More thoughts on the Bible...and its translation.
In the beginning was the Bible, and the Bible was with God, and the Bible was God. The Bible was in the beginning with God. All things were made through the Bible, and without the Bible nothing was made that was made. In the Bible was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
In my past, I could have just about affirmed this alteration of St. John's words...or at least I certainly seemed to think in such a way so as to give that impression. The Bible is, afterall, the Word of God...right? It is no coincidence that if you were to ask me today what comes first to mind when I think of the term "Word of God", that it is not the Bible...but rather Jesus Christ Himself.
I can recall glorying in the beauty of the Reformation which brought the Bible off of its Church Builidng pedestals and put it into the hands of the common man...but on second thought, was this such a great idea? Into the hands of David Koresh? Joseph Smith? Name any serial killer? Or, hell,not even the wackos in the world...how many schisms and even death has resulted from this beautiful event of handing the Scriptures to some bloke like me and saying: "Here, interpret it for yourself. Be free!"
Even today I hear friends saying how important it is to use lots of commentaries and other academic/intellectual resources to help us in discerning the Scriptures, but let's be honest here: the "common man" cannot and does not. And do we not set up a sort of academic papacy by seemingly denying that venerable protestant tradition that the average person can sit down with their leather bound NIV and wholly comprehend the plain and clear message therein? I am beginning to think that the Roman Catholic Church may have been right to fear this "common man's" access to the Bible (GASP!), and furthermore that that fear had less to do with loss of power (as the cynics claim) but a prophetic vision that the state of Christendom would become as we see it today: broken, shattered, and unified only in name. But the age was leading us down this path...and there was no stopping it.
I do not believe that God left us a book to govern our Christianity. I mean seriously, think about it: people today on either side of the Gun Debate here in the US cannot come to an agreement on what the 200+ year old Constitution says (or at least how it ought to be interpretted), how can we expect to do so with a 2000 year old document? The funny little Babelfish example below also shows how important the human hand and mind is in translating languages...but we ought to keep in mind the difficulty of translating from one modern language to another is severly compounded when we try to translate an ancient language into a modern one. Such that to say that when we are reading the "Precious Moments" Bible we are reading God's word is really quite scary, isn't it?
Forgive me, friends, I have fallen so far away from whole protestant hermeneutic that I can hardly look upon it with any appreciation at all...no doubt exactly how I would have looked at paradosis - Tradition some 10 years ago. But, I do not wish to give the impression that we Orthodox have a low opinion of Holy Scripture - far from it! We simply have a low opinion of how it is utilized: almost as a handbook that might be entitled: "Christianity for Dummies."
We believe God didn't leave us a book to govern us, but rather a Living Way...a Holy Tradition as safeguarded by the Church (which is the only thing He Himself established.)
More on my much neglected website.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:09 AM [+]