Mischief follows in partisan Bible translations

Remember Junias? He was the imaginary male apostle with the unique and implausible name. “Junias” was invented by patriarchal Bible translators and inserted into the text of scripture because those translators didn’t like what the text actually said.

The text in question, Romans 16:7, says:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Junia is a woman’s name and it just wouldn’t do to have people reading about a woman who was an apostle — let alone one who was “prominent among the apostles.” For patriarchal Christians who insisted on a male-only hierarchy, Junia was intolerable. So they got rid of her. They translated her into an imaginary man with an imaginary name.

Politics — specifically, the political desire to control women — shaped the translation of that text. The translators changed the words of the Bible to make it seem like it supported their political agenda. They changed the words of the Bible so that others reading it would not be able to see that its actual words challenged and contradicted their political agenda.

This is something that happens sometimes.

Let me share another, more recent, example. Junias was invented and inserted into the Bible a long time ago, but this alteration of the text occurred in my lifetime. As I noted earlier, this change in the words and meaning of the Bible is more recent than the introduction of the Happy Meal.

The New American Standard Bible is a popular English translation, a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901. It was completed in 1971 and then revised and updated in 1995. I want to highlight one major change in one passage of the NASB — a case in which the 1995 update alters — and is intended to reverse —  the text of the 1971 NASB.

Those dates are important in understanding the reason for this change.

The text in question is from the book of Exodus, chapter 21. This section of the chapter — Exodus 21:12-27 — outlines various laws regarding deadly violence.

“Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death,” verse 12 says. That’s pretty clear — if you strike a person and kill them, you get the death penalty. That’s the baseline for the rest of the laws that follow. For instance, what if you strike a person and they’re injured, but not killed? Verses 18-19 address that:

When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery.

OK, so those are the rules for hitting people — but what if you hit a slave? Do the same rules about hitting people apply to hitting slaves?* Verses 20-21 and 26-27 have got that covered. Basically, they say that if an owner kills a slave, “the owner shall be punished.” If the slave survives, but loses an eye or a tooth, then the slave goes free.

The punishments for violence against slaves were different from the punishments for violence against free persons because slaves were regarded as a separate category. There was one set of rules regarding violence against “a person” and another set of rules regarding violence against a slave.

That brings us to the text I want to highlight here as another example of politicized distortion via translation: Exodus 21:22-25.

Here is how Exodus 21:22-25 read in the New American Standard Bible’s 1977 revision of its 1971 original translation:

And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

You can see how this fits in the context of the chapter. Here is another category of victim for which another set of punishments for violence is given. If a pregnant woman gets struck “so that she has a miscarriage,” but is not herself injured, then the man who struck her must pay a fine. But if the woman herself is injured, then the same rules and punishments for striking any other (non-slave) person apply — “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc.”

But here’s the same passage in 1995 in the updated current version of the NASB:

If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

“So that she has a miscarriage” has been replaced with “so that she gives birth prematurely.”

That’s new. That’s not at all how this passage was translated for centuries. Consider, for example, the Wycliffe Bible from 1382:

If men chide, and a man smiteth a woman with child, and soothly he maketh the child dead-born, but the woman liveth over that smiting, he shall be subject to the harm (he shall be subject to a fine), as much as the woman’s husband asketh (for), and as the judges deem (appropriate).

Or the King James Version from 1611:

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

The KJV’s “her fruit depart” is a literal, but ambiguous rendition of the original Hebrew. If we ignore the context of the surrounding verses, then we could interpret that as meaning either what the 1977 NASB or what the 1995 NASB says. It could mean “she has a miscarriage” or it might mean “she gives birth prematurely.” Right?

Well, not quite.

It turns out that English-speaking Christians aren’t the very first people ever to read the book of Exodus. The Jews got there way, way before we did. It seems Jews actually wrote the thing. Plus they’re pretty good at reading Hebrew.

So Wycliffe and the majority of English translators who followed him all read this verse the way that it had been read for centuries before there ever existed such a thing as the English language into which it could be translated. (Plenty of examples of this at the bottom of this post, where — following Ross’ example in the comment that sparked this post, I’ve copied his list and added a few more.) They translated it to mean what it had long been understood to mean, and in the only way that it makes sense to translate it in the context of the rest of this chapter.

The New American Standard Bible translated this passage that same way up until 1977. But something changed between 1977 and 1995 — something that had nothing to do with scholarship, language, accuracy, fidelity or readability.

American politics had changed between 1977 and 1995. It had polarized and radicalized millions of American Protestants, rallying them around a single issue and thus, as intended, rallying them behind a single political party.

In 1977, the sort of American Protestants who purchased most Bibles couldn’t be summed up in a single word. But by 1995, they could be: “abortion.”

And for anti-abortion American evangelicals, Exodus 21:12-27 was unacceptable. It suggested that striking and killing an unborn fetus was in a separate category from striking and killing a “person.” Strike and kill a free person, you get the death penalty. Strike and kill an unborn fetus, you get a fine.

And so in 1995, like those earlier translators who invented and inserted “Junias,” the translators of the NASB reshaped this passage. “She has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury” would, in consideration of the changes in American politics since 1977, henceforth be transformed into “she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury.”

Politics — specifically, the political desire to control women — shaped the translation of that text. The translators changed the words of the Bible to make it seem like it supported their political agenda. They changed the words of the Bible so that others reading it would not be able to see that its actual words challenged and contradicted their political agenda.

This is something that happens sometimes.

The 1971 NASB stuck with the traditional English translation of Exodus 21:22. Here — picking up from Ross’ comment — are many other similar examples:

Wycliffe Bible (1382): “If men chide, and a man smiteth a woman with child, and soothly he maketh the child dead-born, but the woman liveth over that smiting, he shall be subject to the harm (he shall be subject to a fine), as much as the woman’s husband asketh (for), and as the judges deem (appropriate).”

Douay-Rheims (1899): “If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award.”

Bible in Basic English (1949): “If men, while fighting, do damage to a woman with child, causing the loss of the child, but no other evil comes to her, the man will have to make payment up to the amount fixed by her husband, in agreement with the decision of the judges.”

Revised Standard Version (1952): “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

The Jerusalem Bible (1966): “If, when men come to blows, they hurt a woman who is pregnant and she suffers a miscarriage, though she does not die of it, the man responsible must pay the compensation demanded of him by the woman’s master; he shall hand it over, after arbitration.”

New Life Version (1969): “If men fight with each other and hit a woman who is going to have a child so that she loses her baby but no other hurt comes to her, he must pay whatever the woman’s husband says he must, as agreed upon by the judges.”

The Living Bible (1971): “If two men are fighting, and in the process hurt a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage, but she lives, then the man who injured her shall be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband shall demand, and as the judges approve.”

New English Bible (1971): “When, in the course of a brawl, a man knocks against a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage but suffers no further hurt, then the offender must pay whatever fine the woman’s husband demands for assessment.”

Amplified Bible (1987): “If men contend with each other, and a pregnant woman [interfering] is hurt so that she has a miscarriage, yet no further damage follows, [the one who hurt her] shall surely be punished with a fine [paid] to the woman’s husband, as much as the judges determine.”

New Revised Standard Version (1989): “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.”

Good News Translation (1992): “If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way, the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband demands, subject to the approval of the judges.”

Contemporary English Version (1995): “Suppose a pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage as the result of an injury caused by someone who is fighting. If she isn’t badly hurt, the one who injured her must pay whatever fine her husband demands and the judges approve.”

Complete Jewish Bible (1998): “If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman’s husband and confirmed by judges.”

The Message (2002): “When there’s a fight and in the fight a pregnant woman is hit so that she miscarries but is not otherwise hurt, the one responsible has to pay whatever the husband demands in compensation.”

Common English Bible (2011): “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage but no other injury occurs, then the guilty party will be fined what the woman’s husband demands, as negotiated with the judges.”

Numerous other translations followed the vague literalism of the King James Version (1611). Variations of “her fruit depart from her” can be found in:

Darby Translation (1890): “… so that she be delivered, and no mischief happen”

Young’s Literal Translation (1898): “… and her children have come out, and there is no mischief”

American Standard Version (1929): “… so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow”

English Standard Version (1971): “… so that her children come out, but there is no harm”

21st Century King James Version (1994): “… so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no misfortune follow”

New Century Version (2005): “… causing the baby to come out”

The 1995 New American Standard Bible was not the first translation to change a miscarriage with no harm to the woman into a premature birth with no harm to the baby. The New International Version did so back in 1978, albeit with a footnote allowing for the option of the more traditional translation. Here are several other translations following that new approach.

Note that all of these translations were produced post-Happy Meal.

New King James Version (1982): “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

GOD’S WORD Translation (1995): “This is what you must do whenever men fight and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely. If there are no other injuries, the offender must pay whatever fine the court allows the woman’s husband to demand.”

World English Bible/Hebrew Names Version (1997): “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow.”

New International Reader’s Version (1998): “Suppose some men are fighting and one of them hits a pregnant woman. And suppose she has her baby early but is not badly hurt. Then the man who hurt her must pay a fine. He must pay what the woman’s husband asks for and the court allows.”

Easy-to-Read Version (2006): “Two men might be fighting and hurt a pregnant woman. This might make the woman give birth to her baby before its time. If the woman was not hurt badly, [a] the man who hurt her must pay a fine. The woman’s husband will decide how much the man must pay. The judges will help the man decide how much the fine will be. But if the woman was hurt badly, then the man who hurt her must be punished. The punishment must fit the crime. You must trade one life for another life. You must trade an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.” (Footnote [a]: Exodus 21:22 hurt badly Or ‘killed.’)

New Living Translation (2007): “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. [a] If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve.” (Footnote [a]: Exodus 21:22 Or so she has a miscarriage; Hebrew reads so her children come out.)

Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009): “When men get in a fight and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely [a] but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman’s husband demands from him, and he must pay according to judicial assessment.” (Footnote [a]: Either a live birth or a miscarriage)

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* Yes, slavery. This passage is appalling: “If the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment, for the slave is the owner’s property.” That’s the sort of thing that would give me a crisis of faith if I were attached to the biblicistic fundamentalism that surrounded me as I grew up, in which the Bible is viewed as the inerrant, infallible, uniform, authoritative and unquestionable Word of God.

If that’s what you believe about the Bible, then doesn’t this passage mean that you ought to approve of slavery? Of course it does — because that’s precisely why this form of inerrant, infallible, etc. biblicism was invented here in America. It arose in defense of slavery — slavery of an even more appalling and more brutal sort than that which this biblical passage describes. So, yes, a biblicistic, proof-texting approach to scripture designed in defense of slavery does, in fact, compel those who accept it to defend slavery.

But those defenders of slavery weren’t the only ones reading the Bible. Nor are those who learned to read the Bible from those defenders of slavery the only ones reading it now.  “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God …”

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  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    This is an important post.  I have nothing to add except, perhaps, metal fists.  m/ m/

  • Anonymous

    It turns out that English-speaking Christians aren’t the very first people ever to read the book of Exodus. The Jews got there way, way before we did. It seems Jews actually wrote the thing. Plus they’re pretty good at reading Hebrew.

    When I took a class on medical ethics at my synagogue, Exodus 21:22-25 was the first passage that we studied.

  • Anonymous

    I’m still fond of my Everett Fox translation. The relevant phrase is ‘abort-forth’.

  • Anonymous

    That sounds confusing, though. “Abort-forth” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “miscarry” or “lose her unborn child,” either.

  • Anonymous

     I am new and I don’t see how to do an original reply. This is my reply.
    The first thing I saw was the mis-quote of Junia rather than Junias as the verse actually states.

    I
    didn’t see “abortion” anywhere in the quoted verses. I did notice the
    change from miscarriage and born-dead to pre-mature birth. I will ask my
    pastor about that as he has a doctorate of theology and is fluent in all three
    biblical languages. He is dead set against a number of the modern
    translations being cranked out by the modern liberal theologians as he
    feels that changing the language of the Bible is wrong. Many of the more
    recent translations quoted are not new translations as the 1971 NASB
    is, but simply paraphrases. The Message goes pretty far afield at times
    from any original translation as does the Good News Bible.

    Slavery
    was universally practiced in biblical times. What was unique about Jewish slavery
    was that all slaves were released with goods and/or money in the Year of
    Jubilee which occurred every 7 years.

  • Lunch Meat

    The first thing I saw was the mis-quote of Junia rather than Junias as the verse actually states.

    Did you read the post Fred linked to? The point is that the verse originally said Junias, but translators have changed it to Junias because they’re uncomfortable   accepting that Paul recognized a woman in a position of authority.

  • Lunch Meat

    It originally said Junia. Sorry, I’m just having typing issues today.

  • Anonymous

     Did you read the post Fred linked to?

    I’m pretty sure a lot of the recent commenters didn’t even read Fred’s post all the way through, let alone his links.

  • Anonymous

    No, my daughter sent me this article to get my take on it. And I take that you mistyped Junias the first time? I read Fred’s post. I’m not entirely sure he’s correct. I don’t know his credentials, but I do know I don’t know the three biblical languages. I know someone who does, but it’s not me. I’m brand new here.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    He is dead set against a number of the modern translations being cranked out by the modern liberal theologians as he feels that changing the language of the Bible is wrong

    Yum, irony!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, that bit about purposely changing the Bible to fit a political agenda?

    “[18] I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of
    this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues
    described in this book,”

    Rev. 22:18. (RSV)

    When I first read those in my youth, I was terrified of even annotating my Bible because of that.

    Would that the translators with agendas had a similar sense of awe about the words they were (mis)handling.

  • Anonymous

     *dons Jeff Foxworthy Hat*

    If you’ve ever avoided quoting the Bible because you were afraid that you’d accidentally paraphrase and automatically go to Hell… you might be a Fundamentalist.

  • Tricksterson

    Jeff Foxwortyhy doesn’t wear a hat.  Or perhaps you are referring to wearing the skull of Jeff Foxworthy as a hat?

  • Greylightrrt

    That refers to the book of revelations, not the whole bible. Keeping in mind that each book of the bible was written hundreds of years apart and was only later condensed.

  • Cyrik Riand

    Although you end up realizing that the bible as a whole is a collection of many smaller books, and that passage in Revelations was only referring to the book of Revelations, not all the other books that had yet to be collected into one volume.

  • Meiyoi13

    But you know what that seems like it’s saying (and quite possibly why they don’t mind “mispeaking” His word) is because it says the words of _prophecy_, not the words of the laws.

  • Ursula L

    It’s interesting that this is written to address the situation of a pregnant woman being harmed as a side-effect of two men fighting, but it doesn’t address a pregnant woman being directly targeted.  Did the ancient Hebrews live in such an innocent world that no one would deliberately hit a pregnant woman? 

    It also has a glaring gap in that it doesn’t cover the situation of a man harming his pregnant wife.  A dangerous omission, given that pregnancy often coincides with increased domestic violence.  

  • Tonio

    How many of those translations are Judaism-specific? I spotted only one that had “Jewish” in that name. I’m astounded by the number of translations, but then, I wasn’t aware until college that Catholics used a version other than the KJV or the RSV.

     

    pregnancy often coincides with increased domestic violence. 

    I’ve read that before, but I don’t know why that is the case. Do you have any theories as to why?

  • Anonymous

    I think all of the other translations are Christian.

    I wasn’t aware that Mormons use only the KJV.  (They don’t use the translation made by Joseph Smith because for many years, the copyright was held by a splinter group of Mormons now known as the Community of Christ.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    The Community of Christ is more than a splinter, they’re formerly the Reorganized Church of LDS, which is IFAIK one of the larger groups of folks that call themselves Mormon — far larger than any of the polygamous branches which could rightly be called splinters. 

  • Dr. Cook

    Mormons don’t pay too much attention to the Bible, anyway.  They are more interested in The Book of Mormon and using personal, utilitarian/objectivistic decision making.

  • P J Evans

     Not the Mormons I know. I’ll grant that the ones I know aren’t very observant Mormons – but they’re good people.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, coming from a former Mormon, the Joseph Smith translation is used — it’s in the footnotes and in the back of the Bible. Before the mainstream LDS church used it, there was widespread paranoia that that splinter group had edited JS’s original words. After a church official examined the original manuscripts and the reformed church’s Bible, it turns out they hadn’t, so the main church started using it. But again, only in the footnotes and in the back of the book.

    THOUGH I might like to add something. When I was in high school, we read parts of Job for my literature class. We all brought our own translations of the Bible, and I was quite content with my Mormon KJV. But as I was reading along while my teacher was reading from /his/ KJV, I was startled to find that some of my verses said completely different things from what he was reading, even though we were supposedly both reading the KJV. I was horrified, and looked it up online — turns out my version had been conveniently modified to exclude any mention of a sort of a non-Christian underworld type thing that I can’t quite recall the name of, and I really don’t want to have to read the KJV and our Mormon Bible side by side to see where they diverge.

    Anyway, point is I was scandalized.

  • Lori

     

    I’ve read that before, but I don’t know why that is the case. Do you have any theories as to why? 

    A lot has been written about this. Broadly speaking, pregnancy tends to exacerbate some kinds of familial tension, like financial concerns, and that increases the likelihood of abuse. Abusers also may be angry and/or jealous over the fact that the pregnancy reduces their partners’ focus on them, either because the pregnant woman is simply more focused on the pregnancy or because physical issues make her unable to focus as much on her partner.

  • Anonymous

    “Broadly speaking, pregnancy tends to exacerbate some kinds of familial tension, like financial concerns, and that increases the likelihood of abuse. Abusers also may be angry and/or jealous over the fact that the pregnancy reduces their partners’ focus on them, either because the pregnant woman is simply more focused on the pregnancy or because physical issues make her unable to focus as much on her partner.”

    It’s possible that this simply isn’t an issue among Bronze Age nomads. Children are wealth, and in a tribal, polygamous society, a man doesn’t lose much in terms of sex, or attention, or service, simply because his wife is pregnant. Also, they’re probably living surrounded by family–he hits his pregnant wife, his grandfather yells “That girl’s carrying my great-grandson,” and slaps him upside the head.

    Maybe not. We have limited evidence in the Bible. But I’d be curious to know if similar societies today see a rise in partner abuse following pregnancy.

  • Anonymous

     

    It’s possible that this simply isn’t an issue among Bronze Age nomads.

    It’s probably worth remembering that Exodus wasn’t actually written by Bronze Age, tribal, desert nomads.  AFAIK, our best guess is that it was first drafted by highly literate, statist, urban Jews, probably Babylonian exiles, several centuries after the Hebrews quit being nomadic.  It’s set in a distant, nomadic past, but there’s little indication that the authors knew any more about the historical details of that past than we do.  It was a legendary setting for them, just like Roman-era Britain was for the medieval authors writing about King Arthur.

    So Exodus’ legal code probably has little or nothing to do with the actual nature of nomadic, tribal life, but rather is largely drawn from common legal principles in first-millennium Mesopotamian states. This is easy to see in this particular case.  Just compare Exodus to the Babylonian code of Hammurabi written a thousand years earlier:

    65  If a man strike a man’s daughter and bring about a miscarriage, he
    shall pay ten shekels for her miscarriage. 

    66  If that woman die, they shall put his daughter to death.

    67  If, through a blow, he being about a miscarriage to the daughter of a
    freeman, he shall pay five shekels.

    68  If that woman die, he shall pay 30 shekels.

    The mandated punishments are different, of course, but the same general points are made.  Killing a fetus merits a fine, while killing an adult woman is a much bigger deal and (if she’s in your social class) is punished with some sort of retributive justice.

    …of course, none of the above weakens the point various folks have made, that “premature” and “stillborn” were practically equivalent at the time Exodus was written.  And for the next two thousand years, pretty much.

  • Anonymous

    All good points, although I wouldn’t particularly assume that the people drafting the text weren’t aware of people in their own day who lived like that. Hell, modern Bedouin live like that, except for, you know, iPods and Jeeps and hospitals.

    And yes, Bronze Age tent, or Iron Age town house, not much difference medically speaking, in the case of a premature birth.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think it’s because men of that ilk tend to believe one (or more) of the following:

    1. His wife/girlfriend is “trapping” him into the relationship with a baby he doesn’t want; likely because
    i) he doesn’t want to be a father
    ii) he feels she’s manipulating him with the pregnancy
    iii) the baby will take her attention off him and give her a reason to want to protect someone besides just him.

    2. He is attracted to the mental construct of a woman who has never borne children, and her having a baby would break this. Optionally, he may be physically attracted to the body shape generally associated with women who aren’t pregnant and may believe that she would be unattractive during pregnancy and/or after it if her body fails to shed the weight gain associated with pregnancy.

    (When you read enough Ann Rule, you kinda pick this stuff up, sad to say)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Plenty of abusive men want their female partners to bear children. Abusive men often sabotage their female partners’ birth control.

    http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/02/18/what-abusers-and-pro-family-conservatives-have-in-common/ 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687121933 Carrie Looney

    Do they saboatge birth control because they want a baby, or because they want to prove their virility/control by making a woman pregnant?  Those two can be quite weirdly distinct.
    Which brings up another potential, highly hypocritical, and quite horrible motivation for physical abuse of a pregnant partner.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    As Carrie Looney says, the use of pregnancy by an abusive husband/boyfriend could be a control tool as well. Abusers are extremely devious at tying their targets in knots by purposely moving the goalposts in any discussion or argument.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Trigger warning – talking about domestic violence.

    Domestic violence against pregnant women is a horrible thing, not only because of the innate harm of the act, but because of the risks of miscarriage and other health effects to the mother and the fetus, and because of the increased vulnerability of the mother.

    That said:

    pregnancy often coincides with increased domestic violence. 

    [ citation needed ]

    This source says that pregnancy was the start of abuse for only 1 in 6 abused women. In other words, most abusive relationships were either abusive before a pregnancy, or after, but not because of. (conversely, becoming pregnant does not appear to “reform” abusers, and while it might temporarily inhibit physical abuse, the abusive behaviors and patterns do not appear to be otherwise abated)

  • Lori

     

    This source says that pregnancy was the start of abuse for only 1 in 6 abused women. 

    Initial violence isn’t the only issue though. You also need to look at frequency and severity of violence. It’s more difficult to get good data on those issues.

    http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Pregnancy_and_Domestic_Violence__A_Review_of_the_Literature.pdf

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    It’s more difficult to get good data on those issues.

    Agreed, which is why I object to blanket generalizations.

    “Do they saboatge birth control because they want a baby, or because they want to prove their virility/control by making a woman pregnant?”
    It’s usually about having control over the other person, about being able to control their behavior.

  • Nym

     He did not say it was the **start of** domestic violence.

  • Nym

     Google “Reproductive Coercion”.

    This is about power, not sex.  Abusers prefer their spouses pregnant or with children to protect because it makes them more helpless and vulnerable.

    Hit a childless girlfriend and she’ll leave.  Hit the unemployed mother of your children and if she leaves … how will she provide for the children?  Leaving becomes a *selfish* act that betters her lot at the expense of food security for her offspring.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Leaving becomes a *selfish* act that betters her lot at the expense of food security for her offspring.

    Mm. I’m really hoping here that you mean “it’s easy for her to believe that leaving is a selfish act” or something like that.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I’ve read that before, but I don’t know why that is the case. Do you have any theories as to why?

    One of the things that I’ve heard, is that once the abuser feels that the victim is trapped, the abuse starts or escalates.  Sometimes that’s the first date.  The trigger can also be the beginning of a sexual relationship, moving in together, marriage, pregnancy, or purchasing a house together.

  • Steven Elliott

    Less sex

  • Bob

    Because kids are stressful as hell, and those ill equipped will lash out.

  • Nym

     Google “Reproductive Coercion”.

    The short version is that when I’m healthy, strong, and confident and you misbehave I can just leave.  When I’m the size of a house, can’t get a job ( who hires a pregnant woman? ), about to have the responsibility of caring for a child, etc etc I’m **vulnerable**.  Things that would not be tolerated before you can suddenly get away with because I can’t just leave anymore. 

    Consenting to become pregnant is an incredible gesture of trust.  And sometimes that trust is not deserved.

  • Elsao

    This does seem to be the case. One reason is that now he can let loose because she is far more vulnerable and less likely to be able to leave him. Also, her attention is now less focused on him and directed towards her baby and herself. Abusers have an intense need to be the centre of attention and the focus of their partner’s life.

  • Anonymous

    It also has a glaring gap in that it doesn’t cover the situation of a man harming his pregnant wife.  A dangerous omission, given that pregnancy often coincides with increased domestic violence.

    Wouldn’t that situation be covered under verses 12-19?

  • Dana

     In -our- society, pregnancy often coincides with increased domestic violence, because a pregnancy is often a severe liability. In ancient societies, pregnancies were the opposite of a liability, and children are perhaps the primary form of wealth. A husband would be very unlikely to want to damage an unborn child.

    Not that it’s impossible, I guess, but it makes sense that this would be one of the situations that would be easy to overlook.

  • Ursula L

    While children were nominally a measure of wealth in ancient times, I’m not sure that, in practical situations, the reality would be much different then than it is now.

    A family with limited resources – only so much land for crops, a herd only so big – would have the same financial difficulties from the birth of many children that a family of limited means has today.  There would be years between the birth of a child and the time when a child could start helping in a meaningful way to contribute to the family economy, enough time that children=wealth wouldn’t be an absolute truth.  And sons were defiantly more economically beneficial than daughters, who would require the payment of dowries, and whose adult productive years would be in her husband’s household rather than her father’s and brothers’. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure that there was no penalty for a man harming his wife, even if it ended her pregnancy.  She and the fetus were both considered his property, so he could do whatever he wanted.  Men hitting women was seen as acceptable if done by a husband, and pretty much nothing more than a property dispute if a man hit some other man’s wife or unmarried daughter.

    That passage doesn’t address the sin of a man hitting a woman any more than it would address the sin of a man hitting his livestock or the livestock that belong to another man.

    I don’t think that time was just full of violent men who constantly hit their wives, and most of them didn’t.  But for those who did, it was seen as their right to.

    It’s also why direct commands are generally addressed to men and rarely to women.  It was just assumed that women would do whatever their husbands or fathers wanted so they didn’t need any divine commands.  And I’m not just talking about the “generic he” as a pronoun here.  The incest taboo rules tell men which women they can’t marry.  One of the commandments tells men not to covet their neighbor’s wife.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1198150213 Joe Murray

    The man in those times could do with his wife as he pleased.  She was his property.  There were no rights for women.  You will notice that even in this passage it is the husband who has been grieved, who cares about the woman who was struck and had the miscarriage…

  • Anonymous-Sam

    Nah, the Hebrews would never hit a woman. They’d just feed her poison. :p

  • Anonymous Coward

    She was his property, and if he beat her it was not a crime.  So if he caused a miscarriage from the beatings, there was no punishment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isaac-Hillman/1260422182 Isaac Hillman

    Glaring gap?  I believe that part of traditional law is well established, she’s your property do with her as you will.

  • http://twitter.com/elfsternberg Elf Sternberg

    Men were more or less unrestrained in their abuse of their wives.  Take a look an Numbers 5:11, where God approves forcing a married woman to swallow a poison abortifacient if her husband suspects her of being unfaithful.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, you can get a lot out of that passage, but not that ‘men were more or less unrestrained in their abuse of their wives’. That section describes a communal ritual that would have been entirely irrelevent in a society (like many today), where it was assumed a man would simply beat or kill a woman he suspected of cheating on him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Deb-Shaw/100001813990728 Deb Shaw

    The woman was simply her husband’s property.  No man back then would deliberately harm another man’s property unless he was prepared to accept the punishment for doing so.

    Notice that the woman, also property, is not considered to be harmed by the miscarriage.  Her husband is harmed by the loss of his property — the potential offspring.  She is only considered harmed if some wound or blemish appears on her body.  Then, the husband is awarded like for like harm to the offender, for damage to his property.

    As far as I have seen in my readings, because a woman and her fetus are both the man’s property, there is no punishment if he causes her to miscarry, as his loss of property is considered punishment enough.

    Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

  • Vitor Lage

    I don’t know if you noticed, but the bible hates women and probably doesn’t care.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, women, children, cattle, slaves – were all functional property, and so there is no need to address their situations apart from how it might affect the man in possession. What a man did with his own property was rarely an issue.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K632TZJIMGU7TOWACHTKIQPMPA Mutant

    Yeah, it’s almost as if this isn’t the “infallible word of god,” but rather a cultural text written by the dominant members of society at the time. Funny, that.

  • frazer

    Do you have a reference for your statement that the literalist approach to the Bible was developed to justify slavery? I’d like to learn more about that.

  • Anonymous

    Me too. It doesn’t surprise me, since the Southern Baptist Convention’s founding documents pretty much explicitly mention slavery as their reason for splitting off from the mainstream Baptists.

  • Jeff

    frazer, this may not give you a quick answer, but you might look at these books: Newby, “Jim Crow’s Defense: Anti-Negro Thought in America, 1900-1930” (especially chapter 3, “The Uses of Religion”), and Gossett, “Race: The History of an Idea in America” (look up “Bible and race” in the index). There may also be something in George Marsden’s books about this history of fundamentalism. If I recall correctly, the hard-core biblical literalist movement was a reaction against modernizing movements in Christianity in the late 19th century, and therefore was post-slavery, but it did coincide with the rise of Jim Crow-ism and the efforts to justify it. 

  • pharoute

    Since it’s very clear that it refers to men fighting and an incidentally causing the injury to the woman, this passage has nothing to do with abortion, so we’re all good then?

  • Anonymous

    The penalty for causing a miscarriage is significantly less than the penalty for causing injury to the woman.  If the fetus were considered to have the same right (to life) as the pregnant woman, the penalty for causing the death of the fetus would be the same as the penalty for causing the death of the pregnant woman  — and would be more severe than the penalty for causing injury to the woman.

  • gcaitiff

    You missed the entire point of the article, which is to point out that the bible treats an unborn fetus as a “legal” class distinctly separate from a “person,” much as the bible treats slaves. 

    Furthermore, the passage in question was altered in translation to be ambiguous where no ambiguity exists in the original text. This was done for political reasons. 

    So no, we’re not all good.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K632TZJIMGU7TOWACHTKIQPMPA Mutant

    You can read it that way if you want to continue to stretch the bible’s text to prohibit abortion. Funny how people who use the bible as a shield stick to a single, literal translation when it suits them, but read all sorts of “hidden” meaning in other cases. This is the point: if a fetus was of equal worth in the eyes of the people who wrote the bible, the penalty for killing one would be the same as the penalty for killing after it was born. The original text “clearly” says the opposite.

  • Sooo…

    Great! So then the bible says nothing about abortion?

  • Lori

    This is a red letter day, because I’m agreeing with aunursa about something other than Left Behind.

  • Anonymous

    We probably agree on a lot more than we realize.

  • Lori

     

    We probably agree on a lot more than we realize.  

    Just not the majority of the things that I consider important.

  • Tricksterson

    Watch out, it’s probably a trap.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Bookmarked. This is quite a useful post.

  • Chatterton

    Perhaps the author was thinking of a specific situation which had recently been dealt with? I mean, a pregnant woman miscarrying because she interfered in a fight between two men and was accidentally hurt is not exactly an everyday event compared to a pregnant woman being targeted… but it lays a principle for future variations on the theme.

  • Amanda

    Actually, the passage closely parallels a similar but even more misogynistic passage in the Code of Hammurabi (I say “even more” because in the Biblical passage the fine is still being paid to the woman’s husband at his direction, not to her at hers).  In the Code,  the fine for causing a miscarriage is fixed at ten shekels.  The fine for causing the woman’s death is the death of the assailant’s daughter.

    So it’s possible there was some meaningful legal precedent that subsequent law codes in the ancient Middle East felt it necessary to address.  It didn’t necessarily have to be common(now I’m speculating wildly) some famous ancient case would probably have been enough.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K632TZJIMGU7TOWACHTKIQPMPA Mutant

    But I thought god was the author? If, instead, this is a cultural text written and re-written by the dominant members of society at the time, then we can dismiss it as irrelevant (or, at most, no more relevant than any other cultural text).

  • Anonymous

    The Stone Edition of the Chumash (Hebrew Bible)

    If men shall fight and they collide with a pregnant woman and she miscarries, but there will be no fatality, he shall surely be punished as the husband of the woman shall cause to be assessed against him, and he shall pay it by orders of the judges. But if there shall be a fatality, then you shall award a life for a life; an eye for an eye…

  • Anonymous

    Notes on the Stone edition:

    Causing the death of a fetus is not a capital offense, but the person responsible must pay damages.  These damages are assessed by the court in response to a claim made by the father. Such monetary damages are computed in the following manner: The court evaluates the woman as if she were a slave with a market value. She would be worth more when she is pregnant, because a prospective buyer would receive not only her services, but also her newborn as a slave…

  • Solomon Parker

    Re: Romans 16:7, you forgot one.  The New World Translation.  That’s right, the cult who claims that they are crafting their translation from the original manuscripts is actually doing the exact thing they claim they never do in producing the ‘most accurate translation of the scriptures.’

  • http://azspot.net naum

    On Exodus 21 and abortion, I clipped this passage from Orthodox Jewish scholar James Kugel (*How to Read the Bible*) to highlight the ambiguity in various translations and the view of “ancient” interpreters — and contrasted against conservative evangelical Wayne Grudem (author of Systematic Theology, an essential reference for many conservative Christian pastors — but the passages were in Grudem’s *Politics: According to the Bible* where Grudem cites Exodus 21 as an anti-abortion dictum).

    Is the Fetus a Human Being?
    http://azspot.net/post/13105132906/is-a-fetus-a-human-being

  • Hth

    The secondary translation doesn’t even make logical sense to me.  In the case of a woman who “bears early” but explicitly without further complications — i.e. gives premature birth to a healthy child and is herself healthy — why would damages be due at all?  But given that we’re not talking about an era with much neonatal care, it seems obvious that any birth that was noticeably early would *be* the birth of a dead or quickly-dying child.  In other words, I can’t see much daylight between prematurity and miscarriage in this context.  What could the verse possibly be talking about other than a pregnancy terminated by violent trauma, *regardless* of which of those translations you like? 

  • Lori

    The secondary translation doesn’t even make logical sense to me.  In the case of a woman who “bears early” but explicitly without further
    complications — i.e. gives premature birth to a healthy child and is herself healthy — why would damages be due at all?   

    Damages would be due because the pregnant woman was injured, even if the injury wasn’t permanent. We still punish assault as a crime and a tort separate from murder and attempted murder, so the concept isn’t really all the complicated.

  • Jfield

    That doesn’t work in context – the verses go on to indicate separate punishment for injuries to the woman. This verse clearly states it is determining punishment for the loss of the unborn in absence of harm to the woman.

  • Anonymous

    Most of those “premature birth” translations are based on the idea that a premature baby dying from said premature birth is God’s Will, whereas abortion/inducing miscarriage is Murder. Therefore, if a passage implies that inducing miscarriage is less than murder, we must be reading/translating it wrong, because our ideas must be right.

    Because bronze-age Jews clearly had the exact same views on fetal personhood as 21st-century American evangelicals. After all, it’s not like there could be any cultural differences there or anything.

  • Lunch Meat

    So, here’s something that just occurred to me: Ignoring for the moment the fact that the translation has changed*, the point pro-life people are trying to make by using this verse is that a fetus is worth just as much as a born person, right? The argument is two-fold: a) this scripture is about God dictating what various entities are worth, and if we want to be right and moral, we should agree with it, and b) the penalty for a fetus being killed is the same as that of a person. That’s the argument, right?

    Is everyone just ignoring the fact that God thinks a woman’s health, well-being, and time are worth whatever her husband thinks she is, no more, no less? Yeah, if she dies, she’s a person, but otherwise she doesn’t get a say in any of this. Her husband decides how much it matters if she gets hurt. Earlier in the chapter, we see that God doesn’t think slaves are real people, but this is the same verse, saying a woman is not as much of a person as a man. Are the pro-life people campaigning to change the law so that a man being assaulted is a different crime than a woman being assaulted, and there will be no set penalty for assaulting a woman, just whatever the man who owns her thinks is fair?

    *As a general rule, I’m wary of arguing about original translation or changing translation to try to prove that the scriptures, even though they were written in a different culture by different people in a different language, actually agree with me. Translations change because we learn more–the KJV isn’t right just because it’s earlier than other translations; it’s actually less accurate because it’s based on later texts. And lately the translation of verses like the “clobber texts” are changing to show that they’re about sexual predators, not queer people. Should we be arguing that “homosexual” is more accurate in those verses than “male prostitute”, because it’s earlier?

    I prefer to just admit that the Bible was written with a different set of values than we have today. I don’t think you can make a Biblical argument that fetuses are people, but I don’t think that necessarily means the writers thought that abortion was a good thing. And personally, I’m okay with that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    Is everyone just ignoring the fact that God thinks a woman’s health,
    well-being, and time are worth whatever her husband thinks she is, no
    more, no less? Yeah, if she dies, she’s a person, but otherwise she
    doesn’t get a say in any of this.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I took it as a given for this discussion that “what the Bible really means” is basically irrelevant, because (A) this is a legal bit, (B) the Bible is damn useless as a prescriptive legal text, and (C) examining the precise syntax and diction of a single line from the Bible to try and figure out What God Wants Us To Do about a modern medical issue that they didn’t even come close to understanding when the thing was written is quite possibly the worst way to read the Bible, and is in fact the primary problem with “Biblical literalism.”

    Frankly, for the purposes of this post’s main point, it wouldn’t matter if there were another line somewhere else in the Bible that was best translated as “Fetuses are people! They feel paaaaaaaaaain!” — because, like I said, “what the Bible really means” isn’t the important news. The important news is that groups with political agendas are directly responsible for changing translations to match those political agendas.

    In other words, knowing what the book says in this section isn’t edifying when it comes to the abortion debate, but knowing what certain people have done to this section is.

  • Mandajacki

    Actually, there’s another way to read this, namely that indemnity is paid in the first case not for the woman’s injury, but the loss of the husband’s property, i.e. the child only.  “No harm” can then be interpreted as the woman suffers no greater physical inconvenience than she would have done in normal childbirth.  

    If the woman is injured or dies, it’s a different story.  This makes more sense to me, as it explains why the full law of retaliation is invoked, degree by degree of harm.  However, I agree it isn’t the standard reading, which reads “harm” as “fatal harm.”

    As an aside note: in practical reality, according to the writings of the rabbis, an indemnity was paid in all cases, because the offense was considered manslaughter rather than homicide.  Likewise, even in the case of deliberate assault, the law of retaliation was commuted to compensation in all but the case of homicide. 

  • Readerjohn

    No particular surprise here. If I were to experience a crisis of faith, though, it would be over the thought that the “infallible original manuscripts” are unavailable to us, and all we have is translations that may be ideologically loaded.
    As a Christian who honors the Church’s tradition, I’m appalled at the Protestant translation of paradosis as “teaching” when the context is positive, “tradition” when the context is negative. The result is that I get reamed out by biblicists for following “traditions of men” that the Bible so “clearly” condemns.
    I could probably find other examples. 

  • Anonymous

    The “tradition” argument is particularly stupid when you consider that people do, and will always have, traditions, and that some of them exist because they are good and helpful.

    When a person cannot distinguish between “following a particular tradition because it is a good tradition and makes life better” and “following all traditions blindly because TRADITION!!” I tend to find that person’s literacy and critical-thinking skills highly suspect.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary (2001)

    When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning.

    P’shat Commentary

    fight: The Hebrew verb implies the use of physical force.
    damage: The word translated as “damage” (ason) elsewhere always signifies a major calamity; therefore, the most likely issue here is whether or not death ensues. Rabbinic tradition understands this as referring to the woman. The ancient Greek translation of the Bible, the Septuagint, takes it as damage to the fetus.
    based on reckoning: The husband makes a claim based on some standard set by the court, perhaps the age of the fetus.

    Halakhah l’Ma·aseh

    a miscarriage results: Applying this text to all forms of miscarriage, Jewish law requires different forms of mourning for a fetus than for someone born alive. Full mourning rites are not appropriate for a fetal loss; but the CJLS, understanding the emotional and physical pain of a couple experiencing a miscarriage, has ruled that the community should offer them support through prayer and the mitzvah of visiting the sick (bikkur ḥolim).

    but no other damage: Because the Torah demands only a monetary payment for the fetus in contrast to “life for life” for the woman, the fetus is not considered to be a full-fledged human being, and abortion is not murder (M Oho. 7:6). It is, however, an injury to the woman; and as such, abortion is generally prohibited. It is allowed only to save the physical or mental health of the mother. Many authorities, including the CJLS, permit abortion to prevent maternal anguish over the prospect of giving birth to a child with severe defects. Abortion is not permitted as a retroactive form of birth control.

  • Ursula L

    Another thing worth remembering in the translation of this verse is that “premature birth” and “miscarriage” would pretty much be the same thing, in the context in which the rule was written.

    They had no neonatal intensive care. No safe C-sections.  No incubators.  No tube feeding.  No oxygen therapy.  None of the many things we use these days to turn “premature birth” into “healthy baby” rather than “dead fetus.”  

    When you combine the inability to provide life support to a premature child with an inability to accurately diagnose early pregnancy, you have a situation where “premature birth” becomes a vague concept.  Either a baby is born and survives, or it doesn’t.  But if you can’t set a date for the beginning of pregnancy, you can’t measure how far the pregnancy has progressed, and you can’t really say whether a birth is premature or not, unless it is premature enough that the baby is visibly underdeveloped and doesn’t live, in which case you have a variation of “miscarriage” or “stillbirth” rather than what we consider to be “premature birth.” 

    In our modern context, “premature birth” includes the hope of life and health, given suitable medical care.  In the ancient world, “premature birth” just meant “dead.”  

  • Nathaniel

    How very 1984 this all is. And Goddamn hilarious coming from “Bible Bible Believing Christians.”

    “Look, we know what God really meant, even if “his book” says the exact opposite. Lets help out the big guy, okay? Lesser people might get confused.”

    “Aye!” 

  • Tricksterson

    As I understand it they claim, and may actually think, that they’re correcting falsehoods put in by “liberals”because since it doesn’t say what they think it should obviously sabotage was involved.

  • Kaiyoti

    It’s totally amazing to me that persons of this ilk will not let God be God. Faux-christian and Muslems, who claim that God(Allah) is all-powerful won’t let their God handle things Himself. If He wants hae someone killed He can do it Himsef, He doesn’t need pitiful human creatures to do it. If He can bring the Flood what need does he have of his little creatures to carry out His wishes. It’s like Christ said “Beware of wolves in sheeps clothing”!

  • Anonymous

    Also, as regards dowry, please note that in the world of the Hebrew scriptures, they refer to bride price, not to property that a woman must bring with her. Undoubtedly she did bring some personal property, but the money, or goats, or what have you, goes from the groom to the bride’s father, to recompense him for the loss of labor that will now go to the husband’s family.

  • Aguilaoro88

    With all this in mind, what should we say is the best translation?

  • Tricksterson

    Silly biot, obviously the one closest to what you want it to say.

  • Aguilaoro88

    Actually, I cast my last comment into the void.  I have a much juicier reply to make.  Thinking that this was an unavoidable conclusion, I searched it and tried to see if anyone else thought the same way.  What I found, first result, was a rebuttal:

    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5700 

    Can any reply be made to this?  I was all set to make ‘Go read Exodus 21:22’ my standard reply to any small child who gives me another Chick Tract, but then this popped up…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well, there’s what Ursula said. Anyone who claims that in the hebrew, “born prematurely” means “is endangered and needs special costly care, hence the fine, but with proper medical attention will likely make a full recovery” is being disingenous. The people who scribed the original text didn’t need to make a distinction between “born prematurely” and “miscarried” becuase when you’re a bronze age desert nomad *those are the same thing*.

    Also, the article you cite is a *very* clear example of starting with the answer you want (“No, it totes always meant premature birth of a healthy baby!”) and working backwards.

  • Lunch Meat


    Well, there’s what Ursula said. Anyone who claims that in the hebrew, “born prematurely” means “is endangered and needs special costly care, hence the fine, but with proper medical attention will likely make a full recovery” is being disingenous

    And if you want to give them a snarky response, nod sagely and say, “Ah, yes, so the fine was used to pay for the incubator, catheters, mechanical ventilation, medications, and the attention of a highly educated doctor.”

  • Anonymous

    I noticed a number of similar rebuttals like this one, generally pointing out that the Hebrew words for “miscarriage”, “stillborn child” or “embryo” are not present in the passage, so it must mean a premature birth. This isn’t a very ironclad argument in the Old Testament, though, which is fond of using synonyms and similar terms as a term of emphasis or comprehensiveness. Also, as Ursula pointed out, infant mortality rates were pretty high in Bronze Age nomadic tribes, so the end result is often the same. Remember, the passage delineates a class of people for whom the punishment is less than that for an adult human; it’s easy to imagine the difference between a fetus and a premature birth being unimportant in that respect for the ancient Hebrews.

    The ESV, my favorite translation, decides to fudge the issue and translate it “so that her children come out”, probably as a result of being written right about the time this switch was being made.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a completely insane reading, but I would make two comments on it:

    First, as various people have commented, the idea that a premature birth was often survivable in the society described by Exodus is a long shot. A child born early by violence against its mother would be in immediate, serious trouble.

    Secondly, if we accept this interpretation, we have to ask why the text is silent on what happens if the child the woman is carrying dies. It does not say, as it does in some other cases, “If X happens, you shall put him to death, but if Y happens, he should be fined, or is free of guilt, or what have you”. It does not say, “If the child dies, you shall put him death, but if the child lives, he has to pay for round-the-sundial-midwife-monitoring”. I think that’s because the assumption is that the miscarried fetus will not live–there’s an assumption one way or the other being made here, and the assumption that the child lives doesn’t make any sense.

    Also, This is an interpretation that only makes sense if you assume that the unborn child automatically has the rights of any person, and we all know that, but in Exodus, not all adults have the rights of all people–as witness the issue about the man who beats his slave to death.

    It’s not a completely insane reading, but it is a reading geared to solve a problem in the text for modern Christians.

  • Paul D.

    To its credit, the new Common English Bible translates it as “miscarriage”.

  • Lunch Meat

    There’s more that could be said, but in regards to this:

    Regardless of the translation, it’s clear that killing the child–and the text does refer to the unborn as a child–is a criminal act. There is no justification for abortion-on-demand from the Torah.

    Assaulting a pregnant woman and causing a miscarriage is a criminal act here, today. It’s just not murder. That’s not the same as a woman choosing to end her own pregnancy. One is a violation of her body and rights to her child, the other is not.

  • Anonymous

    There is no best translation of any book. Languages do not correspond well to each other in general.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    True. The Bibles I’ve seen which tend to be more honest about the translation issues are footnoted (sometimes copiously) with alternative renditions of the original Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic which could equally fit the text as given.

    EDIT:

    I have also seen Bibles which have exact, literal, word for word translations of the original language (and the original language as well) in addition to the more figurative, recontextualized translations. ie on the left page you’ll see the Hebrew with the closest literal English words under (or beside) and on the right page you’ll see the less literal translation.

    Needless to say, when you have rather choppy English like that, you get a slight sense for how difficult it is to claim that a particular text in a translated language is the inerrant version of the text.

  • David Starner

    The problem is, there’s many perfectly good sentences in any language that when spoken from one native speaker to another native speaker are absolutely clear, that will be completely opaque in any translation. Overly literal translations can obfuscate things that should be perfectly clear to anyone fluent in the language.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Not to mention we run into a handful of hapax legomenons, where we can, at beast, guess the meaning of a word by context but have no exact translation of it.

  • Aguilaoro88

    Well, then, what do we do?  Throw up our hands in defeat and lock all the world’s literature in tiny little prisons, dangling the keys at the end of four-year language programs?

  • Anonymous

    Course not. We discuss, honestly, and openly, the issues that come up in translations of things we find important. And seriously, given the number of people who study the Bible daily throughout their lives, it wouldn’t be totes insane for more people to study the original languages and the history of the text as well, but that may just be a cranky Jew’s take on the matter.

  • Tricksterson

    Wing it.

  • russ

    Very interesting, and sadly not surprising.

    It seems interesting to compare with biblical translations into other languages. E.g. Zamenhof translated the old testament into Esperanto over a century ago. The passage in question:

    Se viroj kverelos kaj frapos gravedan virinon, kaj ŝi abortos, sed ne fariĝos malfeliĉo, tiam oni punu lin per monpuno…

    Translating that to English:

    If men fight and hit a pregnant woman, and she miscarries, but no (further) unhappiness results, then punish him with a fine…

    (Note: The Esperanto verb “aborti” means to miscarry, i.e. the fetus comes out dead.)

  • Anonymous

    It sounds as if the word is kept deliberately vague–this could be anything ranging from a miscarriage, a stillbirth, a premature birth of a living (but unlikely-to-survive) baby, or a full-term birth.  At any rate, the important thing seems to be that the father (or in today’s terms, the family) of the lost infant is the one who will determine what the actual loss is (at least in financial terms).  It almost sounds like the family gets to choose.

  • Keromaru

    Another wrinkle is that early Christians wouldn’t have used the Hebrew Bible, but the Greek Septuagint.  Here’s how the Apostolic Bible (an interlinear Greek OT/NT) has it:

    “And if two men should do combat, and should strike a woman having one in the womb, and her child should come forth not fully formed, with a fine he shall be penalized. . . And if it should be completely formed, he shall give life for life, eye for eye. . .”

    Seems a bit more direct.  On the other hand, the early Church definitely opposed abortion, and I don’t know how this passage was used.  They didn’t rely as heavily on the Old Testament, and didn’t limit themselves to the Bible (which technically, at the time, wasn’t even “the Bible,” but a set of scriptures authorized for different parts of the liturgy).

  • Keromaru5

    Now that I think about it, it would actually make more sense for Evangelicals to use the Septuagint formulation — except it would undermine the contention that life begins at conception. Even the Catholic Church didn’t reach that conclusion until the 15th century. It always treated abortion as a mortal sin, but in the middle ages, mainly after quickening.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    You missed the big one, Fred: The Conservative Bible Project!

    22 If men fight with one another, and in the process injure a pregnant
    woman and cause her to miscarry, but no further mishap follows, then the
    man doing the injury will pay whatever fine the husband demands and the
    mediators allow.

    Oddly enough, they do stick with the miscarriage, at least for now.

  • Anonymous

    The Conservapedia people don’t know what they’re doing. I doubt they understand that that the passage is socially significant.

    (They do things like change gender-neutral pronouns to masculine ones. I check the Hebrew…it’s actually the feminine plural…)

    They are, however, very good on ‘free-market parables’.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    The CBP is basically Schlafly’s attempt to spin the bible into a love song to American conservative free-market capitalists in which Jesus adores the rich and sends money and power to reward the faithful and just.  He might actually be aware of the significance, but abortion may be slightly less important to him than explaining why Matthew 20:15 means that employers should be allowed to pay whatever they feel like to their employees and fire them them for any reason, or no reason at all.  After all, money is more important than human life.

  • Ursula L

    Fred hasn’t missed either the Conservative Bible Project, or Conservapedia.  He’s addressed both bits of nonsense, extensively, in the past. 

  • prins

    Right… Are you trying to argue that Christians weren’t against abortion before?

  • Gooahboo

    Bible is a made up load of balls shocker!

  • Anonymous

    It takes far less courage to kill yourself than it
    takes to make yourself wake up one more time. It is harder to stay where
    you are than to get out.

  • Charlie

    2 things I have to say (just saying I really don’t want to argue with this because I don’t care what you do with your life; but this is some food for thought) 

    1) The Jewish people who wrote Exodus would have been speaking Herodic Aramaic not Hebrew.  Though they are similar, they are very different in the translations of relations especially.  For one, things such as love, marriage, and words for people versus slaves versus children are completely different.  Children were not quite considered “people” as one might say in English or any other language.  Until you were free of your parents’ burden you were considered a baby or child even at an age of 15.2) It does say that if a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage (or there abouts based on these translations) that the husband can set the fines.  What if politicians were to make it mandatory that fines for abortions past 2 weeks of conception is equivalent to 1st degree murder?  That would essentially use the same argument but on the other side of the spectrum and hence still work according to this argument.

    Have a nice day, and God Bless! :)

  • Dean77

    This article is stupid. There is no difference in translation at all, and the real insanity here is trying to pick something apart to this degree. If you really are getting hung up on the difference between the words “premature birth” and “miscarriage” than you need mental help.

    I came to read this to learn something interesting, but instead I find it is just someone saying “HA, we got you Christians now with an arbitrary change that means nothing. YAY, WE WIN.”

    I’m all for exposing injustice and problems in religion and such, but this just shows the desperateness and immaturity that some people will go to in order to make up something that supports their own views. And isn’t that the exact thing you are supposed to be fighting against with this?

  • Russ

     >> If you really are getting hung up on the difference between the words
    “premature birth” and “miscarriage” than you need mental help.

    If you don’t see a difference between “premature birth” and “miscarriage”, then you need dictionary help.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I came to read this to learn something interesting, but instead I find it is just someone saying “HA, we got you Christians now with an arbitrary change that means nothing. YAY, WE WIN.”

    You know Fred’s a Christian, right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremyduncan.ca Jeremy Duncan

    Interesting article but the debate completely misses the larger issue. The Bible simply cannot be understood as a static unit. There is a movement through the text that works to increase justice and equality throughout the narrative. Simply arguing for or against abortion based one text from a culture with no understanding of pre-natal science is as silly as arguing for or against slavery based on particular texts from the same era.

  • Will

    Wow, I was surprised at how interesting this post is. But I have 2 questions. 

    Where did you get your fact that, ‘In 1977, the sort of American Protestants who purchased most Bibles couldn’t be summed up in a single word. But by 1995, they could be: “abortion.” ‘? Albeit with my 10 minutes of research, I only found the numbers 1990s, and it had nothing to do with the translators of the NASB.Also, why only the NASB?

  • Ryan Lutz

    Its very easy to take verses out of the old testament and misquote them to make them support whatever you want. The passage is not referring to a women choosing to kill her child. Therefore it has no place on either side of the debate. Secondly these laws are part of the original convenant God made with his people. Now there’s a whole second half of the story where in various places throughout the New testiment the law is struck down as being flawed, hence the need for Jesus to come into human history.

    Romans 7 :4
    now dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ.

    Verse 6
    But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the spirit.

    This theme is repeated in Corinthians, Galatians, ephesians, phillipians, Colossians, Thessaloinians, Timothy, Hebrews, James , Peter, John, revelations.

    The point of Christ coming is that the original covenant was flawed, it was unable to cover the sins of man.

    Take the words of Jesus,

    Matthew 5 : 20

    “But i warn you – unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven!”

    Jesus whole point while he was alive is that simply following all the laws to the tee is not what God wants, He wants our lives to reflect his rightousness through the motivations of our heart, this leads to righteuos actions.
    lets look at what Jesus says about children

    In luke Jesus says it would be better for a man to tie a millstone ( a large rock) around his neck and jump into the ocean, than to face Jesus if anyone harms on of the children.

    Secondly to say that christians are barbaric people who want to keep women down, you should look into history because of christians women were allowed to vote, attend school, the freedom of slaves in america is directly due to christians starting the movement. Also the form of slavery being talked about in the bible is not what happend in America. People would willing sell themselves to employers for a season of time. The “Slave master” was responsible to house and feed them, this was often done to settle a debt or in case of famine to allow the people to live. Also every 7th year all slaves and debts were to be forgiven. No one was allowed to hold onto people indefinetly and depribe them of basic needs, which is exactly what happend in America.

    The Translations you use to say there changing the bible and using it for political power is actually hilarious. You dont understand how things are translated. First off there wasn’t written account of the Old Testiment for 500 years after the original patriarical stories were compossed. The “books” were handed down orally through generations. Secondly all translations from Hebrew (Old testament) or Greek ( new testament) use one of two ways of translating, Word for word, or thought for thought. This is why you end up with different wordings, some of the passages you quoted aren’t even out of translations. The message for example is a well known and published paraphrase, it says right in the introduction its not a direct translation, it is ment to put the ideas into modern day language for easy reader consupmtion. A little more in depth study into how the verses your quoting were formed may add some clarity to what your talking about.

    Lastly, as I said before it is easy to take one verse out of context, which is exactly what has happend here. Look at the chapter as a whole as when they are written in the original Hebrew (which you seem so concerned about gettign the context of) they are written as an entire sentence, one thought, there would be no stopping or commas or periods in the original Hebrew these are one idea and need to be quoted as such. The chapter falls under personal injuries. Earlier in the passage it states quite clearly

    ” Anyone who assault and kills another person must be put to death”
    so the question becomes what does God consider to be a person ?
    If you spend anytime reading more than the verses that suit your argument you find that Yaweh of the bible talks extensively about knitting people together in the womb, having called people from the moment of conception to be his children etc etc.

    You can call it womens lib, or womens rights, Abortion always has and still is nothing more than Genocide, the worst kind the world has ever seen, it has the most victims and also the most vunerable victims, they never even have the ability to fight for their rights. That makes me cry everytime I see people defend it and I know it breaks the heart of God everytime it happens.

  • P J Evans

    Abortion always has and still is nothing more than Genocide, the worst kind the world has ever seen

    Bull. Shit. That’s a conservative talking point with zero evidence behind it.
    Go talk to the people at your local synagogue about the Holocaust, go talk to your local Armenians about what the Turks did, go talk to your local Ukrainians about what Stalin did, go talk to your local Cambodians about Pol Pot, go talk to your local Chinese about Mao and the Cultural Revolution. All far, far worse, because they were genocide.

  • Ryan Lutz

    Id say go talk to all the children aborted, but oh yeah you cant 

  • Ryan Lutz

    115,000 abortions per day worldwide.

    Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”

    but of course your right those other genocides were much worse

  • Lunch Meat

    Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”

    What ethnicity, race, religion, or national group do aborted fetuses have in common? Who is organizing and systematizing this destruction? What is the system? Are all pregnant women having abortions because they hate fetuses? Are pregnant women and abortion doctors being controlled by a conspiracy that wants to make sure there are no more fetuses ever? Why then do pregnant women think they’re doing it just because they don’t want to be pregnant? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to get all women on board with the fetus-hating?  Why isn’t there a systematic attempt to reach out to pregnant women with incentives to kill their fetuses? Why is this genocide such a failure, with humans continuing to have children? The only way to make sure there will be no more fetuses is to kill everyone in the world. Is the goal toward which pro-choice people are striving? How are pro-choice people endeavoring to bring about the goal of no more fetuses ever? Can you find rhetoric from the leaders of this genocide targeting a certain ethnicity, race, religion, or national group of fetuses for destruction?

  • P J Evans

    Please cite the ethnic, racial, religious, or national groups that are being systematically destroyed by abortion.

    Oh, right. You can’t, because they don’t exist except in the forced-pregnancy backers.

  • sirius

    This is exactly why sola scriptura will always fail. 

  • Lunch Meat

    If you spend anytime reading more than the verses that suit your argument you find that Yaweh of the bible talks extensively about knitting people together in the womb, having called people from the moment of conception to be his children etc etc.

    If you spent any time reading or listening to people who don’t already agree with you, you would know a) many of us have read the Bible a lot–we’ve even studied it carefully, some of us in the original language, and b) those scriptures you cite are not convincing at all (also most of them were written by humans talking to or about God–they aren’t “thus saith the Lord”, for the most part).

    How do you get from a poetic statement about God’s knowledge of and care for me to a scientific/theological statement about when my soul enters my body? How do you get from “God formed me in the womb” to “therefore I had a soul while God was forming me”? You can’t get from one to the other unless you’re starting with the other and need to justify it. If I’m “forming” a sculpture of a person with my hands, does that mean it’s a sculpture of a person when it’s still a lump of clay with only the barest shape? (If so, I can make a lot of money selling almost-blank canvasses and cans of paint to museums and saying “It’s a painting already because I conceived of it and started to form it!”) If I’m knitting a scarf, is it a scarf while half of it is still a skein of thread? If I’m baking a cake, is it a cake before I put it in the oven (Can bakeries sell batter and charge just as much as they would for a fully decorated cake)? Does any of that change just because it’s God doing the sculpting, knitting, or baking?

    The answer’s obviously no–look at Genesis. God formed Adam with God’s own hands out of the dirt. Was Adam a human person when God started to form him? What about when he sort of started to look like a person, or even when he was fully formed? No, no and no–Adam was not a living person with a soul until God breathed a spirit into him. Evidently we are not people until we take our first breath–an idea that has a lot of science behind it, since breathing for the first time causes a lot of changes in the lungs and body of a baby.

    Your arguments from verses about God knowing us before we were born are just as flawed and just as obviously trying to justify something you’ve already decided, instead of reasoning from what is there. Those are statements about God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, not our knowability. Are there any verse about people knowing other people before they were born? Or from the examples above, if I can predict that my cake batter is going to become a cake and imagine what it will taste like, does that magically make it a cake no?

    Your arguments are not new and you should read more about the debate before assuming you can come in here and convince us with them, because obviously we haven’t thought about it at all or we’d realize that you’re right!

  • Lunch Meat

    Sorry I broke the italics.

  • P J Evans

    I just did it by accident on another thread. Fortunately they don’t break as thoroughly as at the old place. (Also: nice rants.)

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

     @240de2ffabc3087ce98f635043495f11:disqus : At least you closed the sarcasm tags, though.  Wouldn’t want to be getting that all over the rest of the page.

  • Anonymous

    Uh, considering that the penalty for accidentally killing an adult human was that you had to move to a different city (Numbers 35), this accidental killing of a child does carry a greater “out of pocket” penalty. Look at the Holman Christian Standard (the southern baptist bible), it clarifies the ambiguity of the translation, and it is the most recent translation I can think of.

  • Ursula L

    Uh, considering that the penalty for accidentally killing an adult human was that you had to move to a different city (Numbers 35), this accidental killing of a child does carry a greater “out of pocket” penalty.  

    I’d reconsider that comparison.

    Moving to another city isn’t cheap. And in a society without the telephone, or even widespread literacy and an organized postal system, it would be not just moving, but exile, isolation from your family, and everyone and everything you’d ever know. 

    Plus, if you look at the larger context of ancient Jewish law, the careful distribution of land, so everyone had a right to some, in a place affiliated with their immediate family, extended family, and tribe, was huge/  Being forced to move to a different city put you outside that social structure.

    A fine can be paid in cash, and you’re done.  Or in ancient Hebrew society, it would be paid in what you had, in kind.  Exile can’t be paid off, and is the rest of your life. 

  • Kate

    This is why I am agnostic, mofo’s wrote the damn book for political reasons, if there is god he wrote no silly book about his word, he just wants you to be a damn good person and enjoy life, not waste yours belittling others for their choices and how they will live their next life.The people who can’t be a good person without this magical being watching over you to count what you have done bad vs. good  and only does “good deeds” so they wont go to hell is completely un-altruistic and un-christian they also only have bad intentions for you if they didn’t have this rule book to live by, a silly reward system for children. grow up already its the damn 21st century. 

  • Gospelz4life

    The Exodus (Greek ἔξοδος, exodos “way out”, Hebrew

    Are we going to talk about law given to men who lived like animals thousands of years ago. Is this how people try to defend abortion?

  • P J Evans

     It’s what the forced-birth people are using to justify their opinions.

  • Jfield

    If you want to have a crisis of faith over abortion in the bible, check out Numbers 5:20-22 where God prescribes abortion (albiet supernaturally) for adulterous women. God clearly does not have the unborn’s best interest at heart.

    And if you just need to laugh about the absurdity of it all, consider that we’re arguing subtle issues of morality with a book that clearly and repeatedly advocates genocide, including that of women and children. The idea that the same book is going to lead us to a higher form of morality is delusional.

  • Sillysly

    So the Bible is not only complete bullshit, but it’s sexist too? Mind=blown.

  • Tricksterson

    And water is wet.

  • LunaticFringe

    If you’re wondering about the influx of new commentators, this post was recently linked by Reddit, which is in some ways a fun and informative sight and in other ways a hive of really creepy misogyny.

  • Holtonmusicman

    all of this assumes she has a husband – there would have been no accounting for a woman being pregnant without first having been married, so I’m missing the point of the post 

  • Anonymous

    that’s because intercourse and marriage were essentially the same thing in those days.

  • Ursula L

    that’s because intercourse and marriage were essentially the same thing in those days. 

    Hardly.  

    The stories in the Bible set in that time are full of sex, of all sorts, very little of which had to do with marriage.  

    There is prostitution.  There are women warriors, who seduce and then murder enemy generals.  There are women who are raped.  There are women who are raped by their brothers. There are women who are slaves, who are forced to have intercourse with their owners.  There are women who are slaves/servants to wealthier women, forced to have sex with their employer’s/owner’s husband. There are concubines – women who nominally have a husband, but who lack the status and protection of being a “wife.”  There are girls who are thrown into the street by their fathers to be gang-raped.  There are women who are expected to have sex with their dead husband’s brother, in order to produce an heir for the dead husband.  There are women who disguise themselves as prostitutes, in order to have sex with a man they are expected, by society, to have sex with, who isn’t their husband, and who isn’t interested in having sex with them.  

    The one type of sex that is oddly absent is what we would consider a good marriage – two people, equals, who care for each other, and who are sexually faithful to each other, for a lifetime.

  • Anonymous

    “The one type of sex that is oddly absent is what we would consider a good “traditional” marriage – two people, equals, who care for each other, and who are sexually faithful to each other, for a lifetime.”

    Rebecca and Isaac, perhaps?

  • Ursula L

      Rebecca and Isaac, perhaps? 

    That’s the closest I can think of.  

    And even then, the power inequities between men and women that were part of the society they lived in makes the status of their relationship questionable.  

    And you’ve got the odd bit about Rebecca tricking Issac into giving Jacob the blessings that tradition said Esau was owed – a profound deception that doesn’t really fit well with a relationship built on love and respect.  

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > Another traditional count has him 29 and her 14, which is, again, rape by any decent standard.

    As long as we’ve got such a definitive source handy, I should ask: what’s the correct age of consent for a decent culture to have? (Or ages of consent, if it’s different for men and women, or for other demographics.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Canada’s at one point was 18 without problem and 14 under certain conditions. Since then it’s been changed to 18 and 16.

  • Ursula L

    14 and 29?  He’s more than twice her age.  

    The more sensible consent laws I know about have age limits for younger individuals, so they can develop relationships with people who are their own age, as equals, while having protection from being exploited by fully grown adults.

    And they’ve never met before they were married, so how can either of them meaningfully consent?  Particularly her, being separated from the support of her family, so much younger, less experienced, and with few if any resources if she wanted to leave. 

  • Tricksterson

    You mean the one where she dupes her husband into cheating one son out of his rightful heritage in favor of the other?  Abraham and Sara maybe though.

  • Ursula L

    Abraham and Sarah?  Where Sarah gives Abraham her slave, so he can sire a son, and then arranges for them to be abandoned in the desert?  Nothing there about Hagar’s consent, either. 

  • Grace

     Oh, well how would you have written that verse? Like someone said, it did not happen very often, but when it did, something had to be done about it. We are in a new dispensation now…one of grace. This passage indicates the situation was accidental not intentional and God did not equate it with murder, however He established that this action was inappropriate by allowing the party to ask for monetary settlement. It is probably difficult to understand seeing their culture then because it is so vastly different then our culture today. The heathens of that day also fed their children into the fire of their gods. You will find passages that decry that action. Look at the big picture, not just bits and pieces.

  • P J Evans

     You seem to assume that no one here has ever read those passages.That’s not a safe assumption. Consider also how many translations are quoted in the post up at the top.

  • Jon01

    Just for the record, the greek is ambiguous:  ‘Yunian’ could well be Junias or Junia and most modern translations footnote the alternative because of this. Recent studies have shown that in other greek literature the feminine version is overwhelmingly more common though the masculine is still possible. Early extra-biblical sources are mixed, which makes the the process more difficult especially when combined with Paul’s theology about women in leadership. So to suggest that Biblical scholars invented the name and “inserted into the text of scripture because those translators didn’t like what the text actually said” is just not true, or at least you cannot give any shred of proof that it is.
     As far as I can see, all you have shown is that of all the versions you have quoted, only the NASB changed the meaning (which, by the way, still fits within the possible interpretations of the original language). So my conclusion from your article is: For over 600 years (1392-2009 – the range of translations you provided) very little has changed in the way interpreters translate the Bible. Most are not evil political schemers as you make them out to be but genuinely wrestle with the complex process that is translation work.  


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