Anabaptists have not yet come to a consensus on the thorny problem of Bible translations. Now there is another option they will need to consider. A new translation is underway that may be of special interest to some readers of this blog. In this post I am sharing excerpts from translation efforts so far.
The translation team would appreciate your feedback. You don’t have to know Hebrew or Greek to help. As you read over these excerpts, simply compare them with your favorite translation. (Links to the ESV translation have also been provided–just hover over the references at the end of each passage and the ESV text will appear.)
Two kinds of feedback are most welcome: (1) Improvements on the passages shared here. (2) Suggestions for translating your other favorite Bible passages.
Without further ado, here are some excerpts from the new RAT:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the city that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not buy from any store in the country’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may buy the produce of the bulk food stores in the country, but God said, ‘You shall not buy the products of the store that is in the midst of the city (lo, Macy’s in Manhattan), neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you buy of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw in the window display that the products were good quality, and that they were a delight to the eyes, and that the store was to be desired to make one cool, she took of its products and bought, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he bought. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed Spandex together and made themselves loincloths. (See Gen. 3:1-7)
And when they were in the subway, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. (See Gen. 4:8)
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the city of Sodom was prosperous, like New York City, the banking capital of America… So Lot chose for himself all the city of Sodom, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. (See Genesis 13:10-11)
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you cross the Jordan into Waterloo County, then you shall select farms to be farms of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there. (See Num. 35:9-11)
“Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess farmers greater and mightier than you, croplands great and growing up to heaven.” (See Deut. 9:1)
“Cursed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.” (See Deut. 28:3)
And no portion was given to the Levites in the cities, but only farms to dwell in, with their pasturelands for their livestock and their substance. (See Joshua 14:4)
The people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. By command of the Lord they gave him the farm that he asked, in Elkhart County. And he rebuilt the farm and settled in it. (See Josh. 19:49-50)
And David lived in the Shenandoah valley and called it the farm of David. And David plowed the farm all around from Harrisonburg northward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him. (See 2 Sam. 5:9-10)
“To his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Holmes County, the farmland where I have chosen to put my name.” (See 1 Kings 11:36)
“I will deliver you and this farm out of the hand of the urban developers, and I will defend this farm for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.” (See 2 Kings 20:6)
Jehoshaphat lived near Gap. And he went out again among the people… and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. He appointed judges in the land in all the farming communities of Pennsylvania, farm by farm. (See 2 Chron. 19:4-5)
I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the farm, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its fences have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Intercourse, to the farm of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” (See Neh. 2:3-6)
There is a river whose streams make glad the woodland of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. (See Ps. 46:4)
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the farmland of our God!
His holy plain, beautiful in flatness,
is the joy of all the earth,
Kansas, in the west,
the farmland of the great King.
Upon her grasslands God
has made himself known as a farmer. (See Ps. 48:1-3)
Some wandered in urban alleys,
finding no way to a farm to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a farm to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man! (See Ps. 107:4-8)
But seek the judgment of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord against it, for in its judgment you will find your welfare. (See Jer. 29:7)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the city to be tempted by the devil. (See Matt. 4:1)
“You are the light of the world. A farm set in a valley cannot be hidden.” (See Matt. 5:14)
Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his row house apartment, another to his college class. (See Matt. 22:4-5)
“For unto you is born this day on the farm of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (See Luke 2:11)
“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten getaway cabins.’” (See Luke 19:17)
“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the countryside until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and convinced them to join him in leaving the city for a safer rural environment. (See Acts 17:16-17)
“I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this wilderness who are my people.” (See Acts 18:10)
And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Chicago... And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him to rural places like Chambersburg, Lansing, Elnora, Hartwell, Guys Mills, Carbon Hill, and Mountain View, reasoning daily in the halls of the Bible schools. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of America heard the word of the Lord, both Anabaptists and everyone else. (See Acts 19:1, 8-10)
But I say, walk on a nature trail, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (See Gal. 5:16)
Put on the whole hunter’s outfit, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (See Eph. 6:11)
And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the city? (See Heb. 3:17)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love our farming lifestyle, not neglecting to meet together to discuss pesticides and soil run-off, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another to increase our yield per acre, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (See Heb. 10:24-25)
He was looking forward to the farm that has drainage tiles, whose designer and builder is God. (See Heb. 11:10)
For here we have no lasting farm, but we seek the farm that is to come. (See Heb. 13:14)
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with Carhartts, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (See 1 Pet. 5:5)
And I saw the holy farmland, new Lancaster County, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (See Rev. 21:2)
I could share more excerpts from this fine new translation, but hopefully that is enough for you to get a feel for how it sounds. As you can tell, it tends toward the functional equivalence end of the translation philosophy spectrum, rather than being strictly word-for-word.
In the traditional Anabaptist spirit of the brotherhood principle, the translation committee welcomes your help with their work. Feel free to critique the above excerpts, or suggest more in the comments below.
And oh! I almost forgot to tell you: “RAT” stands for “Rural Anabaptist Translation.” Proving that rats live in grain bins, too, and not only subway tunnels.
Disclaimer: Perhaps it would be the part of wisdom for me to clarify that the above post is a work of satire. [Update: See my post “Christians and Satire: What Does the Bible Say?” if you have questions about this style of writing.] As with all good pieces of satire, it is intended to be both entertaining and educational. (If you find it neither—or even if you do—please feel free to write a parallel post proposing a CAT–a “City Anabaptist Translation.” I will enjoy the entertainment.)
The educational bit in this piece is simple: It is an attempt to remind us that rural does not always equal good and city does not always equal bad in the text of the sacred writings—despite our cultural tendency to conveniently miss much of the evidence challenging our rural values.
It is possible that this satire transgresses one or two rules of good exegesis or logic. I hope, God willing, to sometime write a post that gives better evidence. It would answer this question: “Can (Anabaptist) Faith Survive in the City?” That is a serious question that deserves serious answers. Meanwhile, you may wish to read my three posts answering the following question: “Why Should You Care about the City?” Each post discusses one answer:
Well, it’s time to sign off. Gotta go feed them calves. Wonder where they’re at?