The Ragamuffin Bible [review]

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ragamuffin-gospel

The Ragamuffin Bible is an NIV Bible interspersed with quotes and reflections by the late Brennan Manning, who passed away earlier in 2013. From Zondervan’s promos:

The NIV Ragamuffin Bible offers a collection of Manning’s raw, painfully honest, yet grace-filled devotions, meditations, and reflections of his journey limping back to—like the prodigal son—his overjoyed father. Features:

  • Complete text of the world’s most popular modern-English Bible, the NIV
  • 104 Devotions guide you into a deeper connection to God and his Word
  • 250 Reflections help you understand what it means to be a child of God
  • 150 Quotes offer short but thoughtful insights into God’s kingdom

What I liked:

  1. Many of the reflections were well-chosen. I have many of these “annotated” bibles so I flip through each of them to see if they highlighted the specific passage I’m working on. Manning’s reflection on Ten Virgins and the preceding “keep awake” sections of Matthew 24-25 was particularly powerful.
  2. The quotes cover the breadth of Manning’s books: 15 books from 1976’s Prophets and Lovers to the 2011 memoir All Is Grace
  3. Most quotes are referencing the Psalms and the Gospel of Matthew. I guess we know which Gospel was the Ragamuffin’s favorite, huh?

What I didn’t like:

  1. 504 snippets covering a 1400 page Bible isn’t much, just about 1 every three pages. The People’s Bible has the same issue at an even more astounding rate: less than 100 references in a 1700 page book. Better is the Spiritual Formation Bible which has a devotional or a guiding reflection on every single page.
  2. Some of the snippets just didn’t fit. On page 41, Zondervan pairs Manning’s conversion story with the story of Jacob wrestling with God…even though Manning’s was less about struggle and more about being struck unconscious for 3 hours. Odd. Also, on page 40 (referencing the same passage), the title reads “Grab Aholt.” Is that a word? Aholt? Shouldn’t it be “Grab Ahold”? Typo? Annoying.
  3. The NIV. It really doesn’t jive with the 21st century’s level of scholarship. I can’t handle it. But I guess for devotional reading, it is okay.

So there you go! Anyone else have it that want to sound off?

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Comments

  1. John says

    “Aholt” is an urban rendering of “ahold,” a “jive” term, so to speak. (I think you really meant “jibe,” so I’ll trust your finger was off by one key when you were typing.

    You say you find the NIV scholarship lacking. Could you elaborate? Certainly it’s a far more readable AND accurate translation than the NRSV, which, despite Bruce Metzger’s oversight, seems in too many places to indicate greater concerns with being politically correct than with being faithful to the extant manuscripts.

  2. Paul Anthony Preussler says

    The NIV is indeed rather deficient from a theological and indeed a scholarly standpoint, in that its based primarily on two rather unreliable manuscripts of the Alexandrian text type, the so called “minority text.” The majority of ancient manuscripts of the Byzantine text type agree with the Textus Receptus, as does the Syriac Peshitta; and these manuscripts collectively correctly transmit Christian theology. The minority text of the NIV is rather worthless in this regard; I use it only for cross-checking when I really want to be absolutely certain the Bible says what I think it says (at that, its better than the RSV). Given the age of the Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus on which the NIV is based, it is entirely possible they were the work of Arian heretics.

    Of course UM Jeremy probably uses the Jesus Seminar redaction, or some equally blasphemous revisionist translation. What passes for scholarship these days in the liberal theological schools is to basically reject every theologically useful pericope, every pericope that affirms the divinity of Christ or indeed his messianic status, and every pericope that could be interpreted as politically incorrect in today’s climate, so that you wind up with what is essentially the Jefferson Bible that a few years ago Rev. Smith so vehemently opposed.

    I do hope however that Jeremy Smith will surprise me and turn out to be using some orthodox Biblical translation, but I’m not getting my hopes up on this one.

    • John says

      Paul, it seems by your characterization of the Alexandrian texts that you’re ruling out most post-KJV translations used in the Western church. Just curious what your preferred translation is.

      • Paul Anthony Preussler says

        Hey there,

        I’m not specifically opposed to new translations; I’m just concerned about the Alexandrian text-type, since it appears to be theologically defective compared to the Byzantine. The Bible is a part of Church Tradition; and Biblical manuscript traditions in my mind ought to be evaluated primarily in light of the living tradition of the Orthodox faith; those manuscript traditions which affirm it are valid, and those which challenge it are of reduced value.

        As far as the Old Testament is concerned, I believe that the Septuagint is divinely inspired, whereas the Masoretic text is not; however, both texts are invaluable, although the Septuagint certainly more so, because the evidence of the dead sea scrolls indicates that, before the adoption of the stastical error correction procedures used by scribes translating the Masoretic text (which as a computer scientist, I find to be gorgeous, by the way; the Numerical Masorah are just absolutely beautiful), a continuum of texts existed, and at times it appears the Apostles and Church Fathers quote variants closer to the Masoretic text than to the Septuagint. The Septuagint was clearly the dominant Old Testament in the Greek-speaking portion of the early Church however, and I feel Martin Luther erred in preferring the Masoretic text, for many of the excised Apocrypha either have strong Christological references, such as the Wisdom of Solomon, or else would be very useful for answering the question that my King James Version study Bible clumsily addresses with an interpolated commentary “Between the Testaments.” I am particularly baffled by the Masoretes’ deletion of Maccabees and Esdras, given their importance to the history of the Jewish people. However, the Masoretic text is invaluable for cross checking the Septuagint, but the Septuagint is to be preferred wherever they conflict (and it is probable that the Masoretes did on occasion intentionally favor anti-Christological readings, in the same manner that the translators of some modern translations favor readings that are anathema to Christian Orthodoxy). I really wish I had an English translation of the Old Testament of the Syriac Peshitta, because it is doubtless that the Asian churches founded by Ss. Thomas, Addai, and Mari, in the great cities of Edessa, Nibilis, and Seleucia-Ctesiphon, would have used these; the Jews themselves used a number of Aramaic translations of the Hebrew scriptures.

        I am not an Aramaic Primacist; I believe the Gospels in their present form were originally written in Koine Greek, but my favorite New Testament translation is the Murdock Translation of the Peshitta, for its beautiful style. It can be read online, albeit on a website run by an atheist; I’m planning on mirroring those to my own site in the near future, along with the Etheridge and Lamsa translations. I do believe that the original Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic, and this was substantially rewritten by a Greek Christian scholar around 70 AD, to give us the modern Gospel of Matthew; the original Gospel of Matthew probably became the Gospel of the Hebrews, or the Gospel of the Nazarenes, or with heretical interpolations, the Gopsel of the Ebionites. It may have been a sayings Gospel; given how most of what Jesus says in the heretical Gospel of Thomas is also in the Synoptics, its entirely possible that the original Aramaic Matthew was the base text, with the Gnostic blasphemies interpolated, or other statements distorted (“Any female who makes herself male shall surely enter the Kingdom of God” looks like a typical Gnostic reinterpretation of “They are neither male nor female.”)

        For dogmatic reference, I rely on an Orthodox Study Bible, which consists of an NKJV New Testament (which I rather dislike; I find it very aesthetically displeasing when Bible versions that delete the second person pronoun), and a new translation of the Septuagint. This Bible features substantial commentary by eminent Orthodox theologians including Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, who is dear to me, and also, like all good Bibles, contains liturgical resources, in the form of a lectionary, and a service of Morning and Evening Prayer adopted from the Horologion. I cross check this against my King James Study Bible, which features conservative Biblical commentary from the usual Baptist-Calvinist Protestant school of thought, although among the commentators was a token Methodist; I find it fascinating however, as a scholar of comparative theology, to compare the correct understanding of the Bible, which the Eastern Orthodox largely preserve, with the misconceptions about it that are common to Protestantism, as a result of the rejection of Church Tradition that invariably accompanies an overzealous application of Sola Scriptura (which reaches an extreme form in some of the Reformed Presbyterian Congregations that practice exclusive Psalmody, although I do find their music rather beautiful). I also have an NIV which I cross check verses against; of the modern Bible versions, the older 1970s NIV is somewhat less offensive, and is written in an elegant style, but compared to the KJV or the Murdock Peshitto, it makes for very dull reading, and its basis on the Alexandrian text type leads to a cold and stale theology. While I was in Ghana however, the only Bible I had at my disposal was a GIdeons’ NIV, and I did benefit from it. The 2011 NIV, with its gender-inclusive language, I regard as blasphemy, along with certain other translations, such as the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

        I should add that I do love the Vuglate Bible, and enjoy reading the 18th century Douay Rheims translation. I am presently learning Latin and Syriac, and then hope to tackle Koine Greek, so in due course I also hope to be able to side step the translations altogether and dive into the original texts.

        Every Christian who is of an intellectual disposition, and who loves the Bible, ought to seek to own many Bibles, in particular Bibles with a diversity of doctrinal footnotes. The Orthodox interpretation is to always be preferred, but one’s understanding of Orthodoxy is aided through comparison with heterodox interpretation. On those occasions when the footnotes of my KJV study bible and my OSB study Bible agree, I am filled with joy, almost to the extent of the legendary founder of the Whirling Dervishes, who, when he heard the name “Allah” in the pounding of the goldsmiths on their anvil in the Bazaar, began whirling in ecstatic joy. Note that the preceding remark should not be interpreted as an endorsement of whirling as a Christian devotional practice; one might find oneself rather severely dizzy as a result, and inadvertantly damage one’s furniture.

        Only a Christian of mature faith, solid in his Orthodoxy, should approach heretical translations, or the false Gnostic gospels, or indeed the texts of other religions. I myself have enjoyed reading the Gnostic Gospels, for they contain pearls of authentic Christianity buried in the mud of Gnostic delusion; Kallistos Ware himself quotes from them. For that matter, the eminent theologian of our times has also quoted from the Talmud, and Kabbalistic literature, even the Quran. I enjoy Maimonidies, and some Zen Buddhist koans. Yet such works much be approached with extreme caution; only one whose Christianity is mature and stable dare approach these works, and they should never be read in the church. They are, at best, the attempts of the ignorant to reach out to God, to Heaven, and to the Divine; at worst, they represent diabolical works that distort and corrupt the truth for the benefit of Satan, and the destruction of our souls. They are collectively dangerous.

        Far more important for the Christian seeking to mature in his faith is a healthy appreciation for the Patristic texts, and other classics of Christian literature. I personally find Mere Christianity a bit too basic, but I love CS Lewis, and would heartily recommend it to new Christians or prospective converts; as a science fiction writer, I love his Space Trilogy, which to date represents the only really successful attempt at genuinely Christian science fiction (although one cannot help but love the sympathetic treatment Christianity received in Gene Roddenberry’s classic Star Trek episode, Bread and Circuses, which depicts Christianity emerging in parallel on another planet, ruled by a Roman Empire with 20th century technology, and televised gladiatorial combat). The Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Way, by Kallistos Ware, are fantastic; many of the writings of Joseph Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict, are superb, although in some cases he strains himself in an effort to maintain Roman doctrines which simply aren’t supported by Church Tradition (for example, in The Fathers, his description of Alexandria and Antioch also having a “form of autonomy”, or somesuch language, came across as very stilted and forced; one felt that the Pope himself struggled to express this doctrine, which is clearly false from a historical perspective, for in fact Rome enjoyed only a primacy of honor among the three Petrine sees). The writings of John Wesley, of all of the Reformers, are the most precious.

        Of even greater importance is the study of Patristic literature. The Epistle of St. Clement to the Romans was nearly included in the New Testament, as was the Shepherd of Hermas. The Epistle of Barnabas is good, but probably spurious. The Epistles of Ignatius, expressing his desire to become human, through martyrdom in Christ, as he was en route to be devoured by lions in the arena, are among the most precious texts of Christendom. Justin Martyr’s Apologies to the Roman Emperor clearly show us the doctrine and tradition of the second century church, including the celebration of the Eucharist. Irenaeus’s Against Heresies is a fantastic work of literature; it brilliantly and indeed hillariously skewers Valentinism, and also provides a catalog of Christian heresiology starting with Simon Magus. Tertullian wrote many fine works, before he fell into heresy, and was a fierce polemcist in his day; perhaps his fall into the Montanist heresy occurred because he was unable to control his pride at being such a great writer. I haven’t dived into Origen yet, but I feel that he was probably unfairly condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople; the theology he suggested that was ultimately considered heretical had not yet been deemed heresy, and he did not proclaim in against the wishes of an Ecumenical council, as did the heresiarchs Arius and Nestorius; he wrote in a time of severe Christian persecution, before the Council of Nicaea, in which Orthodoxy was not yet fully defined. It is probably a vicious lie that he castrated himself (Canon I of the Council of Nicaea excludes from the Priesthood those who voluntarily castrate themselves, as opposed to involuntary eunuchs, those assaulted, or those who were castrated for medical reasons). We should probably regard Origen as a St., as well as Eusebius of Caesarea, for his only crime really was trying to prevent the Arian schism; he did not actively defy the Council of Nicaea, unlike Arius, but rather simply, in the pathetic manner of modern day broad church Anglicans, sued for a hopeless peace. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius is fantastic.

        Athanasius’s The Incarnation, and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, along with the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, and the surviving theological works of Gregory the Theologian, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nyassa, are invaluable. Also invaluable is what little we have of Ambrose of Milan, and Theodore of Mopsuestia, who was later condemned a heretic, but is important to remember he was a very dear friend of John Chrysostom, whose orthodoxy is unquestioned. The hymns and metrical homilies of St. Ephraim the Syrian are truly beautiful, as are those of his sixth century Miaphysite successor, St. Jacob of Sarugh; St. Jacob’s counterpart, Mar Narsai, however, I am not as huge a fan of, mainly because his homilies like to point out the separate action of the human and divine aspects of Christ, and I find this to be Nestorianizing, if I might coin a word, and unpleasant. However, its entirely possible Nestorius himself was not actually a Nestorian; Cyril of Alexandria’s reputation is not above reproach. In like manner, one should read Augustine with caution; while Augustine is undeniably a saint for his defense of Orthodoxy against the Pelagian heresy, which denied original Sin, his own views on imputed guilt go a bit too far perhaps, and his view that infants who die without baptism are damned is repulsive. Augustine should be read with the understanding that this was a man who lived in shame over the excesses of his youth, when, as a Manichaen Gnostic, he engaged in shameful extremes of sexual promiscuity, committing much fornication; this perhaps drives him to view even sexual pleasure within marriage as sinful, and this doctrine cannot be said to be Orthodox. One should read Augustine in the light of St. John Cassian, who offers a much better doctrine on Original Sin, and the other Eastern fathers who affirm the sanctity of sex within marriage. Married couples must form an icon of the love between Christ and his Church, which while not sexual in nature, is in a manner not unlike the sexual pleasure of marriage, affirmed by the infinitely more satisfying divine grace of the Holy Spirit, which unlike sexual pleasure, cannot be perverted.

        Moving on, St. Gregory the Dialogist and St. John of Damascus are well worth reading. The Rule of St. Benedict is mainly of interest to the scholar of monastic tradition, or to someone who wants to be a Benedictine or a Cisctercian or a Trappist, however, the classical treatise of Eastern Orthodox Monasticism, the Ladder of Divine Ascent, is of great value for any considering a monastic vocation, and is also read in Eastern Orthodox churches during Lent. Finally, from the standpoint of a more mystical Christian theology, the writings of Symeon the New Theologian, and of Gregory of Palamas, are profoundly uplifting. Anselm’s of Canterbury’s failed attempt to apply Chivalry, the definitive code for male-female relations, to the sacrifice of Christ, has been a disaster for Christianity, and I find nothing of great value in his work, however, St. Thomas Aquinas does provide much useful philosophical exposition on God; however, I prefer to his Scholasticism the more mystical theology of St. Gregory of Palamas; it has been suggested that the two actually complement each other very well.

        Lastly, the Emergent Church movement has dangerously sought to use the mystical traditions of Eastern and indeed Western tradition out of context, in the form of centering prayer, spiritual formation, and other exercises. In an extreme case, the so called “White Robed Monks of St. Benedict” actually use Zen meditation, which may well be apostasy. It is of vital importance that anyone contemplating Christian mysticism, and in particular, considering the use of certain forms of contemplative prayer, carefully read the Philokalia, a collection of Eastern Orthodox writings regarding the life of prayer, the Jesus Prayer, and the practice of hesychasm. This work is filled with useful warnings, which the Christian ignores at his peril; if you put your mind ‘in neutral’ to ‘listen to God’, as some New Age Christians suggest, without following proper safety precautions, and without proper training first, and without an experienced father of Confession to guide you, you risk falling victim to Prelest, that being the Russian Orthodox concept of Delusion; demonic possession or even suicide can result. I fear that some Roman Catholic monks may themselves have been the victim of Prelest; if it can happen to them, with their strict rules of prayer and confessional practices, how much more is it likely to happen to a new Age Christian with a weak dogmatic foundation and an affinity for Eastern Spirituality? I pray for the salvation of the soul of Thomas Merton, who most likely did kill himself as a result of delusion resulting from attempting to reconcile Buddhism with Christianity, on his trip to the Orient, and I pray for the salvation of Padre Pio, whose stigmata may have been self inflicted, although I do not wish to risk passing judgment on either, or for that matter, inadvertantly blaspheming the Holy Spirit, for I concede that it is possible that stigmata are a sign of holiness, although the extreme pain reported by some Roman Catholic saints, like Padre Pio, does not strike me personally as being the fruits of a loving God, but rather, I fear it may well be of more sinister origin.

      • John says

        It’s interesting that you use the more literal translation for your devotions and the less so for study… and somewhat ironic since both the NRSV and NASB were rooted in the older American Standard Version of 1901. Following the release of the earlier RSV in the late ’40s and early ’50s, work began on the NASB to provide a better-balanced, alternative derivation of the ASV. The NASB is perhaps the most literal of the modern English translations, while the NRSV performs many linguistic acrobatics in order to slavishly adhere to “gender neutrality” concerns.

        Personally I find the RSV useful for passages with many obscure Hebraic names (it provides excellent pronunciation information right in the text). The NRSV is useful for the pronunciations but not much else. The NASB and NKJV are excellent for study, while the Amplified Bible and NIV are suitable for devotional reading.

        I’m still curious what exactly you object to in the NIV. (Or are you standing in agreement with Paul on this one?)

      • Paul Anthony Preussler says

        Jeremy Smith’s devotional use of the NASB is somewhat encouraging: I haven’t heard anything bad about the NASB, although I haven’t used it myself, and I would probably avoid the 1995 version, because I feel any literate English speaker ought to know how to use the second person singular pronouns; these are an endangered and beautiful part of our language, and ought to be preserved, or future generations will lose the ability to understand the original wording of much fantastic English literature, ranging from Le Morte d’Arthur to The Jungle Book. There is in fact a semantic difference between Thee, and You; to put it in vulgar example of Southern example, Thee would mean ‘You’, and You, “Y’all”. While Ye is legitimately archaic (You means the same thing, technically), I would very much like to see the reintroduction of the second-person singular into mainstream English; interestingly it survives in some vernacular English dialects, particularly in the North of England, for example, on the border of Lancashire and North Yorkshire, where one might here “tha know” instead of “you know.” However, this is a mere stylistic preference, and not of direct theological relevance, although like CS Lewis, I feel obliged to comment on it anyway, and I can hope that Jeremy Smith does use the older form of the NASB, which would conform to a greater extent to my personal aesthetics. I myself ought to study the NASB in greater detail; it would make a fine addition to my Biblical library.

        However, I am unable to endorse on any level either the NRSV, or the Common English Bible. Both of these are deeply flawed translations; they are theologically flawed, if not outright blasphemous. The Common English Bible uses ridiculously simplified English; how much better would it be if we simply taught children what the language of the older translations meant, rather than destroying layers of theological meaning through the use of simplified English, in order to accommodate popular illiteracy? The Church has a duty to fight back against illiteracy in the Sunday School classroom, and through church schools, and should not encourage it, by promoting degenerate versions of the Bible for the benefit of the semi-illiterate, who in many cases exist in such a state purely through personal sloth (however, obviously, the use of special material for those who are genuinely mentally disabled is another matter entirely).

        However, the CEB goes beyond merely accommodating illiteracy, and instead distorts Biblical teachings, through the use of incorrect translations of key theological phrases, which border on blasphemy. Jesus Christ is The Son of God, and The Son of Man; his status as such is of vital importance to our understanding of the Church. Yet this heretical translation dares translate “Son of Man” as “the Human One.” I dread to think how horribly disfigured our church would be had this phrase, that Christ himself surely did not utter in any literal sense, been used by the Church Fathers at the Ecumenical Councils. The use of politically correct, gender neutral terms like “the Human one” is nothing short of apostasy, for these phrases, which were not spoken by Christ, represent a turning away from Christianity, and the cultivation of an entirely new religion, that venerates a semi-mythological figure with some Christological parallels.

        This has been known to happen before, as the example of the Yazidis, a degenerate Gnostic sect, who, following in the instructions of a prophet, who had previously been a Sufi Muslim, worship Taus Melek, the Peacock Angel, essentially Lucifer, but with certain Christological parallels, and practice baptism, and apparently the Eucharist. The Yazidis, like some Sunni extremists, practice honor killings, murdering their own young women who dare to commit exogamy, and marry someone they love outside the religion. If we start referring to Christ, who is the Son of Man, as “the human One”, our own faith in the course of time will surely resemble that of the Yazidis, in all of its horror.

        As for the NRSV, the blasphemous character of this translation is very well attested. The Orthodox Church in America explicitly prohibits its use in their Divine Liturgy. Its predecessor was almost universally condemned for translating “virgin” as “young woman” in key passages relating to Mary. The NRSV goes beyond this, through aggressive use of gender-neutral language, that is unfaithful to the meaning of the original text, yet appeases modern socio-political sensibilities very well. For someone who strives to preserve the theology of the Apostolic faith, the NRSV is almost beneath contempt, whereas at the very least, the blasphemies of the CEB are novel and worthy of additional study.

        • Zzyzx says

          So now you’re generalizing about all illiterate or semi-literate people? Attacking them and blaming them wholesale regardless of any nuance? What about people who speak English as a second language? No. Everything is how you say it is. Everyone you condemn deserves it. Everything would be better if it was all done YOUR way. The world all fits conveniently into your categories.

          Truly, your words show you to be one of the least gracious, least merciful, least understanding person I think I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across.

          • Paul Anthony Preussler says

            I can be gracious about all things, save three: the death or destruction of human life, the denial of freedom, most especially that of the conscience, by government, and the destruction and perversion of the Christian faith by heretics.

            Now regarding those who are illiterate, they can in fact broadly be grouped into three categories: the developmentally disabled, the unintentionally ignorant, and the slothful.

            Of the first two I have every sympathy. Children must be taught to read properly. The mentally incapacitated, and those denied a proper education, should be assisted with a wide variety of teaching aids. including illustrated Bible story books. Those who speak English as their second language should in general read the Bible in whichever language they are more proficient in. The slothful should mend their ways.

            On no account however can we risk losing further access to the original meaning of the Bible through semantic changes to the text in accommodation of the peculiarities of the modern vernacular tongue. It’s bad enought that most of us, myself included, cannot read Koine Greek; the thought of losing even more syntactic equivalence is intolerable.

        • Zzyzx says

          Nice hat you have such convenient straightjackets — I mean categories for everything. I suppose that makes everything easier to condemn, or whatever…

          • Paul Anthony Preussler says

            I try not to condemn anything, although I do occasionally sin by cussing. In the confiteor of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, each congregant confesses he is the worst of sinners, and this is how I view myself.

            Only God can condemn, and only a church council can anathematize; I merely seek to elucidate the readers of this blog on what the Apostolic church anathematized, and how Orthodox doctrine applies to our lives.

            I do enjoy Postmodern philosophy, in it’s denial that the world cannot be separated into ontological categories, but my experience as a computer scientist has given me cause to doubt it; rather, I think we can categorize, bearing in mind the existence of what in programming, we call ‘edge cases.’

            Now, we should not categorize in order to condemn, disparage, or discriminate, but rather, to prescribe. Each human being, with the exception of Christ, is a sinner, but in all other respects we differ. Those of us suffering from specific impairments require specific remedies, or where the impairment cannot be taken away, specific accommodations.

            In accommodating those who are unable to comprehend the English language, however, we cannot compromise doctrine, nor impair the transmission of the faith to those who can read properly. Rather, we must work with each human being, individually, to help them understand the full meaning of the Bible. We should not just toss them a dumbed-down translation like the CEB and say “here, read this,” especially when the simplification that version uses goes so far as to obscure essential doctrine. Additionally, one must remember that those lacking good English reading skills are substantially more likely to erroneously interpret the text; thus, just giving them a dumbed down Bible seems to me a lousy way to teach them the Gospel. Preaching, and better yet individual tutoring, along with the use of illustrated Bible story books, are much more likely to get the message across correctly.

            Ultimately, however, a Christian might not read a word of scripture in their life, and still be saved, through the cornerstones of our faith: the life giving Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, and indeed our faith itself.

    • Zzyzx says

      “Of course UM Jeremy probably uses… I’m not getting my hopes up on this one.”

      Everyone loves making worldview-reinforcing assumptions. Especially about other people. Makes us feel all squishy and superior to everyone else…

  3. Zzyzx says

    By the way, I agree with you about The People’s Bible. It was quite disappointing. I was hoping for some radical new perspectives from theologians I may not have encountered before. A fresh way of reading the text from outside my paradigm. That occurred less often in The People’s Bible than it could have.

    I can’t help but feel that the “lack” in these themed Bibles has to do largely with market forces. There’s a new iPhone every year, but it’s not exactly possible to have a new translation every year. And, let’s be honest, there’s a glut of Bibles in the USA. Anyone who wants one, has one (or more.) So you’ve got to find a way to sell a Bible. What better way than to add some theme into it? Bam. Instant sales. And the thing is, I’ve rarely seen these “themed” Bibles see use after the first year or couple of years. They are more like novelty items and the novelty wears off. Whereas family Bibles and more basic Bibles (like pew versions) tend to stick around for quite a while. Just my experiences.

    But maybe I’ve just gotten the tiniest bit cynical after working in Christian bookstores for a few years and seeing the absolute glut of Bibles and “Bible-marketing…”

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