Essay:In Answer to Joseph L. Farah

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This essay is an original work by TerryH. Please comment only on the talk page.


Dear Mr. Farah:

As the administrator-in-charge of the Conservapedia Conservative Bible Project, I take issue with, and exception to, your editorial of October 23 in which you railed against the Project.

First of all, I was shocked and astonished (Greek θαυμαζω or thaumadzo, "I am amazed," from which we get the word thaumaturgy, the old name for "magic" and illusionism) that the liberal press and commentariat would actually do this project the favor of affording it a degree of publicity that not even George Soros with all his millions could have paid for. As I'm sure that you, as an editor, know, the standard procedure for any editor who does not want a story to get out is to bury it. Instead of burying it, the liberals started ranting and raving and screaming about it at the top of their collectiv(istic) lungs, so that now everybody knows about it, and will no doubt visit us just to learn what all the fuss is about.

But I am even more shocked, and very disappointed, that you, a journalist who prides yourself on accuracy and ought to know that you have to verify your own facts before you publish anything, would recycle the same sort of pabulum that this project has heard lately from sources as "diverse" as MSNBC, The Huffington Post, and lately, Mr. Rod Dreher (who says that he is a conservative, and is not, but doth lie). Since when does WorldNetDaily follow liberal talking points?

Second of all, your accusations of flawed scholarship assume that your own scholarship, or that of your sources, is up to par. It is not. Concerning anything that Mr. Schlafly may have said, I'll let him speak for himself. But regarding the other issues you raised:

The last twelve verses of the Gospel According to Mark (Mark 16:9-20 (KJV) have highly dubious provenance. I would very much like to see a citation from you or anyone of a reliable source that says that the Gnostics were the ones who left out those twelve verses. Not so, sir. Mark did not write those verses, and therefore they belong out (good or bad) because Mark left them out. Mark deliberately left his Gospel account in an unfinished state, to illustrate that the story of Jesus Christ never ends.

Likewise, John did not write the Pericopa Adultura. Someone else interpolated that into a lesson that Jesus was then giving to a large number of people. Why does He immediately, after the Pericope concludes, start delivering a lecture?

I am the Light of the world John 8:12 (NASB)

One would naturally assume that He was speaking to a crowd of people who were still present. How that crowd reassembled after Jesus sent them away from the Mount of Olives begs explanation. After long and careful examination by minds far greater than those of any of us, and a thorough review of their records, we conclude that the Pericope, while it tells a story of something that would be in character for Jesus to do, did not originate with John. Therefore, again: the Pericope belongs out because John left it out, or to be more specific, never wrote it in the first place. At best, it rates a sidebar entry in that portion of the Gospel of John dealing with Jesus' "Light of the World" lesson.

Now concerning wine: the Greek word οινος (oinos) and the Hebrew word יין (yayin), both of which are rendered "wine" in English, mean simply "the fruit of the vine." The description given in the Bible and elsewhere, about the planting of vineyards, the harvesting of the grapes, and the treading of them in a winepress or wine vat, says nothing about placing the wine into amphorae (the most common measure of wine) and letting them age in order to ferment. That was a far more recent invention. In fact, the ancients took pains to prevent fermentation, and knew of at least five methods of preservation, including the simple expedient of keeping it chilled, and definitely did not add brewmaster's yeast. In short, "unfermented wine" did not have to wait for Louis Pasteur in order to become popular.

Moreover, I cite this:

Do not look on the wine when it is red,/When it sparkles in the cup,/When it goes down smoothly Proverbs 23:31 (NASB)

I further maintain that ethanol, which is the excretum of yeast, is itself a symbol of decay and therefore not a fit thing to put into a body that God made "very good."

Turning now to Acts 2:13 (KJV), which from the original Greek reads, "Others sneered at them, saying, 'They are drunk with new wine.'" The Greek word used is γλευκος or gleukos, which literally means the sweet stuff, not the "sour stuff" that would have ethanol in it. Gleukos is the word from which we get the name "glucose" and words like "hyperglycemia." So how do we interpret that verse? Like this: the onlookers wanted to make fun of the Apostles, so they tried to say that they were intoxicated, and sarcastically suggested that they had somehow found a way to intoxicate themselves by drinking grape juice that could have nothing but sugar in it! And that they would employ such a specific example of sarcasm states almost as clearly as a direct statement would, that the students and first missionaries of Jesus Christ did not imbibe alcoholic drinks.

Perhaps the publication by your private imprint, WND Books, of Joel J. Miller's book Bad Trip, which is a clear call for the legalization of drugs of abuse, is clouding your editorial and scholarly judgment. Your loyalty to a published author in your stable (and chief acquisition editor) is commendable, but not when it leads you into scholarly and theological error. In my research I have discovered that the Bible has a word for such behavior as Mr. Miller would have us legalize: φαρμακεια (pharmakeia), translated "sorcery" in the KJV but actually meaning only one thing: drug abuse. And I remind you of something else: he endorsed a work, God Gave Wine, by Kenneth Gentry, Jr., that perpetuates the same errors concerning alcoholic drinks as mentioned in the Bible that we at the Conservative Bible Project seek to correct once and for all.

In point of fact, your entire premise rests on the flawed assumption that the King James Version of the Bible is itself inspired, as much as, if not more than, the original (and, sadly, lost) manuscripts. If you had actually read the preface to the KJV written by King James' own Royal Commission on Translation, you would realize that such a position is untenable. That Committee specifically disclaimed any pretention to Divine inspiration, and in fact took pains to explain that they were merely human, had done the best that they could with their understanding and what they had to work with at the time, and would be the first to give place to any group, in any age, who could do a better job, find better material than they had, or both.

Finally I turn to your conduct in this affair, conduct that I find shockingly (there's that word again) out of character. First, where were you when the New International Version came out? I've read WorldNetDaily for years, and the subject never came up. Next, Mr. Schlafly informs me that you never once asked him for an interview, nor even asked any member of your staff to do the same. I certainly never received any requests for an interview from either you or your Washington bureau chief or any other bureau chief. As I said, you ran with someone else's talking points, and you have never impressed me as the sort of journalist who follows other journalists. And then—the kicker— after you printed your editorial, I sent a response to your Letters account and to your personal account, and you never once acted on it or even did me the courtesy of a reply. Which is why I am publishing my remarks here.

I have taken the time to reply to you because your criticisms, unlike those I have read from other commentators, at least deserve a response. You have made highly specific criticisms, and I have given you an equally-specific response. And at least you have demonstrated a healthy respect for the Bible's basic precepts in the past, a thing that these other commentators have never done.

Still, truth is truth and error is error. And in my determination not to let error stand, I yield to no man, no matter what his reputation or standing in anything that might be called "the conservative movement." Neither do the translators and other editors of this Project.

TerryHTalk 09:03, 26 October 2009 (EDT)