Monday, 6 October 2014

A Bible for all Seasons and Reasons

I wandered through the local Christian book store this morning and paused - as I usually do in that establishment - to see what Bible translations and editions they had in stock. One caught my eye called the "Poverty and Justice Bible." It uses they dubious CEB translation but, thought I to myself, at least it seems to be have a more worthwhile focus than the usual gaggle of self-indulgently themed Bibles.

A quick flick through revealed that someone - presumably several someones - had gone through the text with a red highlighter in the pre-publishing stage. If it said something commendable it got the treatment.

I respect the intent of the editors who, to give them the benefit of the doubt, surely see this as more than another cynical marketing ploy to get a bigger slice of the lucrative Bible-buying market. If you are going to buy a Bible, why not get one pre-marked with meritorious admonitions to do good unto others. You could certainly do far worse.

Then again, you could go through the Good Book armed with a highlighter and far less praiseworthy intentions. Is a "Genocide and Violence Bible" conceivable? Sadly, yes. In fact it would be no great effort to do so. In this vast collection of ancient texts you can always cherry pick your way to show almost anything. For too many preachers the Bible functions as a smorgasbord of potential proof texts. The effect is that the scriptures merely function as a kind of sophisticated sock puppet.

So I left the book on the shelf. I hope whoever ends up buying it will indeed be inspired in the pursuit for justice and compassion. But the quest for a fairer, better world for all needs little validation from the Bible. As history shows us in distressing detail, it is Bible-readers who all too often simply get in the way.

1 comment:

  1. In the Old Testament it is the Jews who were chosen to show the rest of the world how to live a righteous life. In the New Testament it is the Christians who are chosen to show the rest of the world how to live a righteous life. Both have done a piss poor job of that assignment. Gone from the minds of Christians are the ideas of compassion, justice and mercy for the poor. Yep, that all ended when Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome. That's when religious oppression began for the western world and it still hasn't ended - but, it will!