One of of my favorite chapters in Lois’ new book is Chapter 7. It calls us to the joy of mutual community and hovering friendships as we engage God as a people of friends… a y’all of a faith community:
Here is how the Chapter “Insights from a Communal Perspective” begins:
Did you know that you can now order a copy of a Bible translation called “Your Personalized Bible” which will insert your name in more than seven thousand verses?
Here are a few verses from my copy: Lois like a sheep has gone astray. Lois has turned to her own way; and the LORD has laid on Him Lois’s iniquity. (Isa. 53:6)
Lois is the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)
You have made Lois a little lower than God, And crowned Lois with glory and honor.
You make Lois a ruler over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things under Lois’ feet. (Ps. 8:5–6)
You might think I’d be a fan of this style of study. I’m single, never married. I’m self-employed. I work by myself out of my own home office. I have no boss, no husband, no children. I’m queen of my own pleasant little world. I’ve heard the siren call of individualism and succumbed as much as anyone, so you’d think I’d want to read my Bible that way.
The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that an individualistic approach misunderstands the text.”
… And later in the chapter…
Part of the reason we read the biblical text as if it were addressed to “me personally” is because English only has one word, you, which can be either singular or plural. Unlike Greek, Hebrew, and many other languages, we can’t distinguish whether a speaker is addressing one person or a group. As a result, English speakers have a habit of reading every “you” in the Bible as if it’s addressed to “me all by myself” rather than “me within God’s larger community.”
American Southerners have an advantage here, because they use “y’all” when they address a group. Maybe the antidote to the “Your Personalized Bible” is to publish a “Southern-style” Bible where Jesus says, “Y’all are the light of the world,” and Paul says, “Y’all are the temple of God,” so that we’d know both were speaking to groups rather than to individuals.
Putting Away My Selfie Stick
I hope I’ve awakened your appetite to read more. I am…
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus