Andy Schlafly is political conservative advocate Phyllis Schlafly’s son. He’s a graduate of Princeton University (major in electrical engineering), and Harvard Law School. Schlafly is founder of the website Conservapedia.com, which boast more than 100 million page views, offers a full-blown conservative viewpoint on politics. Conservapedia.com is sponsoring a new Bible translation called the Conservative Bible Project. The project involves open-source editing, which has been an open source of woe or comic relief, depending on your perspective. The Tennesean.com reports that Gen 1.1 was changed by fans of Stephen Colbert as follows: “In the beginning, Stephen Colbert created the heavens and the earth”! The text was later fixed. Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but Colbert did not create the universe. Elsewhere, someone changed ‘Pharisee’ to ‘liberal’ to show that liberals were responsible for Jesus’ death. Schlafly changed it back to Pharisee but admitted to the Tennesean.com, “The possibility that Pharisees, which is a term that’s not familiar to most of us, could be better translated as liberal is intriguing. But we haven’t gone with that yet.”
Apart from using the best currently available Greek text which tags the long ending of Mark and the story of the woman caught in adultery (Mark 16.9–20 and John 7.53–8.11) as inauthentic, there is very little to commend in this translation. But even in following the critical Nestle-Aland text, the editors often argue that the changes to the text were made with liberal motives.
What is most remarkable about this new translation is not that it lacks almost total credibility (which is true), but that political ideology is so strong that it overrides everything else. New Testament professor Douglas Moo, Wheaton Graduate School, and chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation which oversees the NIV and TNIV, did not mince words about the Conservative Bible Project. “Silly is probably as kind as I could be about it,” Moo told the Tennesean.com. Schlafly responded by saying that the TNIV was motivated by a liberal agenda, especially with regard to gender inclusiveness. This, frankly, is an uninformed argument. Moo wrote the first full-blown exegesis of 1 Tim 2.11–15, published originally in Trinity Journal, taking a conservative position on the role of women in the church. Moo also was for some time a member of the conservative Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. And Zondervan, the publisher of the NIV/TNIV, is one of the more conservative Christian publishers out there.
From all that I can tell, Schlafly is mixing theological ‘liberal’ with political ‘liberal’ in his understanding. His ten rules for a conservative Bible translation show this clearly. But this reveals that he has no clue what a theological liberal is if he’s going to place anyone on the TNIV translation team under the rubric ‘liberal.’
My friend and former intern, Brittany Burnette, pointed out how they translated Mark 2.22: “And no man puts fresh grape juice into old bottles. The fresh juice will burst the bottles, spilling the juice and damaging the bottles. Fresh juice must be put into new bottles.” But without fermentation how could grape juice burst the bottles? The Conservative Bible Project notes that “the Greek word oinos…actually meant ‘fruit of the vine’ and was not fermented.” Although there are some conservative Christians who take this view, it is rather indefensible. See my essay “The Bible and Alcohol” for a discussion.
The agenda of this translation boggles the mind, and gives conservatives (both political and theological) a bad name.