Christian leaders are responding to a story published by The Washington Post, suggesting the pro-life movement was rooted in an “ancient mistranslation” of the Hebrew Bible.
The authors, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg and pro-choice Baptist minister Katey Zeh, argue the opposition to abortion is based on “a single word being mistranslated more than 2,000 years ago.”
The story cited a passage from the Book of Exodus, saying, “When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other harm ensues, the one responsible shall be fined when the woman’s husband demands compensation; the payment will be determined by judges. But if other harm ensues, the penalty shall be life for life.”
Ruttenberg and Zeh noted the “Hebrew Bible began to be translated into Greek, into what became known as the Septuagint.”
According to the authors, “For whatever reason, in the Septuagint’s translation, the meaning of the verses was completely transformed”:
As they wrote, the version reads, “When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but it is not in the form, the one responsible shall be fined when the woman’s husband demands compensation; the payment will be determined by judges. But if it is in the form, the penalty shall be life for life.”
They mentioned Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, explaining for the Christian thinkers “abortion was always regarded as an offense against God, but after the point of ensoulment, it was regarded as much more so.”
Ruttenberg and Zeh added, “The Catholic Church ultimately dropped its distinction between the fetus before and after quickening in 1869, coming down against all forms of abortion.”
Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, reacted the story in a statement to Fox News.
“Our beliefs about the sanctity of life aren’t just tied to a single verse that some may try and find fault with — they are wrapped up in the entirety of Scripture. The inescapable and unmistakable theme that God created us and loves us is repeated throughout the Bible,” Graham said.
He also cited several passages from the Bible supporting the pro-life position. Graham said he would “encourage anyone who suggests the Scriptures don’t make a clear case for the sanctity of life to spend more time reading God’s Word.”
Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, also responded to the story.
“It’s silly to originate Christian prolife views of 2,000 years in a single Bible verse,” Tooley told the outlet. “Such a perspective assumes a narrow and brittle fundamentalism that can be collapsed by yanking a single card from the fragile house of cards. The Christian pro-life teaching is organic to the whole of Scripture and was refined across millennia.”
He explained Christianity is “especially concerned about protecting the most vulnerable and speaking in defense of those fellow creatures who cannot speak for themselves, whether at the beginning or at the end of life. The pro-life view is the fruit of the entire Gospel.”
Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Fox News, “The Christian case again abortion is not based upon any single verse in the Bible, much less upon an alleged mistranslation of a verse.”
Alveda King, a niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr., saw the story and cited several Bible passages supporting the pro-life movement.
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