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Bible versions
Posted: 14 July 2007 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was wondering if you folks could answer a question I’ve been pondering. Lately I’ve been considering taking some time to actually read the Bible. I know it sounds strange, but I figure it couldn’t hurt me to have a better understanding of the book I so often criticize.

Unfortunately because the Bible has been so thoroughly translated, edited, retranslated, and reedited through the centuries it seems like there are a couple dozen different versions of the thing out there. I was wondering if any of you had a suggestion as to which one I should read. I’m really just interested in reading through the thing out of curiosity, and anything in something close to modern English would be good, but I’m afraid that something may be lost in the translation. I have two copies on my bookshelf (King James and NIV), but I don’t want to pick one up and start reading until I have some idea of what the differences are between the tons of different versions.

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Posted: 15 July 2007 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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To begin with the word HELL IS NOT in the Bible.  I didn’t learn this until I was over 40 years old even though I had spent 13 years in Catholic schools.

http://www.bibletopics.com/BibleStudy/149.htm

http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/HellStudy/HellCharts.htm

Sheol
  In ancient Jewish beliefs, the dwelling place of the dead: “the land of gloom and deep darkness” (Job 10:21). It was generally believed that the good and the wicked alike dwell in Sheol. The apocryphal First Book of Enoch, however, describes Sheol as being divide into different regions, where the dead are rewarded or punished according to the lives they led.
  (“If This Goes On—”, Starship Troopers)

http://heinleinsociety.org/concordance/real/s_real.htm

I learned this accidentally from looking up Hell in Cruden’s Concordance.  Strong’s Concordance has sheol listed but it just refers you to hell without explaining the translation is wrong.  The hilarious thing is that the only two places, besides reference books, that I have encountered SHEOL are science fiction books.

HADES used in the New Testament may be more similar to SHEOL because in Greek mythology everyone went to Hades.  There was no heaven.  Personally I think the concept of Hell which is usually promoted may have come from Roman paganism.  Doesn’t an underground site with fire and brimstone sound like it would come from a people that lived near volcanoes?  Italy is volcanic but not the middle east as far as I know.

I have been looking on the internet for an English translation of the Ethiopian Bible but haven’t found one yet.  The Ethiopian Bible contains The Book of Enoch and The Secrets of Enoch.  The Ethiopians got Christianity very early due to travel down the Red Sea but were cut off from European influence due to the rise of Islam.  They kicked out the Jesuits in 1633.  So their Bible may not be so tainted by standard European thinking.  LOL

Every good atheist should carry a Bible in one hand and a concordance in the other to better bounce ignorant Christian heads back and forth.  ROFL

psikey

[ Edited: 15 July 2007 03:47 AM by psikeyhackr ]
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Posted: 17 July 2007 09:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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brainlesssteel - 14 July 2007 06:33 PM

I was wondering if any of you had a suggestion as to which one I should read. I’m really just interested in reading through the thing out of curiosity, and anything in something close to modern English would be good, but I’m afraid that something may be lost in the translation. I have two copies on my bookshelf (King James and NIV), but I don’t want to pick one up and start reading until I have some idea of what the differences are between the tons of different versions.

I’ll throw my 2 cents in here since I recently started reading it as well.  I settled on the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) because there’s an annotated version version from Oxford University press.  It includes essays on textual criticism, translation, and origins of the canon that I found informative.  The notes provided seem to be from an open minded, academic perspective and don’t hesitate to point out contradictions. 

In your reading you might find ‘http://www.biblegateway.com/’ useful.  It allows you to look up the different ways specific passages have been translated in a large number of different versions.

Hope this helps,

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Posted: 17 July 2007 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I was curious about the OT so I downloaded an audio version. I’m still listening to Genesis but I’m not very consistant. I’ve gotten up to Ch. 20.  What’s up with Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and laying down with him?  I think one gets pregnant?  And this is, uh… okay?

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Posted: 17 July 2007 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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T. Ruth - 17 July 2007 10:02 PM

I’ve gotten up to Ch. 20.  What’s up with Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and laying down with him?  I think one gets pregnant?  And this is, uh… okay?

Yeah, that is pretty unpalatable but I don’t think this is meant as a description of correct behavior.  The children from this incest are Moab and Ben-ammi who found the people of the Moabites and Ammonites, non-hebrew people I believe.  In later books the Moabites are adversaries of Israel, so I think the argument could be made that this behavior was not okay.

But speaking of Lot, didn’t you find it a little freaky when he offers up his two daughters to the mob?  I’m thinking of Genesis 19:8.  You should listen to that bit and Judges chapter 19 where someone actually pushes a woman out into a mob.  Nasty stuff for sure.  Keep going though, it gets really interesting.

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Posted: 18 July 2007 12:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I can’t recommend any particular translation or version.  I’ve spent many years in churches, bible study groups, etc, so had my fill.  Since you haven’t read the bible, I applaud your move to read it so you’ll have first hand knowledge when you confront some of the nonsense that believers spend endless mental energy explaining.  I just hope you don’t go over to the dark side!  LOL .... Keep us posted on what you learn.

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Posted: 18 July 2007 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think I’m going to go with the New International Version. My reasons for doing so are kind of weak, but I stand by them. First of all, I already have a copy. This appeals to the side of me that is lazy and somewhat cheap. I also had a couple of friends recommend it as an “easy read” sort of Bible. They both have pretty heavily Christian upbringings so I trust their judgment on the matter more than I would my own.

Another possibility is an audio version. I work a night job and usually spend the whole night by myself listening to audio books and podcasts, so it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to get through it in a couple of weeks or something. I don’t know how long it would take to listen to the whole thing, so I’m guessing here. I heard about a new audio version in which Samuel L Jackson does the voice of God, along with other celebrities doing different characters. That might actually make it interesting, but I don’t know if it would do much to help my comprehension of it.

I’m about halfway through another book right now, so it’ll be a few days before I start reading the Bible. I’ll be pretty amazed if I actually make it through the whole thing.

[ Edited: 18 July 2007 07:16 AM by brainlesssteel ]
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Posted: 18 July 2007 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The audio book sounds interesting, but if Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of God, will this make it another version of Pulp Fiction?  Perhaps John Travolta is the voice of Jesus and Ving Rhames is the voice of Herod.  All joking aside, while the audio book may be easier, reading and making annotations in the hardcopy version may provide a better basis for future discussion because you can refer back to your notations.  Of course notes will begat thoughts which begat ideas which begat criticism which begat doubt.  In any case, enjoy.

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Posted: 18 July 2007 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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aranaea - 17 July 2007 10:56 PM

But speaking of Lot, didn’t you find it a little freaky when he offers up his two daughters to the mob?  I’m thinking of Genesis 19:8.  You should listen to that bit and Judges chapter 19 where someone actually pushes a woman out into a mob.  Nasty stuff for sure.  Keep going though, it gets really interesting.

You know, right before that I didn’t quite get this:

19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of
Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people
from every quarter: 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him,
Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out
unto us, that we may know them.

19:6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after
him, 19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let
me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good
in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they
under the shadow of my roof.

Did the men of the city really want to know  “the men which came in to thee this night?” Ya know, know as in have sex with them?  And Lot thinking this was a little too freaky offers up his daughters instead?  Or does know in this sense mean meet/get acquainted with?

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Posted: 18 July 2007 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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You know Job is the same man who got drunk and his daughters took advantage of him ending up pregnant by their own father.  In other word… incest.  I wonder what the offspring looked like or if it had a hidden disability like deafness or blindness or something?

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 18 July 2007 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I never found the interest to do much research on versions or their pros and cons. I started with the Rheims-Douay because Grandma was Catholic, but my favorite is King James because the inanity is beautifully written. grin

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Posted: 18 July 2007 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The KJV seems like a foreign language to me.  I like the RSV and NKJV.  It doesn’t sound so foreign to me, but it is still morbid, repulsive, cannibalistic, and barbaric.

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Posted: 18 July 2007 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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T. Ruth - 18 July 2007 11:51 AM
aranaea - 17 July 2007 10:56 PM

But speaking of Lot, didn’t you find it a little freaky when he offers up his two daughters to the mob?  I’m thinking of Genesis 19:8.

You know, right before that I didn’t quite get this:

19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of
Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people
from every quarter: 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him,
Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out
unto us, that we may know them.

...

Did the men of the city really want to know  “the men which came in to thee this night?” Ya know, know as in have sex with them?  And Lot thinking this was a little too freaky offers up his daughters instead?  Or does know in this sense mean meet/get acquainted with?

Check out Judges 19:22

22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”

This was a totally different story but nearly the same situation.  A traveler is brought in by a generous host and some mob forms outside demanding to be allowed to rape him.  It’s more explicit though and I think reinforces the argument that the passage from Genesis meant the same thing.

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Posted: 19 July 2007 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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In my opinion, reading the bible is a waste of time. And I don’t believe that it’s “beautifully” written either. I find it rather boring and confusing. Read Seneca’s dialogues on moral issues or Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (written around the same time as the NT), but don’t bother looking for something meaningful or inspiring in the bible. Sorry, god, two big thumbs down.

[ Edited: 19 July 2007 12:33 PM by George ]
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Posted: 19 July 2007 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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George - 19 July 2007 12:26 PM

In my opinion, reading the bible is a waste of time. And I don’t believe that it’s “beautifully” written either. I find it rather boring and confusing. Read Seneca’s dialogues on moral issues or Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (written around the same time as the NT), but don’t bother looking for something meaningful or inspiring in the bible. Sorry, god, two big thumbs down.

Reading The Bible is a huge time commitment and I agree that it doesn’t appear to be a great source for moral guidance.  However, I think reading it is one of the more important projects I’m working on right now.  It’s part of a larger attempt to understand why otherwise intelligent and thoughtful friends would believe the stuff that their church tells them comes from this book.  I’ve read what other people think about that but I’d like to come to my own conclusions.  I think that quest for understanding is anything but a waste of time.

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Posted: 19 July 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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George,
With respect, I think you’re dead wrong. From a practical point of view, the bible has had a huge impact on literature, law, language, and many other aspects of our society, and as bad as this impact often is, it’s real and we’re sticking our head in the sand to ignore it. Being familiar with the roots of cultural practices, art, etc not only makes one more flujent with one’s own culture but can be a step towards changing these practices (“knowing your enemy’ if you think of it that way).

I don’t particularly care for the bible as a guide to ethics because it’s too self-contradictory and muddled, but many of the basic principles are common-sense standards that are shared not only with other religions but with secular philosophy and ethics, so I don’t think the argument that there are no concepts of value in it holds water either.

As for the aesthetics, well that’s a matter of taste. I love the language of the KJV just as I love Shakespeare, because it’s much the same language and that’s to my taste. I don’t necessarily expect everyone else to agree with my feelings, but I don’t think anyone can legitimately say there is no beauty there, only that there is none for them.

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