Friday, September 23, 2005

A New Version for the ... Bible

Religion is a topic I shy away from. Too many people feel too strongly about religion.

However, today I started my day with a post over at Monica Jackson's blog about the topics SFF writers discuss in their blogs, topics such as politics and social commentary, ones that Romance writers tend to avoid.

Then, I went over to the Guardian blog, just like that, to read some interesting things and came across a post that normally I wouldn't discuss here, but darn it, I'm a sci-fi writer (with a splash of mainstream) so I decided it's time to mention the issue here.

The Guardian post reveals that a new version of the Bible was published yesterday. This new version is designed to be read in under 100 minutes and contains only 39 chapters of the Old Testament and 27 of the New Testament.

So there you have it, I'm about to mention religion in my blog.

What do I think about this 100-Minute Bible?
Not much. I don't like it. First, as a writer and a reader. I always prefer to read the original version, and if I could, I would read all books in their original language too. Taking a book, any book, and mangling it in this fashion is presumptuous. It presumes to know the writer's intent, which in this case is a very loaded argument.
I think most people would agree with me: The religious folks would agree because someone has just changed the written word of God. The non-religious people would agree because The 100-Minute Bible is, simply put, a "butchered" book.

I think the intention behind this "abridged Bible" is to reach a larger audience. The language is simpler and the content shorter. I've mentioned before in my blog how we're facing a cultural dilution problem (and I will one day post about it in more detail). Well here is just one more example of this dilution problem.

A CNN article announcing the launch of the bible.

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Jennifer said...

I HATE (that's to nice a word) I DETEST anything that's chopped up. I refuse to read abridged versions. I did it once. Actually I read The Mist of Avalon (King Arthur's story) in HS. Then years later I picked up the audio book. I knew it said abridged...I didn't think much of it. Then I listened to it and I went nuts. I picked teh book up because I'd forgotten the details of the story, but oblviously I remembered enough because I kept yelling at my tape player..."No you left out this part"..."What how could you not tell that part"

SO MUCH of the story was missing that it wasn't the same book. Even my perception of the main character was totally different.

I think I'm in a ranting mood today (sorry--I just ranted on Eric's blog too :)

Anyway I agree with you it should be a crime to abridge ANYTHING.

Eric Mutta said...

I think the dilution idea is missing the whole point of faith. Faith is hard and this hardness is designed to build discipline and perseverance in the adherent.

Simplifying the religious text by neutering it will simultaneously neuter anyone who builds their faith through it.

I also think it's cruel to those who will end up reading it. They'll be thinking "easy text = easy faith" only to be rudely shocked that it doesn't hurt any less when life's tribulations come knocking and their faith is challenged.

Finally, it speaks volumes about the extents that the human psyche will go. What an ego trip it must be to be able to say what is or isn't an important of God's word. The most startling thing though, is how that same mind can conjure up justifications ("it will help people") for a clearly questionnable act.

Jennifer said...

Dido Eric.

I was too caught up in the 'butching' part to comment on the rest.

Melly said...

Jennifer, glad you agree.
I mean, for a moment there I thought that maybe you don't...
Naah, just kiddin', it was pretty obvious. I enjoyed your rant.
I even rhymed something for you:
If you can't rant here
In our favourite blogsphere

That's where I got stuck though...

Melly said...

Eric, yeah. You summed it all very well.

And before anyone mentions for kids versions of the Bible, Shakespeare and what not, I'd remind them that we're not talking about that but about adult abridged versions.

Anonymous said...

I tend to stay away from religion, however spirituality and Christianity still have a place for expression and opinion. However too many religous people who like rules tend to scare away the true spiritual people with good hearts and a touch for Chirstianity if it did not have to deal with all the religious folks. There is a new generation who is learning about religion without the hardliners and can express themselves in writing without pissing too many people off. I like Donald Miller and John Eldredge.

Pat Kirby said...

It's like Cliff Notes for the Bible.

I'm a happy heathen, worshipping my rocks, trees and Nik the Wonder horse, but why would you want a diluted bible? At this rate, they can water it down to two words: "People, behave."

If God is such an intergral part of your life, if He inspires you, why wouldn't you want to roll up your sleeves and dig into The Word?

Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Eric Mutta said...

If you can't rant here
In our favourite blogsphere
Then dear oh dear
Something aint clear
You should have no fear
We have ears to hear
So you sure can rant here.

LOL. There ya go Melly. Hah! And here I was thinking I couldn't do poetry [*huge grin*]

Melly said...

Lance, you're so right. Many times it is the rigid structure that scare people away.

I looked up the names you mentioned. Unfamiliar to me before, forgive the ignorance, and it seems that they're young and free spirited, definitely more appealing to the new generation.

Melly said...

Pat, oh Pat. I can just see you shake your head and hear you clicking your tongue.

And Eric, goodness. You're a very skilled poet. LOL.
Shows we can collaborate, eh? ;)

Jennifer said...

I LOVE IT! OH THAT's WONDERFUL ERIC! Can I quote you? (and you two Melly?)

Jennifer said...

too not two (I know I'm the worlds worst spelling...actually it's just late here..though I really am a bad speller too)

melly said...

You can quote me two or too or anyway you like.

dog1net said...

I've spent years reading the Bible, exploring its mysteries, its nuances, and each time I read passages I've hundreds of times before, I discover another layer of meaning. That the Bible could be condensed to a 100 minute read almost seems absurd.

rdl said...

Ridiculous indeed. Thanks for stopping by with encouraging words. Like what I see, will stop back.

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

I'm in with Jennifer's thoughts on this; abridging anything really hacks me off.

I think that, anymore, too many people would prefer to be hooked up to an intravenous drip of "instant learning/gratification" or what have you rather than put out an effort to achieve anything on solid grounds. As such, we see dilution. In this general manner, I agree with Eric and what he states regarding "faith" (in the case of this "just add water, instant Bible" type of thing that has apparently come out...heh), but aside from the Bible, happy text-compressing hands are at work in numerous other areas that I'd rather not see touched.

Lynn / vigilant20 said...

It seems to me it's partly a ploy to make religion more politically correct, after all, the Bible says things like homosexuality is a sin *gasp*. I have a funny feeling this new version won't bother telling people anything they don't want to hear.

The other part is just a plain bad idea.

Eric Mutta said...

Jennifer:>Can I quote you? (and you two Melly?)

LOL, I'll plagiarise Melly's answer:

"You can quote me two or too or anyway you like."

Like Lynn and Ariadnek alluded to, chances are, plagiarism wont be a sin in that "New Instant Bible - AITT version"...(where AITT stands for Add Ignorance To Taste) :-)

Melly said...

Scott, I too studied the Bible quite a bit (more through school though). But it doesn't matter, even if one ignores the religious content, one cannot deny the philosophical, social, personal and on so many other issues on so many levels exist in the Bible. It's a fascinating book.
I don't doubt much of its depth and breadth is lost in the shortened version.

Melly said...

I liked what I saw too so the feeling is mutual.
I like how you put things - short and to the point :)

Melly said...

ariK, yes, there are other areas too. It's something that we actually live with everyday - dont' you think? This dilution so that everybody would understand without breaking a sweat and this "happy compressing" so that things would fit into a particular time slot. It leaves us with less, a lot less.

Melly said...

Lynn, a PC religion. Now, that would be a refresher.
If that's the case, though, if that's their intention, then that would be one positive I could see coming out of this (unless they're just being sneaky :)

Trée said...

The soda pop bible. Mmm . . . Maybe they should call it Bible lite and promote it in bars and lounges. ;-)

Patry Francis said...

I'm with you, Melly. It's a bad idea from either a religious or a literary perspective.

Anonymous said...

I think though that the tough subjects can bring about the most passion form people, in polarized views taht bring about true learning and sharing of ideals, without the initative in many avenues we would never find out or discover beyond what is safe, and have no moon rocks on earth.

Jean said...

Not to mention that different people read at different rates. Is it false advertising if I take 200 minutes to read it?

I detest abridged versions, too. So many "Books on Tape" are abridged, and I avoid those versions if at all possible.

Melly said...

Tree, I'm going to add your "soda pop bible" to the "just add water, instant Bible" promotional slogan. ;)

Melly said...

Patry, I know how your faith is important to you. I'm so glad you agree.

Lance, yes. I love your moon rock analogy. :)
Indeed, initiatives are important for progress and for discussion. Maybe we just need to find the right medium of initiatives.

Melly said...

Jean, I'm the slowest reader ever. Seriously, it's some sort of a learning disability, so I couldn't stop laughing at your comment 'cause I was thinking the same thing, that the 100-Minute Bible would probably take me 200 minutes. LOL.

Dana said...

What is this? Cliff Notes? That was stupid, stupid, stupid. the Bible has been messed around with too much in the last two centuries. we don't need to mess it up further.

melly said...

Cliff notes, ha - that's funny.

strangerthanfiction said...

If you agree the bible has been corrupted, share here.