Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Readings: Spin This


When I was in college, the translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey mandated for my Great Books course were those of Richmond Lattimore. I have for some time been meaning to check out his translation from the Greek of The New Testament. Having finally gotten around to borrowing this from the library, I thought I’d provide a sample of it here. Lattimore did not use any updated language in his translation. It doesn’t sound, or feel, much different than the Revised Standard Version. The major difference is that he doesn’t break up the narrative with the standard chapter and verse demarcations, so the story flows in a more natural way.

So, here is an excerpt from the Gospel of Mark that has some relevance to a discussion I’ve been having in the comments section of a previous post:

As he set forth on his way, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him: Good master, what must I do to inherit life everlasting? Jesus answered: Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and your mother. He said to him: Master, I have kept all these commandments from my youth. Jesus looked at him with affection and said: One thing you lack: go sell all you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have a treasury in heaven; and come and follow me. He was downcast at that saying and went sadly away; for he was one who had many possessions. Jesus looked around at this disciples and said: How hard it will be for those with money to enter the Kingdom of God. His disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus spoke forth again and said to them: My children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God; it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. They were very much astonished and asked him: Who then can be saved? Jesus looked at them and said: For men it is impossible, but not for God, since for God all things are possible.

So, go ahead: spin that.

10 comments:

EdMcGon said...

To quote the Bible, "Ask and ye shall receive."

As he set forth on his way, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him: Good master, what must I do to inherit life everlasting?

So we are basically talking about the individual requirement to get into Heaven. I think we both agree here, although do tell me if you see his question as meaning something else.

Jesus answered: Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and your mother. He said to him: Master, I have kept all these commandments from my youth. Jesus looked at him with affection and said: One thing you lack: go sell all you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have a treasury in heaven; and come and follow me.

Note Christ did NOT say take all your neighbor's money and give it to the poor. That is what you want to do Rodak, not what Christ has told you to do.

In fact, Christ added a nice "do not steal", yet you would abet the government by doing exactly that. Just because you are stealing for the poor does not make you any more just.

He was downcast at that saying and went sadly away; for he was one who had many possessions. Jesus looked around at this disciples and said: How hard it will be for those with money to enter the Kingdom of God. His disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus spoke forth again and said to them: My children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God; it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. They were very much astonished and asked him: Who then can be saved? Jesus looked at them and said: For men it is impossible, but not for God, since for God all things are possible.

"For men it is impossible", and yet you think by your socialist programs you will somehow save the rich? Only God can do that, not you.

Rodak said...

So we are basically talking about the individual requirement to get into Heaven.

Surely.

Note Christ did NOT say take all your neighbor's money and give it to the poor. That is what you want to do Rodak, not what Christ has told you to do.

If you took all your money and gave it to the poor, there'd be nothing for the government to take.

Just because you are stealing for the poor does not make you any more just.

I just wish that Robin Hood were around to hear you say that!

"For men it is impossible", and yet you think by your socialist programs you will somehow save the rich? Only God can do that, not you.

The reason that wealth is a hindrance to salvation (in my opinion) is that people become so focused in its pursuit, its hoarding, and its protection, that they become completely self-centered. As Jesus said, "Where a man's wealth is, there his heart is also." Socialism, to the extent that it foils that pursuit, hoarding, and the need for that protection, it at least frees the man up to focus his attention in other directions. He might even focus on God.
I think that this is why Jesus gave the "Render unto Caesar" saying. He was saying, Money is essentially worthless to you; why worry about where it goes, or who takes it from you?

EdMcGon said...

If you took all your money and gave it to the poor, there'd be nothing for the government to take.

That has nothing to do with what I said.

I just wish that Robin Hood were around to hear you say that!
It's funny that you mention him. I did think about him when I wrote my response to your post. It occurred to me that he was NOT a good Christian. It should also be pointed out that the people Robin Hood stole from were landed aristocrats, NOT hard-working people who had earned their wealth.

Unfortunately, I don't have time at the moment to respond to the rest of your comment, mostly because it is the well-reasoned response I've been waiting for you to give. I need to contemplate it for a while, and unfortunately I am pressed for time today.

Rodak said...

That has nothing to do with what I said.

Okay. One baby step at a time, then: if my neighbor had given all his money to the poor, I'd not be able to "steal" it from him for that purpose.

...mostly because it is the well-reasoned response I've been waiting for you to give.

Everything else I've said is actually predicated on that response, which is the basis, of course, of the passage from Mark that I quoted.

(And on what do you base your slander of Robin Hood?)

Russ said...

edmcgon,

In fact, Christ added a nice "do not steal", yet you would abet the government by doing exactly that. Just because you are stealing for the poor does not make you any more just.

Is our government a completely secular institution and divorced from morals? The age of Charles Dickens is hopefully gone for ever. Besides, Johnson's war on poverty was a big success and added millions of productive workers to our societies good.

Rodak said...

Correct. One can express one's morality through acts relating to involvement in government, or simply by not resisting the good that government is able to do.
But one should do this as a citizen, not as a sectarian, since the government is, as Russ says, a secular institution.

An Interested Party said...

"It should also be pointed out that the people Robin Hood stole from were landed aristocrats, NOT hard-working people who had earned their wealth."

I think this is part of Ed's (and others) problem with redistribution...he's scared to death that the government wants to take his money rather than tax the wealth of our modern-day landed aristocrats...

Rodak said...

AIP--
I see the problem as this: Americans identify UP, never DOWN. Which explains why they so often lick the boot that kicks them in the ribs. And vote Republican when they're not rich.

An Interested Party said...

One would think that people could identify UP but still see where their own interests lay and vote accordingly...being a cynical person, I realize this is too much to expect of most people...

Rodak said...

If they identified down, they would have the right perspective to SEE their own best interests. Instead they vote for what is in the best interests of their bosses. Smart.