:: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 ::

Getting back in the groove. Thanks, everyone, for your prayers and thoughts during my recent illness and perpetual funk of mind. My throat is better; the fever's gone; I'm starting to get back to normal. Which means, I'm back in blogging form.

The Psalms. I've been occasionally reading Psalms from the Contemporary English Version, just to gain a different perspective on the language and the meanings of the Psalms. It's been slow going. Although I use the CEV in my work with teens -- primarily because it is easy to read and understand and also quite affordable (through the American Bible Society, I can order a case of 24 paperbacks for around $40) -- I have difficulty reading this version's rendering of the poetic books. Perhaps it's because I, like many in the West, first became acquainted with the Bible through the good ol' King James Version. The KJV poetry of a scripture like Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

... becomes, in the hands of the CEV translators:

You, LORD, are my shepherd. I will never be in need.
You let me rest in fields of green grass.
You lead me to streams of peaceful water,
and you refresh my life.

Besides the change from poetic to prosaic, there's often a change in perspective, from objective to subjective. The beginning of Psalm 103 (one of my favorites) -- "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name" in the KJV -- becomes "With all my heart I praise the LORD, and with all that I am I praise his holy name!" (emphasis added) The tone changes from an exhortation to a personal statement.

Sometimes the CEV changes the meaning of a verse. In the KJV, Psalm 40:4 reads: "Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies." Besides being gender exclusive, phrases like "respecteth not the proud" are antiquated and foreign to the modern ear. In this case, I am thankful for the CEV's rendering: "You bless all of those who trust you, LORD, and refuse to worship idols or follow false gods." Here, however, the meaning shifts from God not giving heed to the proud and lying to God blessing those who do not worship idols. Those kinds of twisted scriptures can't be good. Still, I hope to glean something from the CEV's take on this magnificent collection of poetry.

Yancey on the Psalms. Since becoming a Christian, I've loved reading the Psalms, despite their incongruencies. Philip Yancey, who is one of my favorite contemporary Christian writers, apparently didn't. Lately I've been reading his book The Bible Jesus Read, which is about the Old Testament. Last night I read his treatment on Psalms and gleaned a number of insights. Here's one of them:

The 150 psalms present a mosaic of spiritual therapy in process. Doubt, paranoia, giddiness, meanness, delight, hatred, joy, praise, vengefulness, betrayal -- you can find it all in Psalms. Such strewing of emotions, which I once saw as hopeless disarray, I now see as a sign of health. From Psalms I have learned that I can rightfully bring to God
whatever I feel about him. I need not paper over my failures and try to clean up my own rottenness; far better to bring those weaknesses to God, who alone has the power to heal.

:: Andrew 08:14 + ::

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