December 14, 2017

The Mule’s Bible

old_bibleOne of our regular commenters goes by the handle “Mule Chewing Briars.” He may or may not have a real name, but he does have a real style about him: He has something to say, and doesn’t mince words saying it. Mule is joining the iMonk stable of writers; we will hear from him most every week. Welcome Mule to the iMonastery, and enjoy chewing on what he has to offer.

The Bible has been a part of my life nearly as long as I’ve had a life. One of my earliest memories is a “Bible memory”  from when I was four or five years old.  My troubled parents moved to the nation’s capital in a fruitless attempt to halt my father’s descent into mental illness.   Within a year they were divorced, and somehow, I discovered church.   My poor harried mother brought my brother, my sister and I  every Sunday to a local Presbyterian church.  I was unceremoniously deposited into the nursery where, with dozens of other baby Baby Boomers, I was left pretty much to fend for myself.

There was a book of Bible stories in that nursery. It is likely familiar to many because I have seen the same volume in doctors’ and dentists’ offices. I believe it is published by the Seventh Day Adventists, and it is richly illustrated.   At five years of age, the book’s illustrations seemed to me to be backlit with the very Uncreated Light of Tabor itself. The accounts of the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood ignited my young imagination and made me an instant evangelist. There was a young teenaged girl watching us in the nursery that Sunday, and I approached her with the book opened to the account of Noah and the flood. Breathlessly, I retold the story of how a man built a boat and God brought all the animals to him, and then he made it rain a long long time…

The teenaged girl looked at the book and smiled at me. With all the sagacity adolescence could muster over against the earnestness of childhood, she informed me: “That’s like a fairy tale, you know. It’s a nice story but it didn’t really happen.” When I returned to read the book, the Light had died on its pages. I threw the book into a corner and picked up some plastic dinosaurs.  I still complain briefly about being exposed to the soul-choking infidelity and unbelief of mid twentieth century liberal Protestantism at its floodtide, but that is not what I remember about the incident.

What I remember is the Light.

That Light, I am convinced, is not of human fabrication or invention.  It is that Light than convinces me, far more than any study of archeology, internal consistency, or ancient literature that the Bible, whatever process produced it, is not a human document.  Now, I know know know know know that not everybody sees the same Light on the pages of the Bible that I do. The Gospel of St. John says that not everyone acknowledges the Light, because their deeds are evil.  This verse has always been something of a mystery to me since my deeds are not noticeably purer than those of people who care very little about God, Jesus, church or the Bible, and I am not the least less attached to my evil deeds than they are to theirs.

There is a particular briar that I have chewing on for some time.  I don’t like copyrighted Bibles.  Trying to be true to my ideology, though, is difficult.  I own four uncopyrighted Bibles.  The venerable Authorized version is good in a pinch, but I am not a Jacobean.  The experience I have of the majesty of the language is marred by problems of comprehension.  The same goes for the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible.  I used it for a long period of time in my life since it had the benefit of having been translated from an Orthodox Bible of impeccable pedigree, Jerome’s Vulgate, but it too is very alien.  It has the added disadvantage of being pre-Vatican II, and the old-school Catholic notes about getting 340,000 years of my time in Purgatory expunged for completing a bishops-approved schedule of Scripture reading rankled both my residual Protestantism and my incipient Orthodoxy.

The Douay does have the right numbering for the Psalms, but for reading those aloud I prefer the Coverdale Psalms from my 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  “We wish you good luck in the name of the Lord” – inspired.

My wife’s Spanish Reina-Valera Bible is one of the crown jewels of Christendom.  Honestly, I cannot be superlative enough in my praise of this translation.  Like its English counterpart the Authorized Version, it was translated during a time of great literary briliance in the history of the Spanish language, the great Siglo de Oro of Cervantes and De La Vega, but the Reina-Valera has an advantage in that educated peninsular Spaniards still speak its idiom.  Finally, my least favorite among the non-copyrighted Bibles is the first one I purchased.  It is the American Standard Version of 1901, whose copyright recently expired and has been placed in the public domain.  I think what I don’t like about it is that it was translated during a time when the textual critical method was still a novelty and was flexing its late-adolescent muscles.  I am wary of a slavish devotion to the Masoretic text and I no longer own a USB critical Greek New Testament, much preferring my Majority Text NT.

I am of two minds about the copyrighted Bibles I own: the lovely ESV, the pedestrian NKJV, and the odious Message.  First of all, something rankles me about a for-profit corporation holding a copyright on a text of the Bible, even a corporation as inoffensive as the Thomas Nelson Corporation (Orthodox CEO, by the way).   The multiple texts of the Bible we are dealing with to me reflects our fractured ecclesiology, and I think the two issues are related.  Church life (even Orthodox church life) in the USA is market-driven, and to reflect that you have a plethora of special-interest Bibles coming out every year: the Manly Man’s Chest-Beating Bible, the Indie Soul-Patch Bible, the Church Lady’s Coffee Klatch Homespun Bible, etc.

I think we should have a Church Bible.  More importantly, I believe Protestants should have a Church Bible.  Catholics need a new Church Bible because the New American Bible is just a horror, but that’s a discussion they need to have intramurally.  The issue isn’t as acute for the Orthodox because we use the Septuagint, are still ethnically oriented, and we tend to be parasitical on the Protestants in English.  The English Bible our bishops approve of the most is the Oxford University Press’ RSV Study  Edition.  It has the 151st Psalm and the Song  of the Three Holy Children in it.

Protestants need a Church Bible that connects them to the Universal Church.  The copyright for the text should be held by a cooperative committee of the major Protestant bodies, and I think the SBC, the Assemblies of God, the Lutherans, the Anglican Continuum, well, basically any Protestant who can recite the Apostles’ Creed without crossing their fingers, should spearhead such an effort.  This Church Bible should be made a  standard, like the AV before it, for public reading, for lectionaries, and for private devotional reading.  I believe it should be a deliberate effort on the part of faithful Protestants, rather than just waiting for the market to decide which of the multiplicity of modern versions will carry the day.  That sends the wrong message about who is the proper custodian of the word of God.

 

 

Comments

  1. I’m right with you, Mule.

    It would also take a miracle to accomplish. Then again, with God, all things are possible.

  2. I am so not a fan of the Church Bible idea. The Orthodox and Catholic respect for scripture is mitigated by a respect for tradition, but too many Protestants lack this. Taken to its logical extreme, you get what I grew up with: A church full of King James Only bibliolaters. The KJV was their Church Bible, and was a jealous god; it would not even share its glory with the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

    • K. W. Leslie, speaking of bible translations—I’ve been to your blog several times and find your translations refreshing.

      • Thank you very much, Ted. But in a church with an official translation, my practice of translating the bible myself would be looked at as undermining their Authorized Version, instead of (as is my intention) trying to understand the original meaning for myself, and trying to make it clearer for others.

        • In the old days you’d be burned at the stake.

          I’m not in favor of an official translation either. Seminaries insist on teaching Greek and Hebrew so that people can understand the original meaning, as you’re doing. A lot of the translations muddy the meaning, or dumb it down, just to crank out a mass-market product. The more I read the NIV the more disappointing it becomes, because it’s pretty good, but stops short of being really good. They made too many compromises in order to make it readable. I’d rather stick with the Good News Bible for readability.

  3. JoanieD says:

    “Manly Man’s Chest-Beating Bible, the Indie Soul-Patch Bible, the Church Lady’s Coffee Klatch Homespun Bible.”

    Funny!

  4. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    I really do hate all those stupid speciality Bibles.

  5. I am with you Mule on the copyright. As I near as I can tell there are only two reasons Lifeway did HCSB

    1) They don’t like paying copyright for NIV
    2) They wanted to control gender language translation

    • New translations can be very good things, but I know what you mean about copyrights. It’s something like Monsanto controlling seeds.

      Also, with fear of lawsuits for copyright infringement, any translator has to be very careful nowadays. Copyrights limit the range of possibilities for future translations, so that the over-riding goal tends to be “make it different”, even if different strays from the original meaning, or falls flat in its style. And, if profit becomes the motive rather than accuracy, we should question the translation. How many do we really need, anyway?

  6. Sorry but I love the Complete Jewish Bible Translation by David Stern.

  7. Fantastic post. Looking forward to reading much more from you, Mule!

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Mule, you’re talking Protestants. Who can turn “The sun’s going down — should we turn on the lights?” into a theological Holy War To The Death with Anathemas flying and church schisms. They can’t agree on anything, let alone a common Church Bible (except maybe the King Jimmy).

    Remember the theoretical ultimate end state of Protestantism: Milllons of One True New Testament Churches, each with the Only Perfectly-Parsed Theology, each with only one member, each denouncing all the others as Heretics and Apostates.

    • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”

      I have to believe things can be different.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Yet all too often “Now Faith is Denial of Observable Physical Reality.”

    • You’ll find churches which adhere to common confessions tend to demonstrate greater unity. These churches are also picked at for being too doctrinally narrow. But I say where people agree, they work together. I think it is untrue that “perfectly parsing” theology leads to schism: it is the lack of understanding what you believe and why that leads to church wars which are ultimately based on personal preferences or other vanities. Every church schism I have seen (way too many) usually had nothing to do with theology, but only with those trying to assert their preference at the expense of others. Discussions were never held on the level of “What does the Bible say about this?” but rather devolved quickly into, “here’s what I want and why I deserve it.” A little more parsing could have gone a long way towards bringing peace, imo.

      • I think what HUG is describing is misplaced values. It isn’t so much that being sure of doctrine is a bad thing, but rather an extra-biblical values system that allows “doctrine” to be used as a club to beat everyone else into submission. Even if I have faith to move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

        • Good point. I suppose there’s a good and a bad way of being doctrinal. But I just feel a bit grated by the stereotype that doctrinal people are divisive and schismatic, because I’ve seen a bit too much division and schism in my brief tenure in church work, and it was never doctrinally motivated. Repeated appeals for an honest conversation and to sit down and work through issues and disagreements were repeatedly and dogmatically ignored. My experience is that when people cause friction in churches, even if doctrine is referred to, it’s usually just a pretext. You might even argue than any doctrine that leads to discord is not sound, in light of John 13:35.

          • Robert F says:

            Some people claim not to put too high an emphasis on doctrine when what they really mean is that they don’t place too high an emphasis on traditional doctrines, but they place enormous emphasis on an implicit doctrine that underlies their own understanding and approach; it’s just that the doctrine that they hold is unstated and inchoate, obscure, and so hard to discern, which makes it easy for them to claim that they are somehow above the mistake of taking doctrine too seriously. To me, this seems like playing dirty pool.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Which is why in such cases instead of “doctrine” I prefer the Marxspeak word “Ideology”. And instead of “correct doctrine”, “Purity of Ideology”. Because in a lot of cases the underlying dynamic is the same.

  9. Mule, I’ve admired your work for a bit now, and this post doesn’t disappoint.

    I must confess, I am a fan of the ESV.

    A common Bible is a good idea, and would be a step toward a common table. Don’t be fooled into thinking any SBC body would ever embrace a Creed, though. Once, a pastor of mine asked me what my “statement of belief” was, and I told him, “The Apostles’ Creed”. He completely dismissed me, gave me a cross-eyed look, and said, “That’s too Catholic for me.”

    Heavy sigh.

    • Michael says:

      Statement of belief? Of course, how very natural to state what you believe! Creed? Sounds like an unbiblical tradition of man to me!

      /facepalm

    • Sad but true, Lee. Remember a while back when Piper wanted to edit the Apostles Creed? I suspect most of his fellow Baptists would wholeheartedly agree with him, if the question was put to them.

      • It is commonly known that Wayne Grudem rejects the “he descended into hell” part of the creed. And of course, many of the “complementarians” have no trouble embracing eternal subordination of the Son, even though it was declared heretical centuries ago (subsequent attempts to defend against the charge of heresy have been laughable, imho). There are plenty of heterodox popes out there, and they tend to operate from a post hoc position.

        • What is the name of the argument over the eternal subordination of the Son? I don’t think I’m familiar with this one…

          • Christiane says:

            I always thought that the doctrine of the ‘eternal subordination of the Son’ was created by Southern Baptists who were into patriarchy (wife submits ‘graciously’ to husband).
            The reason is that the patriachists use ESS to shore up their teaching about the place of women in marriage as subordinate to the rule of their husbands. ESS is popular among the quiverfull groups, and is popular among those who are members of the CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).

            Why people would want to tamper with the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity because they need to shore up patriarchy as ‘biblical’ is beyond me. It seems a desperate move to give more credibility to patriarchism in some conservative Christian circles.

          • I am assuming this is different from the Eternal Generation of the Son, or the Monarchy of the Father as the arché or source, of divinity.

            The Eternal Subordination of the Son sounds like rewarmed Arianism-lite to me.

          • Mule – You got it. “Rewarmed Arianism” is exactly right.

            Oh, and… so glad to find another person who deeply dislikes “The Message” and spinoff products!

          • I think he’s referencing Subordinationism —

            “Subordinationism is a doctrine in Christian theology which holds that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father in nature and being. Subordinationism, in its various forms, was an Early Christian doctrine until the mid 4th century, when the Arian controversy was finally settled, after many decades of debates, with the formulation of the doctrine of Trinity.

            Subordinationism has some commonalities with Arianism, but has some differences. While Arius and his followers were certainly also subordinationist, the Arians went even further to assert that the Son, as a creature, is virtually ignorant of the Creator, the only One who was accepted to have the full divine nature according the Christian apophaticism. Subordinationism thrived at the same time as Arianism (fourth century AD), but long survived it. Its chief proponents in the fourth century were Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius of Nicomedia, both of whom had once given support to Arius. Athanasius battled Subordinationism throughout his career as bishop of Alexandria, often labelling it as Arianism. This was a rhetorical tactic which both highlighted what he believed was its logical outworking, and caricatured it.

            Subordinationism is to be distinguished from the widely held view of “relational subordination” or “economic subordination.” In relational subordination, both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are said to be subordinate to God the Father because they never command the Father, but rather do the will of the Father. Consistent with the Trinitarian view, this does not mean that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are in any way inferior to the Father by nature or being. On the contrary, both the Son and the Spirit are held to be co-equal and co-eternal with the Father because they are of the same being or substance as the Father. Yet, Christ would not be seen as equal to the Father in his essence and in his attributes.

            In many Christian theological circles (mostly orthodox), subordinationism is treated as heresy, while “relational subordination” is not. In other circles, subordinationism is seen as biblical middle ground between extremes of Modalism and Unitarianism. (Christology has been the source of many (but not all) hot disputes and subsequent divisions of Christianity since the 1st century AD)”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subordinationism

        • Oh, Wayne Grudem… I’m so glad that 2,000 years of Christian Tradition has finally arrived at his feet, so that he can correct its mistakes… *sigh* sorry for the sarcasm, I had to read way too much of that man’s writing when I was an intern in a Reformed church…

        • It just blows my mind that someone as supposedly educated as him does not see the theological, biblical, and traditional necessity and implication of that line. It’s not exactly brain surgery. I suppose its more a reflection of his own personal perspective and relationship to church tradition than anything else.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        John Piper wanted to edit the Apostles Creed to suit him? I would say that made me lose all respect for himm, but I already had no respect for that man.

        • What? You mean he didn’t write the original? I thought he penned it right after he wrote John, I John, II John, and III John!

  10. Josh in FW says:

    mmm, I didn’t realize how much I would like chewing on briars.

    • Since you like the taste, now is the time of year to go and get some briars – chainey briars – that is. This common green briar’s shoots are gathered and cooked like asparagus and taste rather like asparagus here in Charleston.

      Get some before they get tough.

  11. Speaking of the evils of copyrighted Bibles…

    The first part of the Bible I picked up in braille was the Gospel of John in the NASB in grade 1. I picked that translation specifically because I knew I am a very poor braille reader and it was the one I had spent the most years reading.

    The very first page was a copyright page. It explained in fancier language that the people who owned the NASB did not want to emboss the braille version themselves, so they let other people do it if they didn’t change anything. I imagined that meant not messing around with the text of their translation, and that seemed pretty reasonable.

    So I intrepidly continued to the next page, Chapter 1. The way verse and number formatting was handled was excellent, and once I figured it out I began reading. Then, somewhere in the middle of the first chapter, I lost the line of text. To keep a long post from getting longer, suffice it to say that they had kept those topic headers one sees as one reads many Bibles, such as “Christ goes to Jerusalem”. They were formatted exactly as they were in print, just a floating piece of text in the middle of a column of text with space around it. It made the book longer (and braille books are already very large), it made it harder to find the next verse reliably, and overall made reading John’s gospel a greater challenge than it needed to be.

  12. Mule, I’m excited to see you writing here more often! Your style is so damn enjoyable, I hardly get through a paragraph without a therapeutic chuckle. I’m also a huge fan of the Coverdale Psalms. Love your thoughts about the light in the Bible. That’s very Lutheran, btw. So is your mystery about how some see the light and other don’t: we don’t even bother trying to explain that one.

    As for a “church” Bible for Protestants, what about the NRSV? It was produced by an ecumenical council of scholars (which included Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and I believe possibly even Jewish?), it is owned by the National Council of Churches, it includes all the apocryphal and deuterocannonical books, it stands in the tradition of the Authorized Version, and it is read every Sunday as the weekly lectionary in countless mainline churches. The groups who tend to dislike this translation typically don’t like creeds or lectionaries either. I nominate this as a contender: it reads beautifully, and I could swear I see some light when using it.

    Right now I’m actually using a Roman Catholic RSV – II. I find it uses the literary finess of the NRSV without being politically correct, and the orthodoxy of the ESV without sounding too Reformed.

    • David Cornwell says:

      People will argue about almost any translation, but I like the NRSV.

      • I love it, but I have a hard time forgiving their butchering of Psalm 22. It does thumb its nose at tradition at surprising places, but they are few and far between enough that it hardly ruins the rest. It’s great for mainline churches, imo, but confessional and evangelical groups might need something a bit more conservative.

        • I don’t have an NRSV, but I do like my old RSV and the ESV too, as far as I’ve seen of that one. Is the NRSV the one that has Jesus calling himself “the child of God” and therefore divorcing himself from the messianic meaning of the “son of man” of Daniel 7? If so, I would find that unforgivable too. Or which one is that?

          • Nope. The NRSV has “son of man” in the gospels OK, but waffles in Daniel 7, calling the messiah “one like a human being”. That breaks the link between Jesus and Daniel’s messiah, even though the context of Jesus’ statement is clear. In Mark 14:62, for example, he was referring to Daniel 7:13 while calling himself “son of man”, and the NRSV fails to make the connection. Beats me why that’s an improvement.

  13. David Cornwell says:

    I don’t have as many Bibles as I did in the old days. When in seminary I ended up with a plethora of translations and “types” of bibles that I thought I needed for getting through my days. One I remember was the ASV loose leaf edition of the NT (don’t remember the OT part of it, if there was one). Anyway it could be placed in a binder and jottings, notes, opinions, analysis, etc could be written in the wide margins. This was important for the holy grail of seminary English Bible study, the “inductive method.” Later it was also useful when inductive flowed into a classes in exegisis.

    I’ve had my favorites through the years, but the one I’m settled on now is a heavy “NRSV Notetaker’s Bible with the Apocrypha” (copyrighted). Lined side margins make writing easy, although a pen that does not leak through the thin page is necessary, my pick being a Sharpie fine.

    With deep regrets I’ve had to thin out my library before my last two moves since retirement. Some of my Bibles had to go. However I just noticed the other day that my books are building up again and need to be reorganized.

    I too have early memories of Bible stories and the picture’s illustratng them. These were in the Methodist churches that I grew up in. The teachers were faithful in their teaching and understanding. No one called them “fairy tales” or myths. They were allowed mostly to stand on their own feet and speak their own truth to a small child.

    Before I forget: Welcome to Mule. I live in Amish country, and see so many mules tied up near the barns. But here no one will tie you up, at least not yet!

  14. Phil M. says:

    In most Evangelical circles, it seems the NIV is still one the most popular translations.

    I think if the leadership of a church like the AoG issues some statement that they think all their churches should use a certain translation, many people in the denomination would go against for out of spite alone. I think it’s sometimes difficult for people in mainline or more historic denomination to grasp the amount of autonomy that exists in these churches. Many people in these churches have an automatic distrust for what they perceive as top-down for what they perceive a styles of leadership.

    • This is most certainly true. But such churches don’t use creeds or lectionaries either, much for the same reason. This is one example of why I despise congregational autonomy.

      • David Cornwell says:

        For sure, and sometimes they organize “daughter” churches and most always end up with a Papa to make sure they stay in line and dispense discipline.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Sometimes the Papa even gets broadcast into giant telescreens onstage instead of local “daughter” pulpits so the Presbyters/Franchisees can’t preach anything that might conflict with Papa’s Dogma Ex Cathedra.

  15. Unfortunately there is probably no ‘neutral’ translation Protestants could agree on. There is too much theology in translations, since the translations always reflect the theology of the translators. For example the NIV translates Rom. 1:17 as ‘a righteousness from God’ (genitive of source), clearly reflecting a Lutheran/Reformed theology, even though grammatically it is very unlikely to be a genitive of source (these are quite rare in the NT [per Daniel Wallace]) and almost certainly a subjective genitive (‘God’s justifying/saving action’) or more likley an objective genitive (‘God’s righteous character’). Most other translations leave it as ‘righteousness of God’ and let the reader figure it out (which is probably the best way to translate, but we English readers can’t always figure out Greek idioms and complex grammatical ideas [like subjective and objective genitives], so the translators have to make a decision on how to translate the verse, often reflecting theology).

    It would be nice to see a good, modern public domain Bible that is as ecumenical as possible (even that would probably be reason for some not to read it!). But I think we’ll just have to settle for the new ‘Seventh Grade Girls Who Want to Be Cheerleaders in High School But Might Have to Settle for PomPom Girls Extreme Study Bible’.

  16. Mule, greetings! Are you familiar with EOB: The Eastern Greek Orthodox New Testament? If so do you have any comments or opinions?

    My creed fits on a dog tag which I wear in case my remains are discovered a thousand years from now. Or ten thousand. But it might not be needed then depending on how the Millennium works itself out in the relative world. Could you write something about “the harrowing of Hades”?

    • Thank you Charles, but that is so far above my pay grade. I am going to do a layman’s ramble through the Creed later, so I will be confronted with that. I hope I can do that lineof the Creed justice.

      For any Orthodox-specific information, I have suggested that inquirers betake themselves to Father Stephen Freeman’s excellent blog, Glory To God For All Things, and even Fr. Stephen kicks this particular ball upfield to Met. Hilarion Alfeyev.

      I have heard of the Greeks’ answer to the Antiochians’ Orthodox Study Bible. There is something going on there into which it is probably not salutatory for me to inquire. It is better for me to obey my ESV Bible that to have one with all the imprimaturs and be proud of it.

      It is a wonderful thing to go to a Greek church and follow along with the readings in my Majority Text NT. Language isn’t language until it’s oral.

      PS If anybody knows where to find a copy of the Spanish Reina Valera Bible that contains the Apocrypha. The Nacar-Colunga Spanish Bible is very, very good, but it does not attain to the heights of the RV. If you could imagine someone with the poetic gifts of Pablo Neruda translating the Psalms, that is a great deal what the RV is like. But when it comes to anti-Catholicism, Spanish Evangelicals can make Ian Paisley look like Chuck Colson.

      • Mule, my Spanish isn’t strong enough to be sure, but I think this site sells it: http://www.valera1865.org/

        • Alas, I am familiar with this lot. They are reacting against a group of KJV-only zealots who want to replace the beloved Reina Valera with a Spanish translation of the English King James text. Spiritual colonialism at its worst.

          They don;t publish any Bibles wit the Apocrypha. I think los anglicanos may be my best chance.

  17. I own all kinds of Bibles. You name it I probably have it. When I attend Church services I carry the one that will be read from. I cannot understand why someone would want this, for lack of a better word, “regulated”. In this country we are blessed to be able to obtain a Bible of any translation, etc that we please and I like that. I like that very much! The Bible is a very precious book whatever the translation. I know, there will be arguments over this and that and that will always be, so why don’t we get on to better things other than trying to do something that harms the liberty of being a follower of Jesus.

  18. haifisch says:

    Agreed, the concept of Light in the Scriptures is quite intriguing. One verse comes to mind, and I occasionally get shivers up and down my back when I read it or hear it.

    Isaiah 9:2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

    I don’t know exactly why that verse means so much to me, but it does, for whatever reason.

    Bis wir sehen uns im Himmel!

    –haifisch

    • It is indeed a beautiful verse. Perhaps one of the reasons that it has such resonance is that we dwell in the land of the shadow of death.

  19. Robert F says:

    I love the music and poetry of the Authorized Version; it certainly was translated by highly literate men who had enormous poetic sensitivity, and so it is one of the great works of English literary expression, a marvel and treasure. But I think that precisely because it is such a literary jewel, it is undercuts an important aspect of the original manuscripts from which we get our English New Testament, because the Greek used in the original composition of the New Testament was not a great literary language, and these documents were not written in a high literary style. The Greek used to write the original New Testament documents was a coarse and degraded Greek denuded of much of the beauty and power of the language used by the older classical Greek culture; it did not have the internal music of the language that Homer and Thucydides used, and was most suited for facilitating the commerce and trade of the Roman Empire. So the Authorized Version misrepresented the tone and art of the originals by rendering such a sublime translation. My own suspicion is that this literary misrepresentation of style could not but also have led to a theological misapprehension for those of us who inherited the influence of the Authorized Version, since literary form effects substance and meaning. Perhaps the identification of high literary style with aristocratic values led to a too great emphasis on the analogy between God’s Kingship and the prerogatives of human aristocracy, and shortchanged the compassionate “bending down” and kenosis involved in Christ’s Incarnation, wherein he identified not with royalty and nobility but with the lowly and despised.

  20. Robert F says:

    So Mule, would you say that the light you experienced while reading the Bible is like the light of hesychasm? Hence your reference early in the the post to Tabor?

  21. Wow. I’ve been around the church a long time, and read lots and lots of material about lots and lots of things, but have never until now encountered the issue of copyrighted Bibles. Fasicinating, thanks Mule!

  22. Robert F says:

    It’s precisely the mystery that you refer to in John 3:19, why some love the light and others don’t, that inclines some of us to lend credence to monergim.

  23. Robert F says:

    Make that “monergism.”

    • Yah yah yah…
      For me, it’s turtles all the way down. 🙂

      from Calvin, the first words in his Institutes:

      “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid
      Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and
      of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is
      not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the
      other.”

      • Robert F says:

        Are you saying that Calvin really espoused synergism? Highly irregular, Mule, Highly irregular.

        • petrushka1611 says:

          Wisdom is a beast very different from regeneration.

          (Now we’ll see if this comment gets eaten like my other one did….)

          • Robert F says:

            But there is a wisdom concerning the nature of regeneration, and since the quote from Calvin highlights the mysterious character of all understanding concerning where the knowledge of God ends and the knowledge of the human begins, I thought he was trying to expose a vein of synergism in Calvin’s thought to make his point.

  24. Robert F says:

    I did say “inclines,” not “decides”; and I have to confess it only inclines me sometimes.

  25. Christiane says:

    speaking of ‘the Light’ in sacred Scripture,
    this hymn comes to mind: one of the earliest hymns of Christianity extant the Bible ‘the Phos Hilaron’

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&feature=related&hl=iw&v=uFU3LojPuM4

    “Gentle Light of the Holy Glory
    of the Immortal and Heavenly Father
    Holy and Blessed O Jesus Christ

    Having come to the setting of the sun
    Beholding the Light of evening
    We sing to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
    God

    Thou art worthy at every moment
    To be praised in hymns by reverent voices
    O Son of God, Giver of Life
    All the world glorifies Thee”

    • Damaris says:

      I love that hymn, Christiane! With Mule and haifisch I find the image of light very poignant. “lighten out darkness, we beseech thee” is one of my favorite prayers in the BCP, too.

  26. Susannah says:

    Mule, welcome. I know what you mean about the Light. But for me it’s a different change in sensory perception. When my eyes are closed in prayer, on occasion, my ears and other senses indicate realistically that the room is far larger than I know it to be, and the air has a different weight. It’s a bit like I’m suspended in water. I think of the verse, “he has brought me to a broad place”. The boundaries of self get pretty blurry.

    Since I went and looked up the rest of that verse just now, I now know that the phrase “broad place” is straight-up KJV, the translation that speaks least to me these days. Then again, I’ve been turning to The Message, so pray for me. 🙂 I had a long season with the AMP, but when I try to read it now, it’s overly associated with the questionable theology of my former church. I suppose that’s one argument for keeping multiple translations in print. If one of them gets imprinted with a damaging time in your walk, another might be your path back.

  27. dumb ox says:

    How about the World English Bible? It is a derivative of the for-mentioned ASV, but easier to read than the NASB. It is public domain and available in multiple versions, including EPUB.

    My favorite is still the 1966 Jerusalem Bible. I don’t think it is a perfect translation, but it is a joy to read, unlike the NASV or the ESV, which read like a DVD player instruction manual.

  28. I don’t recall the maker, but my grandmother had a Living Bible that was olive green with a cushioned hard back. She was an uneducated woman, and liked it’s simple use of language. One day when I was a child, I was flipping through the book and my eyes landed on the words “son of a bitch”. I am pushing 50 years now, and still recall the passage…1 Samuel 20:30 …and Saul boiled with rage, “You son of a bitch!”. In most modern bibles I read the same as “you son of a perverse and rebellious woman”.
    Funny the things we remember.

    • dumb ox says:

      I love the original Living Bible. The way it translates Jesus’ choice words for the pharisees is equally graphic.

  29. Werther says:

    If you find the old Catholic tradition of adding to, or substracting from, the number of years in purgatory to be ridiculous, then well, the Pedalion (the Rudder, a major source of Orthodox canon law) prescribes 2 years’ penance for masturbation. Those add up, you know!

    What about the New Jerusalem Bible? (A scholarly Catholic translation.)

  30. Mule, I have seen that same light when I was a child (an unbeliever at that) I saw it in the illustrations of Bible stories in a multi volume children’s encyclopedia, and in religious art in the homes of some Catholic friends of the family.. Also the first time I saw the movie ‘The Ten Commandments. I still remember the sense of awe and reverence evoked in me when I saw those pictures and that movie.