Thinking Out Loud

March 19, 2013

More From The Voice Bible

A few days ago we looked at the story behind the new translation. The “more” here refers to the excerpt from this Bible version I posted at Christianity 201 (C201) the sister blog of Thinking Out Loud.

I wanted to choose a section here that highlights the use of italics to provide details that embellish the text for non-Bible readers; the use of the theatrical script to indicate dialog; and the use of embedded commentary inserted into the text.

I also wanted something seasonal, so I chose this pre-Palm Sunday passage, Luke 20. This is better than anything I could have written today!!



20 One day when He was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests, religious scholars, and elders came up and questioned Him.

Elders: Tell us by what authority You march into the temple and disrupt our worship. Who gave You this authority?

Jesus: Let Me ask you a question first. Tell Me this: was the ritual cleansing of baptism John did from God, or was it merely a human thing?

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders (conferring together): If we say it was from God, then He’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John. If we say it was merely human, all the people will stone us because they are convinced that John was a true prophet.

So they said they didn’t know where John’s ritual washing came from.

Jesus: Well then, if you won’t answer My question, I won’t tell you by what authority I have acted.

The Voice BibleHe told the people another parable:

Jesus: A man planted a vineyard. He rented it to tenants and went for a long trip to another country. 10 At the harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants so he could be paid his share of the vineyard’s fruit, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11 The man sent another servant, and they beat him and treated him disgracefully and sent him away empty-handed too. 12 He sent a third servant who was injured and thrown out. 13 Then the vineyard owner said, “Now what am I going to do? I’ll send my much-loved son. They should treat him with respect.”

14 But when the tenants recognized the owner’s son, they said, “Here’s our chance to actually own this vineyard! Let’s kill the owner’s heir so we can claim this place as our own!” 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and murdered him. What do you think the owner will do to these scoundrels?

16 I’ll tell you what he’ll do; he’ll come and wipe those tenants out, and he’ll give the vineyard to others.

Crowd: No! God forbid that this should happen!

Jesus: 17 Why then do the Hebrew Scriptures contain these words:

The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the very stone
    that holds together the entire foundation?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to fragments, and if that stone falls on anyone, he will be ground to dust.

19 That was the last straw for the religious scholars and the chief priests; they were ready to attack Him right then and there. But they couldn’t for fear of public opinion, and they realized that Jesus, through this parable, had exposed their violent intentions.

Since they can’t use overt violence against Him, they develop a covert plan.

20 They would keep Him under constant surveillance. They would send spies, pretending to ask sincere questions, listening for something they could seize upon that would justify His arrest and condemnation under the governor’s authority.

In addition to the Pharisees, there is a religious sect in Roman-occupied Israel called the Sadducees. They are religious conservatives holding to an ancient tradition in Judaism that doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Their disbelief in an afterlife seems to make them conclude, “There’s only one life, and this is it, so you’d better play it safe.” That means they are very happy to collaborate with the Romans—and make a healthy profit—rather than risk any kind of rebellion or revolt. For this reason, they are closely allied with another group called the Herodians, allies of Caesar’s puppet king Herod. Their contemporaries, the Pharisees, who believe in an afterlife, are more prone to risk their lives in a rebellion since they hope martyrs will be rewarded with resurrection. For this reason, the Pharisees are closely allied with the Zealots, who are more overtly revolutionary. Each group tries to trap Jesus, but He turns the tables on them, using each encounter to shed more light on the message of the kingdom of God. In case after case, Jesus brings His hearers to the heart of the matter; and again and again, the bottom-line issue is money.

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: 21 Teacher, we respect You because You speak and teach only what is right, You show no partiality to anyone, and You truly teach the way of God. 22 So—is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar’s occupying regime, or should we refuse?

23 He saw through their transparent trick.

Jesus: [Why are you trying to trick Me?] 24 Show Me a coin. Whose image and name are on this coin?

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: Caesar’s.

Jesus: 25 Well then, you should give to Caesar whatever is Caesar’s, and you should give to God whatever is God’s.

26 Once again they failed to humiliate Him in public or catch Him in a punishable offense. They were confounded by His reply and couldn’t say anything in response.

27 Another group came to test Him—this time from the Sadducees, a rival party of the Pharisees, who believe that there is no resurrection.

Sadducees: 28 Teacher, Moses wrote in the Hebrew Scriptures that a man must marry his brother’s wife and the new couple should bear children for his brother if his brother dies without heirs. 29 Well, once there were seven brothers, and the first took a wife and then died without fathering children. 30 The second [took her as his wife and then he died childless,] 31 and then the third, and so on through the seven. They all died leaving no children. 32 Finally the woman died too. 33 Here’s our question: in the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since all seven had her for a while? Will she be the wife of seven men at once?

Jesus: 34 The children of this era marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain the resurrection of the dead in the coming era do not marry and are not given in marriage. 36 They are beyond mortality; they are on the level of heavenly messengers; they are children of God and children of the resurrection. 37 Since you brought up the issue of resurrection, even Moses made clear in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are, in fact, raised. After all, he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 38 By Moses’ time, they were all dead, but God isn’t God of the dead, but of the living. So all live to God.

Religious Scholars: 39 Teacher, that was a good answer.

40 After this no one had the courage to ask Him any more questions. 41 But He asked them a question.

Jesus: How is it that people say the Anointed One is David’s descendant? 42 Don’t you remember how David himself wrote in the psalms,

    The Master said to my master:
        “Sit here at My right hand,
        in the place of honor and power.
43     And I will gather Your enemies together,
        lead them in on hands and knees,
        and You will rest Your feet on their backs.”

44 Did you hear that? David calls his son “Lord.” Elders don’t defer to those who are younger in that way. How is David’s son also “Lord”?

45 Jesus turned to His disciples, speaking loudly enough for the others to hear.

Jesus: 46 Beware of the religious scholars. They like to parade around in long robes. They love being greeted in the marketplaces. They love taking the best seats in the synagogues. They adore being seated around the head table at banquets. 47 But in their greed they rob widows of their houses and cover up their greed with long pretentious prayers. Their condemnation will be all the worse because of their hypocrisy.

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March 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Jesus is the Light of the World

Regular readers will know this already, but I’ve never quite come out and said it: I find it somewhat snobbish when bloggers publish link lists where anything older than 2-3 days is considered obsolete. A true link sleuth will unearth some great material and won’t be concerned if the post is dated 30 days ago. If it was true then…

  • Essay of the week: Church Planting in Montreal. A somewhat typical couple has been living together for ten years but has never gotten close to having any kind of spiritual discussion. And that’s just one challenge. The Quebecois version of Hybels’ “unchurched Harry” is quite different from “Harry” in the rest of North America. 
  • Runner up: Remember that feeling when you were young and you came home from school only to find nobody home and you immediately thought everybody had been raptured?  Well, it happens to not-so-young college students, too.
  • Okay, so that video about how to write a worship song wasn’t the first time Jordan at BlimeyCow waded into Christian music criticism. Or church camp. And different types of churches
  • While everyone else on Sunday night was watching The Bible miniseries on History, one blogger was putting the final period on his review even as the credits rolled. I guess that way you get to say, “First!”  (The cable channel show beat all the big networks in the ratings.)
  • If you know people whose Christian faith is characterized by what they are against, may I suggest you copy and paste this article and email it to them.
  • For people who don’t know how to use a “table of contents” in a book, The Alpha Bible presents the Bible books in… well you know.
  • Given the success of The Book of Mormon, a Broadway production by The Foursquare Church denomination on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson probably seemed like a good idea at the time
  • The idea of gospel tracts probably seems somewhat archaic to most readers here, but the concision of these short presentations actual suits present attention spans. Now 31 Good News tracts are available on audio.  
  • Matt Hafer comes out of church leadership hibernation with five ways for pastors to tell if people are truly on board.
  • I know I often link you over to Christianity 201, but I really want you all, if nothing else, to catch this video.
  • In some ways connected to a link we had here last week, a Christianity Today women’s blog suggests a little bit of Christianese is OK.
  • As someone whose entire wardrobe was purchased at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, this is scary: Pat Robertson allows the possibility that those shirts and sweaters could have demonic spirits attached. (That’s why Pat buys professionally tailored suits, I guess.)
  • Once we know the name of the new Pope, the new Pope has to choose a name. Past Pope picks included these. (You remember Pope Urban, right?) 
  • How is it possible that this great song by the Wheaton College Gospel Choir has had less than 2,500 views in two years?  If this don’t bring a smile to your face, your mouth is broken. Watch, copy the link and share.
  • Jon Acuff finds himself in a prayer meeting with someone who gives a whole new meaning to the phrase too much information
  • If you missed it January, Shaun Groves shares songwriting secrets for worship composers. But ultimately, “I think worship writers have parted with standard songwriting practices because they’re creating with the live experience in mind. So their priorities are much different from those of a traditional songwriter.”
  • The people at Thomas Nelson flatly refused us a review copy of this, but I’ll be nice and tell you about it anyway. Jesus: A Theography is a new book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola combining theology and biography with –[free review time expired]
  • …Mind you, that was already better than this guy’s review. “After a while, I finally put the book down and said enough.” (When you accept a free book you do agree to finish reading it.)
  • Remember Anne Jackson? Well she’s still kicking around, still writing, and apparently this Friday is a special day
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber, the Lutheran with attitude, shares her struggle preparing to preach on The Parable of the Vineyard. (Open the audio link in a new tab, then click back to follow the text; the whole sermon is about ten minutes.) Actual quote: “…you’d think that I’d totally remember a parable where poop is mentioned.”
  • Meanwhile Steve McCoy’s kids, age 12 and 14, are taking sermon notes while he preaches.
  • On our fifth birthday, we introduced you to Derek the Cleric. We had a tough time that day choosing between two cartoons and thought we’d stretch the written permission we received to do just one more.

Derek The Cleric - Powerpoint

June 17, 2011

Southern Baptists Reject New NIV Translation

SBC shindig in Phoenix, four days ago

“We’ll get Mikey to try it, he hates everything”
classic Life cereal commercial line

At their annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona, “messengers” of the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly “not to commend” the newly revised edition of the New International Version translation of the Bible, aka NIV 2011.

Their unstated reason is simple: They don’t like it.

Specifically, they don’t like it when passages that traditionally referred to males — using words like he, him, his, man, men, etc. — get changed to gender neutral pronouns.

But gender neutral is usually how the original texts read.  In the book, How To Choose A Bible Translation for All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss, the latter talks about working on the translation committee for the TNIV.  He notes that the Greek “anthropos” — from which we no doubt get the word anthropology, the study of human civilization — refers to  ‘person’ or ‘persons.’  You could say, tongue in cheek, that “in anthropos there is neither male nor female.” 

But he goes on to explain that forms like “Son of Man” cannot be jettisoned so easily, since they are both a poetic form and a doctrinal statement.  In other words, God is not a ‘she’ in either the TNIV or the NIV-2011, though this is how some hot-headed people would have you believe it reads.   It’s the end of doctrinal purity as we know it.

Consider this verse which we’ve been discussing here on this blog and at Christianity 201 recently:

If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

What possible major doctrinal violation takes place when I paraphrase that as:

If anyone would come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

[The so-called “singular to plural” crisis is, in this case, solved by the antecedent use of “one.”]

The answer is: Nothing.  It’s a much closer rendering of what Jesus is saying here, unless, of course, he is extending the invitation of discipleship entirely to males.

The Southern Baptists simply don’t like the change.  And they don’t like it with the same venom that characterizes King James Version Only people.  (And yes, I said King James Version only, which KJ-Onlyites hate because it concedes there are in fact other versions.) 

You can read the wording of their resolution here.

Furthermore, when you read it, you’ll note this interesting clause:

RESOLVED, That we respectfully request that LifeWay not make this inaccurate translation available for sale in their bookstores;

Ah yes, the power of an economic boycott.  The SBC controls the LifeWay chain of bookstores and websites; an organism about which I’ve already expressed a certain degree of contempt here.  This is the group that believes women should not teach men, but rakes in huge piles of cash daily from the sales of books by Beth Moore.  This is the same mentality that caused a group of 800 male pastors to turn their chairs so that their backs were to the podium during an address being given by Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz; a story referred to in a chapter of J. Lee Grady’s book Ten Lies The Church Tells Men, that was referred to here a few days ago.

What is Zondervan to do about all this?  The remaining editions of the NIV-1984 version in the Thinline and Church Bible (formerly Pew Bible) style — the two most popular formats — have already been discontinued and remaining copies donated to mission agencies.  The devotional, teen and study Bibles are not in reprint awaiting the fall release of the rest of the NIV-2011 product line.

Zondervan made an “all-in” commitment to the new translation, and is now met with this slap in the face from North America’s largest Protestant denomination.

But largest for how long?  As we reported here on Wednesday, USAToday’s religion page states that baptism statistics for the SBC are at a virtual all-time low for the past two generations, dropping to 1950s levels.  The denomination is going the way of many mainline Protestant ones; losing relevancy and losing younger families.

As for the translation issue:  C’mon guys (which implies both male and female here).  Look at the example above from Luke 9 and tell me that some element of the Christian faith is being compromised by the paraphrase I offered. 

If not, then suck it up. 

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  Our faith is based on unchanging truth.

But the English language is changing, and male-dominated, patriarchal language simply doesn’t mean what you think it means anymore; it isn’t heard that way, and simply doesn’t cut it.

~Paul Wilkinson

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