Don't Cut Up Your Bible [bad.hack]


Thomas Jefferson disagreed with parts of the New Testament and considered them irrelevant (or too "supernatural") to the core parts of the Christian faith.  He famously published his own New Testament with sections edited out, entire books missing.  It's been called the Jefferson Bible.

History repeats itself with the advent of the Conservative Bible Project, an online effort to re-translate (or perhaps rewrite) the bible to better reflect their concept of conservative ideals.  From the link (yes, this is serious):
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."

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles.
Read the rest of the entry, including the "examples" and try to not either cry/weep/laugh/or HULK SMASH. It is just insane.  I cannot pretend to have a neutral position on this.  As Rod Dreher says:
It's like what you'd get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin'...These jokers don't worship God. They worship ideology.
Truth.  Even the Jesus Seminar or Red-Letter Christians don't cut out parts of the bible...they merely elevate verses over others.  Everybody does that, even the hardest of literalists.  So this is a farce.  There, I said it.  It would be funny if it weren't obviously an honest effort.

This is a bad.hack, one that negates the dissonance that every follower of Christ ought to experience and replacing it with a biblical echo-chamber that only sends back conservative rainbows in reply.  It either will hurt Christianity by playing to people's (especially, typically, conservatives') need for certainty, or will expose the bible as neutered without the dissonance of thought and expression.

But don't take my words for it...the author of a 2004 translation/compendium of the original Jefferson bible had this to say:
[Jefferson] decided that the rules of the club to which he wished to belong were not the rules he wanted to play by. So instead of changing clubs, he changed the rule book by literally cutting and pasting together only the sections that he found relevant to his interpretation.
In short, this has no more place in public discourse than the LOLcats Bible...except that one is HILarious.  This Project is just scary dumb, written by people without any of the values of either Conservatives or Liberals, and hopefully in the annals of time it too will end up on the cutting-room floor.

Thoughts?

6 comments:

Carolyn October 7, 2009 at 6:54 PM  

I really liked that Salon article, as well as your post. This whole project is just appalling.

Stephen Lingwood October 8, 2009 at 3:16 AM  

"Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story."

WTF?

Rev. Jeremy Smith October 8, 2009 at 7:17 AM  

Right. If anything, later passages or writings sought to do away with ambiguity or nuance the radical gospel message. But even in the reverse it's a ridiculous idea.

bblacksten October 10, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

And they gambled for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Tracy October 12, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

I first heard about the Conservapedia folks and their Bible re-write from an atheist friend. I remember telling him that no, it was an ironic joke like when Jonathan Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal". I've since then realized that these people are serious (just another reason for him to think I'm a "Christian dummie"!) It's just hard to believe that these guys are for real.

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