Disclaimer: People who know me will attest that I do not have religion. I do, however, have a bunch of religious books.
P K McCary’s “Black Bible Chronicles” series was published in the States in 1994. Volume one, From Genesis to the Promised Land
, was an “urban” retelling of the Old Testament. Volume two, the New Testament, has the zestier title of Rappin’ With Jesus - The Good News According to the Four Brothers
[Jesus said:] “You brothers kill me, you really do. Don’t go ‘round talkin’ bout what a brother is or isn’t doing when you might not be so hot yourself. How you gonna tell another brother how he should be doing something when you ain’t doing nothing yourself?”
… Then Pilate asked, “What am I gonna do with Jesus?”
And the crowd yelled, “Waste the dude. Waste him!”
… In His hand they put a reed and pretended to bow down before him.
“Hey, King Jesus. What’s up, man?”
And it was on. They spit on Him and pushed and shoved Him. They beat Him upside the head and cursed Him, too. After they had big fun, they took Jesus out to kill Him.
… The angel was so bright it was breathtaking. His threads were whiter than snow. It spooked the stuffings out of the guards so that they fainted like dead men.
The angel spoke calmly to the two sisters. “Hey, don’t go getting yourself outta whack, ‘cuz I know you came to see Jesus, but he ain’t here. No, ma’am.”
The Glasgow Gospel
, by Jamie Stuart, was published in 1992:
Meantime Peter was sittin oot in the courtyard. An this burd comes up tae him an says, “Wir you no a pal o that Jesus, the man fae Galilee?”
“Don’t know whit ye’re bletherin aboot,” said Peter.
Then he went oot inty the porch an anither lassie spots him, an she cries tae the folk staunin aroon, “See this yin here? He wis alang wi that Nazarene!”
Wance mair Peter denied it an swore at them, “Ah’ve telt ye—ah dinna ken the man!”
But mair o the folk thought for a bit an said tae Peter, “Jist haud oan a minute, by the way. Ye are so wan o them wi that Jesus—for the wey ye speak gies ye away!”
Peter sterted tae curse at them, “Ah’m telling ye the truth—ah dinna ken that man!”
Jist then a cock began tae craw an Peter wis minded whit Jesus had telt him, “Afore the cock craws ye’ll deny me three times.”
Big an aw as he wis—Peter crept outside—an began tae greet.
Rob Lacey’s The Street Bible
—swiftly republished as The Word on the Street
, possibly after complaints—was the latest attempt in 2003 to divest the Bible of any of the poetry that had helped fix its salient points in the minds of the faithful and instead make it “understandable” and “relevant” to “modern” people. This meant employing an inexplicably over-eager, bouncy writing style:
First off, nothing. No light, no time, no substance, no matter. Second off, God starts it all up and WHAP! Stuff everywhere! The cosmos in chaos: no shape, no form, no function – just darkness… total. And floating above it all, God’s Holy Spirit, ready for action.
Day one: then God’s voice booms out, “Lights!” and, from nowhere, light floods the skies and “night” is swept off the scene. God gives it the big thumbs up, calls it “day”.
Day two: God says: “I want a dome – call it ‘sky’ – right there between the waters above and below.” And it happens.
Day three: God says, “Too much water! We need something to walk on, a huge lump of it – call it ‘land’! Let the ‘sea’ lick its edges.” God smiles, says, “Now we’ve got us some definition. But it’s too plain! It needs colour! Vegetation! Loads of it. A million shades. Now!” And the earth goes wild with trees, bushes, plants, flowers and fungi. “Now give it a growth permit.” Seeds appear in every one. “Yesss!” says God.
Day four: “We need a schedule: let’s have a ‘sun’ for the day, a ‘moon’ for the night; I want ‘seasons’, ‘years’; and give us ‘stars’, masses of stars – think of a number; add a trillion; then times it by the number of trees and we’re getting there: we’re talking huge!”
Also, paraphrasing the boring bits and renaming characters in a contemporary fashion:
The Flyby Fest [Passover] is not far off. Jesus Davidson tells the team…
“This is how it’s going to be,” he sighs. “We’ll arrive in Jerusalem; I’ll be handed over to the HQ Board of Directors. They’ll pronounce the death sentence and hand me over to the Romans. I’ll be dissed, sat on, smacked about and executed.”
The public and personal letters of St Paul are known respectively as “Paul’s Work ‘Sent Items’ Box”
and “Paul’s Private ‘Sent Items’ Box”
To paraphrase Jesus himself: “Eat me.”
Oh, and how could I forget:
The Bible has been translated into text message-speak in Australia to allow its lessons to be disseminated more easily.
The entire 31,173 verses can be downloaded for free and sent by mobile phone, said a spokesman for The Bible Society in Australia.
“In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth,” it begins. [BBC]