Here are the rest of “Bibles” I’m enshrining in the Hall of Contextualization Apostasy, courtesy of my friend Aneida Alexander:
The Manga Bible: It’s got a rave review from that eminently apostate Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams: “This is an exciting new venture, in completely up-to-the-minute style and speech. It will convey the shock and freshness of the Bible in a unique way.” Comics book format a unique way. The Bible a comedy? (“Comics” comes from the Greek komikos, which means pertaining to comedy or revelry.) Says the New York Times:
No doubt. In the Manga Bible, whose heroes look and sound like skateboarders in Bedouin gear, Noah gets tripped up counting the animals in the Ark: â€œThatâ€™s 11,344 animals? Arggh! Iâ€™ve lost count again. Iâ€™m going to have to start from scratch!â€ Abraham rides a horse out of an explosion to save Lot. Og, king of Bashan, looms like an early Darth Vader.
Sounds to me like one of those children’s Bibles we had back then. Or that story in kinder Sunday school when Moses led his Navy Seals in amphibious tanks to a victory in the Battle of the Red Sea.
The Green Bible: After Red Letter editions have been with us for a while, it was just a matter of time before someone came up with a Green Letter edition, with all verses that talk about the earth in green, soy-based ink on recyclable paper printed by recyclable printers (hopefully). “With over 1,000 references to the earth in the Bible, compared to 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love, the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth.” The most pressing problem of mankind is not sin, but global warming and resource waste.
Desmond Tutu writes in the foreword, “It is possible to have a new kind of world, a world where there will be more compassion, more gentleness, more caring, more laughter, more joy for all of God’s creation, because that is God’s dream. And God says, ‘Help me, help me, help me realize my dream.'” Without man’s help, God is helpless in making his dream possible.
Other preeminent orthodox Christians contributors their essays are N. T. Wright, Brian McLaren and Pope John Paul II. Watch for Rick Warren using this edition to write his next bestseller, Green-Driven Life with a Purpose.
Bibleman: Away with the Shorter Catechism! With Bibleman, “Bible truths and values are taught in a layout that reaches a boy’s sense of adventure and imagination.” Designed for boys ages 6 to 10 who love to imagine being superheroes fighting evil, this “Combat Manual” will “focus that imagination and combine it with the power-packed pages of ICB text, exciting articles, and incredibly fun activities.” This Biblezine will “challenge a young boy to learn more about faith while having loads of fun at the same time.”
Why does everything have to be about “fun and games”? Hard to imagine the children of the persecuted early church, the Reformation churches, or today’s churches in India and Iraq having this much fun. Another Bible comedy.
Revolve:The Complete New Testament: What teenage girl would want to study the Heidelberg Catechism or a “big and freaky looking Bible,” when Revolve tells them, “The fire of God’s love burns out the sin the same way the hot steam routs the dirt out of your pores. This kind of relationship with God will do more to improve your looks than any amount of facials”? And so it goes in “Spiritual Facials” in one of the “Beauty Secrets” insets in this 5th-grade level girls sassy fashion “Bible.”
Another Beauty Secret:”As you apply your sunscreen, use that time to talk to God. Tell him how grateful you are for how he made you. Soon, you’ll be so used to talking to him, it might become as regular and familiar as shrinking your pores.”
Includes “Blabs,” “Guys Speak Out,” and other relationship articles written for their edification. Yes? Not. Beautification rather.
The Message: My all-time favorite “translation” (perversion, actually) of the Bible. Look at these precious, contextualized gems (emphasis added):
By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and the neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Clear out! This girl isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.” They told him he didn’t know what he was talking about (Matt 9:23-24).
Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anywayâ€”buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without moneyâ€”everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? (Isa 55:1-2).
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing (Psa 23:5).
Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s bestâ€” as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes (Matt 6:9-13).
Since The Message is very popular, in a way I’m glad that churches don’t recite the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 anymore.
UPDATE: Good As New: Rowan Williams also endorsed this version in 2004, saying that all other versions are full of “the stale, the technical, the unconsciously exclusive words and policies,” and should be “re-imagined.” Tony Campolo also had this to say, “”It spoke to me with a powerful relevancy that challenged me to re-think all the things that I have been taught.” I wonder what else is there for Campolo to re-think, since for many years before 2004, he had been a universalist, open theist, gay sympathizer, etc.
But read for yourself a few excerpts. If these weren’t blasphemous, it would have been amusing:
John, nicknamed “The Dipper,” was “The Voice.” He was in the desert, inviting people to be dipped, to show they were determined to change their ways and wanted to be forgiven (Mark 1:4).
As he was climbing up the bank again, the sun shone through a gap in the clouds. At the same time a pigeon flew down and perched on him. Jesus took this as a sign that God’s spirit was with him. A voice from overhead was heard saying, “That’s my boy! You’re doing fine!” (Mark 1:10-11)
Take a running jump, Holy Joes, humbugs! (Matt 23:25)
Meanwhile Rocky was still sitting in the courtyard. A woman came up to him and said: “Haven’t I seen you with Jesus, the hero from Galilee?” Rocky shook his head and said: “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” (Matt 26:69-70)
Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from each other. That is more likely to lead to sexual offences. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner (1 Cor 7:1-2).
If you know you have strong needs, get yourself a partner. Better than being frustrated (1 Cor 7:7-8).
And guess which portion of the New Testament these words replace:
- Splendid are those who take sides with the poor: They are citizens of the Bright New World.
- Splendid are those who grieve deeply over misfortunes: The more deeply they grieve, the stronger they become.
- Splendid are the gentle: The world will be safe in their hands.
- Splendid are those who have a passion for justice: They will get things done.
- Splendid are those who make allowances for others: Allowances will be made for them.
- Splendid are those who seek the best for others and not themselves: They will have God for company.
- Splendid are those who help enemies to be friends: They will be recognized as Godâ€™s true children.
- Splendid are those who have a rough time of it because they stand up for what is right: They too are citizens of the Bright New World.
John Henson thought that The Message by Eugene Peterson is not novel enough, so he wrote his newfangled Good As New !