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from Humane Religion

January - February 1998 Issue

About four months ago, the HUMANE RELIGION staff considered developing this article. However, after some discussion, it was decided that rather than printing it separately it should be incorporated into a major article on animal sacrifice. The consensus was that by concentrating on one, four-letter word in a scriptural passage, our readers might think we were quibbling over something inconsequential— making a mountain out of a molehill.

But since then, we have had access to an online discussion group of Christian vegetarians, many of whom support animal sacrifice. And in order to bolster their "Christian" stand, they use a corrupted text, which is from Jeremiah 7:22. This text has been altered by the addition of the word "just." The added word is used in the sense of "only" or "merely" and was inserted into the following scripture.

"This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Go ahead add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I  did not [JUST] give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices."

God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of those people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known.

(Romans 1:18 GNB)

Obviously the addition of the word "just" entirely changes the meaning of the text. It was deliberately inserted, with no pretense by scholars that the Hebrew supported such an addition. The rationale given for corrupting the text was that it was too easily misunderstood. That when the average man or woman read it, they would think God was categorically condemning animal sacrifice—which, of course, is the case.

It is the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible that altered the text, and this is the most popular translation since the publication of the King James version in the seventeenth century. It is widely used by both scholars and laypersons, and is the only translation of the seven leading versions of the Bible* that has changed the meaning of Jeremiah 7:22.

This corruption of the text comes at a time when a growing number of scholars have been questioning the validity of animal sacrifice. They are re-examining the biblical passages that clearly point to sacrifice as having been instituted by men, not commanded by God.

Of course scholars are aware that the text has been arbitrarily changed, but the average Bible reader—who is increasingly using the NIV version, is unaware of what has been done. And those Bible-quoting-believers who tenaciously uphold animal sacrifice, have been quick to discover the corrupted text and use it to uphold their position. Understandably, they never mention the fact that it is the only version of the Bible that has altered this verse.

When faced with this kind of misrepresentation, it will be helpful to know that both the words and the intent of Jeremiah 7:22 have been changed.

And no one should be too surprised by this falsification of the scriptures. It was the same Prophet Jeremiah who, speaking in the name of God, told the people that the sacred writings which they thought represented the unadulterated word of God, had been falsified: "This is what the Lord says...How can you say, 'We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord, when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?" (Jeremiah 8:8)

The scripture quoted above is taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. #

*King James, New American Standard, Jerusalem Bible, Amplified Bible, New English Bible, Good News Bible, New International Version.

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