INSTEAD of giving you a some Bible background, let me give you a little background on what’s going on here where I write Bible background.
I just released a new video. It’s about the Unforgivable Sin.
I know. I need to pick an upbeat topic next time.
This video runs a little over six minutes.
A word of warning. It does contain a bit of humor. A topic like this needs it. But even if it didn’t, it would go against my nature not to add it.
Casual English Bible
I’ve decided to streamline the process of paraphrasing the New Testament for the Casual English Bible.
I’ve been paraphrasing the New Testament for many months now. There are about 180,000 words to deal with. I have paraphrased, in a first-draft beta edition, about 110,000 words. So I have 70,000 to go.
The only long books I have left to paraphrase are Matthew (I’m a third of the way into this), John, Hebrews, and Revelation. Finished are Mark, Luke, Acts, James, and everything Paul wrote, including Romans, which hurt my head.
The way I plan on speeding the process is by cutting the workload.
I have been creating leader’s guides for each of these books. That doubles the amount of time it takes me. So, I’m going to skip the leader’s guides for now, and double back to them later. Matthew will be the last leader’s guide I’ll write for a while.
The Casual English Bible is something the publishing industry would describe as a project written on spec. The “spec” is for “speculation.” As in, “Steve speculates someone might eventually find the Casual English Bible useful enough to publish.”
It’s probably fairly unusual for someone to create a Bible paraphrase on spec. It’s certainly risky. And, for all I know, it may be fiscally stupid. I’m afraid to ask my agent about that. He’s too darn truthful and usually right.
Scholars must think I have lost my mind. Or they may think I am full of myself if I believe I’m capable of taking on a project like this.
I’ll tell you, as I struggle trying to find contemporary words and word pictures for ancient words and heavenly ideas, I feel the opposite of full.
Trying to explain something as big as the Kingdom of Heaven makes me feel small.
When you stand on a mountain and look far below and see those tiny dots of people moving in the valley, that’s me. I’m one of those dots.
There I stand, trying to describe the mountain to a blind person.
Inadequate. That’s how I feel.
Thank God for biblical scholars.
As I work on the Gospel of Matthew, I have surrounded myself with perhaps 10 to 15 pounds of Bible commentaries on Matthew, with backup commentaries as needed. I’ve got other reasources, too. Like the reverse-interlinear translations that place the Greek word below the English word. That allows me to look up individual Greek words to compare the various meanings to the context in which the words were written.
This work is well above my pay grade, my undergraduate degree in newswriting, my seminary degree, or my 40-year career in writing and editing Bible resources. I’m a few degrees shy of a scholar and a bank of snapping synapses shy of smart. I know it.
What I don’t know is why this is the one thing I want to work on so badly that I turn down most other projects that would produce an income.
Who put the “want to” in me?
I know what I know. And what I know is that this is what I want to do. And I believe that Someone put that “want to” in me.
Who in his right mind would put the “want to” in himself for writing a project on spec that takes longer than it took a gold miner to dig a deep shaft with a pick and shovel? Especially when we know that writing on spec can end with nothing more than what most gold miners got: a big bag of nothing, carpal tunnel in their wrists, and blisters on their butt.
I keep telling myself: Faith.
But I sometimes wonder: Stupid.
Yet on second thought, what could be stupid about studying the Bible—whether it’s done for a living or for a Life?
Grandson coming this week
My wife and I have two grandchildren. By the end of the week, we should have three. Within a month, four.
Our daughter has scheduled the delivery of her second son on noon this coming Friday. I can appreciate that schedule.
I’ll put a comma in the Casual English Bible that day.
Which reminds me, I need to clear out the memory card in my video camera and charge up the battery.
It’s almost grandpa-go time.
Pardon the uncommon article today.
I’ll get back on track soon.
Have a great week, folks.
Wow! Tackling a Bible interpretation, the Unforgivable Sin and a new grandchild all in the same month!
No one can ever accuse you of taking the summer off, Steve.
Stephen M. Miller
I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s good to have work we enjoy and family we love.
You go, Steve! (That’s like saying “You go, girl” in a really, really good way!) Glad you are courageous enough to follow your genuine “want to.” Stand true.