Friday, October 9, 2009

So "conservative Christian" was an oxymoron afterall...

[Why else would they feel compelled to construct an explicitly conservative Bible?]
I first heard about this at (where else?) Pharyngula.  That bastion of all that is sane and rational about modern day American conservative known only as "Conservapedia" has decided to make a conservative translation of the Bible.  If that sounds ridiculous to you, good.  It's about to get outright hilarious.

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning are, in increasing amount:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ

  • lack of precision in modern language

  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one. 

Yes, apparently the Bible has been gravely affected by the liberal media conspiracy.  So what about all of those other conservatives who do not dwell in the intertubes, who believe that this liberally biased tome is the Word of God and yet are still conservative?  Were they tricked?  Or did they just secretly know that those passages that subtly try to contradict their very belief system aren't real and can be ignored safely?
And all of those three things do seem like reasonable things to consider sources of error.  But....
But the third -- and largest -- source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate.[1]
[Yes, the original was bolded].
Problem:  THAT TRANSLATION IS BIASED!  Solution: bias it in a way that you are happier with!
Please note that if you replace the word "translation" with the word "news coverage" above, then the solution is Fox News.  Just to give you a concrete example.

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 Gospel
  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."

1.  That's a sufficiently vague way of phrasing what sounds effectively like "No liberals in the translational area, please".
2.  Yeah.  We don't want to be girly-men.  As for women, they can just go fuck themselves.  In a lady-like fashion, of course.
3.  I love the phrase "intellectual force".  I don't know why, but it tickles me.  And I think the way to go about not dumbing down the Bible is this:  make it as vague and incomprehensible as possible.  If every verse doesn't sound like a Zen riddle, then you are failing it, and must start all over.  I believe I am more than qualified on this matter, having recently received my PhD in incoherence (and a Master's in pseudo intellectualism).
4.  Apparently, all those people who are trying to understand the "intellectual force" of Christianity cannot possibly be trusted to understand that words have multiple definitions.  (Granted, it's not always clear which definition is the relevant one...)  Also, the idea of conservative words is hilarious.  They link to an article of "best new conservative words" and basically just take credit for a bunch of words they like and that they think relates to/describes conservatism or could be used to insult liberals.  At the bottom of the page, they claim "accountability" as a conservative word/concept.  Why?  Who knows.  Especially since the word itself first appeared in the 15-fucking-30's.  The only way it makes sense is if they simply claiming these things as their own because it is the things they support (and therefore things that liberals do not and are concepts that are exclusively theirs, obviously).
5. WTF does the census have to do with anything?  And...can people really not understand that "cast[ing] lots" would be a form of gambling? This really does not bode well for number all.
6.  The very real existence of the Devil and Hell...(?)  You do realize that, just because you say it, doesn't make it so...right?  But I really do hope that the conservative Bible makes the "logic" of Hell as explicit as they can.  It seems to be a point of much focus for them, so it would be real nice to clear that up as much as possible.
7.  "FULL FREE MARKET MEANING".  Presumably, they will need to disappear the following verses:
Matthew 19:21-24.  Mark 10:21-25.  Luke 18:22-25.(Same basic passage, which will be important a little later).
8.  Here is what a honest people would have for a goal: " excluding the later-inserted passages that are not authentic".
What conservapedia has for a goal:  " excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic".  Obviously, the passages that were added later, not authentic, but aren't liberal are perfectly acceptable.
9.  What the hell is the point of that, and how do they intend to pull it off?  Start off a few of the books with the disclaimer that Mark and John were awesome and nice and would believe anything "open-minded"?
10.  Liberals wordy?  News to me (...)
(This too runs afoul of #3.)
a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses
I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe I should just compromise and scream.
liberals will oppose this effort, but they will have to read the Bible to criticize this, and that will open their minds
'Libruls haven't read the Bible lolololololol'  Because obviously there aren't any Christians or former Christians   among the liberal.  The Bible had liberal bias translated into it by people who couldn't be bothered to read the Bible or care about it, because a Bible that was tailored to cater to liberal sensibilities is obviously something that only conservatives could be expected to read and care about.

First Example - Liberal Falsehood

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.

"This does not appear in other Gospels" is a fantastic reason to exclude a verse.  Just fantastic.  Applying this principle across the board will definitely result in a "concise" Conservative Bible.  Though it may be a little redundant. With regards to the claim about "authentic manuscripts lack[ing] the verse", all I could find was this, which claims (also without much evidence, honestly) that the original manuscripts in Greek contain the verse but several translations omitted portions of it, the assumed motivation was unwillingness to forgive the Jews.  Fight conspiracy with conspiracy.

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.

Way to bitch about them not using your synonym of choice (even though a positive but direct synonym to "shrewd" would be "clever", but whatever).  Also, shouldn't the word "dishonest" in the quote itself be a good indication that "shrewd" having "connotations of dishonesty" is actually the fucking point?

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.

Those words are only "socialist" in the paranoid fever dreams of rabid anti-communist hystericists.  And, also considering the verses I mentioned up above, the teachings of Jesus himself give more traction to the "social justice movement among Christians" [scare quotes removed] than some words that are vaguely "connected" to socialism being in the text could possibly do alone.

And now Colbert has picked up on the nonsense and alerted his merry mob across the nation about the project.

[I will link to the video instead of embedding it because the embedding for the video won't f#@$%$!ucking work].

He's not going to get his wish anytime soon. I doubt Conservapedia is going to allow any new users to join or
allow any edits at all for at least a week or so with the potential flood of Colbert-directed e-vandals headed their way.  Assuming that one of them would have seen the Colbert Report that is...

Best part?  The guy making sure all of this happens is Big Man Andy Schafly himself!  I would have assumed it was an elaborate hoax in any other situation.  With Andy calling the shots on this, the only way that this isn't completely hilarious is if Conservapedia itself has been a hoax all along.  Admittedly, not too far-fetched.


Stacy S. said...

Well ... so much for the KJV! (it was good enough for Jesus you know);-)

pboyfloyd said...

So much for the Bible being the 'Word of God', as if there weren't enough bullshit in the Bible, they want it totally bullshittified.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

This whole thing just has to be an elaborate hoax. If not, then I will forever be unable to look for irony again since this would have to be the ultimate I could ever hope to experience.

Anonymous said...

I agree 110 million percent with Pliny.

This is ridiculous. Even that they are asking for a conservative translation nuances into, 'The Meaning Isn't Obvious!' Something super-conservative pundits have been decrying for years.

How is it that the scholarship on the bible has devolved into this?


Secretly I always knew the bible wasn't conservative enough.

Michael Lockridge said...

Knowing the perversity of humans, this might just be quite real.

Also knowing the perversity of humans, even this will be exceeded in irony at some future date.

Imagine. People equating Christianity with conservativism (as defined and practiced today). Why, someone might try to equate Christianty with the power of some state, or equal nonsense.

It certainly would not be Christian to dumb-down a Gospel intended for EVERYONE. Why, Heaven would be flooded with undesirables!

God does have a sense of humor. How else could he have so many silly people represent Him?

I wonder if this all occured before? Perhaps the Flood was advised by God's press agent to correct rampant misrepresentation. That certainly does not bode well.


Anonymous said...

Actually Mike makes an astoundingly good point. In all this hullaballo I forgot that translation of 'holy' texts has been used to fortify the position of the state too many times.

There's an implication that might've immediately occured to certain people but didn't to me (to my shame). I thought they were just whining, but it is entirely possible that this could be used to "uphold" not just Conservative views but platforms.

Definitely not cool. Reason is the way, if the argument ends up in infinite regress then choose...other than that, reason is the way.

Thanks for the thoughts Mike, and Asylum, if you already voiced Mike's take and I forgot...many apologies.

mac said...

I suppose they'll have to shorten those pesky ten commandments as well. We can't have people going around loving their neighbors like a bunch of commies. "Thou shalt not kill">would most likely need edited as well- maybe changed to "Thou shalt obey your corporate masters and kill when they tell you to only." The whole idea might be funny, were it not so scarily plausible.

Asylum Seeker said...

"Well ... so much for the KJV! (it was good enough for Jesus you know);-)"

Don't go overboard Stacy. They used the KJV as a major reference for their "translation" and the entire page has nothing but scorn for the NIV (most likely due to it not being the KJV).

"How is it that the scholarship on the bible has devolved into this?"

This is conservapedia so it's more like Biblical "scholarship". It's not like they are mainstream Biblical scholars of any repute as much as internet ideologues who are only known for insanities such as this.

"It certainly would not be Christian to dumb-down a Gospel intended for EVERYONE. Why, Heaven would be flooded with undesirables!"

But if you didn't dumb it down, Heaven would only be filled with elitists and intellectuals. Those are the real undesirables.

"There's an implication that might've immediately occured to certain people but didn't to me (to my shame). I thought they were just whining, but it is entirely possible that this could be used to "uphold" not just Conservative views but platforms."

Didn't occur to me. It would certainly be bad if that happened, and that is what I think is one of their implicit goals. But I doubt that this effort could be taken seriously by anyone who takes Christianity seriously. If any sizable amount of conservatives freely accept a Bible that was tailored to fit their own political ideology, they will finally be laughed straight off of the face of the Earth. Giving any level of acknowledgment to this thing will be a tacit acknowledgment that conservatives do not have an exclusive claim to "true" Christianity in this country and it will be political suicide to give such an idea any level of publicity. As a result, even if this could become significant at the government level (by some twisted miracle from a dark and malevolent god) it would hopefully be a liability for them and quickly vanish from whence it came afterwards. I just can't imagine them possibly being able to spin this is in a positive way and get Americans as a whole to accept it. There are upper limits to how gullible people can be and survive past the age of 12, after all.

Asylum Seeker said...

"I suppose they'll have to shorten those pesky ten commandments as well. We can't have people going around loving their neighbors like a bunch of commies."

Also: that phrase is obviously a euphemism for "orgies" and was something that was added to the New Testament afterwards in order to discredit Jesus by imposing a liberal Roman bias into his words.

And I actually think they did want to change "thou shalt not kill" to
"thou shalt not murder", so that way you can kill when the government says that you are allowed to! They want to use that word instead in order to distinguish killing from illegal killing (thus making war permissible). Of course, why God would want you to obey the laws of any given society in regards to what is acceptable killing and what isn't completely escapes me.

GearHedEd said...

The effort may still fail, since conservapedia cheerfully announced that their new "translation" will be biased to conform with their chosen worldview even BEFORE the "translation" begins.

If that doesn't set them up as laughingstocks, nothing will.

Let's all sing Hymn 212:

"My God
Is a Republican God
He Reiiiiiiigns..."

GearHedEd said...

Oh, and BTW:

Luke says, in the first two verses of Chapter One that

a) He's not an eyewitness to the events, and

b) He's reporting all of the stories based on what "others" have said (sounds at least third hand hearsay)

"[1]Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

[2] Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;"

Luke 1:1-2 (KJV)

I pointed this out to my mother (the "Church Lady" prototype) and she even looked it up right in front of me. Not that I wanted to disillusion her "faith", but because I wanted her to know that I'm not just some johnny-come-lately to the whole atheism thing, and that I still investigate things.

GearHedEd said...

*sound of crickets*

Asylum Seeker said...

" I wanted her to know that I'm not just some johnny-come-lately to the whole atheism thing"

Apparently I am however. Well, in the respect that I don't know as much about the Bible as other atheists seem to. Wasn't raised with any religion, and was born into a relatively non-religious community so the entirety of my knowledge on this subject has come from the internet (whether through informal discussions or more formal articles on the subject). So, with that put out there for no reason at all, may I just say thanks for bringing that passage in your second post to my attention. I was aware that only a remote few gospels had authors who could have claimed to be eyewitnesses of important New Testament events, so it's good to know that the author of Luke was not among them.

As for the can't be helped. I'll try to come back with some bug spray real soon, but I tend to take care of my virtual home as much as my real one. Veritable cesspools of neglect, both.

Nishant said...

This whole thing just has to be an elaborate hoax. If not, then I will forever be unable to look for irony Work from home India

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