07 October 2009

Andy, Meet Origen. Origen, Meet Andy.

Pop Quiz Time!
What is Cindy's favorite flower? Hydrangeas, pretty!
What is Cindy's favorite food? Shrimp Scampi, yum!
What was Cindy's major in college? Biblical and Theological Studies, yay!
What is Cindy's all-time biggest pet peeve in the world?
When people use the Bible or the Church against other people, boo!

Why the quiz? Because, as much as I love to write about daily life here and as much as I try to keep this blog positive, I am--at the deepest level of my heart--a Bible scholar and a lover of Christianity in all its diversity. And I am furious.
I am incensed.
I am incredibly saddened.

There was this guy named Origen who lived in Egypt ages and ages ago: an influential Biblical interpreter and translator; a teacher of great standing in the Ancient World; a heretic who was excommunicated from the Church, but we'll ignore that fact for now. One would think that Origen had anything a man could want, and he did have everything a man could want---except his way with the ladies. Oh yes, Origen took that bit about "if your arm causes you to sin, cut it off" a little too far and sacrificed his manhood in the name of piety.

Just imagine the giggles he got in the Roman bath houses--"Oooh look, there's Origen. What a wiener. Well not literally, obviously." All the other naked (and still endowed) men in attendance chortle while Origen, standing in the corner like a freshman in a community shower of seniors, scuffs the marble floor with his foot and pulls his towel tighter around his waist.

Andy Schlafly, the creator of this new Bible translation, needs to spend some time hanging out with Origen in the loser's corner of the bath house. Why? Because they're both reading the Bible without understanding what it's saying. Origen might have considered that maybe Jesus meant that we should cut those things that lead us to sin out of our lives--that gossipy magazine, that porn hidden under the mattress, take your pick. Shlafly might consider that translating the pronoun used for an unnamed child as "it" is not a liberal attempt to refer to a child merely as a "thing", but maybe that the Greek word used for "child" was a neuter noun that didn't designate a gender for the child.

I highly encourage Schlafly to follow the example of The Green Bible and create a text--using his beloved King James Version--with conservative devotions and references in addition to Scripture. It would get the exact same point across. But to encourage his translators to omit verses that they consider liberal, to use "powerful conservative terms", and to base their new paraphrase off the most inaccurate translation of the Bible in history (excepting, perhaps, my translations in Greek class last year) is spiritually, ecumenically, and academically reprehensible.

I'm sure that Andy thinks he's doing some good by making this translation, just like Origen thought he was following Jesus' advice by pulling a third-century Lorena Bobbit--he wouldn't be creating the new translation if he didn't. But he is placing politics upon piety. He is giving a sacred text a political agenda and therefore warping the words of a man who was crucified for being too "liberal" for the leaders of his time.

Let's just hope that Schlafly doesn't stumble across the same passage as Origen. His wife might be a little ticked.


hrobins said...

Oh, Cynthia. You have a way of making even a clever biting commentary such as this one a joy to read and still very funny. I can't believe this guy! Seriously?!?! Sure, the Bible is "liberal" in some ways by today's political standards (ya know, that whole "Jesus is Lord" thing--it gets in the way of the "Yes, Mr. Pres" thing), but it sure is plenty conservative by today's political standards...why are we using these standards again? ;-) I'm going to have to follow your link to check this out. LOVE

Columbo said...

The lunatic fringe is on the fringe no matter what part of the mainstream you view it from. Just gotta get a laugh at their expense and then try not to pay them any mind. To do anything else is bad for your health.

Cindy said...

Thanks for your thoughts, guys! It's funny...I knew if anyone commented on this post, it'd be you two :)

hrobins said...

Too true, Colombo. I merely use too many words--I have neither the time nor the energy to damage my health any further than I already do by depriving myself of appropriate sleep. =)