Bible translations? Does it matter? Emily Sears, BC junior, shares her observations.
March 22, 2011
"Whatever you do, do not touch the NIV Bibles," said a middle-aged woman to her three children.
"Welcome to Tolley's. Is there anything I can help you with today?" I asked.
"No. We know what we are here for," she said and pulled her youngest child behind her. Three girls followed their mother, all wearing denim skirts that brushed the ground.
The store was usually filled with families who scolded their children for trying to pet the pretty glassware or for climbing the bookshelves. However, I had never heard of anyone getting a disease from the New International Version.
I stood in front of the counter, and I watched the oldest daughter. She went directly for the front table of Bibles and she quickly glanced from cover to cover. Her eyes reflected a hunger.
Her face resembled mine three years ago, when I stood in front of jars of alcohol at a high school party. I had never drunk alcohol, but I was determined to start that night.
As I watched the young girl's eyes bulge at the sight of a light blue, hardcover Bible, I didn't need to read the label to decipher which translation it was. She quickly grabbed the Bible and ran to a nearby aisle. Her mother was in the back of the store searching through Sunday School material and could not see her. I heard the pages flip through, and as I walked by the aisle, she was reading as fast as she could. So fast that she didn't notice her mom was finished and was looking for her.
"What are you reading, Elizabeth? And why are you in the floor?"
"I was just..." She tried to push the Bible underneath some books on the bottom shelf.
"Let me see that," said the woman. She grabbed the book and immediately looked on the label. She quickly dropped it.
"What have I told you? Stand up right now!"
The girl stood up slowly as if the effort exhausted her. Her mother grabbed her hands and reached into her purse. She pulled out a bottle of hand sanitizer and squirted some into her daughter's hands and then onto her own.
"Those are dirty books. They are not Bibles," said the mother. "People think that they can just go around and say God said this or God said that so that they are happy. Well that is not what Christianity is, and God will punish them for that. Do you want to be punished by God?"
The girl shook her and stared at her.
"Well that's the path you are heading down. Now come on, and I will tell your father about this."
The family headed for the counter. The mother dragging the youngest, the middle following closely, and the oldest slowly walking behind them.
"Is this all for you today?" I politely asked and started scanning their items.
"Yes. But I would like to give you a word of advice. If you want well-paying customers like me to continue shopping here then you should start considering the quality of your merchandise."
I thought of five years previous when I went to a Christian summer camp. I thought of the joke a girl had told once. She had said, "I don't know if I am HIV positive, but I know I am NIV negative." And I thought of what Paul said to Timothy that if we allow little things to tear us apart then why would anyone want to follow Jesus Christ? I thought of God's people around the world starving for spiritual food and eating World Vision's rations. I thought of the first time I read a simpler translation than King James Version, and how I learned that the "thou" God was talking to was me.
"Well I will pass that on to the owners, but your total is $4.52."
She paid me the money, and grabbed her bag frowning. The girls quickly followed behind her, even the oldest increasing her pace.
"Wait! You forgot your receipt!" I called from the store.
"Elizabeth, go get it," the mom looked even more frustrated.
Elizabeth walked in slowly and stuck her hand out for the receipt.
"NIV isn't a disease," I whispered to her and smiled.
She took the receipt from me and nodded. She turned and followed her mother.