I wrote the book, The Unorthodox Believer, but you might be one too. This is some one who cares about the original biblical message and getting it right. The unorthodox believer cares more about the original message of scripture than fitting into a religious scheme or fitting into a social structure. For the Unorthodox Believer, truth is more important than tradition or status quo.
The book explores the cultural manner in which we modern westerns think versus the thinking patterns of the ancient easterners who wrote our scriptures. It explores how modern orthodoxy was invented via the logic argument methods of the ancient Greek philosophers — the educational background of the early century theologians. Then it contrasts that with the manner in which the ancient Hebrew believers derived their beliefs, based on their Hebrew background. Essentially, modern Christian beliefs were derived from Greek and Romans studying the biblical texts with no regard for the Hebraic culture.
To say it that way, makes the whole process of converting an ancient Hebrew faith into a modern gentile faith seems like the modern version is on a shaky foundation. And it is. However, every culture must understand the message of God's salvation for His people. It must be understandable to the intended audience. Introducing ideas completely foreign to a culture is a sure way to be misunderstood. When we read and study our Bibles, we are reading God's message intended for the ancient Hebrew culture, as it was, at a certain time in history. However, we are at a different time in history and in a very different culture. Without understanding the original message as given, we might not understand how to translate it correctly into our culture and I believe we have missed a lot.
I submit that in modern times, we have not understood the original cultural message well and then, based on misunderstandings, we proceed with a poor translation of the theological message into our modern western culture. Effectively, we lost a lot in translation, not of language but of culture and hence we lose important parts of the theological message. Worse, modern Christians seldom read the foundational documents of the faith, the Old Testament. That represents nearly two thirds of the whole message. The New Testament is based on the Old Testament. It quotes it, refers to it frequently. The concepts and ideas of the Old Testament support the New Testament. Without it, sometimes we guess about what the New Testament writers really meant.
There are several concepts from the Old Testament which are lost in modern times. These include a clearer understanding of the two seeds conflict, the original concept of the messiah, the Hebrew concept of agency and the original mission of all of God's people. Another concept lost in translation is the overall story of the Bible: Paradise to Paradise, it is one complete story broken up into many episodes. In the beginning, God made a place for man to dwell and Himself with them. The Kingdom of God (heaven in Matthew) is a promise of a righteous dwelling place on earth. In the final paradise read about at the end of the book of Revelation, paradise comes to earth. No where in the Bible does it say that humans ever dwell in heaven. Our rewards, remembered by the God of heaven are stored there but it is not a dwelling place for humans.
The agency concept is totally lost in translation. This is how the Hebrews thought the acts of God were carried out in this earth by agents, not directly by the deity Himself. Agents representing a master was common in the ancient middle east. Today only a remnant of it exits in our concept of power of attorney. But in scripture, this cultural feature comes up frequently. This accounts for many things where there is confusion between God interacting directly versus indirectly. The book, The Unorthodox Believer, devotes a whole section to this alone.
Another aspect of our practical Christian life which is useful to understand, is where our English Bible version come from. There are political and commercial reasons for how they came to be and how they are translated from the biblical languages. It is important to note these important influences when reading a modern Bible. All these topics and more are in The Unorthodox Believer book. The book is available on Amazon.com. Author's page URL: http://www.amazon.com/author/jlbrown
Enjoy a new view of the Christian faith … if you dare.