Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Many of Us Have Read It?

I just read a fascinating article about how our Christianity in America has little to do with the Bible.  In the past I have questioned exactly how many people have taken to heart some of the new testament teachings of giving all they have to the poor.  When asked, my conservative father (one set of vows from being a monk) slid around the issue by discussing works vs. faith.  

So how many of us have read the bible through?  I admit to always skipping over the begats and moving again and again to the new testament, which is blessedly shorter than what comes before.  But estimates that the majority of Christians have not read the bible are very troubling.  Especially for the group that sees the Bible as the literal word of God (my too clever response is always "which translation?").  If I truly hung on every word as God's, I think I would have committed whole sections to memory and read through the whole every year.  As it is, at one time I knew the variations of the four gospels. 

When I look at Amazon for the holy bible, I get seventeen thousand books.  Somehow that does not lend itself to a single text, but rather a multitude of translations.  Many of these are not true to the original Greek.  I remember an extensive argument with a Baptist pastor over the meaning of second Timothy.  The Greek text differentiated between an overbearing person and someone who acted in a teaching capacity.  The English translation we were using did not.  At stake was whether women could teach Sunday school. 
I love the King James version, but I know full well that the translators went for the poetry of the work, not the literal translation.  It's still my favorite.  Second would be those texts that give Jesus' actual words in red. 

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