Monday, October 19, 2009

Conservapedia Claims Jesus Home-Schooled John

Jesus with graduation cap derived from and
Conservapedia, as you may know, was created as an alternative to the "liberal bias" of Wikipedia, at least originally. These day's it's a Christian revisionism site which is attempting to rally the conservative Christian base in America to literally re-write the Bible to better reflect their political message. One of the more interesting articles on the site that reflects this trend is "Mystery: Was John a Child?" The article was written by the site's founder, Andy Schlafly, a proponent of conservative families home-schooling their children, and questions whether John was a young teen, home-schooled by Jesus (ignoring the fact that only wealthy families in the Roman Empire had centralized schooling).

As I said, this is a piece of a larger effort to, as the site says, enable "a thought-for-thought translation," of the Christian Bible, "without corruption by liberal bias." Among other changes this means favoring masculine wording in an attempt to revert the, "emasculation of Christianity"; using "powerful new conservative terms"; "explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning," which I quote in full because I can't actually imagine how that pertains to a re-translation; and removing references to the name, "Jehovah" (an example of "liberal wordiness").

What's particularly shocking is that the project aims to re-translate the King James Version of the Bible rather than returning to original sources, thus maintaining any inaccuracies both in that translation, and that have arisen as a consequence of the change in English since that time. Presumably this is being done in order to open the effort up to those who haven't spent years studying dead languages, but of course, it makes the end-result highly suspect, even given a scholarly goal, rather than a political one.


  1. I just want to be clear about something, here. It would be easy to read this post as an anti-something post (Christian, conservative, take your pick). While I won't deny that I'm probably anti-Conservapedia at this point, I still hold out hope that one day the minority of conservatives in the U.S. who feel that it's their duty to be "anti-liberals" will see their voice diminish in the national discourse and we'll have a mature discussion where disagreement doesn't come with a lack of respect.

    I'm not anti-conservative or anti-Christian because I respect the better qualities of both positions (and in some cases share a fair amount of common ground) and while I know that every political or religious affiliation comes with it's share of people who can't see other factions as equals, I don't think that's a uniquely left, right, religious or non-religious problem.

  2. Indeed Aaron, I have a hard time calling people with such an apparent agenda "conservative" by any means.

    More and more, I see the terms "conservative" and "liberal" gaining meanings that have, at best, tenuous relationships to their dictionary definitions. These words have now become amorphous enough as to have any meaning that a person can convince others applies.

    It seems to me that the curators of Conservapedia are not trying to conserve facts and information, but rather invent it! Of course, they have probably convinced themselves that they are doing quite the opposite. It's enough to make one's head spin.

  3. A true conservative would go back to (as close as possible) original documents.

    What they're doing - and how they're approaching it - is more the mark of fanatics.