The new Danish Bible translation “Bibelen 2020” got accused of anti-Zionism and even anti-Semitism and recently was the cause a furor.
Bibelen 2020 is a contemporary version of the Old and New Testaments published by the Danish Bible Society (DBS). It had eliminated the word “Israel” in many places. In some passages, particularly in the New Testament, “Israel” was replaced by such wordings as “the Jews,” “the Jewish people,” or simply “the People.” In others, it was changed even more radically, as when Psalm 121:4,
“He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps,”
“He who watches over us.”
A reaction was not long in coming from Danish Bible readers.
“Bible 2020 is an assault on the faiths of both Jews and Christians, and an attack on the history of the Jewish state of Israel,”
wrote Dr. Petra Heldt, director of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Jerusalem.
Referring to Psalms 121:4, she went on:
“DBS pretends that we get the divine watchfulness. [The identity of Israel] has been stolen.”
Heldt accuses DBS of
“emulating the current social attitude that develops from the anti-Israelism of Muslim immigrants and that is picked up by other parts of Danish society.”
The Danish Bible Society sought to defend itself.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,”
it declared in a prepared statement, than the charge that its translation had an anti-Jewish or anti-Israel bias.
“The words Israel and Israelites [still] occur in the translation more than 2000 times and the words Jew and Jewish occur more than 500 times,”
the statement said.
Bibelen 2020,according to them
“is a special kind of Bible translation directed at secular readers with no or little knowledge of the Bible and of its history and traditional church and Bible language.”
It was made, the DBS asserted, for that “majority of Danish readers” who might confuse the biblical concept of Israel with the modern country bearing that name and
“wouldn’t know that Israel in the New Testament at large refers to the people of God with which He has made a covenant.”
Its aim was disambiguation, not the delegitimization of the Jewish state.