Sceptical libertarianism and opera

Location: France

June 28, 2004


It's good that some British traditions never die. Like moral outrage at the appearance of a new translation of the bible. The end of the world is nigh -
or perhaps 'The proverbial's about to hit the fan some time soon', as the new version might have it.

So, how bad is that damage? Compare these two renderings of Mark 1: 10-11:

Authorised version: "And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from the heaven saying, Thou are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."


New: "As he was climbing up the bank again, the sun shone through a gap in the clouds. At the same time a pigeon flew down and perched on him. Jesus took this as a sign that God's spirit was with him. A voice from overhead was heard saying, 'That's my boy! You're doing fine!' "

Abuse of the English language: immense. Damage to religion: who am I to say? I am not fluent in New Testament Greek. The Authorised Version is,
forget it not, a version, a translation. It was not written by God, it was translated by man. It is a sublime piece of English, so appeals to the high-culture part of me. But that is quite separate from its religious value.

By all means criticise the new translation for cheapening some of the most beautiful texts the English language has produced. But don't pretend it's 'blasphemous'.


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