THIS IS HOW I FEEL when I finish writing a book. But all I’ve done is to paraphrase the Gospel of Matthew for the Casual English Bible and produce a 127-page leader’s guide and atlas of hi res maps.
But it took many months, just like some books do.
I feel like someone lifted a backpack full of scholarly commentaries off my shoulders.
Now here comes someone with another backpack of commentaries about the Gospel of John, the last Gospel I need to paraphrase. Then on to Revelation.
I’m more than three-fourths of the way done paraphrasing the New Testament, and producing maps and leader’s guides for each book.
To speed up the paraphrasing, I’m going to bypass the leader’s guides for the next several New Testament books. When I’m done paraphrasing, I’ll double back to the guides and atlases.
Here’s a sampling of Matthew. It’s a story Jesus told to illustrate that people need to stay ready for his return. People often call it the parable of the 10 virgins. I call it something else.
Parable of 10 ladies with fire
“Let me illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven this way. On the evening of a wedding, 10 young bridesmaids carried their lit torches as they went to meet the groom.
Five of the ladies weren’t especially bright. The other five were downright wise. The foolish five took their torch lamps, but no extra oil. The wise five took their torch lamps, along with some extra oil.
As for the groom, he took his good ol’ sweet time. The 10 young ladies fell asleep waiting for him.
Then at midnight, someone shouted, ‘Look, here comes the groom. Come on out and meet him.’
That woke up the young ladies. They checked the oil in their torch lamps.
The foolish five said to the others, ‘Uh-oh. Our torches are about to go out. Give us some of your oil.’
But the wise five said, ‘No can do. If we gave you some of ours, we might not have enough for all of us. Go to the oil suppliers and buy some for yourselves.’
While the foolish five were off buying oil, the groom arrived. The five bridesmaids who were ready left with the groom and went to the wedding banquet. The door was shut.
The foolish five arrived later. They went to the door and called someone inside, ‘Sir! Sir! Open the door.’ A man answered, ‘Hey, I don’t know you. And that’s the truth.’
So I’m telling you now, stay alert. You don’t know the day. You don’t know the hour.”
Matthew 25:1-13 Casual English Bible
This is one of Jesus’ parables that I’ve found kind of perplexing. (The other is the one about the landowner who hires people throughout the day to work in his field and, at the end of the day, he pays the last ones hired first and pays them the same as he pays the ones who work all day.)
Yes, I know it’s a reminder to be prepared for Jesus’ return. But is it also saying that, if someone screws up, we should just let them fail and not offer to help?
Stephen M. Miller
I think the best approach to most parables is to stay focused on the main point. All illustrations break down somewhere. And it seems that Jesus is writing these stories on his feet, surrounded by people.
I’d say he’s only human, but…well, you know. Still, we should probably cut him some slack for not coming up with a full-proof illustration that presents acceptable Christian principles in every word.
His point was not to say we should be selfish. His point was to say we should live the life of a Spiritual Minuteman, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Live like a Christian all the time.
That’s my best guess, before finishing my first cup of coffee.