Danish Bible translation omitting ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel’ sparks outrage

Birgitte Stoklund Larsen, a journalist for the Danish Bible Society, claims the decision was not an “ideological choice.”

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

A recently published Danish translation of the New Testament that omits the word “Israel” and “Jews” has sparked outrage in the Jewish world.

“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,” B’nai B’rith International tweeted on Monday.

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

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, a director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, compared it to a “cheesecake with zero calories,” reported Algemeiner. 

“Wow will Jesus be surprised,” he said. “Jew-haters and Israel-bashers rejoice!”

Even a Muslim cleric condemned the omissions, saying it was done to present the Jewish people as stateless.

“‘Israel’ has been replaced with ‘Jews’ or erased altogether. The agenda is to present Jews as stateless. It’s false and against God,” Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, an Iranian-born Shiite cleric, tweeted on Monday.

The backlash is in reference to Bible 2020, a Danish translation of the Biblical Greek New Testament by the Danish Bible Society, in which 59 of the 60 references to Israel were removed from the original text.

Other than that one time, references to the “Land of Israel” in Bible 2020 read “Land of the Jews,” and when the people of Israel are mentioned in the original text, it is replaced by either “Jews” or nothing at all.

Birgitte Stoklund Larsen, a journalist for the Danish Bible Society, claims the decision was not an “ideological choice,” but rather to avoid identifying ancient Israel with today’s State of Israel.

“It is not an ideological choice, but a communicative choice,” Larsen wrote on the organization’s website, adding “the meaning must emerge, the text must be immediately understandable even to the reader who does not have a thorough knowledge of the Bible and Christianity.”

Larsen also quoted Rabbi Bent Melchior, a former chief rabbi of Denmark, who defended the translation.

“When we are called Jews today, it is because we come from Judea and not from Israel,” Melchior told Christian Daily on Sunday. “I would say that it can be a good correction because there is no geographical indication when Israel is mentioned in the Bible.”