Dahling Duds of Mayhem

It would seem that even Roald Dahl’s wonderful children's books are not safe from the Royal Society of the Offended. His works are being redrafted, with offensive terms like ‘fat’ being removed from James’ aunt, and explanatory notes being added to the text for why women other than the Witches might wear wigs. Even the Prime Minister has waded in, attacking the publisher’s actions, along with the Dahl estate who saw fit to sanction it. In 2020, we toppled statues; in 2023, we are rewriting literature to bring the past up to our impeccably high moral standards. How long before the Bible reaches the censors' watchful baleful attentions. Here is a relatively harmless example from Genesis 11:5. We read in the New King James Version:

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

The NIV renders it

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

I see no reason to think that ‘children of men’ does not mean ‘people’. It has been altered without losing the intended meaning, and we can be helpfully assured that the ancients may have had lady builders, neatly complying with our own diversity regulations. But should we be altering the text at all? There may be a tension between the literal rendering of a phrase and the ability to effectively communicate the original author’s intended meaning. A literal translation of the English proverb 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ may prove tricky when communicated to North American Inuit, for instance. The move to re-translate the scriptures into a more ‘inclusive’, anodyne text is surely underway. If Dahl’s children’s books are being rewritten, how many beady eyes are enviously trained on God’s word?

Image by Amy from Pixabay