As in literally. As in, some conservatives have decided there’s too much liberal bias in The Bible, and have decided to do their own translation.

Famous Jesus quotes getting the conservative chop include:

  • “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
  • “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
  • “Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5).
  • “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24).
  • “Peace be with you” (John 20, 26).

And many more!

You know, I had my first brush with Christian fundamentalism when I was in high school, thanks to the Scripture Union’s promotion of godly activities such as eating ice cream and going on adventure camps. A lot of my friends converted, which was a very odd experience for a kid (i.e. me) who’d grown up with family dinnertime conversations involving things like the historicity of Jesus and the political ramifications of the First Council of Nicaea. I’d always grown up taking it for granted that people realised the Bible was a human document. Even assuming a divine origin, it’d been translated and copied so many times over the centuries–not to mention had various books included or excised–that of course there’d be “errors” and discrepancies in the modern texts. That just seemed logical.

Thus was teenage me utterly baffled to read SU tracts asserting, in no uncertain terms, that the Bible we had today was exactly “identical” to its original form, no ifs buts or interpretations about it. (And no mention of the fact that there’s more than one modern English Bible, and that not even those texts are identical. Hell, not even single Bible translations are consistent, so how anyone can maintain any sort of literalist position is beyond me…)

I remember getting into an argument over the issue with a kid over the issue, and being absolutely stunned when his counter was that the “recently discovered” Dead Sea Scrolls contained “exactly” the same text as the modern Bible.

Just in case it’s unclear, that’s bullshit. Yet it was the line SU had been pushing, and the line this kid was regurgitating. Because it’s easy, I guess. That sort of strict, unchanging, Biblical literalism. “This is the way it’s always been” rather than “change happens and sometimes things are complicated”.

I can’t help thinking about it, though. Because I’d bet camels to needles the people behind the “conservative” Bible subscribe to the same sort of “unchanging Word of God” view of the Bible as the Scripture Union. And that they can manage that while simultaneously changing the text.

Go figure, I guess.