Pity Bible translators who try to keep up with changes in language. For example, Today’s New International Version Bible has changed “stoned” to “stoned to death” because otherwise readers might think the text is about smoking dope. The New Revised Standard Version made that change a few years ago.
The really controversial word among Bible translators and publishers is “man.” To render it as “human,” which is what the original text often meant, is to rouse the furies and risk losing the dollars of those suspicious of feminist influences.
We have noticed efforts to turn out trendy Bibles. Thomas Nelson sells becoming, a “zine formatted for young people,” and Zondervan publishes true identity, which packages “biblical wisdom for women in their 20s and 30s, single or married.” (Some tulip-and-pink covered Bibles for women do use capital letters.) These versions highlight women in the Bible, but don’t touch pronouns. A human woman is still a “man.”
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).