Rescuing Paul from himself

Ruth Gledhill of The Times of London has suffered a rhetorical lashing from an academic who accused her of not understanding contemporary New Testament scholarship. The benighted Gledhill is one of those journalists who seems to believe that words have meaning, and that certain ways of changing words invariably change meaning.

So, for instance, Gledhill pointed out that these changes in a British paraphrase called Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures amounted to discarding Paul’s opposition to fornication:

King James Version: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

Good as New: “Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from each other. That is more likely to lead to sexual offences. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner.”

Members of ONE, the sponsoring organization, explain that they:

(1) Promote harmony between Christians.

(2) Participate with others in prayerful activity to establish peace, justice, dignity and rights for all.

(3) Live in a manner that supports sustainable use of the earth’s resources.

(4) Challenge oppression, injustice, exclusion and discrimination.

(5) Accept one another, valuing their diversity and experience.

With those goals in mind, it seems that Good as New does not go nearly far enough. With our eyes ever fixed on compassionate service to our fellow human persons, we suggest these further revisions to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7. We’ll use the hopelessly dated New International Version (Copyright 1972, 1978, 1984) for our base text:

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man person not to marry be limited for a lifetime to one partner in lovemaking. But since there is so much immorality need for forging erotic meaning, each man person should have his own wife and each woman her own husband find a regular pathway to intimacy and sojourn within it. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s Any woman’s body does not belongs to her alone but also to her husband. Any suggestion to the contrary is abhorrent and someday, God/dess willing, will be subject to vigorous prosecution. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. If you’re a heterosexual man, do us all a favor and keep your body to yourself, or marry a Stepford Wife, but please don’t breed any of those screaming babies from hell. Do you know how tedious it is to be only one row ahead of them on a flight from LAX to Kennedy? Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. For the sake of all that is consistent with justice-love, use a condom.

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  • Joe Perez

    I like it. Oh wait, were you being sarcastic?
    How much longer do we tolerate being a member of the “laughing stock” church? Of course, we can add that to the gay church, the disobedient church, the heretical church, the non-church, the country club church, – that’s ECUSA – whatever you need her to be – just not for Christians anymore.

  • Paul

    There are things that need to be said, whatever the crowd’s response may be, and you’re saying them: thank you.

    Paul, from Paris, France

  • dw

    You owe me a new monitor.

  • Ken

    Was “Stigmata” the movie about the Vatican trying to suppress a secret gospel that would prove the Catholic Church to be a sham? Whatever movie it was, this destructive document turned out to be “The Gospel of Thomas”, a work that’s been on my shelf for 30 years and I think was readily available for 30 before that.

    My point is that people who want to make up their own religion sometimes feel the need of a “Bible” to support their cause. How nice they now have one.

  • tmatt

    You owe me a new monitor.

    Posted by: dw | June 26, 2004 11:18 AM

    Got to be the best comment post of all time, from the viewpoint of the editors.

    So did you punch it? Throw it? We need details, even from my little typing table here in Thessaloniki.


  • dw

    Doug e-mailed and asked me what I meant, so I’ll repeat it. “You owe me a new monitor” is an old Usenet catchphrase for “that was funny.” The idea is that you spewed your beverage all over the monitor laughing.

    On one of the web boards my wife is on they have a meta-thread that collects all the humorous pieces from the entire board. It’s called “Coffee On My Monitor.”

    I think what was funny was that I’ve read that Bible translation. I’ve been in the PC(USA) too long.

  • John H

    “St” Paul also forgot to mention that homosexual sex can be “sacramental”.

  • Jeff in Ohio

    We oldtime netizens run the risk of being misunderstood

    anytime we drag out well established usenet slang

    on these web basesd forums. Far too few of the readers

    or posters were (are) part of that community. That

    is also the point of new bible translations. There

    can be, and are, translations that get across the

    spirit and letter of the original texts. The article

    does a good job in pointing out that this is not

    one of them. BTW an update on Kendell’s blog shows

    Ruth’s reply.

  • Tim

    You ought to be ashamed. This is a mockery of the holy scriptures and you, if you do not repent, will burn in hell for this one. You will have many peoples blood on your hands my friend.

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