CHONGQING — Well, not literally, but pretty close. Via DailyKos, I learned today that Conservapedia (the Bizarro version of Wikipedia) intends to take the King James Bible and rewrite it into plain modern English, making sure the new version has no “liberal bias.”
The Conservative Bible will be a wiki, so it will be a group project, rather like giving a large group of monkeys enough time and equipment to recreate the works of William Shakespeare.
The rationale and methodology of this
ill-conceived project piece of crap are so wrong on so many levels that’s it’s hard to know where to begin.
The King James Version (1611) was an English translation from the Hebrew, Latin and Greek texts then available, done entirely by members of the Church of England. It became the “standard Bible” among English-speaking Protestants, largely because of its poetic language and of the breadth of the British Empire.
Conservapedia’s head simians plan to retranslate the English in the KJV translation, which is a lot like playing “Telephone” with the Scriptures. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
There’s nothing wrong with retranslating the Bible. It’s been done dozens of times already. But the new versions start from the original texts, not the KJV. For example, the New International Version (which apparently is too liberal for the monkeys at Conservapedia) was a joint project of 100 scholars in several different countries and different churches, who referred to texts and archaelogical evidence that were unknown 400 years ago. The complete NIV Bible came out in 1978.
Basing a new version of the Bible on a 400-year-old English translation — and nothing else — is just a little sloppy. Organizing it as a wiki, and one with a pretty narrow user base at that, just guarantees the result will be utter garbage, just from the linguistic standpoint.
Then there’s this whole “liberal bias” shit. I mean, WTF? A good deal of what Jesus says in the NT was pretty liberal, after all. Didn’t he say something like, “you should follow the spirit of the Law, not the letter of it?” and “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?”
Apparently, Conservapediapes do not intend to wipe out entire sections of the NT, but they do intend to rewrite and rephrase the KJV to fit their agenda.
As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:
1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”; using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”
So, essentially what they are saying is this: the Bible has to say what we want it to say, so we are going to publish our own version so that future generations can be as stupid and close-minded as we are. We reject any scholarly, intellectual input, because all that thinking just gets in the way of What We Know Is True™. All the people in the Bible, even Jesus himself, actually thought the same way as 21st century American
conservatives wingnuts. Their original message just was corrupted by all those heathen liberals.
This is historical revisionism writ large.
You can see first drafts of the monkeys’ work at the Conservedia site. This is their version of the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1.
It is not exactly a pageturner.