Friday, January 26, 2018

Bible Wars!

2018 began with a bang, for that vestige in the West still vested in New Testament studies. David Bentley Hart (US American, Orthodox) took it upon himself to issue his personal translation of the New Testament; N.T. Wright (British, Church of England, with his own translation on the market) took it upon himself to throw a little shade on the project and the man. Hart's response was . . . predictable.

Anyone who enjoys watching a couple of erudite blowhards flame each other will find this to be high-octane entertainment indeed. Both dudes are deeply learned, of course. That they've greatly benefited from the US church's appetite for swallowing whole any pronouncement spoken (or, in Hart's case, written) with a British accent shouldn't be held against them -- but, I confess, I do. Hey, Johnny Rotten's got the accent and is a wanker of the first order -- you're in highly esteemed company, Perfessers! Long may the flaming continue.
"Let's begin with the Synoptics, shall we?"
The Apostle Paul (née: Saul of Tarsus) is the sticking-point for these gentlemen, as he is for most modern readers and more than a few ancient ones as well. Wright has helped me come somewhat to terms with Pauline thought, but he didn't make it easy -- I found Wright's "layperson guides" circuitous and baffling; his pro-scholar stuff slightly less-so. Wright would probably shudder, but this is what I took away from the protracted exercise of reading him.

And Hart would probably clap palms to scalp in dismay, but that's pretty much what I'm getting from his POV on Paul as well. In any case, where Wright is working to encourage and uphold, Hart is working to rekindle the provocation of the original texts, and sow a little holy mischief in the process -- and I'm kinda diggin' it. More later, perhaps.

Links: Christianity Today coverage.


paul bowman said...

Little bit of a tangent — but I had had this Eugene McCarraher item from a few years ago open in a tab for some days when you put this one up, and was glad to be reminded here of your ‘GKC’ posts. Hard to give this stuff the sustained attention it deserves (this one McCarraher article by itself took me another week, I think), but I continue to process.

Darrell Reimer said...

Huh. What a lovely, surprisingly hopeful essay. Romantic, even.

Darrell Reimer said...

Nathan's interview with DBH is quite a treat, btw. "The NIV translation is as much the Bible as West Side Story is Romeo & Juliet."