Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lawsuit Challenges Publishers' Translation of Bible Verse

An unusual pair of federal lawsuits filed pro se by a Michigan man complain about the translation of a passage in I Corinthians in versions of the Bible from two publishers. The verse, I Corinthians 6:9, describes those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Early versions of Bibles published by Thomas Nelson Publishing and Zondervan Publishing House include "homosexuals" in the list. Later translations instead use the term "sodomites". The exact theory of plaintiff Bradley Fowler's case is not clear. In his handwritten complaints against Thomas Nelson Publishing (full text of complaint) and Zondervan (full text of complaint) he variously charges that inclusion of the term homosexual caused him, as a homosexual, emotional harm. However he also complains that the publishers eliminated the term in later editions without informing the public. Reporting on the lawsuits, today's Grand Rapids Press says the court refused Fowler's request for an appointed attorney. The judge questioned the nature and efficacy of the claims. The suits seek $60 million in damages from Zondervan and $10 million from Thomas Nelson.

UPDATE: Bill Poser on Language Log has an excellent discussion of the translation issues posed by the original Greek in the Biblical verse at issue.