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Don’t like the Bible? Change it! (And one Random Comment)

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:

Original Text:

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.


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I hoped it would get better – but it didn’t.

Texas schoolchildren will be required to learn that the words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution and evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty under new social studies curriculum.

In final votes late Friday, conservatives on the State Board of Education strengthened

Don McLeroy

requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a “constitutional republic” rather than “democratic.”

The board approved the new standards with two 9-5 votes along party lines after months of ideological haggling and debate that drew attention beyond Texas.

The guidelines will be used to teach some 4.8 million students for the next 10 years. They also will be used by textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on those approved in Texas, though Texas teachers have latitude in deciding how to teach the material.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said after the votes Friday that such decisions should be made at the local level and school officials “should keep politics out” of curriculum debates.

“Parents should be very wary of politicians designing curriculum,” Duncan said in a statement.

But Republican board member David Bradley said the curriculum revision process has always been political but the ruling faction had changed since the last time social studies standards were adopted.

“We took our licks, we got outvoted,” he said referring to the debate 10 years earlier. “Now it’s 10-5 in the other direction … we’re an elected body, this is a political process. Outside that, go find yourself a benevolent dictator.”

GOP board member Geraldine Miller was absent during the votes.

The board attempted to make more than 200 amendments this week, reshaping draft standards that had been prepared over the last year and a half by expert groups of teachers and professors.

As new amendments were being presented just moments before the vote, Democrats bristled that the changes had not been vetted.

“I will not be part of the vote that’s going to support this kind of history,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat.

At least one state lawmaker vowed legislative action to “rein in” the board.

“I am disturbed that a majority of the board decided their own political agendas were more important than the education of Texas children,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal, a San Antonio Democrat.

In one of the most significant curriculum changes, the board diluted the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution and requiring students to compare and contrast the judicial language with the First Amendment’s wording.

Students also will be required to study the decline in the U.S. dollar’s value, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

The board rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D., and agreed to replace Thomas Jefferson as an example of an influential political philosopher in a world history class. They also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.

Former board chairman Don McLeroy, one of the board’s most outspoken conservatives, said the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board and he just wants to bring it back into balance.

Educators have blasted the curriculum proposals for politicizing education. Teachers also have said the document is too long and will force students to memorize lists of names rather than learning to critically think.

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