“Booty” no more: Changes to the Bible
As I was looking through Yahoo! news, one particular headline caught my eye: “Bible ditches tricky words.” Intrigued, I clicked on the article, and was informed that a new edition of one of the most popular Bibles written in English will have updated word choice, aimed at helping us 21st century folk understand the meaning behind certain words.
In theory, this might sound great–change confusing words so that more people can understand the meaning on the first read-through. While I understand the appeal, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Religious views aside, I don’t think we have the right to change words that were written countless years ago just to make things more convenient in modern times.
A large part of reading anything–books, plays, articles, etc.–is to understand the context in which it was written. Sure, changing “booty” to “spoils of war” might make sense to more people these days, but that’s not the way it was written. We should be able to do research or look words up if we don’t understand them; it’s not necessary to modernize everything just for the sake of convenience.
Along those lines, I also feel it is wrong to change words of a classic novel to make it less “offensive” in today’s world. A new edition of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” replaces the word “nigger” with “slave.” While I in no means advocate the use of the former, I think that our society should be able to understand the way the book was written. It was written over 100 years ago, in times much different than what we live in today. Twain chose the words he did for a reason, and whether or not we agree with his reasoning (or today’s connotations of the words), we should be able to respect his decision to use them.
Sure, changing words can make text more understandable or considered to be more appropriate, but just because we can do something does not mean we should.