For readers of the Bible confused by its archaic language, such as its use of the term “stoned” for a form of execution rather than the effects of smoking dope, help is at hand.
One of the world’s most widely read Bibles, the New International Version, has been modernised by a team of 15 American and British scholars and is published today.
Gone is the word “aliens”, which the academics thought was invariably associated in the minds of the younger generation with extra-terrestrials. It is replaced with “foreigners”.
Even the term “saints” is deemed to be too “ecclesiastical” and has been banished, to be replaced with “God’s chosen people”. The Virgin Mary is no longer “with child”; she is “pregnant”.
And, to the dismay of traditionalists, who will suspect a feminist agenda, “inclusive” language has been introduced throughout.
Where the original read: “When God created Man, he made him in the likeness of God”; the new version says: “When God created human beings, he made them in the likeness of God.”
For those unfamiliar with the punishments meted out in Biblical times to blasphemers and adulterers, the new version is also helpful, changing “Naboth has been stoned and is dead” to “Naboth has been stoned to death”.
More than 45,000 changes – about seven per cent of the text – have been made. Even the title has been changed to Today’s New International Version.
The new version has already caused a stir in the United States, however. Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that the translators had gone beyond trying to clarify meaning.
“They have an agenda – to attempt to force egalitarian and even feminist perspectives on readers in the name of translation,” he said.
But the scholars who worked on the book rejected the charges, saying that their changes were a fair reflection of the original Greek or Hebrew texts or updated colloquial English words.
Mar. 13, 2005
Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent