Danish Bible Society denies censoring ‘Israel’ in new Bible translation, admits to removing 'sin'

A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017.
A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

The Danish Bible Society has dismissed reports that its new Bible translation omits several mentions of Israel, substituting it for words such as "us" and “the Jews," saying its translation is for nonreligious readers.

Jan Frost, a resident of Denmark and supporter of Israel, drew attention to the issue when he showed that there were 59 omissions of Israel in the new translation.

This includes “the People of Israel” being replaced with “Jews” and “Land of Israel” being changed to “the land of Jews,” The Times of Israel reports.

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Other references to Israel were changed to refer to all readers or all of humanity. For example, The Times of Israel notes that in the new translation the word Israel in the verse “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” was changed to “us.”

In a statement released Wednesday, the Danish Bible Society said the accusations of censorship were “fake news” and said the translation, known as The Contemporary Danish Bible 2020, still includes numerous references to Israel.

“The words Israel and Israelites occur in the translation more than 2,000 times and the words Jew and Jewish occur more than 500 times. For instance, Jacob is still given the name Israel in Genesis and the people of God are still called Israel or the Israelites in the Old Testament,” the Danish Bible Society said

“Actually, in The Contemporary Danish Bible 2020 The Books of Kings and The Books of Chronicles have both been given new subtitles — namely, The History of Israel's Kings 1 & 2 and The History of Israel 1 & 2.”

The Danish Bible Society said the translation was aimed at readers who lack a religious background, with various words being rendered differently.

“For instance, it does not use the usual Danish words for sin, grace, mercy, covenant and many other typically biblical words, which an average Danish reader would not be familiar with the meaning of,” they said.

“In the translation of the New Testament it uses the Jewish People, the Jews, God's chosen people or simply The People to translate Israel since the majority of Danish readers would not know that Israel in the New Testament refers in large part to the people of God with which he has made a covenant.”

The Danish Bible Society also said the new translation is not considered the official translation of the Danish Folk Church and they continue to publish a translation that keeps all references to Israel.

Some critics, however, responded by saying that other ancient places with modern equivalents, like Egypt, were not changed in the translation to clarify their context.

“We are stunned that the new Danish Bible Society publication of the Bible erases references to Israel — out of stated worry over ‘confusion’ with the modern Jewish state,” said B’nai B’rith International, according to Algemeiner.

“Yet this surreal revision causes confusion and worse: whitewashing of history, identity, and sacred scripture!”

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