- Dallas Willard
One of the most subversive institutions in the United States is the public library.
- bell hooks
And he said to him,
What is written in the law of the Torah?
How do you read it?
- Jesus (as translated by Luke, as translated by Willis Barnstone)
Lynn Z. Bloom is pretty smart. And so are bloggers Henry Neufeld and
I've just now quoted her own essays, or articles, entitled respectively, "Once More to the Essay: The Essay Canon and Textbook Anthologies" and "The Essay Canon." In her anthology co-edited with Louise Z. Smith, Bloom builds her own essay canon for her own students. As The Arlington Reader: Canons and Contexts, their publisher Bedford/ St. Martin's makes this available to any of us and all of us teaching. In the Introduction, they write: "A canon is a list or other compilation of the most important members of a particular group or category, developed through agreement -- either implied or explicit -- by people who know the subject." And they go on to give examples: "the biblical canon," and "the canon of rock musicians" and other "canons that reflect taste, influence, and popularity -- those applying to music, books, art, or cars...."
Neufeld is interested in the canon of Bible versions. And personally he notes:
"[S]omething is always present in translation as well. The question is just what you’re looking for. For example, I prefer the more formal style of the Revised English Bible. I even like its Anglicisms. I spent much of my teens in a former British colony (Guyana), and I was born in Canada. Those things are comfortable for me and they give me a familiar feel.Do you see what he's done? Neufeld has let you decide just has he has decided, rather subjectively and individually, what is best in a version, an English translation, of the Bible.
Should I therefore recommend that everyone read the REB? Hardly! For others, features that make it work for me may be a hindrance to understanding. Then there’s the question of just what it is that I want to understand, or more importantly that you want to understand.
What seems to escape so many people who prescribe what a translation must and must not do is that it matters not what is there if the reader doesn’t understand. Admonitions to 'get a dictionary' are both pointless, and in my opinion, arrogant. This kind of talk suggests to people that if they would just put in enough work, they’d be able to understand–well–what the talker believes they should want to understand."
I shared a chart that compares the biblical canon according to the following forms: Samaritan, Hebrew/Jewish, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Syriac, Ethiopian, and Protestant (see here). If you are part of one of these groups you likely adhere to the canon as understood in that tradition. Yet practice is often a more trustworthy sign of what you believe than mere confession, so even though I am an evangelical it would be a bit disingenuous for me to act as if the canon influences me equally.A couple of years ago
Lynn Z. Bloom and bloggers Henry Neufeld and