Friday Five: The B-I-B-L-E

As posted by Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals:

Does everyone remember the old Sunday School song?

The B-I-B-L-E,
Oh, that’s the book for me.
I take my stand on the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E

have been working on an expansive language version of the Psalms and
the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office/Breviary. (For you
non-liturgical gals and pals, that’s a set of prayers for morning,
noon, evening, etc., mostly consisting of Psalms and other biblical

So I have been thinking a lot about the Bible recently,
and how we encounter it as God’s Word–or don’t–in our lives, prayer,
and ministry. (Great minds think somewhat alike this week, as
yesterday’s Ask The Matriarch post dealt
with ways to help as many people in a community as possible engage with
a scriptural text in preparation for Sunday worship).

So, in
that spirit, I offer my first Friday Five. I’m looking forward to
hearing everyone’s experience and reflection on these B-I-B-L-E

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a biblical text?

Considering that I was churched right from the Cradle Roll (and have my certificate of graduation from that "class" in my baby book!), this is going back a long way, if we consider hearing a story to be the same as encountering a text. I have a vivid memory of making a three-dimensional representation of the story of the man whose friends let him down through the roof to get him nearer to Jesus, and that continues to be a powerful story for me.

And we know I handled the Bible given to me at baptism from the red crayon marks inside the cover.

But the first passage I remember reading all by myself I found next to one of the color plates in the little Bethlehem mother-of-pearl New Testament my father brought home from a trip to Israel when I was seven or eight. I remember vividly the discovery of this passage, one which remains potent for me today:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore,
if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow
is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of
little faith?

(Matthew 6:28b-30, KJV)

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? (You might have a few for different purposes).

For beauty, the King James. For scholarship, the NRSV. For surprising inspiration, The Message.

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage?

Mark, because it gives us the most human Jesus and is structured so intricately, making its appeal both theological and literary. I wrote a big paper in seminary on his version of the story of the Anointing Woman, and that remains a favorite passage for all kinds of reasons, particularly because she anoints his head. (That’s Mark 14:3-9.) I also love the spare beginning of Mark’s gospel. By the time you reach verse 15 of chapter 1, Jesus is preaching! And when he says the kingdom of God is near, you can understand why people believed him.

The larger Matthew passage surrounding the verses above is also special (both comforting and challenging) to me, as is Philippians 3:1-14. Growing up in a culture and a family where much store is set by who your people are, it challenges me to find who God wants me to be, not discounting where I came from but not resting upon it either.

Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther’s famous words about
James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Which verse(s) make you want to

John’s gospel is a mixed bag for me. Some gorgeous passages, lots of stuff I just can’t stand.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral?

In translation, I like it where it’s accurate, but not where it’s being overlaid. In liturgy and proclamation, I always use it.

Bonus: Back to the Psalms–which one best speaks the prayer of your heart?

Ah, that would be Psalm 46, especially verses 1-5, and most especially the glad river of verse 4, which put me in mind of the underground rivers that represent for me the deep unconscious connections between all parts of God’s creation. When we realize that connection and live into it, truly the river will make God’s city glad and God will be in the midst of it and helping us.

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;

3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

5God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.

25 thoughts on “Friday Five: The B-I-B-L-E”

  1. Molly, LOL!
    Have you ever heard Mark performed? It’s such an oral gospel, intended to be heard as much as read, and I wonder if that isn’t why it’s so short?
    (And just to be clear, that is not Molly, my dog, leaving a comment.)

  2. I find the KJV to be comfortable and comforting because it was the one from my childhood, but I’m finding other translations more practical.
    I like what you said about inclusive language…I want it authentic and inclusive.

  3. i can imagine it was a pretty amazing Sunday School class when you made the 3-D version of the man coming to Jesus through the roof. very cool!
    great play!

  4. I see you’re reading “Patron Saint of Liars” – is this one you’d recommend for my book group? I read the synopsis at Amazon and am intrigued!
    Oh – I also had an amazing Sunday School – I was miriam by the water watching over baby moses in the basket once – vivid memory. I long for that kind of sunday school for our own kids, just don’t know if that era will ever come again . . .

  5. Oh, you played so well! Esp. the Bible memories — you brought back some of my own. My first Bible was a “Golden Book” children’s version. My favorite story was Solomon and the baby — I can still see the pictures when I close my eyes. I received a little white NT when I was confirmed, which I still have and never open.

  6. Elane, now that you say that, I remember asking about that story over and over, making my parents re-tell it. The idea that a mother might smother her child was so horrifying! And that anyone would suggest cutting a baby in half! Ack!

  7. tyd, I just started reading it, so I’ll have to let you know. I adored her book “Bel Canto,” as well as her memoir “Truth and Beauty,” so I’m hopeful.
    I was in a great Presbyterian Sunday School from 1st – 7th grade, including two years in a class that used puppets one year and drama the next year to do a survey of first the New Testament and then the Old. It was fabulous, and I will never forget those stories.

  8. I had a little Bible growing up with illustrations, and one of the pictures that I can clearly remember is the one of the man being lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus.
    Isn’t it amazing how the stories we hear as kids continue to be very powerful for us later in life?

  9. The story that gets to me is the Akedah/binding of Isaac; and like the story of Noah (which also has a pretty scary God if you think about it) it is in a lot of children’s bible story books. Before Nicholas could read I would explain the picture as “This man thought God wanted him to sacrifice his son, but God told him not to and sent the ram instead.” Once he could read it became an occasion for talking about who wrote the bible and how, how perceptions of God have changed, what God is really like and what parents should do if they thought they heard such an awful thing from God, etc….

  10. kee-razy world… i think after having watched the national news last night we all could stand to hear a little more of psalm 46.

  11. Mark is my fav too. Perhaps due to a seminary professor who really made it come to life! Loved reading your story. Great play!

  12. hey, my feelings about John are similar to yours; and after reading Say to this Mountain and using Binding the Strong Man as a commentary, finally I’ve started to appreciate Mark. thanks for playing!

  13. I share your opinion of Mark. I agree that John’s style can be somewhat grating at times, but there’s also a depth to it that you don’t find in the synoptic gospels.

  14. Good play. I also find John’s Gospel puzzling sometimes. We sang a rather haunting setting of that Psalm in sem choir, and it still stays with me.

  15. Thanks for playing. You have a good point about John, which is always so highly acclaimed. I like your comment about The Message surprising you. Nice.

  16. I really like the Message too! I have used parts of it in sermons before, just for the powerful imagery.
    (ie. “The Wind ran out of breath”)
    Good post! LOL over the red crayons.

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