The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

From The ‘You Really Must Be Having Me On’ Department

Posted on | February 20, 2012 | 24 Comments

by Smitty

At The Onion, it was a joke in bad taste. My threshold for sacrilege is kind of high. But to read in WND that:

At the forefront of the controversy are the Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Summer Institute of Linguistics and Frontiers, all of which are producing Bible translations that remove or modify terms which they have deemed offensive to Muslims.
That’s right: Muslim-friendly Bibles.
Included in the controversial development is the removal of any references to God as “Father,” to Jesus as the “Son” or “the Son of God.” One example of such a change can be seen in an Arabic version of the Gospel of Matthew produced and promoted by Frontiers and SIL. It changes Matthew 28:19 from this:
“baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”
to this:
“cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.”
A large number of such Muslim-sensitive translations already are published and well-circulated in several Muslim-majority nations such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.

There may be a middle ground, in that for some hypothetical Southeast Asian language, centuries of Arabic exposure mean that a local translation of God may be ‘Allah’. Understood. On the other hand, if Jesus had lacked guts, he’d have joined the Pharisees, not engendered the emergence of Christianity.

You can expect such tweaked Bibles to find no market whatsoever in the U.S. Of course, I’m one of those who doesn’t find any translation newer than 1611 terribly compelling.

via Bill Quick

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Comments

  • http://www.granitegrok.com Mike Rogers

    How about a Christian-friendly translation of the Koran?
    References to ” God”, an accurate history of the violent, debauched life of the false prophet Mohammed, and a debunking of his self-serving “revelations”?
    You know, actual truth, maybe illustrated with a few cartoons for the kiddies?
    To be followed by a comparison of the Haditha with the real history of the period.
    Meanwhile, how about a fatwah on the translators of the blasphemous versions of the Bible? “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.”
    Just sayin’

  • http://katypundit.com/ David R

    “Of course, I’m one of those who doesn’t find any translation newer
    than 1611 terribly compelling.”

    Love the old original.  Not in a Ruckmanite way, but something very special about it.

  • Julie

    “In Arabic, Bible translations err by translating ‘Father’ as ‘Lord.’
    ‘Guardian.’ ‘Most High’ and ‘God.” In Bangla, ‘Son of God’ is
    mistranslated ‘Messiah of God’ ”

    This doesn’t sound so wrong to me.   And wouldn’t the person to talk to about translation be someone who knows greek or hebrew and arabic?    I remember hearing sermons about how the english says “father” but the greek was more intimate, possibly “daddy.”   I also remember hearing about how the old people at church argued over changing from the holy and inspired word of God to English. “If Norwegian was good enough for Abraham, it’s good enough for me!”  Which seems awful silly, but it’s not as silly when someone explains that the verse that meant so much to them just doesn’t *say* the same thing in English.

    Which is why so many of us like the King James, yes?

    The complaints in the article, that scripture is not respected are actually Muslim-centric complaints, aren’t they?   And in order to respect the scripture well enough not to have a Muslim complain, it ought not be translated at all.  It ought to be studied in the original language.   If not greek and hebrew, then perhaps latin.

    Translating from latin to any other language is a Protestant blasphemy.  It’s why the Church dug up Wycliffe and burned his bones.

  • Julie

    The other complaints, that supposed “converts” remain secret in their conversion and continue to be observant Muslims, also seems like complaining for the sake of it.   It takes a special courage to convert publicly.  Is expecting people to throw themselves into martyrdom really the minimum proof that God’s Word has taken root?

    And if they pretend to convert so that they can get stuff from the Missionaries, I do have to say, isn’t getting people to accept them and let them hang around and come to talk to them about Jesus exactly why the missionaries run hospitals and charities?

    I might be convinced that something was particularly wrong about the translations if the article had bothered to actually reference scholarship.  What *does* the Greek say and what words in Bangla fit more well than others.  Words don’t translate one-to-one.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    My guess would be the purpose of this translation effort is to create Bibles that won’t get the people distributing or possessing them in muslim countries either kicked out or executed.  If that’s it, I see the value.

    But if they are just doing what the feminists did a couple decades ago and going through to make the text “politically correct” it is a different story.

    There have been scholars – not a few – who have devoted their lives to studying the original texts and working on improving the translations over the centuries.   Understanding the use of Greek and Aramaic words and phrases from Jesus’ day isn’t just a matter of literal translation. 

    To understand this, select any paragraph in contemporary German and plug it into Google translator for a literal English translation.  It comes out gibberish, although each word is exactly translated.  It’s not so simple to get the proper meaning from a passage in a language with a different grammatical structure and its own idioms, much less the version used 2000 or more years ago.

    I keep several KJVs around, the text is beautifully rendered.  To me, the 23rd Psalm or the Christmas story from Luke just lose something in more contemporary translations.  But that doesn’t mean that King James’ scholars had any particular insight others before or later lacked.  In fact, they didn’t have access to the bulk of the scholarship even to that time, not to mention the volumes of work done in the 400 years since, or the archaeological finds which clarify the use of words and phrases from the Biblical times.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    There is a huge danger is translation, a tipping point where the text becomes not so much more user friendly and strays into loss of true meaning.  Once a text loses its true meaning thanks to one bad translation, it’s very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle — especially in this day and age of relativism and globalization of information.

  • Pingback: Monday Roundup 2/20/12 Sarah Palin “Chords of Memory” Edition

  • Cube

    Another EPIC FAIL from the “don’t make ‘em mad” school of thought.  More appeasement of the radicals, yeah, that’ll work this time – NOT.

  • http://twitter.com/BatesLine Michael Bates

    Wycliffe, SIL, and Frontiers are organizations that deserve the benefit of the doubt. These people put their lives on the line to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. Wycliffe’s mission is to translate the Bible into the mother tongue of every person on earth, to render God’s Word into a language so that the reader can understand it accurately. Frontiers has worked for decades to reach the Muslim world with the Gospel and to nurture believers in these lands where conversion often means death. If they are making these adjustments in their translation, it’s not because of political correctness, but because it’s necessary for their mission.

  • http://thatmrgguy.wordpress.com/ Mike G.

    I’ll have to reserve judgement on this for now, although I prefer the KJV bible myself. My reservation has to do with the fact that I have relatives who are life long missionaries, presently serving in Mozambique right now.

  • Sven

    I’m one of those who doesn’t find any translation newer than 1611 terribly compelling.

     
    Check the table of contents of your KJV, Smitty. If you don’t find a book called Bel and the Dragon inserted between the Old and New Testaments, then you’re working with a post-1611 edition.
     
    Yes, the KJV is compelling — but primarily to English speakers. Its force flows from the fact that the English language has been shaped by the KJV to the point that even our secular, every-day utterances echo it: horse of a different color; feet of clay; by the skin of your teeth; if the shoe fits; fox in the henhouse; burning your bridges…and on and on and on. 

    The problem that the Wycliffe and other translators wrestle with is this: how do you make the Bible comprehensible to cultures that have not grown up around it? You don’t even need to know a second language to begin to understand that much of the highly-specialized Anglo-Christian jargon in the KJV has no literal translation in other languages. Consider the figure of speech, “It’s the cat’s pajamas.” English-speaking Americans of a certain age understand the idiom perfectly well. But it cannot be translated — it can only be replaced with an equivalent idiom from the target language, which in turn might not make any sense in English. 
     
    Also, you shouldn’t knock the advances made in our knowledge of ancient Hebrew and Greek in the last 400 years. Read Job 28:3-5 in your KJV and then read the same verses in the Contemporary English Version. Which passage is more compelling? The one that sounds like gibberish? Or the one that makes sense?
     
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+28&version=KJV
     
    http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/

    And a final warning: don’t trust anything you read on wnd.com. I’ve seen them publish a story that I knew for a fact to be completely false. I don’t know whether they did it because the fake story agreed with their agenda, or because they are simply incompetent as journalists, but I do know you can’t rely on them for factual information.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Didn’t King James employ a team of translators, dozens if not hundreds of them? These were educated people. Just because they would be befuddled by modern rocket science doesn’t mean they wouldn’t know going in of the complexities of language with its subtle differences in structure and idioms.

  • Quartermaster

    The KJV 1611 did include the apocryphal books, but you don’t have to have those to use the 1611 translation. There are serious problems with the 1611 translation, and translators are not infallible. I like both NKJV and NASB. The difference between the two is teh underlying Greek text. NKJV uses the Majority Greek text, with tyhe Masoretic text for the old testamant, while the NASB uses the electic Nestle Aland Greek text for the NT.

    There has been a kerfuffle over using the “Allah” for God in Malaysia. Many of the languages of SE Asia have lost many of the words that would have been passed from ancient times because of the Moslem invasion.

    A friend that used to be a missionary to New Guinea had problems because the natives had no idea what a Lamb was. Some wise guy used the pig in place of a lamb, but the characteristics of the two animals are so different that it didn’t work at all. he had to teach them why the term “Lamb of God” was significant and he ignored the idea of dynamic equivalence which gave birth to the pig of God. I think we have to do the same with Moslems. the Gospel is a scandal to many people, and if the truth of teh Gospel is bothersome to those who reject it, then so be it. The relation between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is such that it is basic to Christianity and anything that papers it over obfuscates rather than enlightens. If it isn’t heretical, it’s closer than I would want to be.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

     Bel And The Dragon is part of the Apocrypha, it is still part of the Catholic Bible, but never was part of any Protestant Bible, including King James.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

     Of course it would be heretical. Christ himself was executed by the Pharisees precisely because they considered him a heretic by calling himself the “Son of God”. Any translation that as you say papers over that and changes the meaning is by its nature changing the very nature of the story.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZT5VXH472SDGB6MA4SU3ZDE42Y Peregrine

     You mean the Hebrew and Greek?  Yeah, they pretty much rock.

  • Cube

    Although I’m not familiar with this specific instance I understand the difficulties involved in translation, including idioms that simply don’t translate and sometimes have no equivalent.  If this story is accurate, the reason I called it an epic fail in my earlier comment is it sounds like an attempt to appease intolerant people who aren’t interested in getting along.  As you point out, the Gospel is offensive to some by its very nature and there is no way around that.  A person either accepts it as true or they don’t. 

    As I understand it, the problem Moose Limbs  have with the Bible isn’t that there are “offensive” terms in it, it’s the facts that it exists at all and that it contradicts their Koran.  There’s no way to smooth that over without at least one side giving up something they consider (or should) to be fundamental.  The Moose Limbs make it clear that they aren’t giving up anything so who has to give?

    Persecution of Christians by evil cultures is nothing new, whether its the ancient Romans, present day Moose Limbs in foreign countries or (in)tolerant liberals here.  Never in human history have people liked being told they are doing wrong, and many even enjoy doing evil.

  • Sven

    Bel
    and the Dragon…never was part of any Protestant Bible, including King
    James.

     

    The
    things you say “never” happened have been happening for over 450
    years.

     

    Martin
    Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, included Apocrypha in his
    1534 translation of the
    Bible.

     

    The
    Geneva Bible, one of the seminal Protestant editions,
    included Apocrypha from 1557 to 1599. The King James
    Version
    (KJV) was published with Apocrypha from 1611 to 1666. The Geneva and KJV Apocrypha included
    books that were not in the Catholic Vulgate.

     

    Apocrypha
    “are an integral part of the King James translation and any edition which
    omits them is incomplete and should contain a note to that effect,”
    according to Anglican theologian Robert C. Dentan (The Apocrypha,
    Bridge of the Testaments
    , 1954). “The Apocrypha continued to be
    read and studied by Protestants and to be commonly printed as part of the Bible
    down to the beginning of the nineteenth century [referring to  decisions by the major Bible societies in
    1827 to drop the
    Apocrypha].”

     

    Anglicans
    put Apocrypha back into the KJV in 1894 in the form of the Revised
    Version
    .

     

    At
    the request of the Protestant Episcopal Church (which nevertheless considers
    Apocrypha non-canonical), the ecumenical National Council of Churches (NCC)
    included Apocrypha in the Revised Standard Version of the
    KJV the NCC published in 1957. In addition to Episcopalians, the
    Protestant denominations that belong to the NCC include Methodists, Lutherans,
    Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers.

     

    In
    1989, the NCC replaced
    the Revised Standard Version with the New Revised
    Standard Version
    of the KJV — still with Apocrypha. Two years ago,
    Oxford University published The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha:
    New Revised Standard Version
    , which it bills as “the premier study
    Bible used by scholars, pastors, undergraduate and graduate students.”

  • Sven

    My html skills such. Here’s another try.

    Bel
    and the Dragon…never was part of any Protestant Bible, including King
    James.

    The
    things you say “never” happened have been happening for over 450
    years.

    Martin
    Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, included Apocrypha in his
    1534 translation of the Bible.

    The
    Geneva Bible, one of the seminal Protestant editions, included Apocrypha from
    1557 to 1599. The King James Version
    (KJV) was published with Apocrypha from 1611 to 1666.
    The Geneva and KJV Apocrypha included books that were not in the Catholic Vulgate.

    Apocrypha
    “are an integral part of the King James translation and any edition which
    omits them is incomplete and should contain a note to that effect,”
    according to Anglican theologian Robert C. Dentan (The Apocrypha,
    Bridge of the Testaments
    , 1954). “The Apocrypha continued to be
    read and studied by Protestants and to be commonly printed as part of the Bible
    down to the beginning of the nineteenth century [referring to  decisions by the major Bible societies in
    1827 to drop the Apocrypha].”

    Anglicans
    put Apocrypha back into the KJV in 1894 in the form of the
    Revised Version.

    At
    the request of the Protestant Episcopal Church (which nevertheless considers
    Apocrypha non-canonical), the ecumenical National Council of Churches (NCC)
    included Apocrypha in the Revised Standard Version of the
    KJV the NCC published in 1957. In addition to Episcopalians,
    the Protestant denominations that belong to the NCC include Methodists,
    Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers.

    In
    1989, the NCC replaced the Revised Standard
    Version
    with the New Revised Standard Version of
    the KJV — still with Apocrypha. Two years ago, Oxford University published
    The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard
    Version
    , which it bills as “the premier study Bible used by scholars,
    pastors, undergraduate and graduate students.”

  • Sven

    Hmmm. Slightly more readable, but still sucky.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Good ideas, Mike, except for one: Allah is not the God of the Christians and Jews.  He is based, more than likely, on an old moon god by the same name.

    See: http://www.faithfreedom.org/one/was-allah-the-moon-god-of-ancient-arab-pagan/

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    What’s wrong with the 1769 Oxford KJB?

  • http://katypundit.com/ David R

     Smart alek… :) My PREFERENCE is the 1611 ENGLISH KJV as was being referred to above, but… you already knew that.

  • http://katypundit.com/ David R

     Should there be something wrong?