Butchering the Bible

David Mazel

South Coloradan

Being an English professor is not all grading papers and corrupting the youth. Part of my job is keeping up with the culture, which is not always as fun as it sounds.

Yesterday afternoon, for example, found me at Conservapedia.com to monitor the progress of the Conservative Bible Project.

Think of me as your very own Ed Norton, inspecting the sewers so you don’t have to.

As I mentioned last week, the Conservative Bible Project hopes to root out the “liberal bias” which it claims “has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations.”

As an example of what Conservapedia means by “liberal bias” it offers the New International Version’s rendition of Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Conservapedia suggests this is “a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity,” noting also that it “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, although it does not appear in the earliest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke. It should not appear in a conservative Bible, because in point of fact Jesus might never had [sic] said it at all.”


One hardly knows where to begin WTFing in response to a statement like that. I cannot do justice to the sublimity of its WFTness. My powers of ridicule are not up to it.

Are conservatives to accept as a general principle the deletion of any passage appearing in only one of the four gospels? Say goodbye to most of John.

Are conservatives to accept as a general principle the deletion of any passage favored by liberals? Say goodbye to the Sermon on the Mount.

Do the learned exegetes of Conservapedia have any evidence whatsoever that this passage is a textual corruption? Any evidence that it has been promoted by liberals?

For that matter, how could this passage possibly have been snuck into the King James Bible 400 years ago? In what sense could King James’s translators be considered liberals? Does Conservapedia know what “liberal” means?

Does Conservapedia even know what “conservative” means? Given the true conservative’s respect for tradition, is there anything remotely “conservative” about radically revising an ancient text?

And what are we to make of the insistence that “the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing”? Does this mean that the Jewish leaders understood themselves do be getting rid of someone they deemed a heretic and troublemaker?

Or does Conservapedia mean that the Jews knew the person they were persecuting to be God, but proceeded anyway — perhaps, you know, because the Jews were the children of the devil, as John so nicely put it?

The latter — the idea that God was murdered by satanic Jews — is largely responsible for the centuries of vicious anti-semitism that culminated in the Holocaust.

If the Conservapedians wish to go down this particular road, they’re welcome to do so. When they reach the end of it they can share a drink with Mel Gibson.

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