Jason BeDuhn

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Jason David BeDuhn, Ph.D. is a historian of religion and culture, currently Professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University.


BeDuhn holds a B.A. in Religious studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana, an M.T.S. in New Testament and Christian Origins from Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in the Comparative Study of Religions from Indiana University, Bloomington.[1] He first gained brief national attention[citation needed] at the age of 18 when remarks he made in a speech to the high school graduating class of Rock Island, Illinois, sharply critical of oppressive attitudes towards youth by older generations of Americans, were widely reported in the American press. He defended his remarks in subsequent radio and television appearances by pointing to the historical contribution of youth to social idealism and cultural innovation.

He won the Best First Book Award from the American Academy of Religion in 2001 for his book The Manichaean Body in Discipline and Ritual, notable for its analysis of religions as goal-oriented systems of practice rationalized within particular models of reality.[2] His evident interest in the role religions play in forming and organizing the individual self can be seen in his multi-volume study of Augustine of Hippo.

His 2003 book, Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament, has generated considerable controversy for highlighting cases of theological bias in the translation process, by which, he argues, contemporary Christian views are anachronistically introduced into the Bible versions upon which most modern English-speaking Christians rely. The book concluded that the New Testament translations of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (published by Jehovah's Witnesses) and the New American Bible (published by the Catholic Church of America) were the most accurate and least biased. The translations examined in his book are: The King James Version, New Revised Standard Version, New International Version, New American Bible, New American Standard Bible, Amplified Bible, Living Bible, Today's English Version, and the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. He had criticisms for every translation he reviewed, highlighting cases of theological bias in the translation process, although the evidence implicates some translations more than others. On page 34 of the book, regarding the New American Bible, BeDuhn says "One might assume a distinctly Catholic bias in the finished product. But ideologically the Catholic church is under less pressure to find all of its doctrines in the Bible than is the case with Protestant denominations, and this fact, combined with the vast resources of Catholic biblical scholarship, seems to have worked to the NAB's advantage." About the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, on page 165, he says "the biases of the NW translators do not account for most of the differences of the NW from the other translations. Most of the differences are due to the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal, conservative translation of the original expressions of the New Testament writers."

In 2013 he published The First New Testament, which offers a (partial) reconstructed translation in to English of the first Christian canon of scripture in Greek, created in the 2nd century C.E. by the Christian leader Marcion.

He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2004.[3]

Books authored[edit]

  • 2000 The Manichaean Body in Discipline and Ritual. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • 2003 Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. Lanham: University Press of America.
  • 2010 Augustine's Manichaean Dilemma, 1: Conversion and Apostasy, 373-388 C.E. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • 2013 Augustine's Manichaean Dilemma, 2: Making a Catholic Self, 388-401 C.E. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • 2013 The First New Testament: Marcion's Scriptural Canon. Salem: Polebridge.

Books edited[edit]

  • 1997 with Paul Mirecki: Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  • 2001 with Paul Mirecki: The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and its World. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  • 2007 with Paul Mirecki: Frontiers of Faith: The Christian-Manichaean Encounter in the Acts of Archelaus. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  • 2009 New Light on Manichaeism: Papers from the 6th International Meeting of the IAMS. Leiden: E. J. Brill.