02 October 2009

A 'Conservative' way to translate

Some conservatives are unhappy with the way the Bible is translated. Here's the whole argument at Conservapedia. Now I thought translating should be a straightforward process of establishing the best text in the original language, and then trying to come up with the most accurate translation, this being the Word of God. I thought it was only liberals who wanted to take lines out of the Good Book, especially some of Paul's more ferocious sentiments.

As usual, I was wrong. Here are three examples of what Conservapedia has in mind:

First Example - Liberal Falsehood

The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:[6]

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. [So we should ditch anything that appears in only one Gospel? Interesting - Clemens]

Second Example - Dishonestly Shrewd

At Luke 16:8, the NIV describes an enigmatic parable in which the "master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly." But is "shrewdly", which has connotations of dishonesty, the best term here? Being dishonestly shrewd is not an admirable trait.

The better conservative term, which became available only in 1851, is "resourceful". The manager was praised for being "resourceful", which is very different from dishonesty. Yet not even the ESV, which was published in 2001, contains a single use of the term "resourceful" in its entire translation of the Bible. [ I suppose it would be foolish to ask what the Greek term is - Clemens]

Third Example - 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. ['Laborer' and 'labored' are Socialistic? Also interesting, but what does the Greek say - Clemens]

Once upon a time, barley 50 minutes from where I live, a preacher was so incensed at a new translation of the Bible that he tried to burn one in public. When he couldn't get it started he said "Just like the Devil, he won't burn either!" Burning Bibles of any variety would seem to be a slippery slope.

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At 02 October, 2009 18:14, Blogger jack perry said...

Good God.

Bad conservapedia.

I half-wonder if it isn't a prank on the website, though. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem clever enough to be a prank.

At 02 October, 2009 21:29, Anonymous Maire said...

God opts for the poor Conservapedia. Deal with it.

At 04 October, 2009 20:27, Blogger Clemens said...

The weird, and even frightening thing, is that they are advocating exactly the kind of politically slanted translation they accuse highly respected Biblical translators of the doing. Dumping the "Father forgive them" line tells you all you need to know.

At 05 October, 2009 06:58, Blogger jack perry said...

Well, I wouldn't call it "frightening". Translations of convenience have been going on for centuries, even millennia. Even people who act as if God handed Moses the King James Version tend towards interpretations of convenience. Personally I find it sad, not frightening.

What's more interesting is that the talk page is dominated by one person (ASchlafly) who at one point argues with a native Hebrew speaker about translating. A few other people commenting are students of his (he's a homeschool teacher). So it seems to be a small club with a bad idea who can edit a page and make themselves seem a larger group. Welcome to the wonderful world of Wikis.


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