Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jesus was a pinko

Seriously. The folks over at Conservapedia have decided that a number of translations of the bible are too liberal, and so have decided to re-make it in their own image and create what "could become a text for public school courses." Of course, liberals are having a field day with it, as well they should. There are certain efforts that deserve to be taken seriously. This is not one of them.

The first problem is that, if one wants to create an authoritative translation, beginning with the KJV is ludicrous. I mean, sure, the KJV is public domain more or less, but then again so are a number of other, better texts*. Any translation 70 years old (ASV, Darby, Webster, even Young's Literal) would serve as a better starting point. Even better would be to have real translators who can translate the Greek and Hebrew texts.

Secondly, a bible "translated" by anyone with a computer picking any words they like could have no more authority than the Jehovah Witness Bible (New World Translation). It's not that all their word selections will be inaccurate; it's that one cannot know if they are, and it would be foolish to build any kind of theological (or political) superstructure on them.

A third problem is the short-sightedness of the entire effort. Modern conservatism is, at best, a 5-decade old ideology. It is a response to modern "liberalism," which itself grows from progressivism, which itself is a response to the real problems of early capitalism, which itself is, at most, one-fourth the age of the youngest books of the bible. Political conservatism will itself morph into something else, and probably surprisingly soon. The issues it grapples so hard with will pass from the political scene and will be no more. Its particular jargon will fade away just as fully.

But the real problem is the lack of respect the entire effort shows for the word of God, even as conservatives claim to rely on it. To assert that "Christianity introduced powerful new concepts that even the Greek and Hebrew were inadequate to express, but modern conservative language can express well," is presumptuous in the extreme**. I find that if the Word of God impinges on my politics, it's wise to change my politics. Those who choose to go the other way deserve all the scorn that their opponents can pour on them.

* Not necessarily better translations, just better texts. But since the translation is just going to be "fixed" anyway, it would make sense to start with something closer to the original. And the KJV ain't it.

** seriously, If they are not in the Greek or Hebrew, then you are just importing your ideas into the Bible. First, become a prophet, then we can think about adding them.

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