Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Red Letters

I have a friend who, when discussing the Bible, often refers to the words in red. Some publishers print the gospels using red ink for all of the words that are a direct quotation of Jesus. My friend believes that the words in red deserve special attention.

The gospel passage for Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter is John 3:16-21. I don't own a red letter Bible, but my Revised Standard Version published by Ignatius Press does not indicate that the passage is a quotation. I had always assumed, therefore, that it was inspired commentary by the evangelist John. However, my New International Version published by the International Bible Society (it was a gift) treats it as a continuation of the direct quote in John 3:10-15.

So, depending on which Bible you happen to pick up, the often-cited John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.") might or might not be written in red. It makes no difference to me, but for some, like my friend, it does matter. But how? Whether red or not, the words are inspired and inerrant, and even the words attributed to Jesus are subject to interpretation by translators working from manuscripts in a language other than that which was spoken. The words were spoken in Aramaic, the oldest manuscripts are in Greek, and we typically read them in English.

It might be interesting to argue over where the closing quote belongs, but I think that it's ultimately irrelevant.

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日月神教-任我行 said...
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