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The Trouble with Depicting Jesus

Is a Bible showing the Holy Family in traditional Indian clothes any worse than one depicting them as doe-eyed Caucasians in pastels?

When the New Community Bible first released in 2008, it sold 15,000 hardcover copies in a few short weeks.Yet the resulting hue and cry over certain aspects of the Bible, the first to be produced by Indians, for Indians in simple English, has resulted in a few revisions before the second edition went to print this November.

Why the controversy? Open a copy of the Bible, produced by the Society of St. Paul in Mumbai, and you'll see no changes to the text. But the accompanying illustrations might look a bit different: the Holy Family, for example, is depicted as poor Indian villagers, with Mary wearing a sari and a bindi, and Joseph wearing a turban and loincloth.

Some Protestant Christian groups have argued that the artwork and the references throughout (such as to Mahatma Gandhi and the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text) do not faithfully represent Scripture, while some Hindu groups have complained that the Bible will lead to illegal conversions in a country whose Christian population is ...

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