Bible Knowledge 28

These statements about the Bible were written by children
and have not been retouched or corrected
(i.e., bad spelling has been left in).
St. Paul cavorted* to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony**, which is another name for marriage.
* converted
** matrimony

Jesus and the forms of divorce

A week ago, I blogged about a GLBT Study Bible I've come across. As I said even then, it contains interesting new ideas about certain concepts we've become accustomed to take for granted. At the time, I mentioned the mistake of taking the word arsenokoites to mean homosexual.
Another (though minor) example is the profession of Joseph, Mary's husband. Traditionally, the Greek word tekton has been rendered as "carpenter" in Matt 13:55 and Mark 6:3, but according to Dr Ann Nyland, it actually means "skilled craftsperson" - including carpenters, to be sure, but also metal workers, sculptors, people working in horn etc.
An interesting bit of information is divulged in the notes to Gospel passages where Jesus discusses divorce (Matt 5:31-32, 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18). I quote from the note in Luke, p. 126:
In Matthew 19:3, the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it legal for a person to divorce his wife on the grounds of 'Any Matter'?" The Rabbis were asking Jesus about his interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1. The "Any Matter" is a technical term from Jewish divorce law, a form of divorce introduced by the Rabbi Hillel. The other type of divorce, on the ground of "General Sexual Immorality", was available to both men and women, both of whom were able to divorce their partner on the specific grounds based on Exodus 21:10-11. This traditional divorce was becoming rarer by the start of the first century, being replaced by the "Any Matter" divorce, which was for men only, and popular as no grounds had to be shown and there was no court case. For an "Any Matter" divorce, the man simply had to write out a certificate of divorce and give it to his wife. My Jesus' time, the "Any Matter" was the more popular form of divorce, but the rabbis were still arguing about the legalities of it. The disciples of Shammai were particularly opposed to it. [...]
Jesus replied that a divorce on the grounds of "Any Matter" was not legal, that "whoever divorces his wife, unless it's on the grounds of 'General Sexual Immorality', and marries someone else, commits adultery". Jesus is simply saying that if someone divorces by a form other than the grounds of "General Sexual Immorality" form of divorce, they are not properly divorced and thus not free to remarry, and so are committing adultery if they do. He is continuing his statement that he disagrees with the "Any Matter" form of divorce.
It is most important to note the significance of the above. The way the passage has traditionally been translated implies that Jesus was asked the question, "Is it ever legal to divorce?" and he answered, "No, except on the grounds of sexual immorality." This is not the case. Jesus was asked if it was legal to divorce on the grounds of "Any Matter" and he answered, "No, only on the grounds of 'General Sexual Immorality'". In other words, he was disagreeing with the form of "Any Matter" form of divorce. He certainly wasn't saying that at that time, or in the time to come, people were never to divorce except for sexual immorality.
If this is accurate, it would for sure mean a world of difference to many people. Divorcés who despite tremendous effort weren't able to save their marriage, and on whom those more fortunate are looking down their noses, could now raise their heads and show this as an example of how Jesus' tolerance, acceptance and love far outshines that of his most ardent followers. Which (sadly) isn't news.


Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.
- Stewart Udall
as quoted on the Rainforest Site

Our responsibility to preserve

It is our collective and individual responsibility [...] to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live.
- Dalai Lama
as quoted on the Rainforest Site

What God holds together

It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
as quoted on God's Politics

GLBT Study Bible

Ann Nyland: Study New Testament For Lesbians, Gays, Bi, and Transgender. With extensive notes on Greek word meaning and context. Smith and Stirling, Uralla, N.S.W. 2007. 422 p.
Dr. Ann Nyland, a Greek lexicographer, not a theologian, has translated the New Testament into English. Her translation, called The Source New Testament, or TSNT, was published in 2004. Now, she has worked it into a "Study New Testament", with extensive notes and commentary. One point that she works into the notes is that homosexuality is, in fact, not forbidden in the Bible.
Nyland is critical to other translations for not taking into account recent (i.e. less than 150 years ago) discoveries of Greek text materials (including papyri and inscriptions) that shed new light on Greek vocabulary. NT scholars are well aware of this, but it seems not to have seeped through to Bible translators, who largely base their work on earlier, and by the nature of things faulty, translations.
It is, for instance, a mistake to assume that the etymology of a word is its actual meaning. An example would be the word arsenokoites. Nyland writes (p. 11), that the word
has been assumed to mean "homosexual". However, the word does not mean "homosexual", and its range of meaning includes one who anally penetrates another (male or female), a rapist, a murderer, or an extorsionist. When used in the meaning "anal penetrator", it does not apply exclusively to males as the receptors, as it was also used for women receptors. The word does not appear in any Greek literary source until the poets of the Imperial period. This late occurrence is most significant as the Greeks wrote at length on male-male sexual relationships.
Not surprisingly, the book has created an uproar among right wing Christians, especially in the USA. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald (26.11.07) says that a US distributor, God's Word to Women, has banned the Australian publication, and withdrawn another Bible translation published by the same publishing house for promoting a lifestyle in contradiction of the scriptures. Two American academics have asked that their endorsements be removed from other works by Nyland, because of her authorship of the gay study bible.
The article quotes the manager of Smith and Stirling Publishing, Portia Blakely:
"Since we made the Gay and Lesbian Study Bible available to the public, leading evangelists who previously recommended our books have withdrawn their endorsements from all our books and Bibles on the grounds that we have produced a work that even discusses homosexuality.
"The Christian right's unfounded treatment of gay and lesbian people is inexcusable bigotry which they blame on the God whom they worship."
There is also an the article in Wikipedia on the controversy.

Ripple On Love

Jesus reassures us that every effort to love ourselves and others more faithfully, however imperfectly we are able to do this, is a response to God’s call to love as he loved. It is a response to the two greatest commandments as they stand in relationship to one another.
- Paula Ripple
as quoted on God's Politics

Turn my soul into a garden

Teach me, Lord, to sing of your mercies. Turn my soul into a garden, where the flowers dance in the gentle breeze, praising you with their beauty. Let my soul be filled with beautiful virtues; let me be inspired by your Holy Spirit; let me praise you always.
- Teresa of Avila
as quoted on God's Politics

A typical Texas baby boy

A man from Texas buys a round of drinks for everyone in the bar as he announces his wife has just produced "A typical Texas baby boy weighing twenty pounds." Congratulations shower all around, and many exclamations of 'wow!' are heard.
Two weeks later he returns to the bar. The bartender says, 'Say, you're the father of the typical Texas baby that weighed twenty pounds at birth, aren't you? How much does the baby weigh now?'
The proud father answers, 'Fifteen pounds.'
The bartender is puzzled. 'Why? What happened? He already weighed twenty pounds at birth.'
The Texas father takes a slow sip from his beer, wipes his lips on his shirt sleeve, leans over to the bartender and proudly announces, 'Had him circumcised.'
Many thanks to Tuija.


A group of Australian Christian pastors (and ministers, priests etc) have published what they call "the 100 Revs Statement". In essence they apologise to the gay community for their churches' lack of welcome. The statement is published on the 100Revs blog, and says as follows:
As ministers of various churches and denominations we recognise that the churches we belong to, and the church in general, have not been places of welcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. Indeed the church has often been profoundly unloving toward the GLBT community. For these things we apologise, whatever the distinctive of our Christian position on human sexuality – to which we remain committed. We are deeply sorry and ask for the forgiveness of the GLBT community. We long that the church would be a place of welcome for all people and commit ourselves to pursuing this goal.
We ARE a group of Christian ministers who voluntarily and individually bring this apology.
We ARE NOT official representatives of our churches or denominations.
We ARE NOT making a statement on the biblical position on gay and lesbian relationships.
We ARE recognising the lack of hospitality, care and welcome that the churches have offered the gay and lesbian community.
The "Revs" voice an intent to participate in the Mardi Gras event - which by all accounts should have taken place by now, since we already have entered Lent - which seems to be an equivalent of the Pride festivals of other countries, including Finland. To that extent, we have taken that step before our brothers and sisters Down Under - see here and here.
Not everyone is interested in being apologised to, however. In a comment, the pseudonymous Thug says:
Christians are swimming in a sea of blood they've spilled from innocents. No apology that fails to address the magnitude of Christian crimes against GLBT humanity is acceptable.
Maybe so. Sadly so. But it is a start.

A Racist Story

The following story, alleged to be true, is passed along as a chain letter on Facebook. In principle, I refuse not to break chain letters. This story, however, is worth repeating; therefore I choose to do so here.
The following scene took place on a BA flight between Johannesburg and London. This is a true story.

A White woman, about 50 years old, was seated next to a Black man. Obviously disturbed by this, she called the air Hostess.
"Madam, what is the matter," the Hostess asked.
"You obviously do not see it then?" she responded. "You placed me next to a Black man. I do not agree to sit next to someone from such a repugnant group. Give me an alternative seat."
"Be calm, please," the Hostess replied. "Almost all the seats on this flight are taken. I will go to see if another seat is available."
The Hostess went away and came back a few minutes later. "Madam, just as I thought, there are no other available seats in Economy class. I spoke to the Captain and he informed me that there are also no seats in the Business class. All the same, we still have one seat in First class." Before the woman could reply, the Hostess continued: "It is unusual for our company to permit someone from Economy class to sit in First class. However, given the circumstances, the Captain feels that it would be scandalous to make someone sit next to someone so disgusting." She turned to the Black man and said, "Therefore, Sir, if you would like to, please collect your hand luggage, a seat awaits you in First class."
At that moment, the other passengers who were shocked by what they had just witnessed stood up and applauded.

If you are against Racism, please send this message to all your friends. Please do not delete it without sending it to at least one person. "When you're down to nothing, God is up to something."