The boyfriend and I were thinking about going back and reading the old book together in a scholarly sort of way and discussing it. (Probably provoking months of fights and sniping, since he’s religious and I’m not, but that’s what we enjoy in life. We’re both missing the whole academic rigor thing, I think.) Anyway, I need to pick a version.
We like King James for the language, of course. We’d want to discuss language, history, myth, etc., as well as the religious aspects and interpretations of the text. If there’s a much better version with awesome notes for that, I’ll give up the KJV, but I do love the poetry and would miss it. Suggestions?
Also, any recommendations for a study guide for the variably religious? I have Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, which is good but a bit outdated - is there anything else with a really broad scope that would focus us on discussion topics?
This opens a can of religious worms. I bought the New English Bible when it first came out, because it was translated directly into English, unlike the traditional KJV or the Catholic Douay-Rheims. Even the more recent Catholic Jerusalem Bible went through French to English. I’m not really hung up on the poetry of the KJV, because a.) i wasn’t raised on it, b.) it’s inaccurate. we have “halpmate” as a word because of one of its inaccuracies, and c.) it brings up incorrect images and interpretatio
I haven’t really kept up with translations since then 9over 35 years ago!) , so i don’t know if there’s anything better out there just for the translation alone. If you want bible study guides, that’s a whole 'nother can of worms, and we just had a thread on that recently.
When I was last in Bible study I had the NRSV Harper Study Bible and I really liked it. It’s full of footnotes and historical notes and it really helped me understand the Bible as a historical work, as it were.
Every study bible I look at on Amazon has at least one and often many reviews that make my skin crawl. Now, I know you can’t always trust those things, especially when it comes to religion, but when you get for the Harper Study Bible praise because "I have been looking for a conservative study bible in the NRSV, one that I don’t have to constantly disagree with the notes and commentary. " it may not be the one for us.
Weird. I’m as liberal as a $2 bill (erm, that probably didn’t make sense) but I didn’t find anything conservative about the notes. They were more like “back in a previous book, you’ll recall that this was mentioned” or “the text is referring to a practice of sheep shearing that was common during the time period.”
Even if the notes say something like “lots of people think this means that GAYZ ARE TEH BAD!” it doesn’t mean you have to believe it, just note the note.
I felt that the footnotes were just facts, not opinions. Could be that the conservative reviewer liked the footnotes because they were opinion-free and thus not contrary to her opinion. I guess you’d have to check it out for yourself, tho.
If you’re interested in a scholarly approach I highly recommend you take advantage of the Open Yale website. There they have one entire course available online for the Jewish Bible (aka the Old Testament) and another just for the New Testament, with all the lectures and course materials posted, all for free.
Following these courses will help you understand the order in which you should read the texts – even a good study bible may not make that clear. For example, the Book of Isaiah was written by three different people in three different times; the OT course divides that text up into its parts so you read them in their historical context. They will also introduce you to the varieties of criticism (source criticism, redaction criticism, etc), besides giving you all kinds of insights in the text from some of the best bible scholars in the world. Having that guiding hand becomes more important as you get into the prophetic writings and the letters of Paul. Also, you’ll get the historical context you need and needed background on the Canaanite religions (the god Baal, etc.). I especially liked the OT course because it read the OT from a Jewish perspective, which I had never received. Of course, both courses treat the text as literature, not doctrine.
As for the texts, the Old Testament course uses
The New Testament course calls for:
But you don’t necessarily need those Bible versions to make use of the courses.
I would suggest you just follow the courses for a while and see if you like them. Read what’s assigned, talk it over, listen to the lecture and talk some more. The good thing about having the professor is that it may help provoke thought and resolve disagreements.