Get the Liberal Stuff out of our Bible!

The fine and esteemed biblioblogger, Professor James McGrath, notes,

So on to the news, reported by both Ann Fontaine and Deirdre Good, that there is a Conservative Bible Project underway to “translate” the Bible in a more conservative way that will prevent liberal “misinterpretations” or “misconstruals”. Or, to put it another way, the plan is to replace what the text says, which is open to other interpretations than their own, with a rendering that will say what they think the text means and really ought to have said. These “translators”, if they are serious, are exalting themselves above the Bible and, from the perspective of conservative Christianity, above God. How that shores up a conservative understanding of the Bible is hard to fathom.

No, seriously, here is the article from Conservapedia (founded by Andrew Schlafly),

Politics has surpassed genuine textual ambiguities in translating the Bible for the most popular translation, the NIV. The committee in charge of updating that version is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feminist in outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[1]

  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[2]
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[3] 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”;[4] 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

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles. The translated Bible can be found here.

Benefits to participants include:

  • mastery of the Bible, which is priceless
  • mastery of the English language, which is valuable
  • thorough understanding of the differences in Bible translations, particularly the historically important King James Version
  • benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow

How long would this project take? There are about 8000 verses in the New Testament. At a careful rate of translating about four verses an hour, it would take one person 2000 hours, or about one year working full time on the project.

You know, I really don’t feel all that bad about my own shoddy work in this area. Thy propose to translated John 1.1 this way,

In the beginning was Truth, and the Truth was with God, and the Truth was God.

Care to take a guess at how many rules of translation this breaks?

Oh, and John 1.14

And the spirit was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as the only child of the Father, full of grace and truth.

They list a few possible approaches,

Here are possible approaches to creating a conservative Bible translation:

  • identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as “government”, and suggest more accurate substitutes
  • identify the omission of liberal terms for vices, such as “gambling”, and identify where they should be used
  • identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations, and propose where they could improve the translation
  • identify terms that have lost their original meaning, such as “word” in the beginning of the Gospel of John, and suggest replacements, such as “truth”

An existing translation might license its version for improvement by the above approaches, much as several modern translations today are built on prior translations. Alternatively, a more ambitious approach would be to start anew from the best available ancient transcripts.

In stage one, the translation could focus on word improvement and thereby be described as a “conservative word-for-word” translation. If greater freedom in interpretation is then desired, then a “conservative thought-for-thought” version could be generated as a second stage.

Oh, and they intend to base their translation on the KJV and proceed from their to point out several ‘Liberal Falsehoods.’

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.

(They quote this from the NIV)

Here’s the deal. The KJV has it as well, although it does lack certain MSS evidence.

If you political motivations have taken you this far, there is little to no help for you.

Joel L. Watts on youtubeJoel L. Watts on twitterJoel L. Watts on pinterestJoel L. Watts on linkedinJoel L. Watts on facebook
Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

79 thoughts on “Get the Liberal Stuff out of our Bible!”

    1. I figured that since they hated the Liberal Left Wing machine known as Wikipedia, why not use it?

      Yep – these Schlaflys are making the rounds, aren’t they? And for those who think that the mother is just a kind hearted woman, well, look at her son.

    1. If y’all get a chance, in a well lit room, in the middle of a day, and never alone, read some of their ‘translation.’

  1. Good thing I am getting the Hebrew bible soon huh. So, they really think they can do this huh. Once again, man in his stupidity steps up just so God can prove him wrong. Thanks for the info Joel. Keep us up to date on its progress and maybe it will disappear or become silent like may others from the past.

  2. WTF? So "government", absent any other adjectives or qualifiers, is a liberal term??? REALLY??Wow. I love how fast and loose "Christians" get to play with the only document that gives even the most remote drop of credence to their heinous beliefs.Conservative Bible=EPIC FAIL

  3. If you believe in underwears, does that mean you have Hanes-ous beliefs? Just wunnerin'.Seriously, a "Conservative" Bible??? Why?? Because there wasn't enough hatred of women, rape/incest, cannibalism, "mountain[s] of foreskins", slavery and infanticide?? Just seems redundant. But I'm not the one cashing the checks on this hackjob.

  4. Christ was born in Bethleham, Obama in Hawaii and I in Baton Rouge. The Conservative bible is a reaction, stupidly, against those who actually read those 'liberal parts' about helping the poor, the widows, the oppressed. Further, you cannot look at the bible as a 'flat document' but must look it through the lens of historical development – either spiritually, theologically, or in societal evolution.

  5. Dude, when I present my Driver's License at the airport, they would arrest my sorry ass if I told them that they couldn't view my expired ID as "a flat document" and should "look at it through the lens of historical development–either spiritually, theologically, or in societal evolution".My point is that we require more concrete provenance of documents on a daily basis than is required of the Bible in any of its many forms. This is a massive failure of common sense among the faithful. But these are people who believe in zombie Jesus….

  6. I just love that people put faith in a single document that they have NO CLUE how it came about, but it takes like 3 forms of I.D. to get cable installed. That's some funny crap right there…

  7. But Robert, we are not talking about a driver's license. We are not even talking about one document. We are talking about at least 66 various documents for starters. Second, we are speaking about three of four radical changes within that document. We have pre-Moses, Moses to Samuel/David, David to Christ, and Christ onward. We have to look at the development of 2000 years plus of culture contained with the bible and understand the changing viewpoints found therein. Oh, and I do have a clue on how it came about.

  8. I wonder if Andy is in touch with his brother. Did Phyllis disown John because he is gay? She had six kids and the son was outed in 1992. She refuses to speak about him.

    Most of the contributors at Conservapedia are home schooled kids.
    I assume this ‘bibile’ will be US centric. Stephen Colbert called Andy’s project Wikiality.

  9. Joel

    This is absolutely amazing…my flabbers are ghasted by this. If it wasn’t a serious attempt by these folks it would sound like an article out of “The Onion.”



          1. I was being somewhat tongue in cheek, but the old Living Bible (parahrase) touched many souls for Christ! I still have a copy. Check out the Psalms there (if ya can find one?) Sure it is aweful in places, but God still used it!
            Fr. R.

          2. Fr. Robert, I remember it clearly, with it’s padded green cover. My mother had one for a long time. I really don’t know where it ended up at.

  10. Strange is it not, that the enemy of God attacks the Word of God…from all sides, both conservative (so-called), and liberal (so-called). But God’s Word still Triumphs evil! (Psalm 119: 11) We must make it personal (interior).
    Fr. R.

  11. You know … the raising of Lazarus is only included in one of the Gospels, too. I guess that didn’t really happen, either.

    I might wander by and look at some of this stuff sometime, but I sort of think not. I can’t imagine that it’s going to make me anything but angry, and I probably don’t need to be that angry.

  12. I remember the old Living Bible well, mom had one, the green one with the padded cover like Joel describes. You guys inspired me to take this up as well. I have posted on this on my site. I mention the dialogue here and have had a bit of fun with my post. I don’t think it as studious as much of what is here but I did have fun with it. The link is here:

    Peace, Steve+

  13. I don’t think that anyone is actually doing this…

    Yet. 😉

    But I think that the website author is coming up with some ideas, should it be done…

    1. But, he has already as some ‘translation’ completed. I don’t think he will get anywhere with it, that’s for sure.

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