conservapedia bible project

Ok, this is either fantastic satire or frightening: Conservapedia has launched a new Conservative Bible translation project. The goal is to alter the language of the Bible to better reflect conservative values. And yes, they have already rendered a number of books. Their reasoning:
"Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:
  • 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.
Of these three sources of errors, the last introduces the largest error, and the biggest component of that error is liberal bias. Large reductions in this error can be attained simply by retranslating the KJV into modern English."
It's just got to be a delightful Colbert-ian ruse, otherwise, we've all been duped by the evil forces of F.F. Bruce and the NRSV committee. Scholars everywhere must be scrambling to control the damage, their inattention to "precision in the original language" exposed. A lot of those verbs are conjugated, you know...

Thankfully, if you are confused about the Bible you're reading, they offer some interpretive guidelines:
"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." "
Here's an example of the extraneous additions they've detected in the Bible:
"First Example - Liberal Falsehood
The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:
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"
You almost believed that! It does make for a great introduction to text criticism, though.
I'm not trying to espouse a political position here, but I am a theological one: this is bad interpretation all the way 'round. Still, it's hard to argue with tenet #10, " Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness." Never mind that it contradicts rule #3: they may just adhere to a simpler worldview. Poe's law?

If there's one thing to be drawn from this, at least it highlights how much everything is interpreted. Every time we read scripture we are biased by our own assumptions and viewpoints. I mean, at least they are honest about theirs. How much more damage has been caused by the church's hidden and unexamined biases' that just reflect "the way it is" (slavery? women? imperialism?). And so the project undoes itself so far as it tries to better represent absolute, timeless, universal propositional truths.

Entertaining stuff. It's like a giant Chinese Finger trap: I want to look away but can't, and today, somewhere in the distance, I hear D. Hagner gently weeping.


  1. It appears that this is all too real...and thus, very frightening! Conservapedia is very tightly controlled by its founder, Andy Schlafly (son of conservative christian activist, Phyllis Schlafly). And the wiki article in question shows a history of being edited by Schlafly himself. In fact, his username is on the vast majority of all edits. And after this article hit the big time on Huffington Post, etc. the article was vandalized, but has since been reverted -- and protected -- by Schlafly himself.

    The current version is the standard for this article. So, they're quite serious...sadly.

  2. I saw this mentioned on Digg, which at least shows the impression it is leaving.

    Not sure if this is appropriate, but I am reminded of the beginning of the Tao Te Ching, which states the great Tao cannot be spoken, but we can see the little tao.

    I am also reminded of all the times I got into arguments, only to realize we were talking about two different things. Language is tricky and confusing. We should all just be telepathic.

  3. Here's the link to Colbert on the topic :)

  4. cool stuff, thanks for the link Daryl. Poe's law, indeed!


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