Further religious news….

by Chris Bertram on March 16, 2005

Julian Baggini, writing in the Guardian, “reports”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1438440,00.html :

bq. In the newly revised, more accessible edition of the New International Version of the Bible, “stoned” has been changed to “stoned to death” for fear that modern readers may get the impression that the reward for adultery is a big spliff.



jet 03.16.05 at 4:29 pm

Jesus may have been the ultimate hippy.


cleek 03.16.05 at 4:32 pm


Ophelia Benson 03.16.05 at 4:40 pm

Wozza spliff?
Only joking!


Michael Otsuka 03.16.05 at 5:27 pm

Doesn’t this presuppose the background knowledge that it’s impossible lethally to overdose on cannibis?


Jacob Whitney 03.16.05 at 6:01 pm

It’s not impossible to lethally overdose on anything. If you sat in a room full of burning cannibis you would meet your maker.
BTW, I made $12,000 this week trading stocks. I posted my trades on my website in real time. Check it out…what’s next?


greg 03.16.05 at 6:47 pm

Talk about killing two birds with one, um, stone. If they gave you one spliff for every time you committed adultery, I’d have, like, a lot of spliffs. Do they need to clarify the wording for the official punishment for officials of the church who rape little boys, or is “promotion” clear enough?


Andrew McManama-Smith 03.16.05 at 6:48 pm

I made $12,000 this week selling cannibus.


peter ramus 03.16.05 at 6:49 pm

If you sat in a room full of burning cannibis you would meet your maker.

But would you die?


john b 03.16.05 at 6:53 pm

I claim the award for being the first person on this thread to be able to spell “cannabis” correctly.
It never came up in school spelling tests, either.


Roger Mexico 03.16.05 at 6:56 pm

This reminds me of the Grauniad headline from some years ago – “President Zia stoned”. Seems that some schoolkids in Pakistan threw rocks at his motorcade . . .


Phoenician in a time of Romans 03.16.05 at 6:57 pm

“It’s not impossible to lethally overdose on anything.”
What’s the LD-50 for LSD, then?


fyreflye 03.16.05 at 7:37 pm

So when Bob Dylan sang “Everybody must get stoned” that was the actual beginning of his Christian phase… Right?


bob mcmanus 03.16.05 at 7:43 pm

“What’s the LD-50 for LSD, then?”
The tests are inconclusive, for at the mouse equivalent of a 3000 mcg dose, the white mice disappeared from the cage.


praktike 03.16.05 at 8:40 pm

Is everyone on this thread high?


Nabakov 03.17.05 at 12:19 am

“the reward for adultery is a big spliff”
I’ve usually found the causal relationship to be the other way round.
Damn, now I feel really hungry.


bad Jim 03.17.05 at 4:04 am

Perhaps it’s a simply chronological confusion. In my experience, first you get stoned, then you commit adultery.


Scott Martens 03.17.05 at 4:27 am

For what it’s worth, Zondervan uses very serious and conscientious translators who are working under almost impossible political conditions.
There are people – really, there are – who believe that the King James Version of the Bible is the holy word of God, and that where ancient texts or other translations disagree with it, it is the other manuscripts that are in error. Trying to produce a good translation of the Bible, one whose content remains as intact as possible, when there is a nearly 2000 year history of less professional translations and whole bodies of theology built on its contents, is daunting to say the least. Even for non-Christians, the historical, social and political significance of the Bible is more than enough to justify supporting the creation of sound, textually motivated translations. The shift to less sexist language where the intent is inclusive is certainly valid, and has been the norm in translations to new languages for some time now. The adoption of a few of Eugene Nida’s principles is long, long overdue. Changing a few words that have, in the last few centuries, become loaded terms like “saints” is perfectly sensible. And the “stoned” thing is a change from “was stoned and is dead” to “was stoned to death” – which is almost certainly an accurate translation of the meaning of the original manuscripts.
Texts don’t live in a vaccuum. The original interpretive context died with the original authors. There is no translation without interpretation. What Michelle Malkin and the Southern Baptists are complaining about is that the text no longer simply implies the things they have always held it to. The problem is that they have build an entire theology on a text without ever thinking about how that text was produced. They act as if the English language Bibles they read fell from heaven, when even their own theological principles define the Bible as the literal word of God only when “correctly interpreted.”
This is a problem with readers who are incapable of bringing a critical eye to a text and who have never directly thought how they go about “correctly interpreting” it. It is not political correctness. Both Malkin and the Telegraph article she cites (which I can’t link to without creating an XHTML error) are completly full of it.


john b 03.17.05 at 5:07 am

Telegraph link here.


Michael Mouse 03.17.05 at 5:10 am

Reminds me of the Naughty Bible, from which a crucial “not” in the seventh commandment was omitted. The acclamation by the Israelites of Moses’ return from Sinai with the stone tablets is perhaps more understandable if one of them read “Thou shalt commit adultery.”


des von bladet 03.17.05 at 6:39 am

Scott remarks: Even for non-Christians, the historical, social and political significance of the Bible is more than enough to justify supporting the creation of sound, textually motivated translations.
Actually, I do not especially agree: the historical, social and political significance of the Bible is associated with existing, older translations. Better translations are surely irrelevant.
I’m a strict KJVer, myself, because that is and has been the most influential in my (British Anglophone) culture – I couldn’t give a monkey’s what the Aramaic actually says, and past history is unlikely to care much either.


rm 03.17.05 at 8:31 am

Scott, you are right, and the world is depressingly simple-minded. DVB, your objection to Scott seems to me to be about the literary significance of the KJV, where he was talking about its significance in the theology of Christian denominations. There’s room for both points, right?
So when Bob Dylan sang “Everybody must get stoned” that was the actual beginning of his Christian phase… Right?
Actually, yes, that’s a song about Jesus’ “he who is without sin” moment, undeniably, on one level (that’s why its a “Rainy Day Women #whatever” song). That’s the phase where the Christian imagery is mostly coded and camouflaged and easily mistaken for something else, like in “All Along the Watchtower” or “The Mighty Quinn” or (more obviously) “When the Ship Comes In.” I have no idea if he did this just as a literary effect (living in the Folk Tradition, and all) or if he was a closet Christian then.


Scott Martens 03.17.05 at 11:02 am

Des, I’m not advocating the suppression of the KJV. Mass consciousness of Biblical texts in English is still overwhelmingly exclusively in the KJV. I would no more suggest that it is without significance by itself than I would demand that Shakespeare be translated into modern English for high school students.
However… Shakespeare is already hard to read without explanitory footnotes. The continuing influence of Christianity on western society – an influence that is undeniable even to those who want to do away with it – strikes me as justifying measures to make its texts accessible in modern English, even in the form of new interpretations.
On the other hand, I’ll admit I studied a lot of translation theory and a lot of linguistics from people with strong links to Bible translation. I have a lot of sympathy for the folks at Zondervan for trying to bring a revised Bible translation out in the current religious climate in America.
The thing people are most freaking out about is gender inclusive language. But really, the Greek New Testament refers to the Holy Spirit consistently as “she” because “pneuma” is a feminine noun. If people are going to wig out when verses that are generally interpreted as refering to all people don’t use masculine pronouns just because the Greek uses masculine pronouns, they ought to demand the Bible refer to the Holy Spirit as a woman.


Constance Reader 03.17.05 at 12:23 pm

The LD-50 of LSD is go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.
Seriously, I can’t take communion at mass now, I’m going to imagine a tag on the chalice that says “Drink me!” and almost fall apart laughing.

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