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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Israelis in the Living Bible

I have a copy of The Living Bible – the 1971 paraphrase of the bible written by Kenneth Taylor.  I don’t read from it often, but I keep it around – mostly because it was a gift when I was a teenager, and it was the first bible that I read all the way through completely, from cover to cover.  Sentimental or something….

But I was reading through it this morning and I noticed something that I thought was a little odd.

Exodus 1: 9 in the Living Bible (LB) reads: “He told his people, “The Israelis are becoming dangerous to us because there are so many of them…”

Israeli is a modern term used to refer to the people of the modern nation state of Israel.  Israelite is the term used to describe the people of Israel in biblical matters.  The Living Bible used the term Israeli several times – Exodus 1:12, 2:23, 9: 7, 19: 1, Numbers 1: 2 … (I didn’t check any further, I’m sure it’s used more …)

The LB also used other various and roughly synonymous terms like “descendants of Israel,” “people of Israel,” “Hebrews,” “my people,” “them /they,” “Sons of Jacob,” “Tribes of Israel,” and “Israelites”  without any discernible rhyme or reason.  

But “Israeli” in a biblical text is problematic because it continues the misunderstanding that the people of the modern nation state of Israel are equivalent to the Israelites of the Bible.  

The New Living Bible, by the way, (which began as a project to revise and update the Living Bible but became a fully-fledged translation in its own right…) doesn’t use the term “Israeli.” 

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