Oct 8, 2009

Was Jesus a Librul?

The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, 1620-5

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It would appear that the frequent assertion that Jesus was a "dirty hippie" has finally pushed the Christian Right too far, and they're fighting back. The Conservative Bible Project has begun. Not satisfied to leave translation to linguists, Conservapedia is determined to take back ancient scripture and restore it to its 21st Century, conservative roots.

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

  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[3]
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] 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";[5] 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."

Rod Dreher of Belief.net explains a bit of the absurdity.

"The liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio"? Hoo-wee! Elitists like to use words, and lots of 'em! "Unnecessary ambiguities"? But how are you going to abide by the conservative mandate to avoid "dumbing down" Holy Writ while at the same time avoiding big words liberals use?

It's not only the more modern translations that these conservative ideologues have in their sights. (Although, the New International Version really has them spinning, because it is so "liberal and feminist in outlook.") It seems liberalism infected the Bible from its earliest inceptions. The conservative version of the Bible would exclude the adultress story. True, the Periscopa de Adultera has been a bone of contention among Biblical scholars for some time. However, calling verses which appeared in the canon at least as early as 200 A.D a "later-inserted liberal passage," seems like something of a reach.

I'm left wondering how deep their edits will have to go. What to do with the Sermon on the Mount, for instance? Jesus comes across really squishy, what with all those blessings of the meek and merciful, and compassion for enemies. And, I don't know how well it comports with their desired "free-market" spin.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -- Matthew 6:19-21

Free marketeers may also bridle at this one:

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
-- Luke 18:22-25

Squishy, squishy, squishy... and maybe even a little, dare I say it, "socialist." The Conservative Bible Project really hates socialism.

Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the "social justice" movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word "volunteer" is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word "comrade" is used three times, "laborer(s)" is used 13 times, "labored" 15 times, and "fellow" (as in "fellow worker") is used 55 times.

See if you can follow the logic, here. Socialist movements have used the words "comrade," "laborer," and "fellow." Therefore, those words are now the exclusive domain of socialists... so the Bible needs to be revised, to remove any appearance of socialist leanings. It seems to me, the larger problem is that Jesus went around telling rich people to redistribute their wealth to save their souls. I mean, how do you spin that, in a capitalist friendly way?

I think Conservapedia has its work cut out fixing this mess. Let's face it. Constantine was a real pansy, and Jesus just comes off looking soft. And, if the Bible is going to continue to use words like "government" -- check it: the word government is liberal -- there will be no restoring the Lord to his rightful place as a conservative hero.

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