parts and bones remain, engulfed in coral.

Pharoah's chariots?

The top of Jabal al-Lawz, the alleged real Mt. Sinai, is black, as if burned from the sky as described in Exodus 19:18, where it says “the Lord descended upon it in fire.” This feature sets it apart from all the other surrounding mountains which do not have darkened tops. The BASE Institute’s film shows Cornuke, who snuck onto the mountain, examining the rocks he cracked, observing that they are not merely black rocks and that only the outside had become darkened by whatever had occurred at the site. Moller has a photo of one of these rocks, which he identifies as “obsidian or volcanic glass, a mineral formed at high temperatures.”

Mt. Sinai?

One of the greatest — and most doubted — miracles of the Exodus is the story about God instructing Moses to hit a large rock with his rod, which resulted in a flow of water for the Hebrews to drink from. Near Jabal al-Lawz is a large rock, standing about 60 feet high, split down the middle. The edges of the split and the rock underneath it have become smooth, as if a stream of water had poured forth from the rock, creating a river. Given the annual rainfall in Saudi Arabia and the fact that the erosion is only present on that rock and no other ones in the surrounding area, it’s hard to find a plausible explanation for this remarkable find.

Water from this rock?

A site matching the description of the altar of the golden calf is also at this site. As the Biblical story goes, while Moses was away for 40 days on Mt. Sinai, the Hebrews created an altar with a golden calf on top of it, which they worshiped. Moses, incensed at the betrayal, crushed the calf into smithereens. A large altar with inscriptions of Egyptian bulls engraved onto it is also near Mt. Sinai, making it the only location in Saudi Arabia to have such inscriptions. Moller notes in his book that “one block of stone at the altar had a slight depression and after a brief shower something glistened at the bottom, which turned out to be small flakes of gold. This rock could well have been the place where Moses ground the golden calf into powder.”
Golden calf inscriptions?

This is just scratching the surface. The 12 wells of Elim, the altar constructed by Moses after the defeat of the Amalekites, evidence of large encampments, the boundary markers and stone pillars the Bible says were placed around Mt. Sinai, and several other sites identified in the Old Testament are located. Simply put, everything that the Bible indicates should be there is present. The researchers even describe how the locals refer to the site as “Moses’ Mountain” and it is common knowledge that Moses passed through the area.

Can this be? Is it a hoax? Is it real? I’m sure that skeptical scholars will be all over this, offering alternative explanations. But is God offering physical evidence of the truth of His Word? If He is, will it make a difference?

There are books and documentaries on these findings, with a movie documentary in the works. I’ll link to the ones available:

I’ve got to say, though, I feel suspicious. The books came out in the early 2000s, do not seem to be from mainline publishers (except for one from Broadman & Holman), and are already out of print. Why is this work from a decade ago being brought up now? Why hasn’t this already made an impact if it is so compelling? Still, bogus or real, it’s intriguing. Does anyone know any more about this?

UPDATE: Here is a critical review, though it doesn’t deal with all of the questions.

The mountain is called Jabal al-Lawz. You can see it on Google Earth.