The Bible Meme

Here’s a meme from bls:

1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?

My favorite translation is the Vulgate. Every act of translation is an act of interpretation, and I really like Jerome’s interpretive choices. Once upon a time I was part of a group that read through Genesis, reading each verse in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. I was quite fascinated with the way that Jerome navigated between the Greek and the Hebrew.

As a result, my favorite Bible for study and reading is a facing page NT that has the eclectic Greek text on one side and the Vulgate on the other.

When I need an English language Bible, I prefer the RSV. We managed to get some of the last sets of 2 vol. Daily Office books that use the RSV rather than the NRSV.

2. Old or New Testament?

It’s impossible to understand one without the other. Christians have always contended that you need the NT to understand the OT properly, but what so many of us today have forgotten is how thoroughly the NT is saturated by OT images, thoughts, and themes. As Augustine and Jerome both insisted, the best way to learn to interpret Scripture better is to read more Scripture; I’d put a finer point on it and say that the best way to understand the New Testament better is to read the Old Testament more.

3. Favorite Book of the Bible?

Well, I love the Psalms.

I’m also a big fan of the Gospel of Matthew—which is good since that’s what my dissertation is on…

Deuteronomy is a classic. That’s the book that starts talking about intention—that the Law is about a way of being, a fundamental orientation towards God, not just things you do and don’t do. I see it as the inspiration for a lot of people in our tradition including Jeremiah and Jesus himself.

Recently I’ve been caught up again in Ecclesiastes; I’ve read through it several times since my spider bite. I hear in it a call to humility: all our works, wealth, learning, and accomplishments are ultimately vanity. What is important—and it underlines this by presenting it several times throughout the book, returning to it like a touchstone—is the recognition and enjoyment of the simple facts of reality: good food, good drink, good companionship, and the sun on your face.

Of course, I can’t forget Ephesians, Colossians, 2nd Peter, and Revelation. And the Song of Songs.

4. Favorite Chapter?

That’s hard to say. Rev 21-22 have always been favorites of mine… I’m also quite partial to Ps 107. And Ps 1. And Ps 18. Colossians 1 is also not to be missed. I could keep going for a while but I think I’ll stop there…

5. Favorite Verse? (feel free to explain yourself if you have to)

There’s no way I can answer this one; I have so many favorites. I’ll point to just two: Ps 70:1 (O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me) and Eph 5:2 (Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an fragrant offering and sacrifice to God). The first is commended by Egyptian monks as the ideal breath-prayer in John Cassian in The Conferences. Given Cassian’s recommendation, it’s no surprise that Benedict uses it to start the Offices as we do today. The second, in the words of a wise man of my acquaintance, can be considered the heart of Pauline Spirituality.

6. Bible character you think you’re most like?

I’d like to say David but my life’s not nearly that exciting. I aspire to be more like John of Patmos.       

7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you?

Hey—that blessing that Jacob gave to the twelve tribes this morning (Gen 49:1-28) totally boggled the mind. I’m suspecting some serious textual corruption in the transmission of that passage because some of it seemed to make no sense at all. It made me wonder what the Fathers did with it…

8. Moses or Paul?


9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don’t get?

Teachings around obedience are always hard for me. That’s one of the reasons why I need to follow a Benedictine path. [And one of the reasons why I’m Anglican…;-)]

10. Coolest name in the Bible?

I’ve always been a fan of the three young men: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

I won’t formally tag folks, but if it looks like fun, give it a rip…

5 thoughts on “The Bible Meme

  1. meg

    “Looks like fun”? Looks like a great idea for part of an exam in my Bible class!

    Why RSV over NRSV, btw? Being a medievalist, my knowledge stops at the Douai-Rheims and the KJV.

    Re OT vs. NT: In my Bible class, I let the student use whatever Bible they want… Or at least I did until one evangelical student brought in one where the opening words of Genesis were “The Jews believe [that God created etc.].” My mind is still utterly blown by this heresy, ignorance, or whatever.

  2. lukacs

    Church Publishing has finally reprinted the 2-volume Daily Office Book with the RSV lections.

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    I prefer the RSV over the NRSV because it still takes advantage of the massive improvements in the Greek text that have happened over the past 200 years (the single biggest problem with using the KJV for scholarly work) but it doesn’t have the sugar-coating and deliberate alterations of the NRSV. For instance, the NRSV decided that gender-neutral or gender inclusive address is to be preferred. I can see how that helps, particularly in a liturgical context. However, it can create some real problems. The clearest example is in Ps 8. The Hebrew and Greek read “What is man that you regard him; the son of man that you care for him?” The NRSV changes the second to “human beings” which is great and all until you get to Hebrews 2 which cites the psalm as a reference to Christ, the Son of Man. At which point the entire reason the psalm is used is completely obscured.

    You were right the first time—I’m afraid that’s just heresy, not ignorance…

    lukacs, I’m glad they’ve finally brought that back! If only they’d be willing to put out a Contemporary Office Book that includes Rite I…

  4. lukacs

    Derek, I am not sure I understand–you want a Rite I ordinary with the NRSV readings appended? I just wish they sold the Daily Office Book in one volume instead of two, so one could use the OT lesson from the other year to provide a fourth lesson, without having to flip through two different volumes.

  5. swain

    You know, that whole reading the Bible in the 3 languages (and hey, let’s add some others like Old and Middle English, Gothic, etc) would be a great thing, though I confess my Hebrew is rusty, and LXX Greek is slow at best. Still, that would be great! When we finish these dissertation things, let’s plan to do that….

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