Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fox Nation Screws Up

It's a shocker, I know. But with all the meaty news that's been going on around the world the past few weeks, and let's not forget Saint Ronnie's centennial, Fox Nation has the lovely story on their homepage:

Obama Botches Bible Verse at Prayer Breakfast



It's not enough that only 34% of Americans believe Obama is a Christian, Fox Nation decides to harp on the "fact", and I use the term loosely, that Obama misquoted the bible.

In actuality, Obama quoted Isaiah from the New International Version. Fox Nation quotes from the King James version. So, shocker, Fox was wrong. Despite this error being pointed out all over the internet and on their own comment section, the article is still on the home page. Truth matters? Eh, not so much.

I love the quote from Media Matters:
Somewhat ironically, while Fox Nation appears to be positioning themselves as the arbiters of authentic Christianity, they seem unfamiliar with the fact that there is more than one version of the Bible
Yes, there is more than one version of the Bible. Personally, I prefer the NRSV, but the King James version is often touted as the only "authentic" version. This tidbit always reminds me of those who believe the Bible is somehow meant to be taken literally. Despite the fact the it contradicts itself on several occasions and was written by men, inspired or not, the biggest thing to remember is that it was mostly written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

Let me show you a little experiment via Google Translate about the difficulties of translation.  Let's take the phrase in question, King James version:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I'll run it through Google Translate, first into Greek, then into Hebrew and back to English. We come up with this:
But waiting for the Lord will renew their strength; are aggregated with wings as eagles; starts running, and she's not tired; and are not faint

Clearly, Google Translate is not an expert translator. But when you are attempting to translate from a language like Greek, which has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē, whose meanings are complex but for which English often translates as a single word, you begin to see the difficulties.  Not to mention differences in sentence structure and more. 

Even when I just run it through from English to Greek to English, it comes out different:
But waiting for the Lord will renew their strength; These accumulate with wings as eagles; starting to run, and is not tired; and they shall walk and not faint.
The point here is that no single translation gets it right. Debating the merits of one over the other is something best left to scholars, of which Fox Nation apparently has none.  What those of us who are non-biblical scholars are left with is a matter of preference. Which use of language do we like better. The King James has some mighty flowery language. Sometimes, that's wholly appropriate. Others, it just gets in the way.

One last little tidbit that made me giggle last night. The New International Version of the Bible is published by Zondravan. From their website
As the world's leading Bible publisher, Zondervan holds exclusive North American publishing rights to the New International Version (NIV), which has sold more than 300 million copies worldwide and is the bestselling modern English translation. 
Their website also mentions the fact that they were bought by HarperRowCollins Publishing in 1988. Guess who owns Harper Collins?

News Corp.

1 comment:

Araloran said...

Did you know, while English has active and passive voice, Greek has active, passive and middle voice. Middle voice is practically impossible to translate into English. My Latin professor tried explaining it to us once, but it just isn't something English has words to explain very well.