The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language
September 18, 2008 3:54 PM   Subscribe

"At least once in your life you should read the Bible all the way through because it does not say what you expect it to say, no matter what you expect it to say. Here is the translation of the Bible you want to read: The Message. This new street-wise paraphrase is looser than a translation and so irks purists. But it is storming Christian campuses and youth groups with its boldness, readability, and strong vernacular. Translated by one amazing guy, it's as far from old King James as one can imagine. For those who find the Bible warmed-over old news, The Message is like reading it for the first time. --KK" (full text) posted by vronsky (160 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did he change the ending?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:01 PM on September 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah turns out we all die happily ever after
posted by mannequito at 4:02 PM on September 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


I wholeheartedly encourage all Americans, especially Christians, to read the Bible.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:04 PM on September 18, 2008 [17 favorites]


I prefer my spiritual matter in comic book form.
posted by GuyZero at 4:06 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Someone gave me that version in middle school. Jesus says things like, "Beat it, Satan."

Upon completion I realized I still didn't believe, but I preferred the more classic English translations for the artistic value.
posted by olinerd at 4:06 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


On one hand, I feel like every translation has the potential to add perspective and maybe even understanding.

On the other hand, sometimes it sure can seem vernacular can rob poetry.
posted by weston at 4:08 PM on September 18, 2008


So, just to be clear, is this or is this not the immutable word of god? I don't like to take chances.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:08 PM on September 18, 2008 [18 favorites]


Also, To Milton.
posted by weston at 4:08 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Probably not a real translation from the original texts - just a rehash of other English translations, in a "modern" vernacular. From the examples I read - crude, clumsy, and obviously one person's reinterpretation of what it "really means." At least with the King james version, you the reader have some room to interpret and enjoy the beauties of Elizabethan English. This book, ignoring the subject matter, reads like some old guy's idea of how the youth of today speak. Junk.
posted by njohnson23 at 4:09 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Message Bible : now :: The Good News Bible : the 70's

And that's not saying anything good about the Message Bible.
posted by dersins at 4:09 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't like to take chances.

Learn Greek.
posted by GuyZero at 4:09 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]




Yeah well I was hoping to hear more of a discussion on the qualities of his translation rather than on the veracity of the Bible. Someone gave me a copy of this several years ago and told me it was worth reading and I inwardly rolled my eyes and chucked it on my bookpile, never even picking it up. A few months ago I started to flip through it and although uneven, I thought parts were really well done. So I turned to the cover page and all of a sudden realized who Eugene Peterson was -- I roomed with his son when I was in college! Never met Dr. Peterson, but he really did have a wonderful reputation.
posted by vronsky at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


(Psalm 23:4) Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

Looks like they were infiltrated by Mormons.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Is this the Lord Buckley version?
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:13 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


>>because it does not say what you expect it to say

I expected the book of Joshua to be about genocide, and it is, no matter how you translate it.

A new translation can't put a nice face on killing children because of your faith.
posted by SaintCynr at 4:13 PM on September 18, 2008 [10 favorites]


I don't like to take chances.

Paging dr. pascal, dr. pascal there is a non-gambler that would like to see you.

Also, I prefer my bibles without miracles
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:14 PM on September 18, 2008


MetaFilter: have you ever seen color and design quite like it?
posted by Wolfdog at 4:16 PM on September 18, 2008


The movie was better.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:20 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.
So I got up, went out and roved the city,
hunting through streets and down alleys.
I wanted my lover in the worst way!
R'n'Bible
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:20 PM on September 18, 2008


Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:20 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'll say it. Fuck the bible!
posted by newfers at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


And Jesus said, "Hey man, you are really harshing my buzz."
posted by Mr_Zero at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I prefer the unabridged original version by S. Morgenstern.
posted by stavrogin at 4:24 PM on September 18, 2008 [12 favorites]


From Leviticus, "Message" version: God spoke to Moses and Aaron: "Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When a man has a discharge from his genitals, the discharge is unclean. Whether it comes from a seepage or an obstruction he is unclean. He is unclean all the days his body has a seepage or an obstruction.

I do like getting pre-enlightenment advice in an easier-to-read format.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:24 PM on September 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?

Well, kinda
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2008


you wanna know "how far from old king james you can get"? come over here and stand next to me.
posted by kitchenrat at 4:27 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, what about my translation of ancient alchemy texts, The Philosopher's Hairy Stones: A Streetwise Guide to Alchemy, and Phlogiston the Essence of Fire?

In hip modern language, it vaguely explains how to transmute lead into gold, how a secret force causes fire, and how the stars and planets are fixed to great crystal spheres that rotate through an invisible substance called 'ether'.

I mean, it's still fathomless crap with no basis other than wishful thinking and no predictive power, but the buncombe and cant is restated in bold, easily readable declarative sentences.
posted by orthogonality at 4:30 PM on September 18, 2008 [28 favorites]


Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?

It never did. It just said that it's open season on them if you're a killing mood. Doesn't matter if they're christian or not.
posted by tkolar at 4:32 PM on September 18, 2008


I have some sympathy for irked purist - "what if essential Biblical concepts are not part of our everyday conversation" is a worthwhile question. However, he acts as if The Message is a translation of the New International Version into modern language, rather than a retranslation from the Greek.
I would be interested in seeing The Message disputed on those grounds, but that would require irked guy to consider that maybe his translation of God's immutable holy word is subject to the same vagaries as kung fu movies, so I'm not expecting that anytime soon.
posted by smartyboots at 4:33 PM on September 18, 2008


At least once in your life you should read the Bible all the way through because it does not say what you expect it to say

2 Kings 2:23-24
Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

Deuteronomy 23:1
No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Ezekiel 23:19-20
Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. She lusted after their genitals – as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions.

1 Timothy 2:12
Do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

Etc.
posted by plexi at 4:34 PM on September 18, 2008 [25 favorites]


Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?

Sure, Leviticus does. Leviticus also says to avoid shellfish, that men must not trim the hair from the sides of their heads, and that having sex with a woman on her period is grounds for banishment. Funny how you don't hear evangelicals railings against crab cakes, though. Also funny how Jesus seemed to have forgotten to tell people not to be gay.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:35 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is kind of hokey. If you want a scholarly and easy to read translation I suggest that you stick with the NIV.
posted by caddis at 4:37 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Savannah 85:1) This you know, the years travel fast.
And time after time, I've done the Tell.
But this ain't one 'body's Tell. It's the Tell of us all.
And you gotta listen it, and 'member, 'cuz what you hears today,
You gotta tell the newborn tomorrow.

(6-12) I was lookin' behind us now. Into history, back.
I see those of us that got the luck
And started the haul for home.
And I 'members how it led us here
And how we was heartful 'cuz we'd seen what there once was.
One look, and we knew we'd got it straight.
Those who had gone before had the knowin'
And doin' of things beyond our reckonin'.
Even beyond our dreamin'.

(13-16) Time counts and keeps countin'.
And we knows now, finding the trick of what's been
And lost ain't no easy ride. But that's our track.
We gotta travel it, and there ain't nobody
Knows where it's gonna lead.

(17-19) Still, in all, every night we does the Tell,
So that we 'member who we was, and where we came from.
But most of all, we 'members the man who finded us,
Him that came the salvage.
And we lights the city, not just for him,
But for all of them that are still out there,
'cuz we knows, there'll come a night
When they sees the distant light,
And they'll be comin' home.

(20) Then we can stone them and take their gas.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:37 PM on September 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


"If a man has sex with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is abhorrent. They must be put to death; they are responsible for their own deaths."

Come on, Steve, you're responsible for your own death. Quit shirking and go do it already!
posted by cereselle at 4:40 PM on September 18, 2008


Why would anyone want to get as far away from the King James translation as imaginable? It's some of the finest English ever written. More than that, it helped shape English.

I looked at a few sections - dull, leaden prose. He took a work that soars and made it plod. Where's the resonance? And I don't mean the cultural associations that have come since publication, but rather the network of thoughts and images inherent in the text. That's almost always an impossible distinction to make, but see below and it's evident.

From "For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." to "You're in charge!".

I think he lost something there, maybe a lot of somethings.
posted by BigSky at 4:42 PM on September 18, 2008 [13 favorites]


Still TL:DR
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:43 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Chester Brown does comic-strip stories from a couple of gospels in the back of some issues of Yummy Fur that are good (and read similarly).
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:46 PM on September 18, 2008


You keep quoting that book. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:47 PM on September 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah well I was hoping to hear more of a discussion on the qualities of his translation rather than on the veracity of the Bible.

It's kind of 'inside baseball' though, isn't it? I mean, if you're not really into the Bible, choosing a translation is kind of a moot point. "I find the language of the Bible out of step with modern diction and nomenclature" is sort of the "I need to wash my hair" of excuses to not attend church. it's not the real reason. I know religious people are really into getting more people into it - well, Christians are at any rate, a lot of religious groups don't proselytize - but it's like adding another flavour of ice cream to your dairy bar at the Lactose Intolerance convention. It isn't the chocolate or vanilla part that people have an issue with. Beyond debating whether the translations from the Greek or Aramic (or whatever the original texts are written in) are accurate I have no idea why rank and file Christians really care about this.

it does not say what you expect it to say, no matter what you expect it to say

I will agree with that. Of the very few people I know who decided to read the Bible stem-to-stern they all regularly expressed surprise at what they were reading. Not outrage or upset surprise, just stuff they didn't know was in there.
posted by GuyZero at 4:47 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?

In the interest of pedantry: sinners and heathens are two very different things.

Heathens, depending on who uses the term, do not worship the abrahamic god or do not worship adhere to a particular faith's creed. Atheists, pagans, hindus, etc., are "heathens". Being a heathen is about belief, or a lack thereof.

Being a sinner, on the other hand, is about wrong actions or thoughts.

Heathens may be considered sinners, but not all sinners are de facto heathens.
posted by CKmtl at 4:49 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is from Romans.

"The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God's Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master..."

The way this reads in the modern version, it now sounds more like opposition research on Jesus if he were running for President of the United States.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:51 PM on September 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


King James is great when its great, but if you read it all the way through, you will find yourself more often than not up to your knees in gobbledy-gook. Sometimes, those translators were just winging it. The New English Bible is a fresh, intelligent translation, and all we'll probably need for about the next 40 years.
posted by Faze at 4:53 PM on September 18, 2008


"Heathens" also spells "heat hens,' so I just imagine the non-believers as sweaty poultry.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Heathens may be considered sinners, but not all sinners are de facto heathens.

And if you're into Dante, heathens go into the outer reaches of Hell with the rest of the unbaptized. Sinners get the good stuff.

To me the Master good: "Thou dost not ask
What spirits these, which thou beholdest, are?
Now will I have thee know, ere thou go farther,

That they sinned not; and if they merit had,
'Tis not enough, because they had not baptism
Which is the portal of the Faith thou holdest;

And if they were before Christianity,
In the right manner they adored not God;
And among such as these am I myself.

For such defects, and not for other guilt,
Lost are we and are only so far punished,
That without hope we live on in desire."

Inferno, Canto IV
posted by GuyZero at 4:56 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am partial to Da Jesus Book, myself.
posted by everichon at 4:57 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the "irks purists" link:

The ancient message behind role-playing magic

"I was taught in ritual magick how to go to different planes of existence outside the physical body," continued Peter.

However, get this:

The characters birthed by Tolkien's imagination fit right in. That's why the first generation of mythmakers and technopagans would masquerade as wizards, hobbits, dwarves and other Middle Earth characters during the pioneering years of computer conventions. [...]

It makes sense. “The makers of D&D were trained in euro magic -- all the elements of the medieval craft, same as Tolkien," says Peter.


I can picture it: Technopagans leaving their convent(ion) at night to train in euro pop.
posted by ersatz at 4:58 PM on September 18, 2008


(Psalm 23:4) Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

That's terrible. My preferred translation:


1 Ceiling Cat iz mai sheprd (which is funni if u knowz teh joek about herdin catz LOL.)
He givz me evrithin I need.

2 He letz me sleeps in teh sunni spot
an haz liek nice waterz r ovar thar.

3 He makez mai soul happi
an maeks sure I go teh riet wai for him. Liek thru teh cat flap insted of out teh opin windo LOL.

4 I iz in teh valli of dogz, fearin no pooch,
bcz Ceiling Cat iz besied me rubbin' mah ears, an it maek me so kumfy.

5 He letz me sit at teh taebl evn when peepl who duzint liek me iz watchn.
He givz me a flea baff an so much gooshy fud it runz out of mai bowl LOL.

6 Niec things an luck wil chase me evrydai.
posted by Justinian at 4:58 PM on September 18, 2008 [25 favorites]


A blog post recommending The Message is not Best of the Web in my humble opinion, but "The English Versions of Scripture" is... Here's their writeup on The Message. There you'll also find that The Message, by the way is not new, but rather, the New Testament portion was published in 1991 and the complete Bible in 2002.

The Message is the very definition of "warmed-over old news"... having been merely paraphrased and repackaged.
posted by Jahaza at 4:59 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Everything you need to know about Biblical teaching is readily available at Back of the Bible.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:03 PM on September 18, 2008


Can't remember where I heard this, but wasn't the King James deliberately archaic when it was written? As in, the locals had already stopped using thou and shalt and so on in everyday conversation, so those phrases seemed to be reaching way into the past, in a timeless way.
posted by kersplunk at 5:04 PM on September 18, 2008


Ha, my hardcore Methodist grandfather gave me a copy of that book some years ago. Maybe he thought it would have more hip youth appeal than the myriad other religious literature foisted on me over the years. He must not have actually read it. That's ok, I didn't either.
posted by gueneverey at 5:04 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read the whole Bible cover to cover when I was 12. It was really, really boring. Lots of "begats" and "thou shalt nots" - have they made it more interesting yet?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2008


"Hey, you sass that hoopy Jesus of Nazareth? He always said it would be great to be nice to people for a change. There's a frood who really knows where his towel is, even when he's been nailed to a tree."
posted by christopherious at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


Well, for all intents and purposes, if a book still says my gay friends are sinners/heathens/what have you and this translation is still being used to recruit youth toward that line of thinking, then it's fair to say I won't exactly spend even 3 dollars on the thing.

Now, as for translation issues, I actually find the King James bible rather beautiful as a translation. Sadly most of the enjoyment I get out of reading the bible comes from the archaic language itself, updating it for modern translation is like, I dunno, updating the cheesiness out of old 70s kung fu.

That being said, I find it tremendous fun to update Shakespeare into modern language (some I consider much more sacred than Jesus mind you) and yet that may be a modern secular taboo for literature enthusiasts.

I call it the personal double standard.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:06 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Message Bible really sounds vile. I agree with the comparison of the Living Word Bible from the seventies. I've seen it, and it's similarly unreadable.

I wholeheartedly encourage all Americans, especially Christians, to read the Bible.

Me too. I come from a fundie background, and went to a Christian school (where we used the NIV and were expected to switch to the KJV as we got older). I'm an agnostic now, and embarrassed to think what a little true believer I was back in the day, but I've never regretted my resulting in-depth knowledge of the Bible. It frustrates the living shit out of a true believers when you not only know more about the Bible than them but can use it to subvert their arguments. And to make jokes.

Once some years back my nieces and nephews were going to an alternative Halloween party at their church, costumed as Bible characters. My sister and I were getting right into making suggestions: Salome with John the Baptist's head on a platter, Jael with a spike, Judas with a bag of 40 quarters, Bathsheba in a bath towel, or, best of all, Adam and Eve, because that wouldn't require any costuming whatsoever. My sister-in-law did not appreciate our suggestions. Evidently there's some kind of unwritten rule that the kids were not to go dressed as the more unsavoury characters.
posted by orange swan at 5:06 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Does it still have that gay black guy in it?

Because he was fabulous. I really liked that guy.
posted by loquacious at 5:09 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really hate it when ancient religious texts are watered down to make them more "accessible". They're not accessible. They're not easy to understand. Many religious texts--the Bible especially--are written in ancient languages that we still have great difficulty translating, much less understanding and figuring out which ones are authentic and which ones may have been left out (or left in!) by religious men attempting to change the direction of their religion. Few religions are not complex, intricate creatures, whose texts and histories deserve years of study. The world would be a better place if religious leaders focused more on emphasizing the nuances and less on creating easy-to-digest soundbites.

If you are actually interested in the Bible, and the nuances of the Bible, and knowing brief tidbits about the difficulties of translating the Bible, I suggest you pick up the New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Thirty bucks. Jesus won't be telling Satan to "bite it", but you'll be better off for it.
posted by schroedinger at 5:13 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Based on the examples people have cited above, it looks like they spent quite a bit less time with old testament law than with the Jesus-ey parts. You can only make Leviticus sound so cool.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:14 PM on September 18, 2008


...it does not say what you expect it to say, no matter what you expect it to say.

No, actually, it kinda does. But maybe only if you've, like, ever gone to church.
posted by DU at 5:16 PM on September 18, 2008


Actually, as far as King James as I can imagine would be without all the Protestant slanders and lies.

No "Bible" that leaves out all account of the Archangel Raphael is anything but tripe.
posted by jock@law at 5:20 PM on September 18, 2008


I really hate it when ancient religious texts are watered down to make them more "accessible".

You know what else was watered down to make it more accessible? That's right: Watership Down.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:23 PM on September 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


From the Gospel of John, lolcat bible translation project:

25 Standinz by teh cross, watchins Jebus die, wuz Jebus's mudder, n his mudder's sister, n Mary Magdalene.26 An wen Jebus lookded down, n saw his most favoritest dissypel dat he luvd mostest standinz neer hiz mudder, he sed to his mudder, "Woman, behold your baby kitteh!"27 An he sed to his dissypel, "Look, der is ur new mudder. Srsly." And from den on, dose too peoples livded togedders.

[edit] It r finished
28 Naow dat Jebus knowd dat his werk wuz done, so dat teh scripchers wood turn owt rite, he sed "I r so thirsty... I can haz milk plz?"29 Der wuz a bottel of sowr milk dere, n teh meen peoplez dippded a spunge into it, an dey held teh spunge to Jebus's mout.30 Wen Jebus tasted dat sowr milk, he sed "it r finished" an he hung hiz hed, and he givded up hiz spirit.
posted by longsleeves at 5:23 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's their writeup on The Message...

(from the link)
In Acts 12:16 according to The Message the disciples were not only "amazed" when they saw Peter, they "went wild," which suggests an amusing scene of commotion that is not indicated in the original text. (At least they didn't go bananas!)

Ah, fisking the Message.
posted by GuyZero at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2008


Well, for all intents and purposes, if a book still says my gay friends are sinners/heathens/what have you

I think that depends mostly on the mindset of the reader.
posted by CKmtl at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can only make Leviticus sound so cool.

And Numbers. And Matthew 1:1-16.
posted by GuyZero at 5:25 PM on September 18, 2008


The Message Iliad, 1.1-7:

Hey goddess, tell me about how Achilles got mad. You know, Peleus' kid. I heard he put the hurt on mad Achaeans and kicked their asses to hell, and they got all eaten up by dogs and birds and shit. God wanted it that way, bro! It all started when the totally boss son of Atreus and gnarly Achilles got mega pissed off at each other...
posted by DaDaDaDave at 5:36 PM on September 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


The Message Moby Dick:

Hey, I'm Izzy. So, there was this fuckin' whale, dude...
posted by jonmc at 5:43 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also funny how Jesus seemed to have forgotten to tell people not to be gay.

even worse, he was as dangerously negligent when it came to ranting against the evils of abortion: he just didn't, period (or if he did, the gospel writers chose to avoid the subject. they must have all been closet NARAL supporters or something). abortion just wasn't a big deal -- if you actually caused a woman to abort, by beating her or something, you simply had to refund the monetary damage to the family property, it certainly wasn't considered murder. up to the Middle Ages, actually, abortion mostly wasn't that big a deal, theologically.

the one thing the historical Jesus really seems to have railed against was divorce (well, back then it wasn't really divorce the way we see it nowadays, it was simply the husband kicking the wife out, more often than not reducing her to abject poverty and forcing her into prostitution or indentured servitude). that, the Rabbi of Nazareth really couldn't stand -- to protect of course the weaker side, the woman.

abortion and gayness? not really. as much as the American Jesus invented by US fundamentalists is anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-rich, pro-war, and more or less silent on divorce, the Gospel themselves tell entirely another story. but then the American Right doesn't seem to have much use for an apocalyptic Jew who hated empires, occupations, the rich, the powerful, and didn't have much use for social order, even for families (and for non-Jews, actually) and was a victim of torture, of an imperial kangaroo court, and was unjustly put to death in one of history's most blatant cases of judicial error.

also, don't tell Christians that Christmas only appears in two Gospels, and don't tell Catholics that the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is mostly a minor character (Paul himself, the man who injected massive doses of hate for gays and women into Christianity, is unaware of the Virgin Birth narrative, basically because it hadn't been made up yet). Hence the hilarious debate, for the next two thousand years, on the conditions of that poor woman's hymen (Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic -- everybody has a different opinion on that poor woman's genitals).

not to mention, Jesus is really Yeshua, and Mary is Miriam -- but then we don't want the good Christians to think that God and His mother were Jews or something, you know what I mean.
posted by matteo at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2008 [55 favorites]


Well, for all intents and purposes, if a book still says my gay friends are sinners/heathens/what have you

I think that depends mostly on the mindset of the reader.


Well... yeah. That's a pretty well thought out approach for religious toleration of homosexuality... It's just I'd say that "well thought out approach" is something of a minority in the religious stance to being gay. With most Christians in America I find the absolutism in terms of actual dogma to be rather inflexible. It's like "what side is god on? against it? Okay, I'm against it". That statement is wholly unfair of course but it's more meant to categorize the "thought approach" given to the subject. By and large, the majority of Christians I find are rather respectful on a personal-interaction level. They honestly seem to practice that "judge not lest ye be judged" stuff, but the problem is they simply will not therefore take that concept toward their actual rationalization on the idea. They can't get beyond "The bible's against it in theory, so I have to be too."

It's weird, especially considering most Judeo studies of scripture not only acknowledge the complexities of their texts, but revel in it. Buddhism and Hinduism too.

I don't know... it's interesting.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2008


oh, and this translation is scandalously bad, by the way.
posted by matteo at 5:45 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not much new to see - it's still a bronze-age mythology dressed up in the latest fashion to try and make it seem relevant for the kids by people who don't have any idea what the kids find relevant these days.

Does any church ever stop doing this?

Does it ever work?
posted by Crosius at 5:48 PM on September 18, 2008


that, the Rabbi of Nazareth

OK, now I'm picturing a dude in a yarmulke sing "Hair Of The Dog." Thanks a lot.
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Genesis 6:2, 4: That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose...
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.


That bit always makes me think of Earth Girls Are Easy.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:49 PM on September 18, 2008


As someone who has translated parts of the NT from their original Koine Greek, I will agree that the bible is rarely interpreted as it was originally intended. In fact Christianity as we know it today is vastly different from what it meant to early Christians, pre-Aquinas Christians, Protestant Christians during the reformation, etc. I would go so far as to say even the idea of "God" is completely different than what it meant even several hundred years ago (for a thorough and very enjoyable read, I recommend Karen Armstrong's History of God).

In any case you sort of hit a Jurassic Park II paradox when reading a translation of the bible: you can't really observe something without disturbing it. Even if you sat down with a Greek->English dictionary and did a thorough translation, I'd doubt you'd come anywhere near understanding the original intent. Such is the case with many translations, but with a religion/philosophy in particular there is an extra effort required to make ourselves aware at least, if not entirely shed, our modern selves and the biases they bring. Islam sort of was able to sidestep this by the whole straight-to-DVD creation of the Quran. No half missing letters, no Q, no text lifted from another religion to fill in the front part, there it is bam. Some say this has lead to Islam being rigid and unable to adapt with modernity, but I don't think it is anywhere as neatly packaged at that.

Anyway, getting off topic, but from what I remember of reading parts of this, it was less about the bible and more about instilling American Evangelicalism, with its values, morality and culture. I mean it wasn't that bad, but it was no NJV. I'm sure it'll appeal to those kids who follow this whole Purpose Driven Life thing that I never got around to figuring out. I'll admit, I think it is rather shallow and superficial, but I admit that's sort of elitist and I'm bringing my own biases in. I'm sure at one time when the Protestants of Northern Europe started believing that wealth was not bad thing and if we made earth "like heaven" we'd bring about the end times (in a good way). Suddenly wealth was a religious imperative, and hard work was the new prayer. There was probably some monk in Rome watching this wondering if it was amateur hour because the crass English thought they could bring about God through increased trade.

In any case I also recommend Historia: Empiricism and Erudition in Early Modern Europe, which has really nothing to do with religion, but was given to me in one of my early Christianity courses as a way of thinking about history and primary documents. Sort of like when they give you A People's History of the United States and you go "oh shit," well that with Karen Armstrong's book will give you a good understanding of these things. Even if you don't take away anything else, you'll realize that from 500-1600 wasn't some sort of dead time in intellectualism where everyone's biggest concern was how they would avoid hell.
posted by geoff. at 5:53 PM on September 18, 2008 [42 favorites]


I really hate it when ancient religious texts are watered down to make them more "accessible". They're not accessible. They're not easy to understand.

Really good point. For me one of the most frustrating things is the idea that I will probably never understand the culture in which the texts were produced -- I get frequent glances that convince me I don't really understand the U.S. culture 60 years ago that produced my parents, and I have a lot of advantages if I wanted to reach back there that I'll never have if I want to get inside the mind of someone who lived 2000-4000 years ago in a land I've never been to.

I recognize scholarship can help fill in gaps here, and for that I'm grateful and interested, but I really doubt it's anything close to living inside it.

Then again, sometimes I'm not sure I understand my culture in 2008, so maybe this is all really just talk about the limits of human intellect.
posted by weston at 6:03 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't forget God Is For Real, Man and Da Jesus Book, which translates the New Testament into Hawaiian Pidgin (a.k.a. Hawaiian Creole English).

Here's how they translate the Lord's Prayer:

God, you our Fadda.
You stay inside da sky.
We like all da peopo know fo shua how you stay,
An dat you stay good an spesho,
An we like dem give you plenny respeck.
We like you come King fo everybody now.
We like everybody make jalike you like,
Ova hea inside da world,
Jalike da angel guys up inside da sky make jalike you like.
Give us da food we need fo today an every day.
Hemmo our shame, an let us go
Fo all da kine bad stuff we do to you,
Jalike us guys let da odda guys go awready,
And we no stay huhu wit dem
Fo all da kine bad stuff dey do to us.
No let us get chance fo do bad kine stuff,
But take us outa dea, so da Bad Guy no can hurt us.
Cuz you our King.
You get da real power,
An you stay awesome foeva.
Dass it!
posted by jonp72 at 6:10 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I bought this a couple of years ago as a gift for a friend of mine who belongs to a Pentacostal church. He loves it.
posted by Ritchie at 6:23 PM on September 18, 2008


Wow, if I want to understand the sometimes incomprehensible King James Version of the Bible, which book shall I choose to supplement my understanding? A craptastic rendering into shitty television-show speak, or an actual scholarly reference?

What's next? GOD: THE POWERPOINT PRESENTATION?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:27 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's next? GOD: THE POWERPOINT PRESENTATION?

Uh, been to Church lately? Last time I went before a friend-of-my-wife's wedding I saw some of the best PPT I've ever seen.
posted by GuyZero at 6:32 PM on September 18, 2008


I actually go to church pretty frequently, but it's an Episcopalian church. More incense and what-not than PowerPoint.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:47 PM on September 18, 2008


If a man has sex with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is abhorrent.

If I ever meet a man with a vagina, I will definitely be forewarned.
posted by maxwelton at 6:48 PM on September 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


orange swan writes "Judas with a bag of 40 quarters"

Inflation, or 33% interest accrued?
posted by orthogonality at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2008


I'm marrying someone who dropped out of Bible college. He's fascinating at parties because he can out-bible anyone in the room, and he no longer believes a word of it, so he doesn't get all emotionally wrapped up in the conversation.
posted by desjardins at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2008


The Message Iliad, 1.1-7:

The Message Moby Dick:


The Message Metafilter: no changes necessary.
posted by davejay at 7:08 PM on September 18, 2008


Does it still have that gay black guy in it?

Because he was fabulous. I really liked that guy.


John the Baptist? Sure, he'd have to be in there, how bad a translation could it... WHAT THE SHIT!?
posted by ormondsacker at 7:12 PM on September 18, 2008


I am very not Christian... but the book of Ecclesiastes is beautiful, and is one of my favorite pieces of literature. It's also one of the most nihilistic and dark pieces of writing of which I'm aware. A lot of Christians would have trouble with it... if they read it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:14 PM on September 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate a governor! wow. Even back then they had Good and Evil.
posted by Postroad at 7:28 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It even comes with illustrations.
posted by The Straightener at 7:30 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you want to really do something that would probably make Jesus happy, and the rest of us, too, then memorize and understand the Sermon on the Mount, live by its principles and throw away the rest of the bible. If anybody ever asks you why you're such an awesome person, then tell them that it's because of the Sermon on the Mount, and keep quiet about your religion the rest of the time, especially all that bullshit about how he died for our sins. He didn't die for our sins, he died because nobody was fucking listening to what he was saying.
posted by empath at 7:35 PM on September 18, 2008 [21 favorites]


i am rotinly pissed off by my fellow atheists who've never read the bible, at least in part from time to time. it's easily the most influential book in western culture. much of literary history is meaningless without it. much of modern public discourse is (perhaps regrettably, but still) meaningless without it. read a little Rush Limbaugh too. It's good to know your enemy, and you might even find something that you *gasp* agree with.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:37 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


*routinely, nach.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:37 PM on September 18, 2008


All of you comparing it to a powerpoint presentation and 7 habits type books, did you read any of the text? I agree that it is uneven, and possibly even hokey in places (I have only looked at parts of the NT btw, haven't read the OT trans.) but I think he captures the directness and passion of the letters of Paul in a way that is interesting, and at times powerful. Try galatians 5 for instance. here is the KJV version.
posted by vronsky at 7:39 PM on September 18, 2008


I have a copy of "The Message" (had one for years, in fact- it's not exactly brand new, the full Bible came out 6 years ago)- it's nice, it's an interesting way to read the Bible.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:41 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't ever remember agreeing with anything that Rush Limbaugh has ever said. Unless he said something like "humans should breathe"

... but I doubt he sits around stating the obvious and more likely makes fun of people with Parkinsons.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 7:44 PM on September 18, 2008


I've tried. Really, I've tried. I have several bibles on my shelves and I'm told they're great poetry and I know biblical stories are a core of western culture and I do know the allusions and I often use biblical quotes myself for their succinct wisdom (eg "all flesh is grass.") I've looked into the New English Bible for its jazzed up lingo. But jeez, I've always found the whole thing boring and tedious as hell -- kinda like Proust.
posted by binturong at 7:54 PM on September 18, 2008


Okay, what the fuck did they do the Song of Solomon? Take all the poetry out of the most beautiful love poem in English and...and...do...this?

The lilies of the valley do fucking toil, mister, and they toil against you.
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 PM on September 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


I think it's probably a good idea for Americans to read the Bible, sure.

I think they should also read a few Shakespeare plays outside of high school. Maybe even take a Religious Studies course. But, y'know, beggars can't be choosers.
posted by graventy at 8:27 PM on September 18, 2008


But it is storming Christian campuses and youth groups with its boldness, readability, and strong vernacular.

Other things storming Christian campuses:

* The Power Team
* Stryper
* Gonorrhea
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:29 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


My favorite is still the Brick Testament, because, Dude, Lego!
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:31 PM on September 18, 2008


We translated the opening chapters of Genesis from the Vulgate as an exercise in Latin class. Our teacher didn't tell us what we were translating of course...he let us figure it out.

I remember being rather profoundly struck by how difficult it was for two people to come up with the same translation from Latin to English -- it was a significant tenet in my conversion from good church girl to agnostic. Choosing which (legit) translation of so many individual words changed the tone so very significantly...how can anyone argue that there is such a thing as a literal translation?! Divinely inspired or no, humans wrote the Bible, and then many many other humans shaped our understanding of it.

I appreciate the enormous influence of the Bible on western thought and literature, and think it's worth reading (and studying) if just for the importance of the context. But as someone fascinated by the Bible as literature but not looking for Answers, I don't love the writing in The Message.

Then again, it's not written for me. It is clear to me than any translation of any language reveals the biases of the translator, and we've already got quite a bit of that going on. Funny to me that one of the central points of Protestantism is that a priest is not needed to interpret the Word Of God and that a relationship with God is personal...yet there seems to be an uptick in religious leaders to help tell you what to think is in the Bible, Biblical study on one's own notwithstanding.
posted by desuetude at 8:33 PM on September 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


I had always thought that, if you had the feeling that a thousands-of-years-old boogeyman conjured up by desert nomads on the other side of the world didn't feel relevant, the best response would be to stop worrying about it, rather than continuing an intergenerational game of Chinese Whispers.

I suppose that's just me - and I'd've felt the same about the King James version when they constructed it.
posted by pompomtom at 8:47 PM on September 18, 2008


hey ho - looks interesting - i see theyve left the usual bits out though - how can you have sola scriptura and have removed parts of the bible ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:49 PM on September 18, 2008


Jesus' refusal was curt: "Beat it, Satan!"

Yikes.

I can see there being a demand for a contemporary translation, but this does suck the poetry and mysticism out of it. I guess if you want to use the Bible as a Very Understandable Guide to What You Are Supposed to Do, this would maybe work, but this doesn't read like the foundation of a religion to me. It's drained of most of it's mystery, beauty and terror. It doesn't make me want to crawl out into the desert and starve until I see monsters, or beat myself raw with a whip.

This is sort of like that "Telephone" game we used to play in school. The person on one end would whisper in the ear of the next, and so on down the line. The person on the other end would then repeat the message as they received it. Rarely was the message recieved in its original form. The more people passing on the message, the greater the distortion. This is playing "Telephone" across several centuries, language barriers, cultures, and political agendas.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:09 PM on September 18, 2008


All of you comparing it to a powerpoint presentation and 7 habits type books, did you read any of the text?

Yes. And I stand by my opinion that it's a "craptastic rendering into shitty television-show speak." That opinion was not arrived at lightly.

However, I'm one of the people who's agitating to bring back the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, so that's where I'm coming from.

Also, to me this will always be "The Message." Don't push me 'Cause I'm close to the edge...
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:09 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't remember where I heard this, but wasn't the King James deliberately archaic when it was written? As in, the locals had already stopped using thou and shalt and so on in everyday conversation, so those phrases seemed to be reaching way into the past, in a timeless way.
posted by kersplunk


The KJV was somewhat archaic, yes, but one of the main things to realize is that it was written with the intention to make it more opaque. James (as all good Establishment Powers-that-be) wasn't too pleased with the radical Geneva Bible, one of the most popular English translations. He also didn't like the more radical Protestant groups who challenged the monarch's authority over the church. He and his crew (led by Laud) wanted to rein in some of the independent thought that had been unleashed in the Reformation. The scholars who translated the KJV were brilliant for their time, and they definitely knew what they were doing. Compare it to the Geneva, which is also awesome and has extensive explanatory notes that leave little doubt as to the very strong opinions of the very Calvinist translators, and you'll see that the KJV is definitely designed to keep people a bit in the dark.

As for this new vernacular translation... eh. Seems watered and dumbed down to me. If you want to read an accessible, intelligent translation (with lots of good and generally non-partisan, secular, historically responsible notes), try Oxford's annotated New Revised Standard Version. It preserves the conceptual richness of much of the text while simplifying the complicated syntax (and thus, removing much of the poetic beauty) of the KJV.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:11 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't know there were so many "plain text" interpretations of The Bible. I'm just surprised that, apparently, they all wanna kill gay men.

I'll never understand that. A guy fucks another guy. WTF does that have to do with you? Of all the terrible, inhumane, deadly things one person can do to another person, giving them an orgasm is hardly the worst thing*.

*(with a hat tip to Carlin)
posted by revmitcz at 9:14 PM on September 18, 2008


I'm only interested better historical reconstructions of the bible. You know like when it's not Moses' god that tries to kill him, but some other god.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:15 PM on September 18, 2008


revmitcz, Religious texts were not written by modern humane people. They were written by barbarians, to the extent they were written at all. They may also have undergone some selection where only the tribes with the most aggressive & brutal religions flourished. Well, you can't explain all religious texts this way since Hinduism had a positive message (try sex like this) until they invented casts.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:27 PM on September 18, 2008


I really dug this, thanks for the post.

Here's my favorite newly translated verse:

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin' on you but he's frownin' too
Because only God knows what you'll go through
You'll grow in the ghetto livin' second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You'll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin' big cars, spendin' twenties and tens
And you'll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh


Amen.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:36 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm confused. Everyone keeps talking about the original Greek Bible, while all this time I thought that the original versions of the slapped-together series of fairy tales in the "Bible" that Christians reference were actually first written in Aramaic and Hebrew.

Its my understanding that the concept of the virgin birth is basically a result of a translation error.

Anywaze ... I like this version

The Lord is all that, I need for nothing.
He allows me to chill.
He keeps me from being heated, and allows me to breathe easy.
He guides my life so that I can represent and give shout outs in His name.
And even though I walk through the hood of death, I don't back down, for You have my back.
The fact that He has me covered allows me to chill.
He provides me with back-up in front of playa-hatahs, and I know that I am a baller and life will be phat.
I fall back in the Lord's crib for the rest of my life.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:36 PM on September 18, 2008


another quote from lolcatbible.com. i'm sorry.

The Lolcat Bible, Ecclesiastes 1

1 Teh werdz ov teh preechur, teh son ov David, King of teh Jerusalem.2 "St00pid! St00pid!" Sez teh teechurcat. "Srsly st00pid. Everythingz ghey."3 Wut man getz 4 laburz he toilz @ undur teh sunz? 4 Generashun comez n generashun goez, still same lolcats. 5 Sun rizez n setz, goez bak n rize agin.6 Teh wind blowz souf n norf, rownd n rownd, alwayz teh sayme.7 Seaz can has streemz, nevur fullz. Streemz go bak where comez frum.8 All tingz has DO NOT WANT, more den werdz sez. Lolrus never sez "enuf bucket, kthnx" or kitteh sez "dats good, enuff cheezburger."9 Has happen? Gunna be agin. Nuthing new undur teh sunz.10 Kitteh can not sez "OMFGZ sumthing new!" is jus REPOST!.11 New kittahz 4gitz old kittahz, new kittahz 4gitd bai even newer kittahz.

12 I Iz teh teechurcat, king of teh Jerusalem.13 I has studiez n wizdum ovur all lolcatz, n zomg wut hevy berdun Ceiling Cat putz on kittehz.14 Teechurcat haz see lolrus n cheezburgerz n longcatz n awl dat is st00pidz, lyke chasing aftur tail. Nevr can catch teh tayle and even whn yu doo it hrtz srsly.15 Wut iz breakd kittah cannot to be fixez, wut gon cannot iz cowntid. 16 Teechurcat sez to selv, "O hai! I has growd n increes widum moar den awl teechurcatz comez b4 meh. I has ekspeeriens much wizdum n nawledg."17 Den I appliez self to knowz wizdomz n aslo knowz bout st00pid n ghey thingz, n lernz dat dis aslo lyke chasing aftur tayl. 18 Srsly moar wizdum iz FTL, k. Moar smartz, moar greefz.

posted by dnial at 9:37 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Heathens, depending on who uses the term, do not worship the abrahamic god or do not worship adhere to a particular faith's creed. Atheists, pagans, hindus, etc., are "heathens". Being a heathen is about belief, or a lack thereof.

Being a sinner, on the other hand, is about wrong actions or thoughts.


James 2:19-24 (KJV) "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also belive, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was Not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seeth thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works his faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

The Message Version - "Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands? Wasn't our ancestor Abraham 'made right with God by works' when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are 'works of faith'? The full meaning of 'believe' in the Scripture sentence, 'Abraham believed God and was set right with God,' includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named 'God's friend.' Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?"

LOLcat version: "Just believing iz no gud. Even Basement Cat is like 'O hi Ceiling Cat, how iz ur ceiling today?' Silly kittah, u want proof? Wusnt ur gret gret gret granddad Abraham gud when he was like "ok Ceiling Cat, I will like kill mah son for u if u is sayin' so.' Wut he did proofed he wuz like 'Oh hi Ceiling Cat, u is ttly in mah ceiling.' So what waz sed was true and Abraham wuz liek Ceiling Cat's bff. Now is u undrstnd?"

This is my very favorite section of the Bible, for a number of reasons. The first is that, when I was a Christian, there was a lot that I saw and liked in the Catholic traditions, and the protestant churches would refute any and all of that with the "faith alone" doctrine which reached back to Martin Luther. This selection tested their ability to jump through all logical hoops of prejudice and confirmation bias as far as their religion was confirmed in order to defend bullshit opinions, and even as a devout Christian, that seemed like totally fair sport to me.

The second is that it pokes a great logical hole in Pascal's Wager, a theory I myself have done a lot of work in destroying. The whole "yeah, you believe in God? So does Satan. It doesn't mean all that much" thing is maybe the best bit of logic in all of scripture, and shoots Pascal al to hell.

The third is just the simple notion that if you're going to live your life by a religious mythology, and especially if you're the type to try to make others live their lives by your mythology, you better-the-fuck put your money where your mouth is.

Seriously, I detest religion, but if a fundamentally (by the actual message, anyway) loving and peaceful faith like Christianity had it's roots in putting forth works aside from just basking in the glow of faith, I think the world would be a hell of a lot better than it is with thwe warmongering, fuck-the-poor, Randian "Christians" running America today.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:38 PM on September 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'll never understand that. A guy fucks another guy. WTF does that have to do with you?

Depending on whom you ask, the answer might be as simple as xenophobia. Gays having their jollies with one another is contrary to some pretty deep wiring in many heterosexuals. Just knowing it exists nearby is often seen as a primal threat in a weird, mindless way. And the desire to ass-pound another guy might be catching! OH NOES!

So I understand that sodomy is Real Bad according to lots of holy books, but somehow I don't think a lot of the patriarchs who support this notion are entirely against giving a hot chick some back door love. Selective sinning, I guess.
posted by illiad at 9:38 PM on September 18, 2008


Okay, what the fuck did they do the Song of Solomon?

"Oh, my dear friend! You're so beautiful!
And your eyes so beautiful—like doves! "

I think they brought in Rod McKuen.
posted by Iridic at 9:44 PM on September 18, 2008


Its my understanding that the concept of the virgin birth is basically a result of a translation error.

A virgin birth is a very old religious tradition.

posted by Brian B. at 9:59 PM on September 18, 2008


Hinduism had a positive message (try sex like this) until they invented casts.

Yeah, sex while encased in plaster is no fun. Well, I guess it is to some people (this page SFW, I'm sure the rest of the site is not).
posted by desjardins at 10:03 PM on September 18, 2008






I think they brought in Rod McKuen.

Is there a penis?
posted by Token Meme at 10:21 PM on September 18, 2008


I like Leviticus. I used to read it for the entertainment value. I also am big on Deuteronomy. Chapter 14 is super!

14:21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself; thou mayest give it unto the stranger that is within thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto a foreigner; for thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk.


God approves selling animals that died of unknown causes to strangers or foreign people, but creamy beef stew is not allowed. God has some... eccentricities.
posted by winna at 10:22 PM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


so i'm not a huge fan of The Message, but I think it accomplishes it's purpose. As I understand it, peterson was trying for a paraphrase that would make the bible understandable to people who aren't super comfortable with christian-ese/bible-ese. it has certainly done this for people i know.
posted by nangua at 10:30 PM on September 18, 2008


Nonsense in modern language is still nonsense.
posted by Target Practice at 10:34 PM on September 18, 2008


If a man has sex with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is abhorrent.

So does it have any views on having sex with a woman as one does with a man? Because, you know, I kinda like that stuff...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:46 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Numbers 31, NIV:
"Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them.... Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."
Numbers 31, The Message:
"What's this! You've let these women live! ....Finish your job: kill all the boys. Kill every woman who has slept with a man. The younger women who are virgins you can keep alive for yourselves."
Nope, still pretty much what I expected.
posted by verb at 10:54 PM on September 18, 2008


The Message is a translation that sucks. I'll have to catch up on this thread later, but I read a bunch of translations when I was in college, and The Message was by far the worst.
posted by salvia at 10:59 PM on September 18, 2008


I got my niece the children's version, My First Message: A Devotional Bible for Kids, and it is actually pretty decent. Though the activities and discussion supplements at the end of the chapters are a little weird and probably best skipped ('When Jesus was crucified, the people laughed at and taunted him. Sit with your parents and take turns laughing at and taunting one another. How does that make you feel?') , it has appealing illustrations and strikes a good balance, neither completely bowdlerized nor too intense for kids.
And Jesus isn't depicted as a white dude!

Yes, I know, foisting Jesus on a kid is akin to child abuse, I've read Dawkins too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:09 PM on September 18, 2008


Religious texts were not written by modern humane people. They were written by barbarians, to the extent they were written at all.

Where are these "modern humane people"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:58 AM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Jesus is just alright.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:18 AM on September 19, 2008


Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

That's amazing! The bible foresaw California! Truly thy works astonisheth!

Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?

It never did. It just said that it's open season on them if you're a killing mood. Doesn't matter if they're christian or not.


It never said that, either. There's a strong argument to be made that it merely pointed out that if you sleep with temple prostitutes like those filthy, filthy Molech-worshipping Canaanites you're a dirty dawg and you can't go to temple until you clean up your act- so don't go blaming God for any death that happens in the meantime, Mr Loosey McTrousersnake.
posted by Sparx at 3:20 AM on September 19, 2008


Let me sum up: As the bible is unarguably a conflicting series of often savage rules about how to treat others, how to structure society, and which feelings or desires are acceptable and you are invariably going to a) fail to recognize a hierarchy to these directions with Jesus at the top, and b) decide to pick the rules you like and ignore the others, conclusion: there's no point to reading the whole thing.
posted by ewkpates at 4:47 AM on September 19, 2008


Is this the version with Cthulhu?
posted by paddbear at 5:36 AM on September 19, 2008


Jesus' message is best understood when filtered through guest appearances in Ghost Rider.
posted by Shepherd at 5:37 AM on September 19, 2008


Did someone say 'Bible translations'?

The New MAGNIFIED Version of the Scriptures or SACRED WRITINGS in Plain English for Wise People of all Ages, Races, Religions, and Nations!

Over 50 meg of stuff. Go there for the bible, stay around for ideas on gardening.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:54 AM on September 19, 2008


Does it still say my gay friends are heathens?
Sure, Leviticus does. Leviticus also says to avoid shellfish, that men must not trim the hair from the sides of their heads, and that having sex with a woman on her period is grounds for banishment. Funny how you don't hear evangelicals railings against crab cakes, though. Also funny how Jesus seemed to have forgotten to tell people not to be gay.
This is a nice sentiment, but it doesn't really accurately reflect the stance of hardcore Christians on homosexuality vis a vis shellfish.

The Christians who (knowingly) ignore the commands of Leviticus (and such) do so because they believe that Jesus has replaced the old law from the Old Testament with a new and everlasting covenant*.

But the New Testament also rails against gays, including saying that they should be put to death.

To be clear, I would (strongly) prefer that Christians ignore this fact, as many or perhaps even most of them do, but the idea that it is hypocritical for a Christian to pay no attention to the ban on shellfish while paying attention to the ban on homosexuality strikes me as, no offense, either uninformed or else wishful thinking.

*: They believe this despite the fact that Jesus purportedly said that not one jot, not one tittle, of the law shall change, until both heaven and earth pass, but that's a different matter entirely.
posted by Flunkie at 6:17 AM on September 19, 2008


Actually, Flunkie, if I'm not mistaken it is Paul that rails against gays, there's nothing in the Gospels. And though fundies LOVE Paul, it is worth putting his words in context. One, Paul never met Jesus. He was a super-strict Orthodox Jew, strict for even his time, who fell off his horse and decided he believed Jesus was the Messiah now. Curiously, a lot of his Orthodox Jew beliefs leaked over to what he thought Jesus believed, as well.

Two, when translating Paul it is difficult to say what he is saying is true, and what he is saying in order to point out is stupid (you know, setting up strawmen).

Three, it remains ridiculous that so many Christians pay more attention to the world of a guy who never met Jesus over the word of Jesus Himself. Fuck that shit, for real.
posted by schroedinger at 6:46 AM on September 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


One, I didn't say that the Gospels rail against homosexuality. I said the New Testament does. Which it does.

Two, I'm sorry, but you can't be serious that Paul's claim that gays deserve death is him "setting up a strawman".

Three, I agree that Christians believe ridiculous things.
posted by Flunkie at 6:54 AM on September 19, 2008


Broken glass everywhere
People pissing on the stairs, you know they just
Don't care
I can't take the smell, I can't take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away, but I couldnt get far
Cause the man with the tow-truck repossessed my car

Chorus:
Don't push me, cause I'm close to the edge
Im trying not to loose my head
Its like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
posted by kcds at 7:09 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Three, it remains ridiculous that so many Christians pay more attention to the world of a guy who never met Jesus over the word of Jesus Himself. Fuck that shit, for real.
Well, like it or not that's what you get when you look at Christianity -- Christ, though an important figure in the religion, is more the center of gravity than the source of Christian theology. Take away Paul and what you have left isn't Christianity in any recognizable form. Picking and choosing may result in a more palatable theology today, but eventually you Spong out and might as well just say that you're "spiritual" and "inspired by" the Bible.
posted by verb at 7:49 AM on September 19, 2008


From today's Waco Tribune:

Two-thirds of Americans are convinced they’re headed to heaven, but they may be surprised by who they’ll find in the sweet by-and-by...

Other findings from the What Americans Really Believe scale of “mystical experiences”:

* “Heard the voice of God speaking to me” — 20 percent

* “Felt called by God to do something” — 44 percent

* “Witnessed a miraculous, physical healing” — 23 percent

* “Received a miraculous, physical healing” — 16 percent

* “Spoke or prayed in tongues” — 8 percent


Palin isn't alone.
posted by woodway at 8:16 AM on September 19, 2008


For poetry, I enjoy the John Wycliffe version.

Compare:
KJV:
And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

JWV
And he had in his right hand seven stars, and a sword sharp on both sides went out of his mouth; and his face as the sun shineth in his virtue.
1:17 And when I had seen him, I felled down at his feet, as dead. And he putted his right hand on me, and said, Do not thou dread; I am the first and the last;
1:18 and I am alive, and I was dead; and lo! I am living into worlds of worlds, and I have the keys of death and of hell.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:41 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Three, it remains ridiculous that so many Christians pay more attention to the world of a guy who never met Jesus over the word of Jesus Himself. Fuck that shit, for real.

I couldn't agree more. The complete transformation that happened in just the first century after the death of Jesus is mind boggling. I actually typed out a huge post on this exact topic in this thread, but I couldn't come up with anything as precise and concise as what you said.

Also, to correct my mistake in the closed thread: when I said "all" of the "unpleasant parts" were added post-crucifixion, I meant all of the homophobic nonsense.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:41 AM on September 19, 2008


"Take away Paul and what you have left isn't Christianity in any recognizable form."

That is precisely why I call modern Christianity the Cult of Paul.

The beliefs of modern Christians tend to put Jesus right at the sidelines and Paul truly is the center of the modern theology.
posted by chimaera at 8:45 AM on September 19, 2008


Paul's claim that gays deserve death

The what, in the where, now?

Paul did not say that.

Paul described same-sex sexing as "shameful lusts" and the actions of a "depraved mind" (Romans 1: 18-28); he said that "neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20) and that "the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1: 9-10).

That's it. That's all there is about teh gay in the New Testament.

Now I can see how people can have beef with what actually is in there, BUT DON'T JUST GO MAKING SHIT UP.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:45 AM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm confused. Everyone keeps talking about the original Greek Bible, while all this time I thought that the original versions of the slapped-together series of fairy tales in the "Bible" that Christians reference were actually first written in Aramaic and Hebrew.

The earliest Christian writings are some of Paul's letters which were written 15-30 years after Jesus's death. They were originally written in Greek. The Gospels (Mark in the 50s, then Matthew and Luke/Acts of Apostles, and then finally John in the late 1st century) were also written in Greek. There are some stories that Matthew was originally in Aramic but there's no proof of this and the original greek (from the versions that we have - we don't have an original copy of any boook in the bible, we merely have copies of copies - the earliest fragement we have is from around 125 AD and a few lines from John 18) reads as if it was written in greek and is not an aramaic translation. Now a bunch of the OT was originally written in Hebrew but most of the writers of the NT don't seem to have known Hebrew, rather they used the Greek Translation known as the Septugaint (and possible a few other translations that were available at the time) which was, supposedly, created by 72 translators who worked for one of the leaders of Egypt after it was conquered by Alexander. When Alexander conquered the near east, that brought in the hellization of the entire region and made Greek the international language of commerce, government, and intellect which is why people would write in Greek rather than their local native languages.

Its my understanding that the concept of the virgin birth is basically a result of a translation error.

This isn't true and the concept of a virgin birth, althought thought of as an original creation by the evangelists, probably was part of the trend of the messianic culture and ideas that were flowing around palestine from 200 BC to 100 AD. And when put into context with what Matthew and Luke were trying to do (there's a trend in the Gospels where Jesus is pushed back - Mark starts with his public ministry, Matthew and Luke move back to his birth, John moves back to pre-existence), the virgin birth makes sense as part of the development of thought that existed as the small communities of Christians in the 1st century reflected on who Jesus was, what he did, and what he meant.
posted by Stynxno at 9:00 AM on September 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


"If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."
-- Max von Sydow in Hannah and Her Sisters.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:32 AM on September 19, 2008


Coming soon: an ebonics translation of the Bible
posted by thbt at 9:42 AM on September 19, 2008


It's Orange Catholic or nothing for me; and you'd better believe that I'm enjoying the sweet little frisson of sin brought on by typing that on a thinking machine.
posted by COBRA! at 9:47 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's anyway to make certain bits of the bible any less stupid. Exodus 26-27 reads like knitting instructions. And Revelations takes place almost entirely in places in Turkey that no longer exist. Brick testament is a better introduction for us godless-but-coming-from-a-christian-culture types.
posted by Phalene at 10:00 AM on September 19, 2008


Paul's claim that gays deserve death

The what, in the where, now?
Romans 1:32 - "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
Paul did not say that.
Well someone who wrote something that's traditionally and almost universally attributed to Paul certainly did.
Paul described same-sex sexing as "shameful lusts" and the actions of a "depraved mind" (Romans 1: 18-28)
And then a mere four verses later said that such things were worthy of death.
That's it. That's all there is about teh gay in the New Testament.
Except for the part that you're ignoring.
Now I can see how people can have beef with what actually is in there, BUT DON'T JUST GO MAKING SHIT UP.
Frankly, I suggest that you take your own words here to heart.
posted by Flunkie at 12:48 PM on September 19, 2008


That's all there is about teh gay in the New Testament.

Flunkie beat me to it. No, unfortunately, that's not the case, at least not according to the interpretations of some prevailing churches. In Romans 1:26-32 (King James Version), Paul quite clearly and unequivocally states that men "leaving the natural use of the woman" are "worthy of death." I say this as a gay man who grew up attending churches where it was constantly made clear that Paul's teachings about gays were to be followed to the letter.
posted by blucevalo at 1:13 PM on September 19, 2008


"Curiously, a lot of his Orthodox Jew beliefs leaked over to what he thought Jesus believed, as well."

I'm certainly no scholar, but this is just completely backwards. Read galatians for example - he said that he wished that those preaching circumcision would just go ahead and castrate themselves!

"I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system [the Talmud], at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. 4-6I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love."

?but eventually you Spong out and might as well just say that you're "spiritual" and "inspired by" the Bible." This was good:)
posted by vronsky at 1:16 PM on September 19, 2008


That question mark should be a quotation mark.
posted by vronsky at 1:18 PM on September 19, 2008


"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
-Ecclesiastes 1:9
posted by Smedleyman at 2:31 PM on September 19, 2008


If one might put it bluntly. I'm an alcoholic that drinks wine like water, and I know how to treat a human being better than Paul, road to Damascus or no road to Damascus. The trick is to be not full of hate for The Other. Jesus did it - Paul was just EPIC FAIL.
posted by Sparx at 4:09 PM on September 19, 2008


Actually, I did rather like The Message's version of Ecclesiastes - somehow this, the most cynical book in the Bible, comes off quite well in the vernacular. Overall, I think it's a bit misguided but then I remember the New American version....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:14 PM on September 19, 2008


Wow, I came back to this thread with my head held low after waking up this morning and thinking, "Shit, I was an unreasonable troll in the Bible Translation thread last night, shitting on Protestants for no good reason." I still believe that I was acting shittily, though no one seemed to take offense, so my apology is here for any who care about it, which may be no one.

On another point:

"the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1: 9-10).

I find this verse interesting for two reasons. First, that it comes from a very Aristotilian point of view (which makes sense, as the writer was Greek, or at least writing in Greek and thus probably schooled in Greek culture. Aristotle's view was that the virtuous need no law, as they would prefer to act virtuously anyway. It is the continent, incontenent and in some cases the vicious who need law, to guide them against their greater demons, or in the case of the vicious, to offer a way to contain their greater demons even though the vicious themselves would have no interest in containing them.

This second reason is that this idea didn't enter into American legal thought until Holmes introduced it with his "Bad Man" ideology, that railed against the Enlightenment ideals of law and government, instead favoring a system which assumed the basest instincts of man, to get away with whatever the law didn't provide enough disincentives to prevent. As obvious as this seems to us today, it wasn't a part of legal thinking in America until Holmes pointed it out. Holmes, who was raised Jewish, and then became an athiest, and whom we have no reason to believe ever internalized 1 Timothy (though he was probably familiar with Aristotle.)

No real point, just find that interesting.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:19 PM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


> not really. as much as the American Jesus invented by US fundamentalists is anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-rich, pro-war, and more or less silent on divorce

Jesus vs. Jeezus.
posted by WCityMike at 3:47 PM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Probably not a real translation from the original texts

Wrong: "Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language."
posted by WCityMike at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2008


> All of you comparing it to a powerpoint presentation and 7 habits type books, did you read any of the text?

No, that would mean someone else would make the snark they wanted to post, because they spent time actually reading the post. Instead, hey, LOLPopCultureBible, let's riff riff riff! So we get the wonderfully creative "I'm too lazy to read the entirety of what you said, but I still want to say something" acronym of "tl;dr".
posted by WCityMike at 4:02 PM on September 21, 2008


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