In the Beginning…

My initial observation is that for people like me who grew up with “normal” translations of the Bible like the NIV or even the King James Version, the literal translation of the Bible is fucking strange. Actually, my first Bible growing up was a picture Bible, which is basically a paralyzingly boring 800 page preachy comic book. Despite being about as harmless as children’s literature can possibly get (they take out the parts about killing gay people and honor-raping daughters and such), apparently the Picture Bible is considered by some to be a dangerous piece of apostasy. Consider what this reasonable moderate says on his website http://www.jesus-is-savior.com:

God gave us His Word, i.e., the Word of God; NOT a picture book! The Picture Bible is very dangerous to children today, because it effectively inoculates them from the true Word of God, and leaves out critical teachings in the Scriptures. Every child should have a King James Bible. But you say, “Oh, the King James Bible is too difficult to understand.” Really? … All Timothy had was Hebrew and Greek!!! Any child who is old enough to read can understand John 3:16!

He goes on to complain that the picture bible leaves out the hell and damnation of which the Bible Bible is so fond. Children need to know that if they have two choices: (1) God’s love or (2) Eternal damnation and fire and burning for ever and ever. If you were dreading the sex talk with your kids in their awkward tween years, you get a dry run at awkward conversations when you get to tell your kid that he will burn in hell forever unless he is a Christian.

Moreover, the Picture Bible does not adequately demonize gay people:

On page 54, concerning the mob of angry homosexuals in Genesis 19 about to break down Lot’s door and rape the guests, The Picture Bible simply attributes the homosexuals as saying, “They look as if they’ll cause trouble. Let’s run them out of town.” Do you see what I mean? The Picture Bible hides the fact of sin, and prevents children from seeing the awfulness of sin, and thus, their need for salvation in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:24,25).

What he is saying is there is clearly a market for a word-for-word, no holds barred graphic novelization of the Bible in which children can see, among other things:

Dashing infants to death on a rock (Psalm 137:9)

A slave woman suggesting men eat their own shit and drink their own piss (2 Kings 18:27)

People fucking golden statues (Ezekiel 16:17)

David cutting off 200 Philistines’ foreskins so he can buy Saul’s daughter (1 Samuel 18:25-27)

Lot’s daughters date-raping their dad so they can get knocked up (Genesis 19:30-36)

Elisha calling in a curse-favor from god so a bear would maul 42 children to death for mocking his baldness (2 Kings 2:23-24)

Because, you know, those are important fundamentals that children need to know.

Well, I’m a bit off track now, back to the Bible commentary. This literal translation is bizarre. First, everything is in present tense. It sounds stupid, so most other translations executive decisioned it into past tense. That’s not particularly significant, just strange. Second, it’s bizarrely inconsistent in voice and other aspects. Consider:

And God saith, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let
them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.’ And God prepareth the man in His image.

Maybe there are linguists or other people smarter than me who know why it keeps bouncing between first and third person, singular and plural, and so forth, but I don’t understand it, and it certainly isn’t the cohesive, ordered narrative found in the NIV or other “easy” translations.

Then, you have strange little quirks and anachronisms like:

  • God never created water. Water was already “there” (unclear where “there” is too, since Earth hasn’t been created yet) and speaking of that…
  • There appears to be a little “e” earth and a capital “E” earth. Little “e” earth exists already, before God starts creating anything, and big “E” earth gets created on the third day.
  • Day and night exist three days before the sun, moon, and stars are created.
  • There is a strange obsession with cattle. Not generic mammals, cattle.

Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.

God maketh the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind.

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.

In a word, the first chapter of the Bible is schizophrenic. It is riddled with internal inconsistencies, and almost completely divorced from any scientific realities. Although it is only a page long, it manages to contradict itself repeatedly. Oh, and it appears to have been written by a serious cow-fan with a limited intellectual quotient.

GENESIS 1

1 In the beginning of God’s preparing the heavens and the earth —

the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness [is] on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters,

and God saith, `Let light be;’ and light is.

And God seeth the light that [it is] good, and God separateth between the light and the darkness,

and God calleth to the light `Day,’ and to the darkness He hath called `Night;’ and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day one.

And God saith, `Let an expanse be in the midst of the waters, and let it be separating between waters and waters.’

And God maketh the expanse, and it separateth between the waters which [are] under the expanse, and the waters which [are] above the expanse: and it is so.

And God calleth to the expanse `Heavens;’ and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day second.

And God saith, `Let the waters under the heavens be collected unto one place, and let the dry land be seen:’ and it is so.

10 And God calleth to the dry land `Earth,’ and to the collection of the waters He hath called `Seas;’ and God seeth that [it is] good.

11 And God saith, `Let the earth yield tender grass, herb sowing seed, fruit-tree (whose seed [is] in itself) making fruit after its kind, on the earth:’ and it is so.

12 And the earth bringeth forth tender grass, herb sowing seed after its kind, and tree making fruit (whose seed [is] in itself) after its kind; and God seeth that [it is] good;

13 and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day third.

14 And God saith, `Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens, to make a separation between the day and the night, then they have been for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years,

15 and they have been for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth:’ and it is so.

16 And God maketh the two great luminaries, the great luminary for the rule of the day, and the small luminary — and the stars — for the rule of the night;

17 and God giveth them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth,

18 and to rule over day and over night, and to make a separation between the light and the darkness; and God seeth that [it is] good;

19 and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day fourth.

20 And God saith, `Let the waters teem with the teeming living creature, and fowl let fly on the earth on the face of the expanse of the heavens.’

21 And God prepareth the great monsters, and every living creature that is creeping, which the waters have teemed with, after their kind, and every fowl with wing, after its kind, and God seeth that [it is] good.

22 And God blesseth them, saying, `Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and the fowl let multiply in the earth:’

23 and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day fifth.

24 And God saith, `Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind:’ and it is so.

25 And God maketh the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, and God seeth that [it is] good.

26 And God saith, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.’

27 And God prepareth the man in His image; in the image of God He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them.

28 And God blesseth them, and God saith to them, `Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over every living thing that is creeping upon the earth.’

29 And God saith, `Lo, I have given to you every herb sowing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which [is] the fruit of a tree sowing seed, to you it is for food;

30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the heavens, and to every creeping thing on the earth, in which [is] breath of life, every green herb [is] for food:’ and it is so.

31 And God seeth all that He hath done, and lo, very good; and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day the sixth.

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