We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Recommended Paraphrase of the Bible

Kookaburra: the Laughing Bird
I'm surprised I haven't done this yet, but checking back I find that I have not yet recommended that readers of Rom Phra Khun take a look at the Laughing Bird Paraphrase translation of the Bible, which you can access (here).  According to its introductory blurb, the Laughing Bird paraphrases were originally inspired by Eugene Peterson's widely used paraphrase translation, The Message, which proved to be both intriguing and a problem in Australian contexts.  The Message offered a fresh approach to the Bible, but the authors of the Laughing Bird alternative found it was often hard to read publicly and not always understandable for Aussies.  The Laughing Bird paraphrases are offered as an alternative that are easier to read in public and more appropriate to an Australian audience.  The introductory blurb does not attribute them to any one author, but apparently the Rev. Nathan Nettleton, pastor of the South Yarra Community Baptist Church, Melbourne, has a good deal to do with them.

Paraphrases have to be used with a degree of caution, but they consciously interpret scripture in a contemporary idiom.  Translations focus on words in the transferring of thought from one language to another.  Paraphrases translate the thoughts.  That being said, the Laughing Bird Paraphrase provides frequently lively, insightful, and clear readings of the Bible only made more enjoyable for an American by the Australian tinge given to the Bible.  It is unfortunate that the Laughing Bird Paraphrase is not available for the whole of the Bible.  Its intention is to be an aid in worship and thus is tied to the Revised Common Lectionary.  One other problem with using the paraphrase is that it does not have verse numbers in the text, which makes it sometimes hard to compare with other translations or locate particular verses for reference.

Still, I highly recommend that you check it out.