Columnists > Mailbag


Issue: "Summer Travel 2001," May 12, 2001

Two terrible

Mr. Olasky is right on in his criticism of the editors of the CEV and NLT changing the meaning of Scripture. Anti-Semitism is not the fault of the New Testament in its original writings. Anyone wishing to find anti-Semitism in the Bible will probably find it, and any honest seeker wishing to find the Lord's heart for the Jewish people, despite the Passion Week, will find it easily enough in Romans 9-11 and in the Lord's own request from the cross: "Father, forgive them...." Mr. Olasky points out that we all, Jew and Gentile, are guilty of the sin that sent Jesus to the cross. Two terrible verses, Revelation 22:18-19, should convict anyone trying to twist Scripture to justify anti-Semitism, and likewise anyone who would also alter Scripture to "correct" an anti-Semitism that isn't there. - Glen I. Reeves, Modesto, Calif.

Put away

Your article on Bible translations that have changed inspired biblical words expanded my knowledge in a critical area. I want to know every detail God has revealed. I do not want to be misled by a changed translation. About a year ago, I purchased a New Living Translation Bible and have been cautiously optimistic with it, but after reading this article, I will be putting away the NLT. I appreciate WORLD's firm biblical stance and informative articles. - Leslie McClure, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Final authority

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I appreciated Mr. Olasky's cogent explanation of the attempt by modern translators to create a "hate-free" Bible ("Good cause, bad method," April 14). As the daughter of a Messianic Jewish father (who only used the KJV), I appreciate the sincere sentiment motivating the translators. However, we should keep in mind that "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Neither the Jews nor the Romans had the final authority to crucify Jesus, but God Almighty in his wonderful wisdom willingly gave his Son to be the Lamb of God. - Christina Mrazek, Garden Grove, Calif.

In context

A more nuanced handling of the phrase hoi Ioudaioi, "the Jews," is not something new for the American Bible Society, or the result of any recent pressure groups. This approach was already being used in the Good News Bible in the 1970s and was taken in the Living Bible in the same time period. The CEV is only refining that approach as a way of helping the modern reader understand what hoi Ioudaioi meant in its first-century context. For the most part, modern readers have only contemporary categories of reference for trying to understand what that term could mean in a Judean cultural context. The synoptic Gospels almost never use hoi Ioudaioi except in the title over the cross. Where John's Gospel over and over repeats hoi Ioudaioi, the synoptics refer to the various contending groups-the Pharisees, Herodians, Zealots, Saduccees, etc. Clearly, this designation is not intended to be all-inclusive of the people of Jerusalem, of Judea, or of the wide diaspora. Many Jews in the first century were followers of Jesus. Some other Judeans opposed the movement, which centered around Jesus, and others never knew anything about it. Is it more accurate to translate hoi Ioudaioi in such a way that encourages modern readers to assume all Jews (even of all time) were or are enemies of Jesus? Or is it more accurate to make clear in the translation process that opposition was coming from leadership groups, not from some monolithic Judean bloc? - David Burke, American Bible Society
New York, N.Y.


Irwin Borowsky promotes the idea of sanitized wording in narratives recording Jewish interaction with Jesus. By presenting the CEV/NLT translation teams as in league with Mr. Borowsky, you damage the credibility of these translations and insult the scores of scholar-linguists on these teams. Their painstaking teamwork has rendered the Bible's meaning more understandable to this generation than the beautiful, but college reading-level, NIV. - Robin Holmes, Quebec City, Quebec

Unfortunately needed

Thanks for your continuing coverage of the insidious, ongoing efforts to make the Bible more politically correct. "Good cause, bad method" was a very helpful "heads up," as was your exposé in the past of the gender-neutral efforts that had gone largely unnoticed until then. You are providing a much-needed (unfortunately!) service. - David Wright, Prairie Village, Kan.


Thanks for "Good cause, bad method."As a pastor, I have not checked them out very carefully. But your article gave me some definite insight into the distortions of these translations. My heart was grieved when I think how translators, whom we should trust, are playing games with God's Word and making nice excuses for it. When words are changed to accommodate people and groups, these translations and any like them cannot be trusted. - Merrill Olson, Webster, Wis.


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