Friday, January 28, 2011

Starting in on the B90 plan

After all that work to come up with a plan to read the Catholic Bible in 90 days, I decided I wasn't going to!  Well, not exactly.  My friend invited me to her church's small group, doing the Bible in 90 days.  To avoid confusion, I'm sticking to their version and reading the official The Bible in 90 Days, which is NIV (New International Version).  I have never read the NIV before, though I must also say I'm not a big fan.

I prefer a more word for word, literal translation of the Bible.  This does make it harder to read, as we're translating from ancient languages so the grammar just seems a bit off.  But I like it because it varies less by the translator's background.  The NIV and others are considered to be less of a literal word for word translation.  You can see a chart of how many Bibles would look on a scale here.  Of course, that is also subject to interpretation.  None of this analysis is divinely inspired!

Here's an example of a difference.  Genesis 4:1 talks about Adam and Eve engaging in the marital act and the conception of Cain.

KJV:  And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 

DRB:  And Adam knew Eve his wife; who conceived and brought forth Cain, saying: I have gotten a man through God. 

RSV:  Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD."

NIV:  Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man."

Obviously, "lay with" is an accurate description of what occurred.  But the original text means "knew."  The definitions associated with the word all indicate "knew" is what was meant.  That can mean a variety of things, but it all falls under the word "knew."  Adam "knew" his wife Eve.

Why is this important?  Well, this word to know appears elsewhere in the Bible.  Lots actually.  People knew things all the time.  They knew what was going on, they knew each other in the sexual sense, and they knew God.  It might be important to now that all this knowing, even if it meant the same thing, was not always looked upon in the same way.  Genesis 19 tells of what happens when Lot entertains angels in the city of Sodom.  The men of the town show up at his house and demand that he turn over these visitors so they may "know" them (Gen 19:5).

KJV:  And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

DRB:  And they called Lot, and said to him: Where are the men that came in to thee at night? bring them out hither, that we may know them:

RSV:  and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them." 

NIV:  They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."

These men wanted to engage in the sexual act, just like Adam and Eve engaged in.  Same (okay, well similar) act, but very different morality.  I prefer to read it in the same word, because it reminds me the context in which this knowing occurs is very important.  I read the NIV version and I'm reminded of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."  Yeah, but did you "know" her?  God is not absent in the bedroom.  He has a lot to say about our sexual activity, even if we don't like it.

This is all of course a relatively minor hang up of mine, but I think words do matter quite a bit.  The upside to the NIV is it is a lot easier to read, which makes reading it in 90 days all the simpler.

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