I’m not normally a very sarcastic person, but apparently when I’m asleep I ‘let go’ from time to time. For, as I woke up this morning, I found that I’d been dreaming about a heavily-edited Bible made by liberal christians. Some of it was just random dream-world sillyness, like having a book called ‘January,’ but the rest of it got me thinking: what if liberal christianity did go and make their own Bible? How might they go about it?
So that’s what this post is exploring. It’s very tongue in cheek, so please don’t think I’m remotely serious about any of this. And, just to retain some level dignity, I’ll make a rebuttal post (or series of posts) at a later date to explain why such edits to the Bible would be wrong.
And also from a semi-serious angle, since the advances of extreme liberal christianity have already consciously removed themselves from catholicity (rejecting the Creeds and the ‘traditional’ interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) as well as historicity (having no interest in what the Church taught in the past), they might as well show it by publishing their own Bible with all the arrangements and edits they want, just to make it really clear that although they still want to call themselves christians, they’re more obviously a different religion than what Christianity has been since the first century. So first of all, the liberal post-modern old testament:
- Genesis (with footnotes to identify the JEPD sources)
- Exodus (with footnotes to identify the JEPD sources)
- Numbers (with footnotes to identify the JEPD sources)
- Leviticus (since it was compiled from later material than the previous 3)
- Deuteronomy (since it was written around King Hezekiah’s time)
- Book of Canaan (history of the ethnic groups in Canaan before Israel)
- Book of Israel (Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings)
- Book of Judah (1 & 2 Chronicles)
- Judith (because there ought to be more stories about women)
- Song of Songs
- 1 Isaiah
- 2 Isaiah
- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (nobody reads all these anyway, so might as well keep them tucked away in there)
Judith is imported from the Apocrypha because women’s history was so under-appreciated back then. Joshua is cut out because it’s all about war and there’s no good spirituality stuff in it, and Job is also removed because it’s not historical. Also, Isaiah is split in two because the first half is so doom & gloom compared to the positive perspective of the second half, that they clearly must be different authors. The books of Israel & Judah are collections of histories that tell different stories. Chronicles is biased in favor of Judah, so clearly it’s a pro-Judah/anti-Israel author, whereas the books of Kings are a little more balanced. The Book of Canaan has to be added though; it’d just be a collection of modern scholarship on the people-groups that the Israelites joined in the holy land, because they really deserve to be given a fair voice here, especially since they influenced Israel so much.
Other than that, the Old testament is largely the same. This is because it’s the old testament. It’s all obsolete anyway and doesn’t tell us much about theology; it’s primarily there for examples of good people and giving a background of how people saw God way back when.
Now for the liberal post-modernist new testament:
- Paul (all 13 epistles)
- Peter (1st epistle)
- John (1st epistle)
The Gospel of John’s out because it’s not historically accurate compared to the first three. Hebrews is out because the author is unknown. The later epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude are out because the earliest lists of the new testament in history didn’t include them. Similar deal with Revelation, except the way it speaks so specifically to the Christians under Roman persecution makes it useless to any other generation.
Why keep so many of Paul’s writings? Well, you can’t ignore a good writer. The point is not that Paul is someone we have to obey, but rather that he gives a lot of his perspective on christianity, which alongside Peter and John can be quite enriching. Remember, they don’t have to agree: there are lots of ways to God, and what was good for Paul worked for him, but Peter and (especially) John had their own versions of what christianity meant for them. So by looking at how other people have found their way to God, we can be encouraged and inspired to do the same. As for the stuff in the Bible about homophobia and exclusivity, well, liberal churches have already found ample ways around those “inconvenient” verses, so there’s no need to remove them from the Bible anymore, right?
Next time, I’ll stop playing devil’s advocate and address what’s wrong with these various claims.