Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sanitizing the Bible

I sat down in my office on Monday to consider the biblical texts for this week recommended by the Revised Common Lectionary.  My attention centered for a time on the Second Lesson appointed for the day:

Revelation 22: 12-14, 16-17, 20-21

As a seminary professor once said, "They looked like roadkill."

If one were to print the appointed texts, they would read like this:

12 ‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.  17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.  20 The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Nice, tidy, pretty, and comforting. 

But let's add  now what was omitted.  The omissions will be highlighted for your consideration:

12 ‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 ‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ 17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.  18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Question: Why the sanitizing?

(BTW: Since my congregation prints the lessons in the bulletin, I made sure the omitted texts were included.)

3 comments:

R.K. Tran said...

I have noticed this happens all the time. I create the bulletin covers for our church and I always wonder why the text jumps around, taking out anything that might frighten anyone or prick their consciences, or be difficult or challenging. In my opinion it is not fair since we are not getting the whole counsel of God.

David said...

Good question. I've never found a good answer.

Kevin Haug said...

R.K., I agree. I am not in favor of "sugar coating" the biblical text. I believe people ought to read the full text and be allowed to make up their own minds regarding things. If it is too disturbing, I would hope they would be willing to ask tough questions.

David, I've found no good answer either. Some of the thoughts I have had are none to flattering and break the eighth commandment.