A metricated Bible

by D.Hammond, Dozenal Journal no.4

Crying in the Wilderness?
or Shouting in the Desert?

Although many may find it hard to credit, the latter phrase above is actually substituted for the former in the 'GOOD NEWS' Bible - one of the dreadful travesties of the Good Book now in very widespread use in our schools. Apart from the crass destruction of some of the most beautiful English ever written - destruction often losing the meaning as well as debasing the language - the literary (?) philistines responsible for this rubbish have also brought the benefits of decimals and metrication to the ancient writings.

I. Kings VII (or 1 Kings 7, as GN has it). Verse 23.

"Huram (meaning Hiram) made a round tank of bronze, 2·2 metres deep, 4·4 metres in diameter and 13·2 metres in circumference." Verse 26: "The sides of the tank were 75 millimetres thick... ... The tank held about forty thousand litres."

Genesis VI, verse 15 (instructions for building the Ark):

"Make it 133 metres long, 22 metres wide and 13 metres high. Make a roof for the boat and leave a space of 44 centimetres between the roof and the sides." (No longer even called an ark!)

Goliath was "nearly three metres tall and wore bronze armour that weighed about fifty-seven kilogrammes..."

Making an altar (Exodus XXVII)

Originally: "And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits."

Now: "Make an altar of acacia wood. It is to be square, 2·2 metres long and 2·2 metres wide, and it is to be 1·3 metres high."

It was once said that the first few verses of St. John's Gospel were so perfect that they should be written in letters of gold; and so one might have hoped them to remain inviolate. But no: the poetry has gone, together with the meaning .....

Truly, this is Big Brother's Bible! Who's next? Shakespeare?

Footnote (added November 1999):

The German version of the Good News Bible has similar changes, but.... not the same values. The ark is to be 150m long, 25m wide and 15m high. The altar 2·5m long and wide and 1·5m high.

We don't know the actual length of the cubit used in the Old Testament; it's usually rated at 18" (or 50cm in the German version).

In Revelations in the German version, however, the original units are retained - Rev. 21:15 has the length of the wall as 12,000 "Wegmaße" and the height as 144 ells, and explains that they have kept the original numbers because they have religious significance, the number 12 being important to the people of God.