Does the adulterous woman belong in your Bible?

The story of the adulterous woman, found in the Gospel of John, is a tricky text. The current scholarly consensus is that the account found in John 7.53-8.11 is not original to John, and modern translations often bracket the story and flag it as dubious.Here's a side-by-side comparison of the NKVJ, NIV, ESV, and the NRSV. Only the NKJV really attempts a defense of the story.These brackets, however, don't go far enough, according to Owen Strachan. Rather than bracket the text, he … [Read more...]

How not to read the Bible

"All scripture is . . . profitable for teaching," according to Paul's second letter to Timothy.The apostle tells the young bishop that the scripture is useful for correction and preparation in righteousness and good works (3.15-17). But how? When we look to the story of Jacob, for instance, are we to walk away with the belief that cheating one's family, sorcery, and polygamy are acceptable behaviors?Just because something occurs in the scripture does not make it scriptural -- not in the … [Read more...]

The Bible, clear as mud

Peering through the most recent edition of the peerless Books and Culture, I came across a three-quarter page ad for Beeson Divinity School. Forgive me, but I don't think this ad works for an evangelical institution. What does it say about the perspicuity of Scripture, for instance, that the commentaries are in focus and the Bible is clear as mud?"We believe the Bible is God's word written," says the ad copy (not pictured above). "It is therefore fully trustworthy and able to teach us … [Read more...]

Let the Bible elevate your mind

There's a conversation running right now on the relative value of certain Bible translations.Depending on who's talking and for what purpose, it might strike some as tedious. I happen to enjoy the discussion, and I think there's one strain that's worthy of consideration for those interested in how language might affect their spirituality.In discussing the recent republication of the Knox Bible, a mid-twentieth century translation, Michael Brendan Dougherty mentions one "fatal" flaw, the … [Read more...]

Simplicity is not all it’s cracked up to be

I once heard a pastor talking about how Jesus’ ministry was all about simplifying things. One of the examples was that Christ took the entire Mosaic Law and summarized it in the Great Commandment.On the surface that sounds reasonable. Cramming the essential meaning of reams of passages into two sentences is quite a feat. But is loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength simple? What about loving your neighbor as yourself?People talk about the simplicity of the G … [Read more...]