Conservapedia:The Conservative Bible Project

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On Christmas Day 2008, Andrew Schlafly started his most important project and what some might consider his biggest insult to Christianity to date: Conservapedia's Bible Retranslation Projectimg renamed to Conservative Bible Projectimg.

Contents

[edit] Project outline

SchlaflyBible.jpg

Despite poor descriptions by Schlafly of the means to be employed to re-translate the Bible, in its execution so far the project does not involve any substantial translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek texts, or later translations of these such as the Greek Septuagint or the Latin Vulgate. Rather, Schlafly has been altering the text of the KJV on a word-for-word and idea-for-idea basis to eradicate words and concepts that he feels threaten his personal concept of Christian Conservatism. This is probably because, while claiming to have expertise in ancient Greek,[1] Schlafly seems to have a shaky grasp of it and isn't even sure what language Jesus was speaking.[2] One obvious consequence of his methodology is that Schlafly misapprehends the significance of words and phrases with idiomatic meaning in the Ancient Greek, particularly such as appear in the Pauline letters, and fails to include such meaning in his alterations of the KJV text.

[edit] Reasons behind the project

See the main article on this topic: Conservapedia:Conditions for a conservative Bible

The stated rationale behind the project is that English is changing (or "devolving" according to Schlafly)[3] so rapidly that the words in previous Biblical translations are no longer accurate (this is, somehow, not in conflict with his claim that new "conservative words" have been being added to the English language at a geometric rate). Schlafly goes on to say that "If a word inevitably alters its meaning after an approximate number of uses, then the time period for the change in meaning will shorten due to improved technology". The project also focuses on the fact that several new words have entered the English lexicon since the original translations of the Bible and that these could be useful in adding new bias giving the translation more relevant meaning (naturally, these words include homeschool and conservative). Presumably this means that by the time the project is completed, it will already be out of date and a new translation will be required to compensate for further devolution.

The roots of the idea seem to lie in Schlafly's Conservapedia entry for Disputed Biblical Translationsimg, started earlier in December 2008. In this he lamented that recent translations such as the New International Version have fewer direct mentions of Hell, the Devil and the divinity of Jesus Christ than are in the King James Version. Of course in Schlafly's mind this is all about liberal creep and misappropriation, rather than anything to do with advances in classical scholarship over the past four centuries.

[edit] Specific examples

  • Replacing rich with miserly.
Presumably this is because some wealthy Christians are uncomfortable with Jesus's quote about a rich man and an eye of a needle.
  • Replacing kill with murder.
This is a common dispute with the commandment "thou shall not kill." Biblical Hebrew has several words that could be used for "kill," and the word used in the commandment (ratsach) is never used when referring to killing in war. Therefore translating the commandment as "thou shall not murder" is arguably closer to the original intent; but Schlafly's reason is probably to justify capital punishment, torture, and war mongering. But not abortion for some reason.
  • Replace liberal with generous.
Due to Andy's hatred of "evil libruls", even using the word in a non political way, such as "give your cake a liberal sprinkling of icing sugar" is wrong. We wonder how words containing word roots of "liberal" ("liberate", "liberty") are addressed.
  • Replace grace with boundless generosity.
The official reason given is that "Grace" is a girl's name,[4] presumably leaving "faith", "hope", and "charity" yet to be reworded. In addition, If "liberal" can be replaced with "generous", would the word "grace", by syllogism, mean "boundless liberality" back then?
  • Replace Pharisees with elites.
Covering up the rather embarrassing error of the original Evangelists, who confused the less rigid Perushim ("Pharisees") with the stricter Seduqim ("Sadducees") - possibly because Pharisees rivalled early Christians for mass support. As a bonus, it throws in a boilerplate modern conservative term of abuse against contemporary opponents, transforming a politico-religious dispute in 1st century Palestine into Jesus castigating those snooty latte-sippers. After all Conservative elites can't possibly be bad can they?

[edit] Alternatively...

An alternative explanation is that the Bible Retranslation Project is just the sort of thing that happens when Internet kooks have too much wine and chocolate at Christmas, or when megalomaniacs stray further and further beyond the curtain of sanity.

Frankly, the LOLCat Bible seems to be to be a more accurate translation than the abomination that they propose!! And to those Conservapedia folks I say:

18 Da BirdKat say: if pplz adz stuff to teh profetzi of book, Ceiling Cat make them sicz, leik sayed in book.
19 And if pplz photoshpz the Heliez Bibul, the Ceiling Cat takes pplz's cheezburger away, k?
20 BRB
21 Da grase of Lord Jebus Crist be wit u kittehs fer evr n evr Amen. Fer rlz. kthxbai! (Hai tis end! Srsly! No lai!)

(Rev 22:18-21)
—Mau de Katt, at Slacktivist

[edit] Examples of Conservapedia exegesis of the New Testament

  • On the Logos/John 1:1[5]
  • On the Epistle to the Hebrews[6]

[edit] Progress (or lack thereof)

Unsurprisingly, the project was met with skepticism and criticism from some Conservapedia editors, which was dismissed contemptuously by Schlafly. The article's talk page makes for some interesting reading, particularly a series of posts in which Andy, responding to comments that his "translations" contradicted accepted Biblical and linguistic scholarship, entirely debunked the concept of expertise.

The "experts" also say that global warming is a crisis and that more government spending is needed. God gave us all the ability to think for ourselves. Let's use it."[7]

Sure Andy, those "experts" talking about global warming are exactly the same people as the ones who translate ancient Greek and Hebrew.

Subsequent comments by Andy continued to emphasize "thinking for yourself" (a Euphemism for agreeing uncritically with Schlafly) as a more reliable method of translation than actual knowledge or study of ancient languages.[8] They also showcased his delusions of grandeur swelling to absurd proportions and his tenuous grip on reality faltering.

The efficiency of the learning from this project is far greater than in any other medium, much higher than reading a book, attending a seminar, watching television, discussing with people, etc. In merely a few spare minutes or hours, the participants in this project have learned more than they could have after spending 10x or 100x many hours in any other medium.[9]

Both the discussion and the project itself initially fizzled out during early January 2009. Schlafly's biggest supporters on the talk page had been parodists (Bugler and RodWeathers), who have subsequently been exposed and left the site. The other major contributor has been DeniseM, an editor with a good knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and other languages, who has made a start on translating the Book of Esther.[10]

Andy seemed to have largely lost interest in the project, probably due to his short attention span and the many other subjects demanding his "insights". Quite possibly he also realized that he was out of his depth, when confronted with questions like "how do people here render ויהי בימי אחשורוש הוא אחשורוש המלך מהדו ועד כוש שבע ועשרים ומאה מדינה?" and "How do people want to transliterate אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ?" from DeniseM.[11]

The translation of the New Testament was completed on April 23, 2010 by the best of the public.[12] However, when Andy's interpretation of the scriptures is questioned using the Conservative Bible [13] Andy will make improvements in order to rectify the matter.[14][15] Improvements are also made whenever his next insight[16] requires Biblical verification[17] or pet theories lunacies require Biblical proof, for example[18] disproving relativity.[19] Anyone else doing the same is reverted and blocked for vandalism.[20]

[edit] Summer resurgence

By August 2009 DeniseM and her awkward scholarly questions had disappeared and the concept was resurrected. Andy realised there was no translation of the bible which met his definition of a conservative translation, so he set himself the lofty task of creating his own. The prevailing logic of the reinvigorated exercise is that when the King James Version was first printed in 1611 they did not have access to his "powerful" list of new conservative words that Schlafly spent the first half of the year compiling, which they would have surely used to express the bible's conservative and free market ideas. The only problem was that without being well versed in Hebrew or Koine Greek the Conservapedians could not do a proper translation.

As a result, Schlafly and a small but committed cadre of parodists now have the stated goal of "translating" - more accurately, rewording - six verses of the KJV each day, which will enable Mark's Gospel (the shortest of the four) to be made fully conservative within four months. The talk page is full of optimism, and includes such revolutionary insights as improving on "Holy Spirit" with "Divine Force".

Bits of other books of the New Testament have also been attempted here and there, including half of the letter to Philemon - finally, someone has opened their eyes to the obvious socialism in Philemon verse 1[21] and removed it. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this translation stops just short of the phrase "mine own bowels".

[edit] Right wing criticism

Given how Conservapedia hangs on to every word of Joseph Farah's WorldNetDaily as newsworthy, it must have come as quite a surprise when somebody who is, theoretically, Schlafly's target market lashed out at the project.[22] Farah described the project as "incredibly stupid and misguided", "nutty", a "trivialization and politicization of the Scriptures" and a "profoundly dangerous practice spiritually". He also had a dig by referring to the authors, Andrew Schlafly and TerryH, as "conservatives" (using the inverted commas).

Schlafly's response was to call Farah's comments "over the top",[23] and TerryH went one step further and drafted a long, rambling screed defending their actions. Armed with a pocket Greek dictionary and Google Translate, Terry concludes his reply by stating, "truth is truth and error is error. And in my determination not to let error stand, I yield to no man, no matter what his reputation or standing in anything that might be called 'the conservative movement.'"[24]

Additionally, Chick Publications raised concerns about the CBP's habit of removing verses from the translated Bible. In conclusion, their article asked the questions:

Do you think it's important when 12 verses remove everything that happened to Jesus after His burial? Do you think it's important if one missing word makes Jesus look like a liar? Do you think it's important when one missing word ("God") removes the doctrine of the Incarnation (God becoming a man) in a verse? Do you think it's important if the only verse countering infant baptism is removed?[25]

Creation Ministries, extensively cited as an authoritative source in numerous Conservapedia articles ranging from Creationism to Evolution, harshly criticizes the CBP:

Forcing the Bible to conform to a certain political agenda, no matter if one happens to agree with that agenda, is a perversion of the Word of God and should therefore be opposed by Christians as much as ‘politically correct’ Bibles.[26]

[edit] Highlights

As of May 2010 the entire Gospels are finished (behind the stated goal of having it done before Easter[27]). The project isn't so much a 'translation' as a anachronistic dumbing down of the King James Version (which is conveniently not copyrighted) with the occasional conservative twist. The KJV verses are put right beside the "Proposed Conservative Translation". The contrast between the archaic literary prose of the KJV and the artless, agenda-ridden language of the Conservative Bible is stunning. For example, the KJV of Luke 11:53-4 reads:

And as he [Jesus] said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

The Conservative Bible "translation" (done by Andy himself) reads:

As Jesus told them off, the scribes and Pharisees furiously interrogated Him about everything, plotting and seeking to quote Him for a politically incorrect remark to use against Him.[28]

In addition to trying to interject the modern concept of political correctness into the Bible Andy has his Lord and Saviour telling people off.

Or take Luke 12:43-4. KJV:

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

Conservative Bible:

Blessed is that manager, whose employer finds working so diligently Truly I tell you, he will promote that manager to run all of his affairs.[29]

In addition, Andy:

  • has Jesus saying "Listen up". [30]
  • considers using the word "bimbo" in his Bible and ponders if the Greek word he is "translating" ever meant that. [31]
  • has Jesus complaining about "burdensome regulations". [32]

While many groups in the past have tried to rewrite the Bible to fit their agenda none has ever been this obvious about it, while simultaneously reducing the book's quality to just below a Dan Brown novel. Heathens would have trouble topping this heresy.

[edit] Views from the blogosphere

In late September and early October 2009, the project attracted more widespread attention on the internet, initially from religious or conservative bloggers, before being picked up by others, and even columnists from some major journals.

[edit] Examples of websites and blogs criticising or ridiculing the project

  • The Church of Jesus Christ: "This man has no real clue about Bible translations or relating the truth. No Gossip? Hardly. The Bible, for the first time, open to the public for translation? Hardly. The ‘public’ has been translating the Bible for a very, very long time. And economic parables? Really?"
  • Episcopal Cafe, 29th Sept. - "a site that believes the Bible is too liberal"
  • Beliefnet, 1st Oct. - "insane hubris"
  • Catholic and Enjoying It!, 1st Oct. - "delectable insanity"
  • Dr. Claude Mariottini (Professor of Old Testament), 2nd Oct. - "such a translation will violate every hermeneutical principle used by Bible translators"
  • Time, 5th Oct. - "This is insane"
  • Dr. James McGrath, associate professor of religion at Butler University. "is the “Conservapedia Version” of the Bible a really funny parody or a really deceitful pseudoconservative pseudotranslation that leaves its users with a pseudobible?"
  • Harper's, 5th Oct, From the Department of Self-Parody
  • The Huffington Post, 5th Oct.
  • PZ Myers, 5th Oct.
  • The Vanity Press, 5th Oct. (blog defunct) - "To describe them as 'later-inserted liberal passages' is to imply that 'liberalism' is not a modern political philosophy but a conspiracy that has been around since before Jerome -- one that the editors of Conservapedia will now eradicate."
  • The New Republic's "The Plank", 6th Oct.
  • Little Green Footballs, 6th Oct. "You couldn’t write comedy like this."
  • Dispatches From The Culture Wars 6th Oct. "Okay, this is so stupid that it seems like it must be a joke."
  • The Thomas Society Blog, 7th Oct. "This is such an abuse of God’s word it makes me want to vomit."
  • Slacktivist, 7th Oct. "It's ridiculous and extreme and brazenly blasphemous and colossally illiterate"
  • Right Wing Radicals, 31st Oct. "Sounds to me like these idiots thought Jesus had some speeches and movements against modern-day liberals even though he died 1900 years before they existed."
  • Too many more to list.

[edit] Examples of blogs defending the project

  • NewsBusters, 5th Oct. - "legitimate theologically conservative concerns", but lukewarm support at best ("this writer personally disagrees with and finds huge dangers in an explicitly "conservative" interpretation of holy writ").

[edit] Examples of Andy defending his project

  • On October 6, 2009, Andy went on Colmes' radio show, where he "debates" (disputes) whether Aramaic was the original Biblical language (RationalWiki transcript):
  • On October 7, 2009, he pulled a similar stunt on the Dave Ross Show:

[edit] See also

[edit] External Links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Andy refers to having studied Ancient Greekimg, but neglects to give details.
  2. "Often this term was used by Jesus (assuming he spoke Greek)".img
  3. See his article on devolution of language.
  4. Quick, someone name their daughters to be "Boundless Generosity" (At least it is better than Stewart Francis, who said "We have a daughter who we named after my mom. In fact, Passive-Aggressive Psycho turns 5 tomorrow.")
  5. http://www.conservapedia.com/Essay:_Biblical_Exegesis_the_wiki_way
  6. http://www.conservapedia.com/Epistle_to_the_Hebrews_(Translated)
  7. Comment here.img
  8. E.g. see theseimg comments.img
  9. Comment here.img See also this comment.img
  10. See this section.
  11. DeniseM's comments hereimg and here.img
  12. [1]img
  13. [2]img
  14. [http://www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Matthew_10-19_(Translated)&diff=prev&oldid=828133img
  15. http://www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Matthew_10-19_(Translated)&diff=prev&oldid=828134img]
  16. [3]img
  17. [4]img
  18. [5]img
  19. [6]img
  20. [7]img]
  21. Biblegateway - Philemon, 1:1 "Philemon our dearly beloved comrade fellow labourer". The NIV dares to even say "fellow worker". The reds are everywhere!
  22. Farah's ramblings - October 22 2009
  23. Andy's response to Farah's articleimg
  24. TerryH's Reply to Joseph Farahimg
  25. How to speed-test a new Bible version
  26. Politicizing Scripture:Should Christians welcome a ‘conservative Bible translation’? Lita Cosner, 24 December 2009.
  27. Easterimg
  28. Luke 11:53-4 Conservative Bibleimg
  29. Luke 12:43-4 Conservative Bibleimg
  30. Jesus: "Listen up"img
  31. Consideration of 'bimbo'img
  32. "burdensome regulations"img
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