Not really sure where I expect this discussion to go, but, I found an interesting post on an atheist blog regarding the.. directedly useful translation of the bible, particularly the bit of 'law' in Exodus about the punishment of a person for the death of a fetus resulting from an accident during a fight between men.
The post collects a large number of translations of the particular phrasing, and there is a striking change around 1978. Earlier translations either make the death of the fetus explicit, the Wycliff of 1382 going so far as to use then-available phrase "dead-born", or in the vein of the King James Bible, make it an unclear "loss of her fruit". Then there is a sea change to the translation of the form "so that she gives birth prematurely". This would have been pushed because, frankly, it's what the translators wanted it to say.[...]for anti-abortion American evangelicals, Exodus 21:12-27 was unacceptable. It suggested that striking and killing an unborn fetus was in a separate category from striking and killing a “person.” Strike and kill a free person, you get the death penalty. Strike and kill an unborn fetus, you get a fine.
And so in 1995, like those earlier translators who invented and inserted “Junias,” the translators of the NASB reshaped this passage. “She has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury” would, in consideration of the changes in American politics since 1977, henceforth be transformed into “she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury.”
So now we have a book that we are told should be looked to as an authoritativly divine ethical source - whose ethics are being shaped by the ethics of those translating it... ethics which they claim come from the book they are translating, but then why are they altering the definition of crimes? From what authority came these new ethics - and how do we know it's genuine, given that a divine source could have been expected to get it right in the first place?