Tagged: Canadian Bible Society

Bible Society of Australia Youth Videos

Yesterday, I was pointed to a youth blog by the Bible Society in Australia, another member of the United Bible Societies like the Canadian Bible Society where I work. I really liked the idea behind these two videos, which have teenagers simultaneously speaking all of the “right answers” they’ve been told while displaying text for what they’re actually thinking. I’m not sure how much the teenagers themselves wrote the text – some of it may have been exaggerated – but at the very least the core ideas behind them are great.

Check them out:

About the Canadian Bible Society

Recently I was talking about stuff on WikiGodPod, a podcast out of the Greater Toronto Area (I live close to GTA in Kitchener) centred around our stories and how that shapes how we understand God. I’m not somebody who speaks well without preparation, so the potential questions were sent in advance and I spent a few hours the night before and morning of planning. I figure since I already spent those hours writing notes, I may as well clean them up a bit and publish them here.

The second question:

Tell me about the Canadian Bible Society – what is it and what do you do there?

Bible Translations Overview

Canadian Bible Society. The Word. For Life.With my work for the Canadian Bible Society, I have been converting some old PDF newsletters into HTML5 formats. One newsletter – Word @ Work Winter 2010 – included this helpful chart copied here. Therefore the following content is copyright of the Canadian Bible Society, not me. Note that since it was from 2010, it isn’t completely up to date, e.g. the newest revision of NIV or a personal favourite the Common English Bible (CEB).

Ethics and Justice - Holding Hands Across the World

The Birth of Jesus: Solidarity with the Outcast

We typically portray the story of Jesus’ birth in a very romanticized way. It’s all very cute and happy. There’s no blood or sweat or tears or troubling social dynamics. That is pretty far from the truth, as anybody who has had a baby even with today’s technology could tell you.

Jesus the Bastard

I don’t use the word “bastard” to be crude. Before becoming more of a generic insult in recent years, bastard meant somebody who was conceived before his or her parents were married. According to Matthew, Jesus was a bastard: Mary was pregnant before she married Joseph. An even bigger problem was when Joseph found out because he knew that he hadn’t slept with her. As an honorable man who didn’t want to unnecessarily hurt her, he decided to call off the wedding quietly before an angel stopped him.

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Women in Jesus’ Ancestry

Luke, surprisingly perhaps since he is generally considered the most woman-friendly of the four Gospel writers, does not include any women in his genealogy of Jesus. Matthew, however, lists among his genealogy 3 different women by name and then also references Bathsheba (but only by her husband’s name). These references are a radical idea. Genealogies are typically traced through men, particularly in the Ancient world but we still often do it today, too. That’s why you get so many cases where somebody is introduced as a “son of (father’s name)” in the Bible. Rarely does the Bible or any other Ancient book speak of sons or daughters of their mother as a primary characteristic. It just wasn’t as important as their fathers, so the fact that women were included here does say something about what Matthew wanted to get across.

Even more significantly, these women generally are not the ones you would brag about descending from.

Jesus’ Ancestry: Of Abraham and God

The Gospels of Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38) don’t line up completely in their ancestries of Jesus. Some have devoted hours to trying to get these accounts to line up in a literally-true historical sense. Others, like me, argue that it would be missing the point to focus on the literal historical ancestry.

The authors included these genealogies for specific reasons. One or both or a mixing of the two is quite possibly historically true but dwelling on that just distracts us from the real question: what were the authors trying to say to their readers by including who they included? Ancient authors didn’t write things down if they didn’t consider them really important – it was too expensive, time-consuming, and literacy was not high enough for there to a large return on that investment. The exact historicity doesn’t really affect my life right now as it didn’t for those earlier readers, but stopping and considering what themes are brought forward by claiming Jesus’ origins as they do can matter quite a bit.

Jesus the Word

In the beginning was the one
    who is called the Word.
The Word was with God
    and was truly God.
From the very beginning
    the Word was with God.

And with this Word,
    God created all things.
Nothing was made
    without the Word.
Everything that was created
    received its life from him,
and his life gave light
    to everyone.
The light keeps shining
    in the dark,
and darkness has never
    put it out.

14 The Word became
a human being
    and lived here with us.
We saw his true glory,
the glory of the only Son
    of the Father.
From him all the kindness
and all the truth of God
    have come down to us.

Ethics and Justice - Holding Hands Across the World

The Political Context of Jesus

I’ve now wrapped up my broad overview of social justice themes in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. To start to delve into themes in the New Testament, let’s take a look at Jesus’ political context which isn’t all given to us directly in the biblical texts simply because it was assumed by the writers. If we aren’t aware of it, however, we will end up missing a lot of the radical social statements that Jesus made.

Isaiah’s Suffering Servant

2nd Isaiah is probably most famous for the poems to the suffering servant. This servant figure isn’t named, so our first instinct is usually to guess who it is referring to. Some scholars suggest that it was meant to be Isaiah himself. Others suggest that it was to be a representation of all of Israel or another individual who was instrumental in achieving the return from Exile. The earliest Christians applied these to Jesus – there’s no doubt of the parallels. In any case, this figure had a unique and essential role as a martyr.

At the heart of this martyr’s witness we see that this Servant gives himself over to government oppression but in doing so frees his people, a statement that would not have sat well with the Persian leadership:

Ethics and Justice - Holding Hands Across the World

Isaiah’s Hope

Most scholars believe that the book of Isaiah was actually written by three different authors: one before the Exile into Babylon, one during the Exile, and one after (some scholars combine the last two). These are simply referred to as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Isaiah and provide a very interesting look at similarities and differences across this span of time. Isaiah is a very hopeful book, acknowledging problems in the present but promising that God will bring greater things in the future.

In this post I’ll cover the theme of hope in 1st and 2nd Isaiah. In the next post I’ll cover 2nd Isaiah’s “suffering servant” poems as well as the justice message of 3rd Isaiah after the Exile.