• Biblical history

    Looking very closely at Bible translation questions

    One of the things that fascinates me about the Bible is that there is no one definitive translation. There are parts that are unclear. For example, take Genesis 49:10. It can be interpreted in different ways, each with their own potential meanings. The verse is part of Jacob’s blessings to his sons. The oldest three sons are given criticism for previous behaviour, and the bulk of the honour goes to Judah. This reflects or predicts – depending on whether one believes the Bible was written by man or God – the idea that King David was said to be from the tribe of Judah, and that Jerusalem is within that…

  • Biblical history

    Why secular parents wishing to teach their children about the Bible should avoid children’s Bibles.

    I teach secular Bible studies classes online. This means I teach children and teens to read the Bible and look at the Bible stories as literature written by people over a specific period of time, a couple thousand years ago. I ask students to have a copy of the Bible available during class and for their homework. I encourage them to have a study Bible. I strongly discourage the use of children’s Bibles. Children’s Bibles are retellings of the Bible stories meant for children. The stories are often arranged in the same order the stories appear in the Bible, but with only specific stories included. First, I’ll admit there are…

  • Biblical history,  history,  religion

    Comparing the Bible with Mythology

    I’m reading Charles Penglase’s book Greek Mythology and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. The heart of Penglase’ book is the idea that myth writers took motifs from other stories. He identifies rough motifs such as the goddess-and-her-consort stories where there is a journey to the underworld and a return and then he argues that those motifs show up even in unusual places. For example, pointing out how Apollo’s birth could be seen as fitting the goddess-and-consort-and-underworld myth. It has a wandering mother searching for (a place to bear) her child. It has the personified Island being scared it will be pushed down into the (underworld?)…

  • Biblical history,  history,  religion

    Bible stories according to a knight in 1372

    I’m reading the book Book of the Knight of the Tower by Rebecca Barnhouse. This is a translation and commentary of a book of the same name by Sir Geoffery in 1372. Sir Geoffrey’s book was written in France, but became popular in both England and Germany as well. It was translated into English by William Caxton, the printer who brought the movable type to England. The knight and his priests wrote the book for the knight’s daughters, so that they would know how to act. It included stories about his life as well as stories ‘from the Bible.’ Except the Biblical stories are just barely recognizable: I’ll tell you about…