Why do I do this to myself? I don’t want to step in hot water or walk across hot coals or end up in an eternally hot place because I disagree with the Bible. But this is the deal: I don’t disagree with the writers of the New Testament. I disagree with the patriarchal men in the early seventeenth century who translated the Greek New Testament into English. We know them as the translators for King James. They gave us the Bible in English, and we have accepted their choices in translation as correct. I have yet to find a contemporary version of the New Testament that doesn’t go out of its way to agree with them in translating the Greek text. New versions simply convert King James terminology into contemporary language. I don’t call that translation. I call it rewording. You don’t even need a Greek text to reword something from English to English.
I don’t know why I’m attracted to re-interpreting the Greek text. What a boring way to spend a day, right? Except when I find something that makes more sense and is more in line with Jesus and the image of God that I hold (i.e., God is Love), then I get goose bumps. I guess that’s why I keep doing it whether anyone reads it or not. Some people knit. Some people read romance novels. Some people watch Dancing with the Stars. I retranslate the New Testament.
So what have I found? I’ve found that Jesus was a friend to abused wives. A defender of women who were wrongfully devalued and discarded by their husbands. I’ve made sense out of the texts in the Gospels where Jesus spoke about divorce and remarriage. Will anyone believe it? Probably not, but that’s the state of the church and religion. Men in the sixteenth century hold more sway over the policies of the church in the twenty-first century than a logical and compassionate sense of right and wrong. That may be why people are leaving the church.
So I’ve written a short book. I looked at many books that were written about divorce and remarriage, some of them three hundred+ pages long. Many are written by compassionate, pastoral authors, trying to comfort and encourage wrongfully divorced women (and men). Their hearts are in the right place. Compassion trumps law. I love it.
Except, they don’t have to explain away what was written by New Testament writers in order to comfort spouses who have been discarded by unjust partners. The Greek text makes sense and is compassionate. It’s the translation into English that is patriarchal.
Let me qualify that and give some wiggle room for the translators for King James. They were influenced by a thousand years of the church using the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible). One person in the fourth century, Jerome, was commissioned by the pope to gather the Greek and old Latin excerpts that had circulated and create one Latin translation that could be the official version. I will leave it up to Latin experts to determine whether Jerome was true to the Greek, or if his Latin translation influenced the next fifteen hundred years of policy about divorce and remarriage.
Are you still awake?
This is the bottom line: in fifty-five pages, I have explained what I believe the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke testify that Jesus said about divorce and remarriage. And it’s more compassionate, but a little anti-establishment, in its tone. It’s in an ebook that will be available from Amazon as of April 18th. It will cost a whole $2.99. And it will not disagree with Matthew, Mark, or Luke — it only disagrees with King James translators. By the way, it is available for pre-order and will be automatically delivered to your eReader on April 18.