Dictionary.com has reported that new “versions” of the bible will be coming out soon. These versions will have altered language in them. I don’t know exactly how to feel about this. Two main issues jump into my mind. The first is “How can men change the meaning of scripture by changing pronouns?” The second issue is “How can you “modernize” an ancient text and preserve its integrity?” Well, first some basics from Dictionary.com’s article:
New International Version (NIV) and The New American Bible, respectively, will include gender-neutral language and substitute words that the editors claim will reflect a modern understanding of the book’s theology.
That is a bold claim, considering they are “modernizing” an ancient text that was written through a divine hand acting through a mortal. That begs the question of do the editors have the
right reason stones to change a book reguarded by millions as the end all and be all of their religion?
Gender neutral pronouns, as the article states, would cause loss of meaning and confusion on many passages that scores of people have committed to memory and live their lives by.
The Apostle Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female…” – this passage from Galatians 3:28 makes a statement about gender roles by using the specific masculine and feminine pronouns. However, if replaced with a gender-neutral pronoun, as in the case of NIV, the intended meaning may simply get lost in the translation. The same could be said for the passage: “Man cannot live by bread alone” (Mathew 4:4), as it has become such a popular cultural phrase.
There is a quote that came to mind when I read this article:
Language forces us to perceive the world as man presents it to us. ~Julia Penelope
When man changes the language from the divine- it truly is a case of language presenting the world as a man wants us to perceive it. Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” provides evidence of the Bible’s survivability throughout time. The main point he makes is that the Bible’s survivability is largely credited to its unchanging form. That takes into account verbiage and form.
Since God handed Moses the 10 commandments in roughly 1400 BC, the Bible has been translated into 100s of languages around the world. Is there any way to truly know the meaning and intent of the original work? I think that it was lost hunderds of years ago. Contextual and vocabulary dissimilarities could only cause confusion and misleading statements. Like the Dictionary.com article points out. This goes past pronouns and may have resulted in a bastardized text we know as the scriptures. Let me provide an example:
You must go to the store and buy bread.
Translated into a language with dissimilar vocabulary:
You must travel to a building and trade for a grain and water mixture that uses yeast to rise.
I know you can see how that can mean the same thing- literally. When the original text is used as a metaphorical device and not a literal sentence, I can see how it’s meaning can become marginalized by the translation. We assume that “bread” is universally known as a symbol for Christ’s last supper. I think that same scenario has been repeated over the decades and decades until all that is left is:
You must go.
These “gender neutral” additions are just the latest stride in a marathon of clouded meanings since the original words were penned. Not to mention that The King James Version of Revelation 22:19 says that:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Maybe the believers and re-writers should read it?
What do you think?
Now the random comment on the Dictionary.com post:
Alex Madjarov on March 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm
The best way to modernize the bible is to get rid of the whole thing and start all over. If you remove the genocide, slavery, unicorns, zombies, talking snakes, misogyny, lies, infanticide, deceit and other less-than-nice elements, you’d barely have anything left.
“Religion” is a personal and largely subjective topic for any debate, even for rational people. The raw emotion that comes out is sometimes painful to experience first hand and very difficult watch when it comes from another person whose deep rooted emotions and beliefs are pressed and questioned-even in a non-judgmental manner.
We all have seen friendships tarnished as the result of some religious line of questioning. So, as you might imagine, I refrain from religious debates, discussions, or religious meetings with people I know as a general rule. I think it is better to leave religion to the faithful and, as long as their religion does not interfere with my family or me, live and let live.
That being said, I completely believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs-EVEN if I completely disagree or can’t possible understand that belief. I also think that it is your responsibility to validate your OWN opinion regarding your chosen religion by looking at the history, foundations, and tenants of your chosen religion and evaluating those criteria versus your emotional attachment to that religion.
As I typed that last sentence, I realized that if every single person of every religion actually did that, the religions would change almost overnight. If every person really sat down and looked at what their church, denomination, synagogue, strip mall Christian life center, mega church really stood for, donated money to, campaigned for, socially supported, and politically backed I think many sets of eyes would be opened.
Growing up I was reared in a southern baptist church. It was small and traditionally styled. I remember my family in uncomfortable pews, old gospel hymns, mini-saltine crackers, and grape juice in shot glasses for communion on special occasions. Those things make me smile when I remember them. However, There was something else there every Sunday morning. A reminder that if I did not walk the walk and talk the talk like a good Christian should – I was going to Hell. It was made clear to me that this was not a debatable issue. In my young sponge like brain I KNEW that the man quasi-yelling at me in a fervent tone truly believed that I was a damned soul- If I didn’t change my 5 year old ways.
I admit that back then I was too young to understand his point or motivation for scaring people or what was really going on but, I did know some very definite, real things in those early days. Some were:
1) I had the chance to go to Hell or Heaven and God will judge me when I die.
2) If I, a 5 year old, didn’t change my ways, Hell awaited.
3) This man is scaring me.
4) What this man is saying MUST be true because my grandmother, grandfather, parents, aunts, cousins and 50 other people are nodding their heads in agreement with everything this man says.
From early on, I was being shown, by those that feed me and care for me, that what was going on in this church is “right” and “the way it is” because the loud scary man is telling the truth. As I have aged, I believe exposure to different things is vital to become truly intelligent and forming your OWN opinions. Sadly, the opposite is also true and an easier row to hoe. To avoid things because you don’t know anything about them, demonizing opposite schools of thought, or simply doing what you are told and following along limits your ability to grow as a person. I truly believe that. I once heard an intelligent, college educated man say, “I am a Republican because my dad was a Republican.” (NO POLITICAL COMMENT HERE) I think the same thinking goes for religion. Not researching YOUR own beliefs and weighing them against how you feel about the world around you is denying your ability to reason and preventing self determination and that, in my humble opinion, is a waste of a life.
I am not advocating going out and attempting to disprove every religion in the world. I am not saying that there is no truth in organized religion. I am not saying that there aren’t good people doing good work in the name of religions around the world. I am not claiming that religions are corrupt or misleading people.
I am saying that you, as an intelligent person, need to be open to all information and facts and constantly reevaluate your positions and beliefs on EVERYTHING, even religion. If you do not open yourself up to new information and different points of view you will become sedate and stagnant in your intellectual development in regard to whatever issue you choose to put your head in the sand about.
If you are a Christian, know why YOU are a Christian. If you are a Buddhist, know why YOU are a Buddhist. If you are Jewish, know why YOU are Jewish. If you are an atheist, know WHY you are an atheist. YOU are all that matters in the arena of your life. It is your responsibility to learn from those around you, take information from everywhere, research the writings of people you agree with and disagree with, but in the end decide for yourself what you believe and believe in.
It is truly the most important decision YOU can make for yourself.
In my constant efforts to keep you abreast of this SHIT, RIGHT WING INSANITY, NONSENSE, ABSOLUTE Bull Shit in TEXAS, I give you the latest installment (in case you miss it…the BS is highlighted in RED):
For months, the Texas State Board of Education has been hearing from “experts” about the direction of the state’s social studies curriculum and textbook standards. The advice to the 15-member board — which is composed of 10 Republicans — has included more references to Christianity, fewer mentions of civil rights leaders, George Wasington, and Abraham Lincoln. On Thursday and Friday last week, the State Board of Education took up these recommendations in a lengthy, heated debate. Some highlights of what the Republican-leaning board ended up deciding, and the debates that went on:
— On a 7-6 vote, the board decided to add “causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association” to the curriculum.
– The Republican majority voted against requiring Texas textbooks and teachers to cover the Democratic late senator Edward Kennedy, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and leading Hispanic civil rights groups such as LULAC and MALDEF. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Thurgood Marshall, the country’s first African-American Supreme Court justice, will be taught.
– Republican Don McLeroy lost a battle to “remove hip-hop and insert country music in its place from a proposed set of examples of cultural movements.” Republican Patricia Hardy said that while she disliked hip hop music, pretending it wasn’t around was “crazy.” “These people are multimillionaires, and believe me, there are not enough black people to buy that,” she said. “There are white people buying this. It has had a profound effect.” Country music was added as a separate measure.
– “McLeroy was successful with another of his noteworthy amendments: to include documents that supported Cold War-era Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his contention that the U.S. government was infiltrated with Communists in the 1950s.”
– “Republican board member Cynthia Dunbar unsuccessfully tried to strike the names of Scopes monkey trial attorney Clarence Darrow and Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey from the standards. Asked by another member about her opposition to Garvey, Dunbar explained, according to the Texas Tribune: “My concern is that he was born in Jamaica and was deported.”
– The board “included a requirement for students in U.S. history classes to differentiate between legal and illegal immigration.”
Unable to reach to reach complete agreement last week, the board unanimously decided to “suspend debate on the standards until March, when they will take up other social studies subjects such as government and geography.” A final decision won’t be reached until May. McLeroy, who has been the driving force of some of the most conservative amendments, said that he plans on proposing more controversial standards, such as an evaluation of the U.S. civil rights movement and the “increased participation of minorities in the political process and unrealistic expectations for equal outcomes,” in addition to the “adversarial approach taken by many civil rights groups.” This debate is important not only because it will dictate how the state’s 4.7 million schoolchildren are taught social studies, but also because Texas “is one of the nation’s biggest buyers of textbooks.” Publishers are often “reluctant to produce different versions of the same material,” and therefore create books in line with Texas’ standards. “Publishers will do whatever it takes to get on the Texas list,” one industry executive told the Washington Monthly.
This was written by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.
Oh, boy. Paul Samuelson famously declared, “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks.” But guess who’s going to be writing our textbooks?
The conservative bloc on the Texas State Board of Education won a string of victories Friday, obtaining approval for an amendment requiring high school U.S. history students to know about Phyllis Schlafly and the Contract with America as well as inserting a clause that aims to justify McCarthyism.
Outspoken conservative board member Don McLeroy, who reportedly spent over three hours personally proposing changes to the textbook standards, even wanted to cut “hip-hop” in favor of “country” in a section about the impact of cultural movements. That amendment failed.
Actually, Samuelson’s remark had more resonance than most readers imagined. After World War II, there was actually a concerted attempt to prevent the teaching of Keynesian economics at American universities, as described by Collender and Landreth (pdf). This campaign killed the first US Keynesian text, by Lorie Tarshis, but Samuelson’s book — which he said he “wrote carefully and lawyer-like” — managed to make it through the hazing.
I do have some personal interest here, of course: I’m the co-author of two college textbooks, and royalties from the intro book are a large part of our family income. But the high-school level is really where you want to worry about politicization.
The title had me at “hello!”
How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.”
What I read made me want to cry and cuss.
Two quotes from the article, just to wet your appetite, are:
“…but we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”
“This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”
The preceding nuggets of intellectual wisdom were from a man who actually selects textbooks for the state of Texas and a man who represents the “think tank” that influences the people who select the text books for the state of Texas. (I don’t feel an additional comment is needed due to the weight of that sentence.)
Go and read it for yourself.
Be sure to comment on this, dear readers. I can’t wait to read how you feel about this one.