* to encourage a reasoned awareness of how our beliefs impact the way we interact with the world around us
* to foster intelligent and open dialogue
* to inspire a sense of spirituality that has real meaning in day-to-day life

Monday, July 18, 2011

Does the Bible Need to be Rewritten?

Short answer: no.  The Christian community appreciates the Bible just as it is, some even preferring outdated or inaccurate translations in favor of more familiar language.  Translations of the Bible improve in accuracy as scholars learn more, and translations also evolve with the language of human cultures.  Paraphrases opt for accessibility over accuracy and use more contemporary language to tell the same stories, seeking to preserve the same meaning and spiritual honesty of scriptures without being precise about the best English translation of the ancient Greek and Hebrew.

As you may have surmised from my reinterpretation of the first two chapters of Genesis, I've launched a bit of a paraphrase project.  I don't know how far I will take it, but it could be of some value to articulate the purpose for it.  Obviously, I'm not going for a literal translation.  Rather, I am aiming for spiritual truth.  This means that there may be some dialogue along the way that helps to refine a thing or two, which is why I think this interactive venue is ideal for a project like this.

Why the Bible?  I believe that the same core spiritual truths can be found in the writing other religions hold as sacred.  Even though I've studied many of these books, I'm still most familiar with the Christian Bible.  I am at least in part a product of my environment, and that environment is a largely Christian-influenced culture.  I hope that anyone who wants to can gain some insight from what I write, regardless of their beliefs or their level of familiarity with the book.

What's the point?  While the Bible doesn't necessarily need to be rewritten for Christians to be happy with it, I also think that its words get frequently misused by people that want to cite an unquestionable authority.  For some, quoting scripture is tantamount to quoting God, and no one can really argue with God.  But words can be twisted around and taken out of context and interpreted to suit a particular agenda.  My goal is to draw forth spiritual truth without claiming to quote the actual words of an almighty being, to develop and encourage a deep understanding of human spirituality outside of organized religion.

Isn't that disrespectful?  While I do consider myself to be post-Christian in my thinking, I still believe that spirituality has a place in human culture and relationships.  If people choose to express that faith in terms of a particular religious system, my hope is that they would do so with honesty and thoughtfulness.  Perhaps my take on things will challenge or inspire someone to take a closer look at personal beliefs, but my goal is not to insult or denigrate anyone's choice of spiritual expression.  

On top of that, the most likely people to consider a personal interpretation of the Bible to be disrespectful are those who hold the Bible to be higher than any other spiritual authority.  What better place to begin a dialogue aimed at deepening spiritual integrity?  My sense is that people with less attachment to the Bible as the only source of spiritual knowledge will have less reason to take issue with a recontextualization of its words.  I may be wrong, but I'm willing to take that chance.

So, next week, I'll delve a little further into Genesis and see where it all winds up.  Any dialogue that emerges will hopefully sharpen us all.

1 comment:

  1. Randy,
    Very interesting. I actually missed the fact that you were reinterpreting Genesis 1-2 in your previous post -- probably reader error. Glad you clarified, and I'm interested in in seeing what you have in store.

    "If people choose to express that faith in terms of a particular religious system, my hope is that they would do so with honesty and thoughtfulness." <-- Amen, brother!