Leah for Rachel

By Diogenes (articles) | Jun 24, 2004

Dom cites a BBC story on the latest updating of the Bible, this by a former Baptist minister. The quotes given in the article -- clearly chosen to be provocative -- are patently goofy. Thus 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 is rendered

There's nothing wrong with remaining single, like me. But if you know you have strong needs, get yourself a partner. Better than being frustrated.

Goodbye, St. Paul. Hello Doctor Ruth.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is quoted as fervidly enthusiastic about the version -- in fact the story is framed in terms of his approval: "Canterbury backs updated Bible." It's hard to know how seriously to take this. On one hand, Williams has been under considerable stress and may not be entirely master of himself -- cf. the weirdly-expressed wish that the translation "spread in epidemic profusion through religious and irreligious alike". On the other hand, he is notorious for assuming flagrantly contradictory poses from one day to the next, depending on the exigencies of the moment, and is no stranger to academic hyperbole. Next week -- who knows? -- he may be defending the perpetual virginity of the Authorised Version.

Catholics are in no position to look on in smug detachment as the Church of England goes Bahai-bye. We're walking more slowly down the same path. The Irish (Catholic) bishops have effectively censored by Bible by providing "pastoral" alternative lectionary readings that omit the tough bits of St. Paul; and the Revised New American Bible, especially the Psalms, is a rad-fem makeover of the sacred text.

Most forward-thinking ecclesiastics, of course, smile at the notion of a "sacred text." For them the books of Scripture communicate not God's word, but man's evolving experience of himself. The texts serve as a series of Rorschach ink-blots at which each successive generation stares and comes to find transiently meaningful shapes that express its own unconscious desires. Where the viewer retains some lingering piety, he finds traces of God; where he doesn't, he finds ... Doctor Ruth. You want to know why the Church got this rendering of Galatians? Don't study the use of the ingressive aorist in St. Paul, ask Bishop O'Brien's parole officer.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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