Tag Archives: KJV onlyism

The Africana Bible: Women, Art, and Responsibility

Isaac Hayes

My Ethiopian Bible is bigger than Your White King James Bible!!!

“Let me add one more line in order to connect my African-South African reality with that of my fellow Africana sisters: ‘Isono sethu ubulili bethu besifazane–“Our sin is our female sex.’ ” Madipoane Masenya (page 33)

Like many posts I do, I begin this one with a personal story. A while back I was riding the Fort Worth T bus on the way home from a long morning at work. I sat in the back, wearing my blue “Got Jesus?” hoodie when a elderly black man across the aisle from me, informed me that my hoodie was wrong, that I had the wrong name on that shirt. And I responded, what am I doing wrong? And the man said, God’s name is Jehovah, and Jehovah only. Of course, my reply was well Jehovah is the German rendition of the divine name in the “Old Testament.” He tried to call himself persuading me to his “argument” but I tuned him out, and went on my merry way. Lovely story right? Probably wondering what exactly does that have to do with this post on Women, Art, and Responsibility in The Africana Bible?

Well, my friend, for Christians in the African Diaspora, the Bible is a cherished book. West Africans generally, according to Steed Vernyl Davidson, Justin Ukpong, and Gosnell York in “The Bible and Africana Life: A Problematic Relationship,” sometimes sleep with their Bible under their pillows (hey in Texas, it’s guns–okay okay, I kid, well maybe not) (p 39-40). The Bible is seen as being able to be reconciled with African worldview(s), but funny thing is, some white Christians identify their own brand of Christianity as THE only way of being biblical. Funny how that works, eh? The Bible permeates so much of African diasporic life that the Hebrew Bible inspires artwork, from John Edgar Wideman’s novel Two Cities to Harriet Power’s “Bible Quilt” to the spirituals of enslaved Africans sung on American shores to Isaac Hayes’ album, Black Moses. Need I go on? — see “The Hebrew Bible in Africana Art, Music, and Popular Culture” by Kimberly N. Ruffin (page 52-57).

Back to my story: is Jehovah, the German iteration of YHWH, the Holy Name, the SINGULAR, ONE AND ONLY WAY to address God, to have a relationship with God. 1000 years ago, God became Incarnate in a German Barbarian, and it is by being a part of the Prussian race that one is saved, right? Looks that way. That’s the logic my friend on the bus. My friend and his fellow co-religionists are reading the Bible irresponsibly. Rev. Wil Gafney argues that responsibly reading Israel’s Scriptures means “putting an end to the mediation of the scriptures through gentile languages, especially German, in this post-Holocaust world” (48). Indeed, even Israel’s Scriptures depiction of God’s Gender is not masculine (sorry, John Piper), but the only reproductive organ God has in the Bible is a womb (50). Whoopsy! Looks like androncentrists, sexists, and masculinists have a problem with God! Gafney continues, “The reception of the scriptures of Israel into the Christian canon was and is marked by usurpation, colonization, anti-Judaism, and anti-Semitism. Specifically in the West, the scriptures of Israel have regularly been mediated through gentilic culture and languages, particularly German, which is especially onerous in a post-Holocaust world” (47). When you think about it, misogynists who hate women, they read the Bible irresponsibly too.

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What Your Bible Translation Tells Me about You

Some Random Thoughts On How I Judge People

Being that I was raised in a more traditional black Baptist church, but not really fundamentalist where we got obsessed with what version of the Bible we carried or what, I enjoy poking fun at those certain persons who seem to have more than just a small attachment to their preferred translation of the Bible. Inspired by this twitter conversation, here are my working conclusions so far.

New Living Translation: Indicates that you have been a part of the Bible Wars for years and you are looking for a way to escape the King James Version only crowd. It means you still hold on to your embedded conservative theology but are desiring to engage other Christians outside of the KJVO faith.

English Standard Version: If you love the ole ESV, that may mean you are either Reformed theologically or you are a moderate who is curious what an updated version of the RSV would look like.

Revised Standard Version: Still stuck in the 1950s, you believe that the RSV is all that is left between the world and knowing God’s will. The National Council of Churches was not as liberal back then, so it cannot be that bad.

New American Standard Version: You care more about accuracy, which makes you better than people attached to the NLT.  Theologically, you consider yourself a moderate, which usually means you are a progressive suffering from denial.

New Revised Standard Version: Usually over-educated and indoctrinated in a mainline church, the NRSV-onlyist crowd was once adverse to reading anything outside of the New International Version.  NRSV-onlyists are too smart for their own good and look down upon every other translation; that is why they are often mistaken for the KJVO.

The Message: This pretty much means you are changing religions. Seriously.

New International Version/Today’s NIV: Brought up in an evangelical church that holds firm to inerrancy and the Purpose Driven Life like the plague, the NIV came as a surprise to those who grew up familiar with the KJV. So God did not speak Shakespearean English? The NIV is more accessible to children but not really good for memorizing. Perhaps that is why the NIV reader becomes a lover of reading the Bible as story, like the……

The Voice: Defenders of the Voice are oh so obsessed with the narrative interpretation of Scripture.  The translators decide what the meta-narrative is and even get to add words to the Gospel to make it more relevant. Sort of like some other religions I know of.

King James Version: Either you are a sentimental progressive who doesn’t want to rock the boat at your church or you have made the KJV the 4th person of the Trinity, right behind God, Jesus, and John Calvin.