Politically Correct Biblical Language

Ya know, it gets harder and harder to distinguish right wing America from CCP. 

A couple of weeks ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law encouraging students to monitor and report on teachers who might be supporting “socialism factories” in universities. The recording of lectures could be used in lawsuits against schools or teachers for their … ahh … incorrect views.

Where else do students monitor the language and thinking of teachers?  In Mr. Xi’s China, of course. I wrote a bit about that here Monkey See Monkey Do.

Again, it seems the right wing in America is drawing inspiration from Mr. Xi in China.

First - from late last year, we have the story from China of rewriting the Bible to conform with CCP teachings about supremacy of law over all, including religion and morality.

You know the story of the woman accused of adultery, the crowd wanting to (legally) stone her, and Jesus saving her from death.  John 7:53-8:11 - “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” and then when no one offered to cast the first stone, “Then neither do I condemn you…. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

In the new revised CCP edition of the Bible, the passage now states “When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, "I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead."  Jesus as implementing the law to the fullest extent.  Talk about a mandate of heaven. 

This new CCP revised edition comes from the University of Electronic Science and Technology Press, responsible for updating the Standard English Version of the Bible. The textbook aims to teach "professional ethics and law" to the students of secondary vocational schools.  Needless to say, Christians in China are upset about the change.  Only CCP can publish or approve bibles. 


Then comes a story in the US from Salon - When Evangelical Snowflakes Censor the Bible. The article references research by Samuel Perry, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, referring to changes make in the English Standard Version of the Bible to make the language more politically correct or at least more palatable - Whitewashing Evangelical Scripture: The Case of Slavery and Antisemitism in the English Standard Version.

“Slavery” and references to “the Jews” are seen as a bit too old school. Best to use more PC terms and ideas. From the Salon piece -

In revisions from 2001 through 2016, Perry shows, the word "slave" first gains a footnote, then moves to the footnote and then disappears entirely — in some contexts, like Colossians 3:22, though not others — to be replaced by the word "bondservant," which could be described as a politically correct euphemism. A similar strategy is used to handle antisemitic language as well ….

To be fair, every Bible has to address issues of translation and interpretation. But the ESV is marketed mostly to evangelicals. The ESV is supposed to resist inserting politically correct language into the Bible. Word changes and notations take place frequently, often with footnotes and explanations. But Perry shows that the changes to eliminate references to slavery and offenses of “the Jews” against Jesus and the apostles seem to be done with more attention to modern context than to faithfulness to original intent. 

Perry describes New English Version changes over a period of time from 2001, so perhaps its not fair to see CCP as doing anything not already done in Bible publishing in the US. But politically correct language is not only in CCP – and not only in the American English Standard Version.

But it may become difficult to figure out whose politically correct language should be believed. CCP? GOP? ESV? Anybody speak Aramaic? Where are the imprimatur and nihil obstat when you need them?