Leviticus for Dummies?
From Yahoo News, September 21st, 3005:
“A Church of England vicar was on Wednesday unveiling his self-styled "100-Minute Bible
", an ultra-condensed edition of the Christian holy book which claims to neatly summarise (sic) every teaching from the Creation to the Revelation…
Publishers the 100-Minute Press say the book has been written for those who want to know more about Christianity but who do not have the time to read the original in full.”
I am sure this guy means well, and I am sure he has given it his best shot. I haven’t read his book, and I am not trying to pan it specifically. But I have a big problem with this whole approach to evangelistic outreach. The unspoken, and hopefully unintended, implication is that we can improve on the scripture to make it more palatable for modern lifestyles, and that the scriptures can be safely condensed.
Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing whatsoever against summarizing Christian teachings, or presenting an outline of scripture in a way that is informative and readable.. When I was a kid, we even had comic books with bible stories and lives of the saints in illustrated format. I have, firmly embedded in my memory, a picture of a fish jumping into the hands of Tobias (deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, for the more Evangelical-oriented readers). I remember it after all these years because of the strange expression on the face of the fish. Anyway, there is nothing, IMHO, wrong with using any means of communication to spread the Kingdom. (Well, maybe some
means. I have a pretty warped mind, and just came up with some marvelous-but-unprintable mental images.) But for heaven’s sake, if you’re going to do that, don’t
call the product “scripture.” I don’t remember the name of the comic book, but they didn’t
call it “The Holy Bible – Looney Tunes Version.”
I guess my point is that the scriptures are supposed
to be hard to read – not because of the language (I’m no KJV fan) but because of the content. You are supposed
to say, “What the heck does this mean?” You are supposed
to think, “I must be missing the point, here.” You are supposed
to chew on it for a while and let it chew on you for a while. It’s only then that you begin to understand the scripture in terms of the church’s teaching and the church’s teaching in terms of scripture. It’s only after a lot of chewing and digesting that you start to see the “seamless garment” nature of scripture. It’s only after a lot of chewing and digesting that you start to see the inner integrity of all those “hard” parts that fly in the face of common wisdom. To try to short-circuit that process for “newbies” is to cut them off from the source God provided – not unlike short-circuiting the Eucharist to “everybody grab a slice of bread.” You lose something extraordinarily precious and important. The church used to have a lengthy catechumen process, where newcomers were trained in the faith. If you really want to fill your pews, then smart it up; don’t dumb it down.
Other than that, I guess I have no strong opinion on the matter.