Biblical criticism

Do right-wing Catholics and fundamentalists simply have a different Bible than the rest of us?

James Wimberley finds the Spanish bishops’ letter rejecting any negotiation with ETA rather … un-Christian, which seems a strange accusation to throw at a group of people who think they are among the successors of the Apostles. But of course any sane American who knows the Gospels has had the same thought more than once about the self-proclaimed Christian Right.

I’m not sure of this, but the problem may be primarily textual. New Testament scholarship is largely a closed book to me, but I gather some of the problems are pretty profound and the controversies heated. (Sometimes literally so: G.K. Chesterton maintained that Archbishop Cranmer had been justly burned at the stake for translating John 2:4 in a way that made it sound as if Jesus had insulted his mother.)

Everything would make sense if the Spanish bishops, the current Pope, and the Rev. Mr. Robertson and his competitors were using a different translation than the rest of us, one which contained such verses as:

“Cursed are the peacemakers.”

“Hate your enemies; curse them that curse you.”

“If your enemy smite you on the cheek, smite him back on both cheeks. Harder.”

“Do unto others as you fear they may do unto you unless you strike first.”

“Store up treasures here on Earth.”

“Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the Kingdom of Earth.”

“Be careful to serve both God and Mammon.”

“When you pray, be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the churches and at the prayer breakfasts so that they may be seen by men.”

Moreover, the racists among them must have a really, really interesting version of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, while the nativists must have texts of Exodus and Deuteronomy that include the injunction “The stranger that is within thy gates thou shalt oppress.”

Ok, ok. It’s not much of a theory. But can you come up with a better one?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com