Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bibles: Great Books, Hard To Reach Author

Whenever someone tells me they believe in the Bible as the literal word of God, I always ask: which one? Personally, I've got some 20+ books featuring entire translations of the Bible and different translations of Five Books of Moses, the Book Of Job, the Psalms and so on. The New Yorker has a very good article about the Bible publishing industry and the explosion of specialized versions geared towards fans of particular preachers and so on. One silly example: a magazine-style version of the Bible geared towards teen girls:
The result was “Revolve,” a New Testament that looked indistinguishable from a glossy girls’ magazine. The 2007 edition features cover lines like “Guys Speak Their Minds” and “Do U Rush to Crush?” Inside, the Gospels are surrounded by quizzes, photos of beaming teen-agers, and sidebars offering Bible-themed beauty secrets:

Have you ever had a white stain appear underneath the arms of your favorite dark blouse? Don’t freak out. You can quickly give deodorant spots the boot. Just grab a spare toothbrush, dampen with a little water and liquid soap, and gently scrub until the stain fades away. As you wash away the stain, praise God for cleansing us from all the wrong things we have done. (1 John 1:9)


priv8pete said...

Well, as one of the people you know you believes the Bible to be the Word of God I'd say I believe the Old Testament written in Hebrew and the New Testament written in Greek. Since my Hebrew and Greek leave much to be desired, I read a literal translation (usually New International or King James) and consult commentaries to better understand the grammatical structure in the original texts.

Michael in New York said...

What do you do when others want to read from a more recent translation and insist that one is the right one? And if you hadn't commented on this item, I would have been disappointed. I thought the story was interesting.

priv8pete said...

It would depend upon the nature of their exegesis was. I have found that the literal translations don't represent major theological differences from one to another, but rather by comparing the translations provide more color or emphasis to the text. If the person was staking their claim to a paraphrased version, then more issues could arise and I'd like to have a good conversation about the true meaning of the scriptures. That's not to slight paraphrased version since I particularly like the Living Bible and I think the major themes of scripture are still conveyed. If the person was willing, I'd like to review multiple translations and commentaries to gain a consensus on any disagreements we may have.

The story is interesting. I was once given a youth study bible that had stories of born again baseball players inserted in every 50 pages or so. Bobby Richardson, John Smoltz, Scott Brosius, and others which made for some interesting reading during a boring sermon!

Michael in New York said...

I've always thought of the King james Version as the most beautiful translation, not the most "literal."