Excerpts from a 23rd-Century Bible Translation (and a 20th-century poem)

My friend with the time machine has brought me back another gem, this time a 23rd century translation of the Bible. I was going to post the whole dynamic-equivalent translation of the Sermon on the Mount (in an approximation in modern English), but decided to just share a few highlights instead:

  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the galaxy.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall have it replicated unto them in abundance.
  • If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also, and the other, and the other – as many as your species may have.
  • If a Klingon compells you to go with him one parsec, go with him two.
  • Whoever hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise species that built its civilization near the galactic perimeter…

On a more serious note, I hope to discuss with my religion and science class next week what the possible implications might be for terrestrial religions if we made contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. One possible response is found in this early 20th-century poem:

CHRIST IN THE UNIVERSE
by: Alice Meynell (1847-1922)

WITH this ambiguous earth
His dealings have been told us. These abide:
The signal to a maid, the human birth,
The lesson, and the young Man crucified.

But not a star of all
The innumerable host of stars has heard
How He administered this terrestrial ball.
Our race have kept their Lord’s entrusted Word.

Of His earth-visiting feet
None knows the secret, cherished, perilous,
The terrible, shamefast, frightened, whispered, sweet,
Heart-shattering secret of His way with us.

No planet knows that this
Our wayside planet, carrying land and wave,
Love and life multiplied, and pain and bliss,
Bears, as chief treasure, one forsaken grave.

Nor, in our little day,
May His devices with the heavens be guessed,
His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way
Or His bestowals there be manifest.

But in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O, be prepared, my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The myriad forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06071672526594753513 Richard M

    I love it! Here are some in my translation:”Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. [Jesus] saith unto him, provide a carbon-based organic nutrient infusion to my Tiberian Herd-Bats on Rigel 6″And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery….[And Jesus said] He that is without sin among you, let him fire the first particle-beam cannon…”This is an interesting topic. Perhaps by some cosmic coincidence, I ran across this essay on the web just this weekend (sorry, not sure how to make sure this shows up as a link, if it doesnt just cut & paste):http://www.metanexus.net/Magazine/ArticleDetail/tabid/68/id/8758/Default.aspxJust as an off-the-cuff comment (Im in a hurry this morning), it seems that the discovery of an alien civilization would indeed have high relevance, potentially, to the issues involving pluralism. E.g., what if said civilization had a holy text that said “There is no God but Xzzyglgblk and Yamm is his prophet?” Conversely, John Hick’s pluralistic hypothesis might provide a useful handle for relating to their theology (if they have one).I also think that the question of extraterrestrial life is a useful model for arguments about God existence, in some respects. I.e., someone who said they believed there were ET’s, even though he could not prove it, would not (by me, anyway) be seen as being irrational; it would be understood as a defensible position (supported but not proven by argument) that was, at bottom, an act of hope, and a sense of belongingness in the universe. Credo consolans re: ET life would seem not at all strange. Belief in God could, in some respects, be something like that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07307342442253172056 RealityRules

    Has no one else noticed that this translation casts the Klingons as the Romans and we should therefore expect to be conquered by Cronos come the 23rd century?This is not canon, you heretic! :-)(I am not an obsessed Trekkie, I am not an obsessed Trekkie … umm, better now.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15456690839984160620 Stephen G

    Seem to remember seeing a book chapter (by John Puddefoot?) on this subject in: Kelly, Terence J., and Hilary D. Regan, eds. God, Life, Intelligence and the Universe. Adelaide: Australian Theological Forum, 2002.Not sure if it’s online, but might be relevantIt’s a good topic to stimulate dicussion, and one that’s had some interesting fiction dealing with it (like James Blish’s, ‘A case of conscience’, and Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Sparrow’ and ‘Children of God’).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06071672526594753513 Richard M

    realityrules – Bak-ta! Wooj, Nee-Hik’la!”Excellent point! I shall kill you now.”stephen — Ill have to look that up. The Sparrow was one of the best novels Ive real in the past five years.


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