A Liberal Bible in Need of Fixing?

The folks over at “conservapedia” are engaged in a new “Conservative Bible Project” that goes beyond the TNIV/ESV debate and actually eliminates the various passages of Scripture that can be deemed as “liberal”, while enhancing passages that support “conservative” values.

Is this for real? If it is, then give me donkey ears and paint me blue, because I’m going liberal!

Forget the gender-inclusive wars… They don’t go far enough. Functional/dynamic equivalence be damned! What we need is a non-dumbed down, non-emasculated Bible that utilizes powerful conservative terms and expresses free-market parables!

Here are the ten guidelines for this “translation:”

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”; using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

The site even gives examples of possible changes:

First Example – Liberal Falsehood
The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Is this a liberal corruption of the original? This 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 but should not appear in a conservative Bible.

Second Example – Dishonestly Shrewd
At Luke 16:8, the NIV describes an enigmatic parable in which the “master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” But is “shrewdly”, which has connotations of dishonesty, the best term here? Being dishonestly shrewd is not an admirable trait.

The better conservative term, which became available only in 1851, is “resourceful”. The manager was praised for being “resourceful”, which is very different from dishonesty. Yet not even the ESV, which was published in 2001, contains a single use of the term “resourceful” in its entire translation of the Bible.

Third Example – Socialism
Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the “social justice” movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word “volunteer” is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word “comrade” is used three times, “laborer(s)” is used 13 times, “labored” 15 times, and “fellow” (as in “fellow worker”) is used 55 times.

I do hope this is a joke. I can’t wait to see what Mike Aubrey will have to say about this!

HT: CrunchyCon via BoingBoing

Calvin Speaks in an Unknown Tongue?

Christianity Today on Calvin
Christianity Today on Calvin

A friend* recently mentioned that Ben Witherington posted to the Christianity Today Blog about John Calvin as “A Man of the Bible“. In that post Witherington refers to his experience reading Calvin’s Institutes and being particularly impressed by Calvin’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit:

I have fond memories of working carefully through Calvin’s Institutes for the first time, and being especially surprised by and taken with his profound theology of the Holy Spirit. I remember reading in Gordon-Conwell’s newspaper a rather interesting historical curio from a letter of Calvin about how one morning he woke up and found himself speaking in lingua barbaria. The article went on to speculate that Calvin may have spoken in tongues!

Well, given the curiosity of my friend about this quote, and the fact that I’m a librarian at Gordon-Conwell and have access to the institution’s archives, I thought it would be worth tracking down this “historical curio.” Below is the text as I scanned it from The Paper. (Here is an image file of the actual printed article.)

Quent Warford, “Calvin Speaks Unknown Tongue,” The Paper: Student Paper of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary 1.6 (March 24, 1975): 6.

Forasmuch as there has been much inquiry concerning the discovery at the Episcopal Divinity School, I feel obligated to shed what light that I can on the matter. After, all, molehills do have a way of being made into mountains, given enough discussion.

Quite frankly, I personally find any notion preposterous, to the effect that Calvin experienced glossolalia. Therefore, the only logical thing to do is to take the advice of my dear Church History professor, and go to the primary source.

The volume which allegedly contains the account of Calvin’s ecstatic utterances is in the library at the Episcopal Divinity School. It is his biography by his friend and confidant, Theodore Beza, entitled De Vitam Iohannes Cauvin. It is contained in

The Vault, the Rare Book Room at E.D.S. Entering The Vault involves a great deal of red tape, and the invocation of the higher powers of the B.T.I. Prof. Hiles’ dining-hall pass also came in handy.

De Vitam Ihohannes Cauvin was published posthumously by Beza. All it

contains concerning glossolalia is a small entry, confided to Beza by Calvin, shortly before the latter’s death. On several oc­casions, Calvin, in his devotions, found himself uttering a lingua non nota et cognota mini. That is, the language was not known or understood by him.

Himself a skilled linguist, Calvin set about to discover the orthography of the utterance. Unable to trace it, he confided to Beza that although the language was Hebraic in character, he yet feared that he had spoken a lingua barbarorum. That is, he feared having spoken in an accursed tongue, such as what was spoken by the Canaanites.

The matter was only a minor one to Beza, who allots it only a few sentences in De Vitam Iohannes Cauvin. Calvin’s concern was only a matter of linguistics. Therefore, there is not enough primary source material to build a case one way or the other.

My roommate, Ken Macari, was most helpful to me in interpreting this passage from Beza, since Latin is more native to him than to me. Yet I must say, however, that I found Calvin’s Latin to be very smooth, elegant, and Vergilian.

So, that’s it. A colleague of mine (who happened to be teaching Hebrew at the seminary at the time of publication) does not remember this article, and he wonders if it was a prank in the first place. I’ve searched Beza’s and Calvin’s works on the Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts, but found nothing. If anyone knows anything about this work by Beza, please comment about it. I’m not sure if I’m motivated enough to try to get into “the Vault” myself.

*This friend is a student at GCTS and an employee at the Lego Store in the Burlington Mall. As George on Seinfeld would say “Worlds are colliding!”

Patristic Witnesses to Speaking in Tongues

Roger Pearse at the Thoughts on Antiquity blog has posted about an ongoing project to catalog and translate all references to speaking in tongues in the church fathers, undertaken by Charles Sullivan, a “patristic enthusiast.”   Dr. Sullivan then plans on publishing A History of the Gift of Tongues as a work reflecting the results of his 20 years of labor! I am sure that this work will be a welcome resource among Pentecostal scholars (and those interested in such phenomenon in the early church).

R.R.Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the LXX (PDF)

I’ve recently made scans of R. R. Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus), volumes 1 and 2 (Cambridge University Press, 1904-1906).

This is a handy little work that contains valuable textual notes on the Greek text of Isaiah (in vol. 2). The first volume contains an English translation of Isaiah, according to Alexandrinus, presented in parallel with a translation of the Hebrew text (this is how it had to be done before BibleWorks). The PDF consists of images scanned at a fairly high resolution. The English text has been OCR’ed and bookmarked, so the English commentary is searchable.  It’s a pretty big file (54MB). This book is old, and it is fairly difficult to obtain, but it’s proved valuable to me in the past.

The file is available for download here: http://www.archive.org/details/IsaiahAccordingToTheSeptuagint

Feel free to upload it to your own sites or blogs and pass it along.

It’s in Public Domain, and I’d love to see the scans put to good use!

Forthcoming: Christ as Agent of Creation in the NT

Nijay Gupta points out that Sean McDonough (professor of NT at Gordon-Conwell) will soon be publishing a new book on “Christ as Agent of Creation in the New Testament.”

Here is a blurb from the description (which Nijay provides in full):

This book examines the New Testament teaching that Christ was the one through whom God made the world. While scholars usually interpret this doctrine as arising from the equation of Jesus and the Wisdom of God, Sean McDonough argues that it had its roots in the church’s memories of Jesus’ miracles. These memories, coupled with the experience of spiritual renewal in the early church, established Jesus as the definitive agent of God’s new creation in the New Testament writings and the teachings of the Early Church.

I am very much looking forward to seeing this book in production! I spent a few years helping Dr. McDonough with bibliographic research on the topic. I’ve taken several classes with him, and he was one of my MA thesis supervisors.

The Secret Underground World of Lego

I’ve not played with my Legos nearly enough lately! This little snippet has reminded me to get back to it! Anyway, this is a great little description of one AFOL‘s transition out of the “dark ages.”* On the one hand Hillel’s story mirrors mine… On the other hand, at least he had the excuse of having a 4-year-old kid to get him back into it.

* Disclaimer: There is a little bit of “language” in this video, so I wouldn’t watch in front of the kids.

HT: Bill Ward

help with an article?

William R. Baker (of Cincinnati Christian University) recently published an article in the Tyndale Bulletin titled “Searching for the Holy Spirit in the Epistle of James: Is ‘Wisdom’ Equivalent?” (TynBul 59.2 [November 2008]). I believe that this is a revision of a paper that Dr. Baker presented at ETS (available at Reclaiming the Mind).

Baker’s article addresses a fascinating take on the the function of “wisdom” in the Epistle of James proposed by J. A. Kirk (“The Meaning of Wisdom in James: Examination of a Hypothesis,” NTS 16 [1969]: 24-38). Kirk proposes that James uses “wisdom” in a way that is “more or less interchangeable with that in which other writers of the New Testament use the concept of the Holy Spirit” (Kirk, 24). Baker takes issue with Kirk’s hypothesis in his ETS paper.

I’d love to get a hold of this article, but this particular issue is missing from the library’s shelf at GCTS! Drat! So, if anyone out there has a copy and can send me a scan, I’ll be your best friend! 🙂

Incidently, Mariam Kamell of The Greek Geek’s Bletherings (and coauthor with C. Blomberg of the “James” volume of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) did her master’s thesis on the topic: “Wisdom in James: An Examination of the Roles of Wisdom and the Holy Spirit” (TREN).