O Me of Little Faith

Have you heard of the Wiki Bible project? I hadn’t, until an article in the June 23 issue of Newsweek caught my attention. The project started up in January as a way to assemble “an original, open content translation of the Bible’s source texts.”

Are you fluent in ancient Greek or Hebrew? Then jump right in! Anyone can participate. All you have to do is stay faithful to the original source texts but keep from borrowing from copyrighted versions already on the market. Also, you need to keep it “simple, non-technical, robust, and easy-to-understand.

Sounds about as easy as shoving a big, black King James Bible through the eye of a needle.

Predictably, some people love it — the result may be the first open-source Bible translation in the public domain. Other people hate it, because, by golly, people who translate the Bible ought to have some definable credentials and scholarship behind them. Or at least the authority of some religious institution. Or, lacking that, a big religious publisher like Lifeway. Right?

For some people, Bible translations are serious business and pretty much always controversial. Some KJV-only purists still think the translators of the New International Version were Satan-worshippers. More recently, people got all upset when Today’s New International Version came out with language updates changing generic phrases like “sons of God” to “children of God.” And 15th-century Reformer Jan Hus got executed because he supported the work of rebel Bible translator John Wycliffe. Hus was burned at the stake by Church authorities with copies of Wycliffe’s translation used as kindling. (The “love your neighbor” stuff apparently doesn’t apply when Bible translations are, um, at stake.)

So this WikiBible thing should be interesting. Keep up with the discussion history of the chapters for some serious theological throwdowns. Contribute if you want, but watch out for the pitchfork-wielding hordes. They won’t beat down your door. But they may show up in your in-box.

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