Amazon.com currently lists 246,071 results that come up when searching for “Bible.” It is doubtful there are that many versions of the Bible for sale, but just how many Bible versions are there today?
When I introduce The Pacific Bible to new audiences, people often ask if it is a gender neutral Bible. What I like to say is that each of the many versions of the Bible has a unique purpose. Each version has an audience that it was intended for and reflects, to some degree, a unique perspective on a collection of ancient scriptures that were fused together long ago.
In working on The Pacific Bible, we did not attempt to incorporate gender neutral language. That just proved too daunting a task, although we admire the efforts of others who have attempted to level the gender playing field both in the Bible and in modern religion in general.
Those religions that have made great progress in gender equality issues have done so by carefully negotiating around texts that fly in the face of what we know as equality, working together as groups to bring their practices into alignment with their values of gender equality. Good stuff. We need that kind of progress, too.
Some religions still lean on texts that clearly say “he” which they may pronounce “she” or alternate between “he” and “she.” They may admit that God is referred to as “Father” in the Bible, but they may never use that term in church or they may teach their followers that because our language does not have a gender neutral word for God, “Father” must mean “parent.”
You get the point. Many ways of skinning that cat.
When discussing or writing about God, I constantly catch myself trying to refer to God without implying gender. It proves tricky, but I managed to write my suspense book Crisis of Faith without reference to God as a “he.” I try to imagine God as the unimaginable force without guessing too much at what God might be. I try to remain open to the many possibilities of God beyond what it says in the pages in the Bible. I try to think of a field of infinite possibility, but that is sometimes hard to describe in a word. My own prayers begin with “Master of the Universe.”
It may seem strange to those who may think we have been quite bold in our own version of the Bible that sometimes we have to wonder if people, in translating and revising the Bible, go a bit too far. Are some even transforming the Bible into modern fiction or rewriting sections of the Bible in an attempt to be LGBT friendly? As big supporters of equality of all people and people known for fully embracing sexual diversity, we still know fiction when we see it.
Yet, as progress minded as we are here at Progress Planet, it is hard to know which versions of the Bible to stand behind and support in modern times. Certainly we don’t know them all as there are so very many.
Our own version, The Pacific Bible, is a version of the Bible intended for people who read the Bible and draw guidance from the overarching goodness of its lessons, without causing readers to skip over sections that promote actions that are considered “crimes” today, such as genocide, rape and slavery. It is intended for children and families as a guide to the lessons that are currently being taught in churches and synagogues, consistent with messages they are learning.
For The Pacific Bible’s first release, the specific goal of our work was to archive the most troubling verses, those in direct conflict with modern human rights standards today. Not a word was added, not even a punctuation mark. There is actually no commentary because we believe that the verses must stand on their own and that readers of the Bible must arrive at their own unique interpretations of the messages on the pages. There were no revisions to actual text and there is no fluff. In addition to some things criminal, we did also archive several verses related to sexuality so that children may learn about sexuality in the modern context of their worlds, the values of their families, their religious community standards and within the context of the laws of our society, so that they do not grow up thinking sexuality is either an act of submission or a right of simple property ownership.
Most people reading The Pacific Bible could miss the fact that anything has been archived. In each instance of an archived verse there is a clear note that looks like this: (Verse 3:12 archived.) Since these were generally verses not taught or highlighted anywhere in the modern world, a whole lot of people never knew they existed to begin with and will not miss them at all.
Another booklet that will reside on our website is the list of verses we have archived so that people have full access to them and can review the archived sections for themselves. It becomes obvious very quickly that these selected verses do not serve any purpose in modern civilization, certainly may not be constructive learning for children and may inspire crimes today among some who lean on them for justification.
Many people have asked how many times the Bible has been revised in modern times, and every time I get close to a decent guess, I read about more new Bible editions coming out. Here is a partial list of modern Bible versions — try to count them for yourselves!
Progress in scripture is coming in many ways all around us. We welcome this opportunity to make a small contribution with The Pacific Bible, to better support our country’s values.
For anyone who wants to read a fabulous book about the oldest version of the Hebrew Bible (and all the tragic events of its custody, read The Aleppo Codex, by Matti Friedman. This book is described as: “A superb work of investigative journalism that reads like a detective thriller.” — The Wall Street Journal.
While I believe that the words in the Bible represent many ancient and valuable lessons about God and humanity, not truly words “written by God,” it was heartbreaking to me to see how such an ancient treasure as the Aleppo Codex was carelessly mistreated, broken into pieces and sold off while it was in transition to Israel.
People like to ask me if I still prize the Bible, having come into direct contact with so many of its darker teachings.
What can I say? I still have an unshakable faith in God. I still have great regard for the Bible and all that it does and aims to do, despite some problematic sections. I maintain hope that more ancient sources will be unearthed with time and continue to support Biblical archeology and anything that may be revealed from our collective past that will help us navigate the complicated times in which we live as well as those ahead.
The Pacific Bible reflects those sentiments.
Tagged Author Eliza Wood, bible revisions, Bible translations, Bible versions, bible without violence, bibles for children, crisis of faith book, different bible translations, different bible versions, different bibles, gender neutral bible, how many bible versions, list of bible versions, modern Bible, modern bible versions, new bibles, peaceful scriptures, the aleppo codex book, the aleppo codex matti friedman, The Pacific Bible, what are the different bible versions
“Controversial, challenging, and meticulously researched, Eliza Wood’s Crisis of Faith is equal parts thriller and cautionary tale of religious extremism and home-grown terrorism, questioning where we are going as a nation and as a planet.”
‒ James Rollins
—New York Times bestselling author of Bloodline
The Tale of Queen Jehan And The Three Kingdoms is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that teaches racial, ethnic and religious cooperation through metaphor.
Progress Planet is a place where some of the top religion writers and
thinkers in religion, spirituality and faith come together to exchange
ideas in a non-partisan setting.
Often our deep content is on the forefront of religious journalism. Regularly, our breadth of content spans the larger world of religion, emerging trends and traditional and critical explorations into scriptures. Sometimes, our content can stir up controversies. And always, we strive to make Progress Planet a place where bloggers and users want to come and contribute to important conversations. Visitors to Progress Planet can count on finding thought leadership, powerful resources, inspiration and support.