Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Radical Retelling of the Scriptures

This one has been knocking around for a bit and I am late on it, but it's worth a mention: there is a new edition of the Bible out that has caused a bit of a stir, John Henson, Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures. I use the word "edition" rather than translation because it is striking not only in its trendy translations but also in its exclusion of books the author does not like (the Pastorals, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation) and inclusion of others outside the canon including the Gospel of Thomas. I have not had a chance to look at the book myself but Richard Ostler of the Associated Press has. I saw this link on Bible and Interpretation:

NEW BIBLE - Trendy or heretical?
Richard N. Ostling, AP Religion Writer

This is from the Jamaica Gleaner and dates from Saturday 21 August. Ostler suggests that the book would hardly have been noticed if it had not been for the Foreword provided by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am wondering whether this is the first edition of the Bible, if indeed one can call it that, to include Thomas. The only other ones I can think of are the various publications of the Jesus Seminar (see Jesus Seminar and Westar Institute) which include Thomas in a five-fold Gospel canon. But as for the Jesus Seminar, Saying 114 apparently causes concern and is adjusted; from Ostler's article:
There's addition as well as subtraction. Following one scholarly sect, he puts the Gospel of Thomas alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, though Christianity discarded Thomas. Henson makes the debatable claim that it's 'probably' among the earliest Christian writings and 'possibly' as early as the other four.

Then he outrageously changes the conclusion of Thomas to say that "every woman who insists on equality with men is fit to be a citizen in God's New World." What Thomas actually said was that "every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven." Political correctness similarly barred much masculine terminology.

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