I PARAPHRASE THE BIBLE as part of a new Bible study technique I’ve been trying out.
It helps me see the Bible in a different way. I compare a bunch of translations, and I think about how I would try to put the same stories and teachings in my own words.
I’ll be teaching the Christmas story in our Bible study group on Sunday morning. So I thought I’d take a stab at putting it in my own words.
It’s nothing like the version we’ve grown up with. That version is more like a prayer or a sacred song. It’s so familiar that it feels like it has a poetic cadence to it, whether or not it does.
In my version, I’m just trying to tell the story in the kind of simple words I use when I talk.
See what you think. It’s a first draft.
Mary’s baby boy
1. About the time Mary got pregnant, Caesar Augustus ordered a census. He wanted to count everyone.
2. This was the first census the Romans took after Quirinius became Syria’s governor.
3. Folks went to their hometown to register.
4. Joseph did, too. He left the place he was living in Nazareth, a city in Israel’s north region called Galilee. He went south to Bethlehem. That’s where he came from—the hometown of his famous relative, King David.
5. Joseph took his fiancé with him—Mary, who was very pregnant.
6. They got to Bethlehem at the perfect time for a census. Time to give birth.
7. Mary had her first child. A boy. She wrapped him tightly in cloth. Then she laid him in a feeding trough—a manger for his bed. She had no choice. Bethlehem’s inn didn’t have any vacancies.
8. Nearby, shepherds had set up camp so they could keep an eye on their sheep at night.
9. All of a sudden an angel showed up, standing right there in front of them. Glowing. Like someone who had just stepped out of the presence of God—taking part of God’s glow with him. The shepherds were more than a tad bit scared.
10. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said. “I’ve got great news. And there’s enough joy in it to fill up everybody.
11. Bethlehem will no longer be known as the city where David was born. For today, in David’s city, the Messiah has been born. He just arrived. Your Lord has come to save you.
12. Here’s how you’ll recognize him. He’s a newborn baby wrapped in cloth, like you’d expect. The surprise is that you’ll find him lying in a manger.”
13. Suddenly, the lone angel wasn’t alone anymore. He brought company. Lots and lots of company. Angels everywhere. They were happy with God. They said,
14. “Praise God from here to heaven. Peace has come to earth for everyone who loves God and wants nothing more than to please him.”
15. When the angels left, the shepherds couldn’t stop talking. “What are we doing still standing here? We need to get our feet moving right now to Bethlehem so we can see for ourselves what the Lord was talking about.”
16. They did not walk, they ran until they found Mary and Joseph. There he was, the baby, lying in the manger. Just like the angel said.
17. When they saw this with their own eyes, they were all mouth. They could not, they did not stop talking about what God’s angels had told them.
18. The people who heard all of this were amazed beyond amazing.
19. Mary scooped it all in. The words, the laughter, the joy. Quietly, she stored it all in her heart. Every bit of it.
20. The shepherds went back to their flock. But they didn’t go quietly. Still talking. Still laughing. Still thanking God for everything he had let them hear and see on that wonderful day.
Luke 2:1-20, Steve’s Bible Translation