After moving to Maryland, my wife introduced me to the “West Wing”, a TV series about DC Politics and Drama made between 2000 and 2006. It’s probably the best tv series that I’ve ever seen before and look forward to each episode with baited breath. It might also help that being in the DC area creates that special atmospheric feeling too. I noticed the president quoting much of the bible and it got me interested in re-reading the Bible again. Last time I did this, I was a child and it was required by the school system and church… The plan is to re-read it with an educated, adult mind and see where it takes me.I was raised Roman Catholic and followed it pretty blindly as a child; nothing wrong with this in particular at all, it’s just how it was. My family are faithful followers of the Church. As a child, they enrolled me into a parochial K-8 school system and have always taught us the ways in which the Church/Pope/Jesus/God would hope for us to do and know. However, I had a type of awakening during my teen years that caused some struggle in my understanding of how the world works. Part of this was probably due to being placed in a Public school system once I graduated from 8th grade, however, looking back, it was most likely due to the events occurring with my parents separating as a freshman and eventually divorcing when I was a junior.
For me, I couldn’t deal with one big thing I was raised to believe: that divorce was a mortal sin. And mind you, a mortal sin when I was growing up was suggested that, if committed, it would send you to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks. I couldn’t deal with it because I could not understand why God would punish my parents forever in damnation when I believed they were good people. This is when my faith broke down and I stopped going to church; not forever, but not every week like I once practiced.
I cannot tell you exactly how I feel, but that might be a private conversation for those really interested. What I can tell you is that now being an adult with all this behind me, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned in the past and how things are constantly changing. Debates in our culture, media, politics, countries, etc. make me wonder how people arrive to disagreements in beliefs. It also makes me interested in how and why people choose to quote the bible as often as they do and for what reasons?
So back to the West Wing, a really, really great show, Bartlet – the president of the US – often quotes the bible when “teaching” or “preaching” his thoughts. The character doesn’t always quote the bible, but when he does, it always comes off very profound. Needless to say again, it got my grey matter going and I thought I’d download a copy of the bible to my Kindle to casually read before falling asleep. I do this because reading books makes me want to pass out… Best sleep-drug I’ve ever taken.
My goal is to hopefully get through the book in a year at a casual rate, but I have no need or rush to complete it other than to re-educate myself on what I learned in the past. How many times in your life have you found yourself cheerfully singing a tune that you remember from your childhood, but then, as an adult, you discover that the very tune you’ve been singing all your life is not an original, has lyrics you accidentally thought was something else, or a meaning that is entirely different than what you thought it was? I’m expecting this to happen when re-reading the bible as I’m sure I have a different perception of interpretation that people taught me and that I didn’t discover for myself yet. In this case, it’ll be like rediscovering 1200+ albums with 31,000+ songs in my iTunes library over a year.
To iterate a special point – my intent is to re-discover the stories I grew up with and questions that arose to my understanding of how the bible wrote the course of the church’s direction of governing its laws that guide faith and its people who follow it. I’ll share my thoughts occasionally by blogging on some topics that I find interesting about things I once thought I knew, but are defined differently through the verses I read. I’m sure the history of actions will be very different and that much of my memories were infinitely influenced by artwork which I’ll bring up quickly in this post.
So after a ridiculous amount of research and asking of what version I should delve into and read, I decided to download two versions to my Kindle: KJV (King James Version) and the ESV (English Standard Version). Reason being the Bible, in my opinion, should be free and open source – by the nature of the reason why it exists (Why the ESV was downloaded), and to also have a companion to go between to see how they translate from Old English to fairly modern. The KJV also seems to be the one most quoted. And of course, there are many reasons to get one over another, but what I found to be the best and most important one to get is: the one I’ll read, naturally. Though, right off the bat, I switched to the ESV because of its easier readability and the KJV would have definitely sent my brain into a tizzy with some verses before I fell asleep. Either way, I have a way to go back and forth to do checking of verse.
After quickly reading last night, a few chapters in Genesis, it raised two things that I never thought of as a child:
- Adam and Eve were not the first humans?!
- Was the Tree of Knowledge about sex, not apples?
1) In regards to Adam and Eve not being the first humans, this didn’t take long to “figure” out with how Genesis is written. It appears the author wrote the story linearly and if this be the case, Adam and Eve came after the fact, maybe at the same time, and/or maybe just focusing on these two poetically to describe the folly of humans. In Genesis 1:26-31, this talks about the creation of man and woman, but not in the same context as was done with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. This is small and, yes, the author could go back and forth telling stories or filling in details, but then we get to Abel and Cain and of course, Abel dies by Cain’s hands and exiles himself from the land of Eden to Nod. IMMEDIATELY Cain “knew” his wife (Genesis 4:17)… His wife? Where did she come from?! It’s not described or mentioned… Kind of interesting. Just never thought of this before…
2) In regards to the Tree of Knowledge, it first of never talks about apples or any particular fruit. At most, it may be a fig. But what it does mention is the result of Eve and Adam eating from it, that they recognize their own nudity and that they’re embarrassed by it. The author also kind of sets us up for this expectation in Genesis 2:25 by saying they were naked and not ashamed. They also talk about “knowing” each other - a very poetic way of saying they were knocking boots as it seems to be a theme for the rest of the sexual encounters in Genesis…? Adam and Eve, much like kids, did not understand their sexuality until they experienced it I’m guessing/reading. The author continues and says in Genesis 3:16 “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” Just seems to be the result of having improper “knowings” in the garden. It’s a punishment that fits the crime? Kind of like playing too many games as a kid so the parent banishes them to their room and no games for a month?
Again, just questions and thoughts that passed through my head and into this blog. The Bible is complex – I can only image the enormous task of translating it all from original scrolls and scripture. Sometimes I wonder if this earth is our time in heaven and we’re ruining it by the nature of what seems to be human.