Thursday, December 30, 2010

Notable Quotable


Hector Avalos in his scholarly book, The End of Biblical Studies points out out that Bible translations are tainted by the doctrines and profit motives of the translators : 

“…Ecclesiastes 2:25, of which a good English rendition would be: ‘For who will eat and enjoy, except for myself.’  The author’s idea is radical because he could be construed as saying the God is irrelevant in the happiness of human beings. For some, the author of Ecclesiastes expresses a very humanistic idea insofar as he thinks that one should pursue one’s happiness for the sake of oneself, not for some god.  This humanistic concept was sufficiently bothersome to prompt the following alternative translations:
    NAB: For who can eat or drink apart from him?
    NJB: for who would get anything to eat or drink, unless all this came from him?
    REB:  For without God who can eat with enjoyment?
The REB suppresses the humanism even more assertively by introducing “God”,  which is definitely not in the Hebrew text."

Later, Mr. Avalos provides us with one definition of a lie:  ‘According to the ethicist Sissela Bok, a lie is “an intentionally deceptive message in the form of a statement.”’

Remember, the verse could be reasonably translated as "For who will eat and enjoy, except for myself.” So, the Bible scholars who did these interpretations are lying.  They are using words that do not match the words, nor the intent, of the original language.  And they know they are fudging to make sure that we, the  audience, won’t get the idea that humanistic ideas are in the Bible.  They are placing God into the text when God is not present. How do you get a phrase like" For without God who can eat with enjoyment?"  when the phrase says: "For who will eat and enjoy, except for myself.”   

Throughout church history this has been the case.  That it is fine to lie as long as you do it in the name of, and for the glorification of, your version of God.  A shameful way to present your Truth is to lie to make your point.  How can Truth ever come from all these lies?

How about just being honest?  Then I might have a bit more respect for the Christian religion.  The lies, the misquotations, the rewriting of history are enough to make me think that Christianity doesn't have anything real to offer.  Oh, wait, it doesn't for the most part. 

I’m really enjoying this book.  Hector Avalos shows, through examples, what, where, when, why and how the Bible has been manipulated for the doctrines and ideas that various churches want to believe.  He also points to the profit motives involved, as well.  So, if they aren't lying to make sure their version of god is presented correctly through the Bible then they are lying to make sure that people want to buy their product, to make the Bible more acceptable to our modern tastes and sensibilities. He says it a way that is clearly understandable.  Thank you, Hector Avalos for writing The End of Biblical Studies.  It is a keeper.


1 comment:

  1. Liz,
    There's an old aphorism about lies, damned lies, and statistics. There are no statistics involved here, but plenty of lies and damned lies. In fact, the bible might well be characterized as a book of lies. Someone on speaks of "the big book of Jewish fairy tales." Love that one. Very nice article.