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.
Dan Savage writes for The Stranger in Seattle, WA, His article is titled Savage Love. This is a letter sent to him and his reply. Read it and really think about yourself.
In Your Image
October 14, 2010
I heard an interview with you about your It Gets Better campaign. I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.
If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man.
To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people.
Please consider your viewpoint, and please be more careful with your words in the future.
I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings.
A question: Do you “support” atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there’s no “Christian” movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not?
Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it’s clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are “better or more worthy” than others.
And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.
Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not “sinners.” Gay and lesbian children.
Try to keep up: The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.
Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?
Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh—day in, day out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the image of the hateful and false “followers of Christ” they call Mom and Dad.