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The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin

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Translation Transubstantiation-

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Then comes the problem of accurate translation.

Many words in New Testament Greek don't

have clear English equivalents. Sentence

structure, idioms, stylistic differences—

all of these are challenges when converting

versions of the New Testament books into English.

And this can't be solved with a Berlitz course:

Koiné is ancient Greek and not spoken anymore.

This is why English translations differ,

with many having been revised to reflect the

views and guesses of the modern translators.

The gold standard of English Bibles is the

King James Version, completed in 1611, but that

was not a translation of the original Greek.

Instead, a Church of England committee relied

 primarily on Latin manuscripts translated from

Greek. According to Jason David BeDuhn,

a professor of religious studies at Northern

Arizona University and author of 

Truth in Translation, it was often very hard

for the committee to find the correct English

words. The committee sometimes compared

Latin translations with the earlier Greek copies,

found discrepancies and decided that the

Latin version—the later version—was correct

and the earlier Greek manuscripts were wrong.

The goal of the translators was to create a Bible

that was a gorgeous work that was very accurate

in its translation and clear in its meaning,

 but that didn't happen. "The King James Bible

is a beautiful piece of English literature,''

says BeDuhn. "In terms of the other two goals,

however, this translation falls short."

For subsequent English Bibles, those slightly off

translations in King James were then often

converted into phrases that most closely fitted

the preconceptions of even more translators.

In other words, religious convictions determined

 translation choices. For example, προσκυνέω,

 a Greek word used about 60 times in the New

 Testament, equates to something along the lines

 of "to prostrate oneself" as well as "to praise God.

" That was translated into Latin as "adoro,''

which in the King James Bible became "worship."

But those two words don't mean precisely the

same thing. When the King James Bible was

written, "worship" could be used to describe both

exhibiting reverence for God and prostrating oneself.

While not perfect, it's a decent translation.

As a result, throughout the King James Bible, people

"worship" many things. A slave worships his owner,

the assembled of Satan worship an angel, and

Roman soldiers mocking Jesus worship him.

In each of these instances, the word does not mean

"praise God's glory" or anything like that; instead,

 it means to bow or prostrate oneself. But English

Bibles adopted later—the New International Bible,

the New American Standard Bible, the Living Bible

and so on—dropped the word worship when it

referenced anyone other than God or Jesus.

And so each time προσκυνέω appeared in the

Greek manuscript regarding Jesus, in these newer

Bibles he is worshipped, but when applied to

 someone else, the exact same word is translated

 as "bow" or something similar. By translating the

 same word different ways, these modern Bibles are

adding a bit of linguistic support to the idea that the

people who knew Jesus understood him to be God.

In other words, with a little translational trickery,

a fundamental tenet of Christianity—that Jesus is God

was reinforced in the Bible, even in places where it

directly contradicts the rest of the verse.

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David displaying the head of Goliath to the Jews, from the Old Testament, circa 1050 BC.HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY

That kind of manipulation occurs many times.

In Philippians, the King James Version translates

some words to designate Jesus as "being in the

form of God." The Greek word for form could

simply mean Jesus was in the image of God.

But the publishers of some Bibles decided to

insert their beliefs into translations that had

nothing to do with the Greek. The Living Bible,

for example, says Jesus "was God"—even though

modern translators pretty much just invented the

words. Which raises a big issue for Christians:

the Trinity—the belief that Jesus and God are the

same and, with the Holy Spirit, are a single entity—

is a fundamental, yet deeply confusing, tenet.

So where does the clear declaration of God and Jesus

as part of a triumvirate appear in the Greek

manuscripts? Nowhere. And in that deception lies

a story of mass killings.

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The Sociopath Emperor

Why would God, in conveying his message to

the world, speak in whispers and riddles?

It seems nonsensical, but the belief that he

refused to convey a clear message has led to

the slaughter of many thousands of Christians

by Christians. In fact, Christians are believed

to have massacred more followers of Jesus

than any other group or nation.

Those who believed in the Trinity butchered

Christians who didn't. Groups who believed

Jesus was two entities—God and man—

killed those who thought Jesus was merely

flesh and blood. Some felt certain God inspired

Old Testament Scriptures, others were convinced

they were the product of a different, evil God.

Some believed the Crucifixion brought

salvation to humankind, others insisted it didn't,

 and still others believed Jesus wasn't crucified.

Indeed, for hundreds of years after the

death of Jesus, groups adopted radically

conflicting writings about the details of his life

 and the meaning of his ministry, and murdered

those who disagreed. For many centuries,

Christianity was first a battle of books and

 then a battle of blood. The reason, in large part,

was that there were no universally accepted

manuscripts that set out what it meant to be a

 Christian, so most sects had their own gospels.

There was the Gospel of Mary Magdalene,

the Gospel of Simon Peter, the Gospel of Philip

and the Gospel of Barnabas. One sect of

Christianity—the Gnostics—believed that the

disciple Thomas was not only Jesus's twin

brother but also the founder of churches

across Asia. Christianity was in chaos in its

early days, with some sects declaring the

others heretics. And then, in the early 300s,

Emperor Constantine of Rome declared he had

become follower of Jesus, ended his empire's

persecution of Christians and set out to reconcile

 the disputes among the sects. Constantine was

 a brutal sociopath who murdered his eldest son,

decapitated his brother-in-law and killed his

wife by boiling her alive, and that was after he

proclaimed that he had converted from

worshipping the sun god to being a Christian.

Yet he also changed the course of Christian

history, ultimately influencing which books made

 it into the New Testament.

By that point, the primary disputes centered on

whether Jesus was God—the followers of a priest

 named Arius said no, that God created Jesus.

But the Bishop of Alexander said yes, that Jesus

had existed throughout all eternity. The dispute

 raged on in the streets of Constantinople,

with everyone—shopkeepers, bakers and

 tradesmen—arguing about which view was right.

Constantine, in a reflection of his shallow

understanding of theology, was annoyed that

what he considered a minor dispute was

causing such turmoil, and feared that it

weaken him politically.

So he decided to force an agreement on the question.

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