New Bibles

Posted on April 11, 2008

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We are on the way back from two conferences, the Society for the Study of Theology in Durham and Spring Harvest in Minehead, of which more in another post. I wasn’t expecting my major book purchases from the two weeks to be new bibles–frankly, I’ve got several more than I use as it is…

We nevertheless came back with two more, just because they seemed to genuinely add something. The first was the first sight, at Spring Harvest, of the fruit of a project I’ve known about for a while, Bible Society’s Poverty and Justice Bible. Conceived in part as an antidote to the plethora of ‘Sanctified Students’ Daily Walk Bible with Exam Helps’ or ‘Working wives’ five minute holiness devotional Bible’, this is a Bible which highlights what the text is actually about, rather than what we’d like it to be about… Something like 3000 verses are highlighted as referring very directly to issues of poverty and justice, and there are 50 thoughtful bible studies in the centre pages. The translation used is BS’s own Contemporary English Version.

The other is The Jesus Storybook Bible, published by Zonderkidz (is there a viler-named publisher anywhere?!). It’s a children’s story Bible, with good re-tellings of various Biblical narratives (and other bits–it has a go at Isaiah, for instance), but with a very deliberate slant. The introduction says, in part, this:

…some people think the Bible is a book of rules … But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done. Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes … but most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all…

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book or heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves … There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center [yes, it’s American…] of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit..

And so each story ends with a hint of how it is a part of the big story. The tower of Babel: ‘People didn’t need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to heaven wasn’t a staircase; it was a Person. People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them. And one day, it would.’ The birth of Isaac: ‘And one day God would send another baby, a baby promised to a girl who didn’t even have a husband. But this baby would bring laughter to the whole world. This baby would be everyone’s dream come true.’

Bibles for adults and children that suggest that the text is about Jesus, and about justice, instead of about pandering to our selfish desires and pathetic insecurities – this could be very, very dangerous…

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