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A friend sent me a link to this article about the Bible and biblical illiteracy among evangelicals today from the January 2015 issue of Newsweek.
The author makes the argument that modern American evangelicalism (aka the popular conservative portrayal of Christianity many have in mind in America) is quite at odds with what the Bible actually teaches, particularly when it comes to issues about the inerrancy of the Bible, issues on homosexuality, women’s roles in the church, the formation of the canon, and other issues. In fact, the Bible condemns the style of Christianity modern evangelicals are practicing now, the article states.
I was exposed to how prone to error the NIV translation of the Bible was in the past, but not to this extent!
(I myself prefer the NASB, NRSV, or the ESV versions of the Bible. The only times I read or encounter the NIV these days are Sundays at church.)
The NIV is arguably the most popular translation of the Bible in America, or at least one of the most popular throughout the world. Therefore, could millions of Christians over the years been misled in our understanding of the Bible by the NIV translators?
Lots of times, we want the Bible (or even God for that matter) to fit into our own image and conform to our view of the world or reality, and not the other way around. It seems as if those who came up with the NIV seem to have placed the conservative evangelical doctrine of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture front and foremost, and let that be the driving motivation behind the translation, which then leads to gross misinterpretations and even erroneous belief systems.
Be very cautious of sensationalist claims and findings on biblical archeology reported by the media firsthand.
Dr. Irving Finkel, assistant keeper at the department of the Middle East at the British Museum, recently deciphered the “Ark Tablet” – an ancient Babylonian tablet that describes a flood and a building of an ark by a single person; however this one is unique in that this tablet provides specific instructions on how the ark was to look like and be built.
Some interesting facts:
- In this account, the ark was round, called a coracle– a shape that is still used today in the Middle East, with a diameter of around 230 ft; very different from our traditional picture of what the ark looked like from our Sunday school pictures
- It’s one of the first known depictions of the Akkadian (Semitic Babylonian) word “sana” which translates to “two each, two by two” when the Ark Tablet describes how the animals were rounded into the coracle. (Sound familiar?)
- It’s worthy to bear in mind that, as Finkel states, the Babylonian flood story in cuneiform is 1,000 years older than the book of Genesis in Hebrew.
He’s come out with a new book on his discoveries called The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood.
I personally had a chance to attend a lecture of Dr. Finkel in the summer last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when they were exhibiting the Cyrus Cylinder; the Met used his English translation of the Cylinder. He’s quite an entertaining speaker, unlike most other academic lecturers in his field who tend to be quite dry and boring in my opinion.
It should be interesting to see how this may impact biblical and Old Testament studies in the future.
Click here for his complete article.
The process of canonization of the biblical text or the Bible that we have now, is long and complex.
Most people think that the 66 books that comprise the Bible have been set in stone and that they are a settled (and eternal) issue, but it really depends in most part what Christian tradition or denomination you’re affiliated with.
I can only imagine how (radically) different Christianity would have been like if such books were included and other current ones, like the Book of Revelation, had been omitted.
Very interesting article about a new book coming out soon.