[Buddha-l] purging liberalism from the Bible

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Thu Oct 8 16:02:41 MDT 2009

Here's another piece of info not really Buddhist related, but definitely 
relevant to various buddha-l threads over the years about the relation 
between religion(s) and conservative vs liberal politics. I put this one in 
"do you need a chuckle today?" column.


God's Liberal (or Conservative) Bias
In the beginning was the Wiki, and the Wiki was with God Jehovah Christ 
Allah, and the Wiki was God -- or whatever anyone with online access wanted 
it to be. The Wiki beget Wikipedia which beget Conversapedia which now 
begets the The Conservative Bible Project, an effort by the son of Christian 
Right hero Phyllis Schlafly to cleanse "liberal bias" from modern 
translations of the Holy Bible and create "a fully conservative Bible."

"Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible 
translations," Scott Schlafly says on the project's Web site. Here's one of 
his examples: "The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set 
forth at Luke 23:34:[7]: Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not 
know what they are doing.' Is this a liberal corruption of the original? 
This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some 
of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is 
a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible."

"Excluding Later Inserted Liberal Passages" is one of the Conservative Bible 
Project's 10 guidelines. Another: "Express Free Market Parables; explaining 
the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning." Did you 
not realize the Parable of the Talents was actually Jesus' advice to the 
wise investor?

It's a lot more complicated than that, of course. The book we know as the 
Holy Bible was written, edited, compiled and translated by countless people 
from countless documents over centuries -- a sort of pre-Internet Wiki 
process, but one that was undertaken and approved by religious authorities. 
Is it dangerous to open the Bible or other sacred texts to interpretation 
and revision by anyone and everyone? Or is this no different than what 
conservative- and liberal-minded people have been doing for thousands of 
years in their own minds? Reading the Bible through the lenses of their own 
personal, political, cultural and social biases.

Most major versions of the Bible (King James, Revised Standard, New 
International, New American, and so forth) are diligently and painstakingly 
compiled by panels of hundreds of biblical scholars who spend years 
transliterating the text from ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and 
translating that into modern languages. But they all bring their own 
personal, political and theological biases to the process. Isn't that one 
reason evangelicals tend to prefer the NIV and mainline Christians the NRSV?

Academic committees aren't the only respected Bible translators. Great 
writers and thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson, Leo Tolstoy and Reynolds 
Price, and great scholars such as Clarence Jordan and Eugene Peterson, to 
name a few, have created their own versions of the New Testament, for 
example. Christianity somehow survived.

I suspect it will survive WikiWorld. Translating the Holy Bible is a 
monumental task and a solemn responsibility, not to be taken lightly, not 
even on the World Wide Web. I doubt very many conservatives or liberals are 
interested in meddling with the theologically and linguistically vetted Word 
of God, regardless of their personal understanding of those words.

And so far, nearly all of spaces for "proposed conservative translation" on 
Conservapedia's Bible project site are empty. And the relatively few 
suggested revisions are, well, conservative. For example, it is recommended 
that this King James Version of John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that 
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Be changed to this:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that who believes in 
Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Whosoever beliefeth? Sounds just like a liberal.

By David Waters |  October 8, 2009; 1:13 PM ET

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