Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the ESV Bible

Though it's more fun to read the New testament in Greek - and the Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures too, since the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible is what Jesus used and the early Church too (the LXX or Septuagint), I like to read in English as well. I suppose, over the years, I've preached most of my messages from the NIV, but I have spent time with the NEB (now the REB), the NRSV, the Good News Bible (I'm dating myself), the JB Phillips translation, The Message, yes, even the Elizabethan era's KJV. A number of people have been talking up the ESV, and since that translation is being widely used in the American South where I will be preaching in a little over a week, I decided to check it out.

Okay, let's cut to the quick. To my ears, the ESV has a stately cadence, religious and ceremonial. There is a slight stiffness to it, it does not flow like other English translations - there is a reason for that, its literal approach to translating from the Greek and Hebrew. I can live with this. Unfortunately, the translators have the annoying habit of tossing in words like BEHOLD and BE GONE and LEST and TRULY, I SAY TO YOU and O! O! O! Now why would they do this unless they had an express purpose of very obviously connecting with 1611? No one in the 21st century runs around saying BEHOLD or BE GONE or TRULY, I SAY TO YOU. They didn't in the 1st century either in Israel. But they did in Shakespeare's time.

I intend to read the whole translation and give it it's due. I will preach from it in the South as well. But I shudder that I might be treated to gems like STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE when I wander into the Old Testament. Already I was looking up Ezekiel 22:30 and instead of "stand in the gap" I got "stand in the breach"! Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! Henry V, where chunks of this Bible belong.

Instead of BEHOLD why not say something real world like LOOK! Instead of TRULY, I SAY TO YOU why not say something comprehensible to this present generation such as LISTEN, I'M TELLING YOU or HONESTLY, I HAVE TO TELL YOU! The ESV seems fine for people that hang out in a church culture and like to use different grammar, syntax, vocabulary and voice when they're at a service - in other words, religious-ese or Christianese - but it's not great for helping newcomers understand you don't have to get all formal and religious in your language when you're worshiping or praying or talking about God.

With all the hype I was expecting something better than an anachronism but that is what the ESV is. Personally, the only way I can enjoy it - accepting its rather more ceremonial sound that echoes with the courts of King James and Elizabeth I and the stages of William Shakespeare - is to mentally drop those dreadful 400 year old prefixes like BEHOLD! and O! and BE GONE! - or verbally drop them if I'm reading out loud. If I do that, I can enjoy myself. Otherwise I'm happier in the Greek which is far more dynamic and contemporary than the ESV.

Look, there is no way this is a NEW translation. It's clearly in the KJV, ASV, RSV family line. And if you like that, have at her. I'm not here to say NAY to the ESV the way one of its editors, Wayne Grudem, said NAY to the TNIV (which, by the way, translates John 1:18 far better than the ESV). Only, please, don't tell new Christians they have to talk like the ESV in order to talk to God and please don't tell them words like BEHOLD and LEST and TRULY, I SAY are the way you talk when you get really spiritual. (And don't tell them it was the way Jesus talked on earth or the way angels talk now as if those frozen-in-time expressions are the real spiritual thing.) I was hoping we'd left all this behind or at least left it in the hands of the KJV worshipers.

The notes for the ESV Study Bible are quite good - they don't treat you like an imbecile and they have some good things to say, even some deep things to say that involve the original languages. And, as I said, though I'm more of a dynamic equivalency sort of guy, I can enjoy the more stately rhythms of the ESV within reason. But O! those jarring 17th century pet expressions. Why? Why on earth would you make a translation for the 21st century and deliberately put those back in? Go ahead, read the translation without them and you'll find you don't miss them, in fact, to my ear, dropping them vastly improves the translation and takes it from a 3.5 to a 4+

So enjoy it if it's your thing. But, to me, it leaves a lot to be desired, is not a big breakthrough translation and sounds a lot like other literal translations I read a long time ago when there were few other good contemporary English options out there. I'll read it, God will use it in my life, but I am waiting with even greater anticipation now for the 2011 NIV, which will give me something I can really celebrate (I hope) and which is tied into 2011 and beyond, not 1611 and ne'er another foot forward if we can help it, m'lord.

Sorry, Wayne.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

the world war against the jews (part 2)

Here is another important post I am passing along regarding the irrationality of a growing global antagonism towards Israel and the Jews:
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 23:21:53 -0400
Subject: It's long--But Fantastic Article about the Jews- we are sick of moving!!!

Here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about poor Helen Thomas, who I believe was probably just saying what everyone thinks and has therefore been made a scapegoat. Not that I really care, because we ought to share the scapegoat status once in a while. It’s the least we can do to dispel the stereotype that we are stingy, us irritating Jews.

Irritating enough, apparently – like the too-talented and bossy fame-hog Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) on Fox’s Glee – in our discovery of the written word, monotheism, modern physics, psychology, vaccinations, and the film industry, that every country that has ever “hosted” us has found it necessary to tell us to get the hell out, like Thomas did. (Ironically, the aforementioned Jewish character Rachel, in a particularly annoying moment in one episode, was told by classmates to move to Israel. I doubt the writers coordinated this telling joke – Jews do equal Israel in the eyes of the world, sorry J Street - with the State Department.)

Anywho. Helen, you know why we were in Germany and much of Eastern Europe in the first place? (And by the way, if I follow your advice, do you think the nice old ladies who got my grandmothers’ large houses and farms from theNazis in what was once Czechoslovakia will kick the property back two generations? That would be cool because I’d love a vineyard and an agricultural estate.)

…We were in Germany and Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Russia (where we were regularly just plain killed by Cossacks), and also, for many centuries, Poland (ditto), cuz we were told to get the hell out of England, France, andSpain. (Or, you know, just plain killed by handsome and heroic fairytale knights.)
And you know why we were in Western Europe to begin with? Cuz we were told by the Greeks and the Romans – wait for it – to get the hell out of “Palestine,” where we had been living since the beginning of recorded history.

We also ended up in Babylonia (Iraq) and other Middle Eastern and North African countries, where we stayed as second class citizens for hundreds and hundreds of years, till the Arab world finally caught up with the pagans and theChristians in their hatred of the Jews. Amazing how the student has now far surpassed the teacher. But I digress.
(By the way, I am aware that the Arab narrative has us Ashkenazi Jews as descendants of the Khazars, but the actual facts have it different. See this new DNA study linking European Jews with their Middle Eastern counterparts, all stemming from one original population of Holy Land Jews predating Roman times. Never mind our own texts that say the same thing; I know they are inadmissible in the international courts of the mind.)
In any event, there is no way around it: Jews being asked (usually not by old ladies on the White House lawn) to get the hell out of anywhere and everywhere is just the way it goes.
So it came to pass that about 200 years BCE the Macabees got sick of it and established a Jewish state in Palestine, within the Roman Empire, which lasted till about the time of Jesus (another Pesky Jew) and the destruction of the Second Temple.

And it also came to pass that Jewish settlers began arriving in Ottoman Palestine in the late 1800’s, after the Russians and the Poles made it clear that Jews were persona non grata in Eastern Europe. Palestine was as good a place as any to escape to, since it was the last place, about 2000 years before, that the Jews had a sovereign state (see above). Never mind Jewish liturgy and texts pining for Jerusalem, since I know these, too, are inadmissible in the international courts of the mind.
Anyway, nowhere else wanted European Jews any more than Russia did, not even America really, where there were very strict quotas, although the Americans, again politely, refrained from all the messy European killing, which was apparently in vogue until after Hitler. Besides, those Ottoman Turks, as now, were known around the world for their amazing human rights activism and the Jews were excited to see it first hand. (No, not really. But anyway…they were better than the Polish peasants. Unless you were Armenian.)

It is true that there were people in Palestine before the Jews arrived en masse (for there was always a handful of Jews that remained here….), not *A People*, but rather a group of assorted regional Arabs (think Native American tribes in North America…who by the way were treated much worse by the Colonialists…) who had settled the area with not much agricultural success and had endured various rulers over the millennia.

But when the *Jews* came back, it was suddenly necessary, once again, to tell them to get the hell out. There was no living side by side, even though that was an express Jewish desire right up until 1947/8, when the Partition Plan was summarily rejected by the Arab League, who started the war that Israel won. If keeping land you win in a war others provoke (when you wanted to make peace) is called occupation, Helen, the world’s axis of furious justice has a lot bigger fish to fry than shitty little Israel.
The Arab desire to kick the Jews the hell out of Palestine did not begin in 1967, and not in 1948. It began the moment the initial groups of Jews arrived and started to make the land flower and produce crops.
That’s when the attacks on Jews began, and when the Arab world decided a new Jewish presence in the land would not do, back when there were about half a million Arabs and just under 100,000 Jews in the Holy Land, in the early 1900’s. 20% was too much, apparently, to bear. (The Hebron Massacre of 1929, where marauding Arabs killed nearly 70 Jews and wounded countless others, took place long before a single house was built over the Green Line.)
I can only imagine how awful it was – probably for both the Arabs and the British – when it became clear we were here to stay and grow to much further percentages. We are that annoying, what with trying to get rid of malaria and tuberculosis and everything.

At any rate, it seems that every time a Jewish minority starts to make a society too successful – so annoying!!!! – the indigenous people start to feel very uncomfortable, and tells them one way or another to get the hell out.

But now, alas, there is nowhere left for us to go, except the eternal place Ahmadinejad wants us to go, and Haniyeh and Nasralla, and Hitler before them, and Chemilniki before him, and Haman before him, and so on. And, I suspect, in her heart of hearts, perhaps Thomas and the likes of her, who, the pesky Jew Freud may have observed, seriously let her slip show.

Let me make it clear: I know that Israel has made mistakes over its 62 years, some clumsy and inept (was there no intelligence regarding the terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara?!?), and some borderline immoral. But none worse than every other democracy on earth has also done, and most much better than the large majority of the UN rogue nations which condemn Israel daily have done…daily.
There is MUCH to improve in the way we govern, I will be the first to say it. I will also be the first to say that various Jews of the Bernie Madoff and Greed-is-Good-Goldman-Sachs ilk make me want to crawl under a rock. I know that the world is only waiting for these guys to emerge in order to pin their crimes on all of us, even though everything they do is in direct contradiction of actual Jewish values.

But let’s be honest: the international community’s human rights crusades on behalf of the Palestinians are just the latest Crusades, and the ones who REALLY suffer are not the Jews or the Israelis but the poor occupants of the Third World who are ignored while the enlightened First World castigates the Jews… and yes, of course, the Palestinians, who are kept in misery *by their own leadership* in order to provide the polite Jew haters with a media club to beat them with.

So here’s the thing: We are not going anywhere this time, Helen. We totally get it: Ya’ll pretty much hate us. It’s just the way it is, like a natural law. Nothing we can do – not giving away pieces of Palestine / Israel (witness our evacuation of Gaza in 2005, and handing over the keys to army bases and greenhouses- a new economy!
Food for the children! – which were summarily torched as property of the infidels); not donating billions annually to global charity, nor discovering a cure for Polio or the

Theory of Relativity, or writing revered legal and religious texts, or co-founding Google, or manufacturing the microprocessor in the majority of laptops that spew Jew hatred to the Internet, or founding Christianity itself, or championing women’s rights and gay rights in the US and helping to bring about a *human rights revolution* in America in the 60’s - None of those things will absolve us of our real sin: Existing and overcoming.

I’m really sorry they told you to get the hell out of the White House, Helen. It really wasn’t your fault that you thought you could say what you said. It’s not like it’s a secret: That’s what people think.
But this time, seriously. Getting the hell out is not in the cards. We’re just sick of moving all the time.
I know. Irritating.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

the world war against the jews

Some still have morals, like Pilar Rahola:

Pilar Rahola is a Spanish politician, journalist and activist and member of the far left. Her articles are published in Spain and throughout some of the most important newspapers in Latin America.

She says:

"Why don't we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris, Barcelona ?

Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs?

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan ?

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel ?

Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?

Why don't they defend Israel 's right to exist?

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism?

And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn't care.

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro Palestinian European forum, I hear the left yelling with fervor: "We want freedom for the people!"

Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria , or Yemen , or Iran , or Sudan , or other such nations. And they are never preoccupied when Hammas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don't inform, they propagandize.

When reporting about Israel , the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel , that there aren't any accusations left to level against her.

At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel ; the indoctrination of children and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: "Our friends are the people of Iran , Libya and Venezuela , oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel ."

In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

Or in my native city of Barcelona , the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70's and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel .

This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of president Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and on issues of the Middle East , he is unequivocally pro Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East , and the policies of foreign minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it is a symbol.

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages.
And yet the Spanish left is the most anti Israeli in the world.

And then it says it is anti Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.


I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel . To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.

As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles.

Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too."