How Jesus Would Talk If He Was Here Today; Rev Aelwyn Roberts Believes a New Translation of the Bible into Everyday Language Has Brought Joy Back to Religion

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), December 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

How Jesus Would Talk If He Was Here Today; Rev Aelwyn Roberts Believes a New Translation of the Bible into Everyday Language Has Brought Joy Back to Religion


Byline: Rev Aelwyn Roberts

WAS the retired old vicar sitting in the congregation with my erstwhile parishioners. The new vicar was about to read the gospel in the Communion Service. We all stood up.

The vicar announced he had taken the reading from the fifth chapter of the gospel according to St Matthew.

I put my chin into my chest and half closed my eyes,as I always do when I listen to the scriptures being read in church. I had started to mumble the words to myself even before he had begun to read: ``And I say unto you. Swear not at all neither by heaven for it is the throne of God nor by the earth for it is the footstool of His feet...''

But the words the new vicar were reading were different from the words I was mumbling -they were very different.

He read: ``And don't say anything that you don't mean.''

I pulled my chin out of my chest and I opened my eyes wide and I listened.

``You only make things worse when you lay a smokescreen of pious talk, saying: `I'll pray for you' and never doing it,or saying, `Godbe with you' and not mean it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace.''

Wow!

I was not the only one standing in the queue afterwards to shake the vicar's hand and to ask him which translation of the Bible he had used. He told us it was a new translation called The Message,by an American professor of Greek and Hebrew, turned parish priest in the US. I decided I would have to have a copy of this 2,265- page new bible translation even if it did cost me pounds 30.

I brought my new precious bible home with me. Had a hurried look at the introduction. Here the author was explaining that one of the groups he was targeting was ``those to whom the bible has become flat throughfamiliarity''. I knew immediately that that was me.

I first turned to the Lord's Prayer. I have always been very unhappy about the translation of the Lord's Prayer, but not being a Greek,or an Aramaic, or a Latin scholar,or any kind of scholar at all really,I had been quite unable to do anything about it.

The authorised translation says: ``And lead us not into temptation.''

We recite these words together every Sunday as a congregation. But surely whilst we are saying these words we must all be conscious of the fact that God does not lead anyone to temptation. We are all quite capable of leading ourselves into temptation without any outside help,and especially from the God who loves us. But we still go on saying these words.

The New Revised Bible of 40 years ago, suggests that we say:``And do not bring us to the test.''That sounds better,but I was never sure what was meant by ``test''.

So I was excited to know how The Message translated these words of the Blessed Lord.

The Message says: ``Keep us safe from ourselves and from the devil.''

Now here was a man after my own heart who postulated a belief in an active and personal devil -so unlike many of us who try to bury the devil in a field as far from our own house as possible.

I then turned to that wonderful exegesis of St Paul (1Cor.15)on how we actually cross over from this world to the next. Peterson says a funny thing,it made me feel a bit uneasy: ``When everything and everybody is finally under God's rule, theSon will finally step down taking his place with everyone else, showing that God's rule is absolutely comprehensive -a perfect end. …

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