While I have heard much regarding Conservapedia’s recent project on “translating” the Bible, it was only after I read James McGrath’s excellent article, Translating The Bible is No Joke over at The Christian Science Monitor, that I actually decided to glance at the website. While I knew to expect an outstanding display of ignorance and bias, this website exceeded my expectations. Take, for example, the comments beside the “translation” of Genesis 1:3,
The rare use of the Hebrew verb היה (hayah), meaning “he existed,” emphasizes that the light did not merely exist but came to exist at God’s command.
Those who have taken even a few weeks of Hebrew will know that this is one of the most common words in the Hebrew Bible (only אמר appears more often). It occurs 3,576 times, 27 of which occur in Genesis 1 alone! And while there is no doubt that this project is fueled by a particular kind of staunch conservativism (i.e. conserving the a priori assumptions of an extremely right-wing political bandwagon), it is amazing how liberal this whole approach to the Bible really is.
However, I believe the Conservative Bible Project could prove helpful as yet another window into which we can look and learn about a part of our culture. If the project continues, I might find myself on occasion turning to read some of the comments of a text before teaching that text in a church or classroom. Most especially I will turn to the talk pages where those contributing to this project discuss their opinions, biases, and agendas. I use the Wikipedia talk pages for biblical books/topics much the same way. Indeed, how convenient it would be if the process by which we received our major translations was so transparent! While the project , removing all things not conservative about the Bible, is an fallacious endeavor, the product may actually prove to be a useful tool in the pulpit and the classroom.