Underlines and Highlights in my leather bound, name imprinted, NIV Student Bible
A popular mantra you’ll hear in Orthodox circles is often rendered thus: “Orthodoxy: all the verses you didn’t underline.” Kinda cute…and also kinda very true!
Digging out my old protestant bible I thumbed through the much highlighted and underlined text to look at some specific passages I have in recent years been made aware of which I suspected would not have made much sense to my old religious world-view. Sure enough…none of them were marked, save one that happened to have a BIG question mark laid beside it. A question I guess I never got answered…at least not until now.
Anyway, a good example is found in St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, here is the verse from chapter 2, I gleefully underlined:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.
However, the very next verse remains mysteriously unaltered by any writing utensil of mine:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Also, I notice that a good deal of St. James’ epistle remains as the text was originally published and Hebrews contains a few question marks. The “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews is left pristine. The troublesome text of Matthew 23:2 finds itself un-underlined, as does this little gem from earlier in St. Matthew’s Gospel (11:12):
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
My Orthodox New Testament (a completely new and very literal translation which is available here) renders this verse as: And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is being taken by force, and the forceful seize it.
This passage made no sense to me, until now when I have learned that this “violence” has been traditionally understood by the Church as the ascetic struggle necessary to the Christian life. This concept (of ascetic struggle) will lead me to the next car in my train of thought…momentarily and in the next post.
As I thumb through my old Bible…the notes and comments I have pasted throughout the book really testify to how I have changed my faith in recent years. I also come to realize that I have not done ANY underlining or highlighting in any of the Bibles I own since becoming Orthodox…I wonder why that might be? I suspect perhaps the pens with which I used to mark that NIV Student Bible were literal instruments of my personal hermeneutics – in no small way I was selecting those parts of Holy Scripture, which I somehow deemed important, and at the same time neglecting those that didn’t fit well – or at all – into my little box of understanding.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:29 PM [+]