By Amy Zewe—
Each week I discuss various forms of antisemitism: its rise, its players, its pushback—All in an effort to educate and allow for viewers to prayerfully combat antisemitism and do what they can in their own communicates and networks to continue the war on antisemitism, which has been around since recorded history.
The BDS movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) is one arm of antisemitism I speak about frequently because of its many reaching campaigns that often target the young minds on college campuses. BDS measures also find their way into government and political activities, economic activities and even basic public relations. All to malign the modern state of Israel, and in its reach, Jews living around the world.
But where else can antisemitism creep in right under our noses and begin to infect Christians or those who seek to learn more about God, Christ, and Christianity?
Remember, last week I reported that Israel and Jews worldwide have no better ally than the Christian Zionists…but, many Christians follow a faulty theology called replacement theology, which arguably was a component that led to the deep antisemitism in Europe ushering in the horror of the Holocaust.
Now, it seems, Christians are being subverted right within their own texts.
The Bible for Christians is 66 books and of those, 27 are in what has always been called the New Testament (as “belief” or “direction outwardly expressed”).
Well, the Danish Lutheran Church has released a so-called updated version of the New Testament—which they rename the New Agreement (I have big problems with that alone) in an effort to engage readers with more modern language—so they claim.
These Danish Lutheran translators and leaders have a huge problem, though. And, whether they know it or admit it, their recent work is a new form of disparaging and removing the identity of Israel and Jews.
So how can this be? How can a few changed words and phrases in a Christian Bible harm Jews or even Israel?
Because the new translation erases the nature of Jews and Israel as it relates to ancient times, and in so doing, erases it for today’s Israel and Jews. It erases the connection between the people and the land of then and of today. Israel’s original meaning includes the notion “God contends.”
This new translation has excised all references to the place and the people of the Bible. Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who recently published a Hebrew-English version of the Torah, noted that omitting “Israel” from the Bible is equivalent to failing to mention God. (Berkowitz, Adam Eliyahu. Breaking News Israel, 20 April 2020).
A Danish news service also noted the new edition has many surprises, including the new name: The New Agreement. But even more shocking is that the, “New Agreement has all but removed any references to Israel, whether it describes the land or the people.”
The new edition was reviewed by Danish Christian and supporter of Israel, Jan Frost, on YouTube. Mr. Frost reported that the word “Israel” is only used once in the Bible 2020 (the name of the new edition). In all other passages, the word “Israel” is either replaced with “Jews,” “the land of the Jews,” or not replaced with any alternative term. Frost reported that the publishers justified the change by claiming that the “Israel” referred to in the Bible is not the same as Israel today. . Frost noted that this explanation does not apply to the term “Egypt” which remains in the Bible 2020 despite ancient Egypt having significantly different borders and ethnic composition than modern Egypt.
Remember, a component of the official definition of antisemitism is holding Israel to a different standard. Translators at the very least held both Egypt and Israel as terms in differing standards in their translation, raising a huge red flag.
Rabbi Weisz told Breaking Israel News: “This translation of the New Testament is an important reminder that replacement theology is not a problem of the past. Some segments of Christianity still have a replacement theology problem. The notion that Israel can be scrubbed from the Bible is as ridiculous as removing ‘God’ from the Bible.”
The Danish Bible Society is run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a strong proponent of supersessionism (another term for Replacement Theology). In 2018, Robert O. Smith, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and a stalwart in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation, addressed a conference at St. Olaf Institute for Freedom and Community. Smith was seated before a Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) banner and made these declarations: “The ancient Israelites are not linked in any substantive or material way to the contemporary, modern state of Israel. . . . The biblical narrative of Israel has almost nothing to do with contemporary Israel other than the intentional manipulation of sacred texts to justify a political project.”
I have no idea under what context or usage this Mr. Smith even bothers to read a bible.
Rabbi Weisz believes that Israel is one of the basic tenets of the Bible and towards this end, published The Israel Bible, The Israel Bible focuses on the land in which the Biblical events took place, the people of Israel, and the relationship between them, and the modern state that is the manifestation of God’s eternal covenant.
Rabbi Weisz, thank you for your book and please note Christians around the world who are reading the Bible that is accurately translated recognize and cherish the unique and eternal covenant that God has made with Israel in the collective and to the Jews a people. Indeed, there is a connection between Israel and a land and Jews as a people of biblical times and today that we not only recognize, but support.
Bible 2020 is the first translation into Danish in more than 20 years. Jan Frost noted in his YouTube airing he counted 59 omissions out of 60 references to Israel in the Greek origin for New Testament texts. References to “the People of Israel” were replaced with “Jews,” while “Land of Israel” became “the land of Jews.” In other places, references to Israel were translated as referencing all readers or all of humanity. An example from the Old Testament Text of Bible 2020:
“The Song of Ascents from the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible, a popular Shabbat hymn for Jews, originally states that “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” In the new translation, Israel is replaced by the word “us” (Liphshiz, Cnaan. Haaretz.com. 21 April 2020).
Rabbi Abraham Cooper—associate dean and global social action agenda director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center—said the Society’s translation was “like cheesecake with zero calories.” The translation, he pointed out, excluded “That nasty six letter word I-S-R-A-E-L, voila no more Israel.” “Wow will Jesus be surprised,” he continued. “Jew-haters and Israel-bashers rejoice!” (Kirstein, Benjamin. Alegeiner.com 22 April 2020).
Beyond the reaction from scholars who are correct in their assertion that the translation in so many ways erases, undermines, and even changes the intentions of God’s word in the original text, to me, it is an ushering in a poison to unsuspecting Christians though the readership of the Danish Lutheran Church. People who may be earnestly and honestly seeking to enjoy the Word of God are then fed an adulterated version of it.
And, then, the anti-Semites can rejoice as a whole new generation of Christians learn to hate or dismiss or discount the role of Jewish people and the Nation of Israel in God’s plan –His entire plan—which includes history, antiquity, and the modern day.
I don’t know why modern day so-called Biblical scholars would attempt to doctor a text in order to make it relevant to today—it was always relevant to today. Use the correct words in translations—the most accurate even if it then requires an entire phrase because many who know Hebrew and Konia Greek will tell you that there is often not a one-to-one translation into a modern English, or Danish, or German, or Spanish. It takes not just a scholar, but an honest and wise translator whose goal is to preserve the original intent of the text and not bend it to meet a simpler goal, such as making a contemporary reader feel good. Our job in Love is not about making people feel good, it is about conveying truth in love and reason, and then truth is its own elixir.
Hitler and others including Haman wanted to erase the Jews and Israel and even eradicate the intimate relationship those terms have: Jews and Israel. It is our responsibility as God’s people to stop it. We have to be Modern Day Esters and Mordechais. We must be modern day Bonhoeffers. We can do this with determination, facts, reason, and prayerful requests for wisdom and discernment that the Spirit of God moves before, among and around us. We know the war is won, but we still must fight the battles.
Shavua Tov. Have a great week.