Necessitating an Egyptian/Roman Translation of the Bible

Earlier this year the Patriot’s Bible hit the bookshelves of stores all across the country. There is an interesting video floating around from the editor explaining the rationale behind the compiling of this work, but in the end, I have to side with others who see this as perhaps the culmination of the patriotic idolatry of the American church. I feel this is an important teachable moment for people who may feel uncomfortable with this latest marketed Bible (which by the way, shouldn’t we feel uncomfortable with all of these “specialized” and “marketed” Bibles?) thinking this may go too far. I don’t want to dwell on critiquing this particular Bible here. The few folks that do come by here and read, have a pretty fair idea of the string of that argument. Instead, I’d like to propose another Bible that needs to be compiled.

Stephen Prothero has an interesting book entitled American Jesus: How the Son of God became a National Icon. While I haven’t has a chance to read the book, the description on the back details an important element in American culture. “Our nation’s changing images of Jesus, Stephen Prothero contends, are a kind of looking glass into the national character. Even as most Christians believers cleave to a traditional faith, other people give Jesus a leading role as folk hero, pitchman, or countercultural icon.” (From Dan Cryer, Newsday). Prothero pursues something that consistently shows itself to be true: humans are most likely to worship a deity that looks most like us. Of course Jesus was white. Of course Jesus would be in favor of capitalism. Of course Jesus woudl be in favor of democratic governments. Of course Jesus would be an American patriot – he’d probably wear red, white, and blue to the fireworks. That’s what we do . . . so it must be what he would do. Thus the Patriot’s Bible.

Unfortunately, for us, the Bible was written from the perspective of the oppressed, not the oppressors; from the perspective of the poor, not the wealthy; from the perspective of the powerless, not the powerful. Yet in the halls of our churches and seminaries, the Bible has been slanted toward those perspectives. Jesus, like Bruce Barton’s The Man Nobody Knew, becomes a mirror of successful Americana.

It seems to me we need to come up with a translation of the Bible that would have been read in Cairo and Rome. A Bible that would have stood to convict Pharaoh and Caeasar of their sins of oppression. I’m guessing we wouldn’t particularly care for the language that it would contain, the acts of sacrifice it would require, or the life changes it would mandate. It would, once and for all, specifically address the problems of affluence and excess. Gluttony and abundance would be given more than the scant references contained in the Holy Scriptures.

Our leaders should be spending their time composing a work such as this instead of wasting our time wading through the references to Scripture in the founding documents of the United States as if that somehow makes their genocide of the Native Peoples less significant.

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