01 September 2006

Things Doubtful

Hmmm ... how to dig oneself out of the hole one dug with the shovel of impertinence and the hoe of whimsy. Should one? Perhaps the hole exists only in the mind of the digger.

And then, again, I made a few rather extreme statements regarding the Bible in an earlier post and I'm feeling a bit rueful about it. I was feeling my oats. Rather like a yearling in the spring oats as it were; playful, silly and without regard for any consequences. And, well, this is my blog. I can be playful, silly and not have regard for the consequences should I so choose. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead. However, I would probably say that what I wrote earlier was rather, um, skeletal and I'd like to flesh it out a little.

So, thanks to Brother Maynard, I have been thinking a bit about the different translations of the Bible and how I use them, their relative importance and what I think about them. One of the things I think is that most folks are too attached to their particular translation. This probably makes me a heretic of some sort or other. I think that one of the best things since sliced bread is Bible Gateway. You can read the Bible in all the different translations and just about any language too; even Swahili (I think). I love being able to compare and contrast translations to ferret out meaning. I'm not choosy when it comes to translations. For myself (when I use an actual hard copy version of the Bible), I use a side-by-side that has The Message by Eugene Peterson on one page and the NASB on the facing page. We have all versions here in the house, from King James (which I insisted on early in my faith walk because I loved the arcane language) the the New Living Bible (from LightHusband's childhood. We have a Gideon's (inadvertently brought home from a hotel once), a couple of NIV's, and everything in between. I even picked up a NKJV from some people giving them away on the street when we were on vacation this summer. LightHusband said I was stealing. I maintained they were giving them away with no strings attached. I wanted it to look some things up and sometimes you just want to hold the hard copy in your hands to do that.

Which brings me to my next point. It is good to have a hard copy to read. I believe the Bible is meant to be ingested in large chunks; in chapters or books at a time. Don't read little bits. Get the big picture. It's difficult to do that on a computer screen. Well, it's difficult for me to do that on a computer screen. When I'm reading a book for the sake of reading I prefer to have the hard copy in my hands. It is more real for some reason. I like to remember that it is, after all, a story; the story of God's interaction with His creation. It's how She has chosen to record that interaction. It is limited by our limitations. He is God and we are human. So there are some things that remain mysterious and inexplicable. It is, when all is said and done, a leap of faith, not reason.

I'm not too picky about which version I read. Although I no longer care to do the work involved to pick my way through the briars of the King James. I'm not picky about which version anyone reads. I think the important thing is that in the reading one finds their way towards God. I'm not particular about the version because, for instance the Gospels are a translation of stories that were originally spoken in Aramaic, written down in Greek, and the originals were lost. What now exists are about a 5th or 6th generation codex translated from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English. Or ... Greek to English. This doesn't sound as if it should cause too many problems. And, yet, it does. I've run smack into the issues it causes. The Greeks have several different words they use for "head." In English there is only one. This difference is the primary reason that women have been kept out of ministry for 2,000 years. For another great example please read this wonderful, short post on the issues caused when something gets lost in translation.

I want to apologize for being so impertinent about a pillar of the faith in my earlier post. I was being fairly intentional about it because I think that recently too many people behave as if God is bound up within the pages of their particular translation. That She will be contained within a book, and can be completely known by ferreting out codes held in Scripture. They have forgotten the bigness and majesty of the universe and worry instead about jots and tittles. Which version of the Bible is proper, whether or not women preach, who is and is not allowed in the church or to lead, what foods to eat, what clothes to wear; all fall under the heading of grace. They are all "things doubful." We cannot know for certain the mind of God. We must grant each other the charity that we wish for ourselves.


Blogger Paddy O. said...

The book of Acts and all the epistles tell us that even when there was not a New Testament, but instead the very people who Jesus himself chose were telling the Story in person, all sorts of arguments took place. In fact we wouldn't have a New Testament except for the fact all sorts of people took to arguing about what it meant even then, when each person was a native Greek speaker.

Your last sentence is what is important. We all have views and we all have opinions and we all, if we commit to Christ, have the Spirit who teaches us all things.

So, with this all we need humility, so that when we do face God I think we'll be better off saying we were loving and kind and charitable, rather than bossy, and obnoxious and wrong about those things we thought we were so right about.

9/01/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Israel said...

I agree with paddy o. and lightWoman

9/02/2006 09:47:00 AM  

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