On April 20, Infinitum News wrote about the Bible Society’s new Bible translation in which the word “Israel” has been removed.
The reactions to MIFF’s article have been overwhelming – several thousand Danes do not agree with the Bible Society’s decision to remove the word Israel from the new Bible translation.
The Bible Society has met with widespread criticism in Denmark and abroad. On Tuesday 28 April, Berlingske Tidende published an interview with the Bible Society’s general secretary, Birgitte Stoklund Larsen.
MIFF brings an excerpt here:
According to Stoklund Larsen, the words “Israel” and “Israelites” appear more than 2,000 times in the new translation of the Old Testament (The Old Testament). However, in the new translation of the New Testament (the New Testament), the word “Israel” has been changed to “the Jewish people” in 60 places.
Stoklund Larsen thinks the criticism of her is a misunderstanding and explains that the word “Israel” was replaced with the words “the Jewish people” because it corresponds to the meaning of the words in the original text. For the same reason, the word “testament” in the 2007 Bible translation was changed to “agreement.”
-When the average Dane hears the word Israel, 99 percent will think of the land of Israel. They will not think of the people “Israel” as the word is to be understood in several places in the Bible. And that is why Israel is translated in the New Agreement with “the Jewish people” or “the Jews”, says Stoklund Larsen.
For example, the phrase: Joseph and Mary traveled back to the land of Israel in the new Bible translation has been changed to: they traveled home , the change has been criticized for changing the meaning of the phrase. According to Stoklund Larsen, the Bible Society will take a closer look at the translation:
-Yes, and this is also one of the places where I think we should have looked at the translation from 2007. We have revised the translation of the New Testament into the Bible 2020, but not the question of Israel, which has not been involved in this round. Now that that question is being raised, I say: let’s just look at whether there are any of the bible passages where it is unmistakably the geographical term in question that has been changed in a direction that can be misunderstood, says Stoklund Larsen.
Stoklund Larsen also rejects the criticism that the new Bible translation tries to change the Bible’s message to deal with all people rather than the Israelites / the Jewish people:
-I think that’s not true. I have been in contact with a number of media in Israel on the issue, and several have asked for examples of the differences in translations, and those reactions have been positive. There is an independent Danish priest in Israel who has answered questions from Danish Jews in the country, and his conclusion is that “Bible 2020” is not a tool for replacement theology, it is not anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, and it strengthens the bond to the land of the Bible for modern Jews all over the world with the description of Israeli people as “the Jews”, says Stoklund Larsen.
-It is really a pity that there have been these reactions, but because the translation has been on the streets since 2007, we have not seen it coming at all, says Stoklund Larsen.
Several critics believe the word “Israel” has been removed from the new Bible translation due to Stoklund Larsen’s opposition to the modern state of Israel and refer to a 2016 article in which they believe that Stoklund Larsen places all responsibility for the conflict with the Palestinians on Israel. Stoklund Larsen rejects the criticism:
-It’s completely failed. The new translation with the changes is from 2007. At that time I was employed at Kristeligt Dagblad as a journalist and had nothing to do with the translation. I have written articles for 25 years and have written in the period – two! – articles about Israel. Finally, my chronicle has, in my opinion, been completely misread as anti-Israel. I would call it a report on an unhappy and stuck situation, says Stoklund Larsen.
According to the critics, Stoklund Larsen mentioned in the article that over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from Israel without also mentioning that a similar number of Jews were expelled from Arab countries, Stoklund Larsen rejects the criticism:
-Yes, but this topic is difficult to move into. Every time you mention a relationship, you are required to mention another relationship as well. You can blame me for a whole range of things that are not mentioned in the article, but I just want to say that I fully support the state of Israel, and I will of course at all times defend its right to exist, says Stoklund Larsen.
Stoklund Larsen ends by saying it would be a shame if the Bible Society is seen as being anti-Israel:
-Yes, it’s slavish. The main focus of our work has been to make the text of the Bible available to the average reader without much knowledge of the Bible and Christianity. The issue of Israel in the New Agreement has not really been raised because it has not been an issue since 2007. We are not deaf to the criticisms raised here and we need to look at whether those criticisms give rise to changes to the translation in some places, says Stoklund Larsen.
Do you believe the massive criticism against the Bible Society will have them re-enroll Israel in the Bible 2020?
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