baileyeverywhere replied to your post “ESV Reader’s Bible Review, with Notes on the Translation”

I’m REALLY glad you posted this because I was THIS CLOSE to getting you the set for Christmas.

That’s really sweet! A small part of me is sad that that’s not happening now, but a larger part of me recognizes that I don’t really want to read an ASV Bible with the archaic language that makes it compelling as art stripped out, you know? 

ESV Reader’s Bible Review, with Notes on the Translation

From In Progress, my blog about progressive Christian theology:

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine alerted me to a Kickstarter she thought I would want to see, for a project called Bibliotheca.

The idea behind the project is that, because of the format in which it’s usually published, the Bible is actually really hard to just sit down and read at length the way you would, say, a novel or a book of poetry (just two of the many genres which it contains).

I watched this video and was overcome by profound booklust, but at the end of the day I wasn’t quite willing to part with $70 for this particular item—I wasn’t sure I’d like the translation, and backing on Kickstarter is not quite the same as buying something outright. But the same friend who pointed me to Bibliotheca told me about the Bible Design Blog, a lovely site where I learned about the ESV Reader’s Bible, a volume with a similar aim at a more affordable price. I tried to avoid buying the thing, but I eventually lost all resistance and shelled out $20 for a copy.

This was a problem, because my wife had already been pointing out, ever since we got married and moved in together, that we genuinely own too, too many Bibles as it is:

image Above: the reasons I should probably not be buying more Bibles

Fortunately for me, when my ESV Reader’s Bible arrived and I told Anna about it, rather than scold me, she merely lamented that she couldn’t really be mad, since it was, after all, a Bible. I was relieved.

Read More

The Choice is Yours

  • Them: “Grace for Life Bible Ministries, Center for Global Evangelism. How may I help you?”
  • Me: “I saw your billboard, the one about the choice being mine, and I had some questions.”
  • Them: “There is no more important question than your eternal destiny. God has led you to make this call.”
  • Me: “Yes, well, I was hoping you could tell me a little more about this heaven and hell, so that I know exactly what I’m choosing between.”
  • Them: “Of course. Heaven is the most wonderful and—”
  • Me: “You’ve been there?”
  • Them: “Well, no, but...”
  • Me: “So this is just hearsay, is that it?”
  • Them: “No. God has revealed to us—”
  • Me: “Can we just cut to the chase?”
  • Them: “What?”
  • Me: “I’m a masochist. You know what that means?”
  • Them: “Um...”
  • Me: “I get off on pain. Actually, what I like best is when an older woman beats me with a riding crop. So I’m wondering where I’m more likely to experience something like that.”
  • Them: “This is sick.”
  • Me: “Would I get to have that in heaven? Leather, manacles, bullwhips?”
  • Them: “Absolutely not!”
  • Me: “So, I guess my best bet is to go with hell, then?”
  • Them: “No! What you need is to invite Jesus into your life so that he may cure you of these perverse desires.”
  • Me: “So, my masochism is a bad thing?”
  • Them: “It is sick and evil! You must be cured of it!”
  • Me: “What if I’m not?”
  • Them: “Then you will roast forever in the unquenchable fires of hell!”
  • Me: “Mmm. Sounds nice.”
  • Them: “You don’t understand. It’s utter misery and suffering.”
  • Me: “But I already told you that I get off on—”
  • Them: “Not in hell, you won’t! Hell is a place of unmitigated suffering. It is existence stripped of anything that might redeem it. Even if you find pleasure in pain now, you won’t when you get to hell. It will be all and only pain, and you won’t even remotely enjoy any of it.”
  • Me: “So you're telling me, basically, that if God sends me to hell He’ll first cure me of my masochism so that I won’t enjoy any of it when the demons flog me?”
  • Them: “That’s right.”
  • Me: “And being cured of my masochism is a good thing, right? So hell isn’t all bad.”

Abbreviated version (the whole thing’s definitely worth reading):

1. Christianity holds that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God

Traditional Christian teaching holds that Jesus is the Word made Flesh, the incarnation of God in history. And this means that for Christians, the primary and monumental revelation of God is in the person of Jesus, not in any book (however inspired). It is this fact which motivated George MacDonald to say of the Bible, 

It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth. The Bible leads us to Jesus, the inexhaustible, the ever unfolding Revelation of God. It is Christ “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” not the Bible, save as leading to him.

2. The Jesus of Scripture was not an inerrantist

In John 8:1-11, we have the story of the teachers of the law coming to Jesus with an adulteress, and asking Him whether they ought to stone her to death as the Scriptures prescribe.The passage itself declares that this was a trap: If Jesus came out and directly told them not to stone her, He would be defying a direct scriptural injunction.

He avoided the trap: He didn’t directly telling them to act contrary to Scripture. Instead, He told them that the one without sin should cast the first stone.

It is a stunning and powerful story (no wonder someone decided to write it into the Gospel of John, even though it didn’t appear in the earliest versions). But notice that Jesus didn’t tell them to do what Scripture prescribed. Instead, He found a powerful way to drive home exactly what was wrong with following that scriptural injunction—in a way that avoided their trap.

In short, Jesus disagreed with some of the teachings in the Scriptures of His day. 

3. In the New Testament, Paul distinguished between his views and the Lord’s

 In 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, Paul says the following:

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her…

I’ve talked about this passage before, so I won’t go into details. What interests me is the distinction Paul makes between his own views and those of the Lord. 

But if inerrantism is true, then Paul’s teachings are the inerrant word of God, and so have the same kind of authority as Jesus’ words. In other words, if inerrantism is true, then Paul was wrong to make the distinction he made. But that distinction is made by Paul in a letter that’s in the Bible. And if inerrantism is true, a distinction made in a letter that’s in the Bible has to be accurate. But if it’s accurate, inerrantism isn’t true. Zounds!
4. Efforts to overcome apparent contradictions in Scripture lead to a false view of Scripture
Speaking of difficulties of this sort, the Bible isn’t a neat, orderly, systematically consistent treatise. The Gospel narratives, for example, aren’t identical. They tell the stories of Jesus’ life in different ways. Details differ—for example, in accounts of the resurrection. Bart Ehrman does a fine job of cataloguing  many of these in Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible.

Mostly, these tensions aren’t explicit contradictions but rather what might be called apparent ones: they don’t seem as if they can go together, because you’d need to tell a rather convoluted story to make them fit.

Inerrantists have not been remiss in offering such convoluted stories. But if you need to tell enough of them in order to make your theory map onto what it’s supposed to explain, the theory becomes increasingly implausible.
5. God is love

Christianity teaches that God is love. In fact, it is the closest thing Christians have to a scriptural definition of God:  ”Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

If God is love, then we experience God when we love. If God is love, then the primary way we can encounter God is through loving and being loved—that is, through cultivating loving relationships with persons. This may help to explain the Christian view that a person—Jesus—served in history as God’s fundamental revelation, rather than a book. Books can’t love you. And you can’t love a book in the sense of “love” that Christians (and the author of 1 John) have in mind when we say God is love.






In which fantasy fiction with characters of color is subjected to the “historical accuracy” test and comes out on top once again…

(fyi this is the author of The Throne of the Crescent Moon, which has been featured for Fiction Week previously)


So I’ve been in an extended discussion on Facebook now for several days (1600+ words, or 3000+ if you count my blog post to which it is a response) over whether or not representing some of characters from the Bible as black is historically plausible. I think it is, definitely, though it’s not the only plausible way to represent ancient Israelites/Jews. The other guy’s case seems to be grounded in the idea that all national/ethnic groups were completely homogeneous before the 19th century, which I guess is a century that magically allowed all societies to suddenly become diverse. I tried pointing him to Medieval PoC, which is full of evidence directly to the contrary (like the above) to show him just how wrong he was, but I don’t think he noticed. (His full case is that [1] the Jews didn’t start out black [how do we know?!] and [2] since they never intermarried with other people [I call bullshit] they could never be black, so therefore [3] we should just stop trying to “cram everyone into little race boxes.”) 

Anyway, the point is that Medieval PoC is great, will blow your mind if you let it, and has led to me arguing with strangers on the internet. 


People think I moved left because I wanted to compromise with the world, because I wanted to fit in better.

People think I moved left because I was deceived by the devil.

People think I moved left because I’ve been reading the Bible without the help of the Holy Spirit.

People think I moved left because I just stopped reading the Bible.

I accidentally go to conservative churches sometimes and find books by Ken Ham that say I’ve compromised – with the world, the devil, whatever.

My dad sees me as a disappointment and is glad I’m still alive. He doesn’t say it, but I’m pretty sure he thinks that if I died today I’d be in hell. He holds out hope that God will show me the light because I’m still alive.

My Grandma calls me and says she’s heard rumors that I don’t believe in the Bible anymore.

My aunt sends me a Facebook message that her kids, my very young cousins, are praying for me. They’re worried about my soul.

When my conservative Christian friends and family ask me questions, it’s not to find out why I believe what I believe. It’s to fix me or help me realize that I’ve gone off the rails and am wrong.

(Now with functional link)