One reasonable objection to my objection to paraphrases is "well, if it's only one book, even a significant book, that's being simplified, does it matter that much?" I would tend to sustain that objection, even if the book is the Bible. If someone understands the impact of the paraphrase--that it tends to hide the nuances and connections of the text--and is willing to do what it takes to overcome that weakness, no harm is done.
That said, I'm afraid that most of the time, it simply isn't the case. Exhibit A is the classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. If one looks it up on amazon, one will quickly find not one, but at least two revisions of this work. Original copyright date: 1917. Oldest writing in the work: 1911.
We should be sobered, I think, by the fact that we can no longer understand homilies that our great-grandfathers would have readily comprehended. We should be even more sobered by the fact that they understood with an eighth grade education, while we need revisions despite years in college.
If the failure to understand older works of theology doesn't bother us, let's consider a few other documents of that vintage that we might not be able to understand, like the Federal Reserve Act, the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Amendments to the Constitution, the Treaty of Versailles, the treaty creating the League of Nations, and so on. And if we cannot understand these, how can we understand the Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, the Dred Scott decision, or for that matter, the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.
You see, the ability to comprehend a document is not primarily innate, but learned. If we refuse to train our minds with the primary document we use each day, we shall quickly find ourselves unable to decipher the rest of our lives.
Hello Steeltown; Goodbye, DFL - Jamestown, North Dakota. 15,000 people. At confluence of the James and Pipestem rivers, about 90 miles west of Fargo. Home to a state hospital and psychi...
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