Friday, April 29, 2011

The New Royal Standard Version (NRSV)

What with momentous events happening around the world this week such as President Obama confirming that (a) he was born where he was born (like me, on an island in the Pacific Ocean!!), and (b) a significant proportion of the USA's population are incapable of basic science (conclusion via evidence, not by conspiracy theory), it is hard to work out whether a wedding in London counts as worthy of reflection. For instance, worthy of reflection is the matter of life and death in the Middle East: why has Libyan slaughter of its own citizens galvanized Western powers into military action but not Syrian slaughter of its citizens? Also worthy of reflection is the question of whether anyone in the world has a reasonable, workable and persuasive solution to the global recession? (If you keep tracking the blogging of Paul Krugman, linked on the righthand column here, you will find that the answer to the question is negative).

There is an intriguing parallel between Obama and Jesus to consider in this early part of Eastertide. No, not the possibility of their shared messianic experiences. Rather, the matter of what constitutes plausible truth in relation to expectations of evidence. It was always entirely implausible that any sane human being (and Obama is certainly one of those) would enter a presidential race while failing a basic requirement of being born on US soil. But for those unworried by plausibility, the cry arose, 'Show us the evidence.' And when the evidence was shown (i.e. production of the short form of the birth certificate in 2008), the evidence was denied, 'Where is the long form of the certificate?'

Now that the long form has been produced, Donald Trump is hinting at the need to check that it is not a fraud. There is no satisfying some folks. This we also find in respect of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The rise of Christianity is implausible if the body of Jesus lay rotting in a grave accessible to the authorities, or if the disciples conspired to steal it away from further investigation. Nevertheless the cry has been 'Show us the evidence.' When the gospels unitedly testify to the empty grave (and, in Matthew's case, specifically deny that the disciples stole the body away), the evidence has been denied, 'Where is the certificate of emptiness of grave?' No doubt if that could be produced, the Trump of sceptical scholarship would suggest it was a fraud!

The President of the USA is one kind of royalty (America's first family), Donald Trump another kind (celebrity), but the real article is found in Britain, and today is the wedding of the young couple touted as saviours of the monarchy etc etc. Cranmer has helpfully published the wedding order of service. Now even a semi-republican like myself* can appreciate the total musical feast which this service offers. But there are some other things to note about the service. Two of theological interest are the choice of reading and the choice of Bible from which the reading is taken.

The reading is Romans 12:1-2, 9-18. The Bible is the New Revised Standard Version. Cranmer notes with sadness that in this year of the quatercentenary of the KJB that great royal Bible is not being used. It is, one might demur, a matter of joy that the royal family is moving with the times. In choosing the New Revised Standard Version, the royal couple is in fact maintaining a good tradition: the KJB begat the Revised Version which begat the Revised Standard Version which begat the New Revised Standard Version. A very fine translation this New Royal Standard Version is, and it is 'standard' in a number of respects these days, including its very wide usage in the world of academic biblical scholarship.

Many weddings involve other readings from the Bible - 1 Corinthians 13 and all that - but the choice of Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 is a very fine choice. It encapsulates the character of love required for every marriage to succeed while also addressing the character of leadership required for the monarchy to continue in a democratic state.

There you go. I have reflected on the wedding. Perhaps because compared to the complexity of Middle Eastern politics and the global recession, a wedding of such a couple is straightforward to think about.

*I think NZ should not have a Head of State who resides on the other side of the world but can wait until the Queen dies for change to happen.


Brother David said...

(b) a significant proportion of the USA's population are incapable of basic science

Something as damning as that should at east merit a link to support.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
ONe could try among many reports talking about the sizeable percentage of the American population disinclined to believe what President Obama's short form of his birth certificate said which was the straightforward, substantiated fact that Obama was born in Hawaii, an American state.

Brother David said...

What does believing that Obama was born outside the USA have to do with an inability to understand basic science, which was your claim? You are taking liberties with the information in your links, me thinks.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
Science at its most basic is investigating the world, finding evidence, drawing conclusions.

The evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii has been clear and available for a long time. There is no evidence (I am aware of) that he was not born in Hawaii (e.g. a birth certificate from another place). Yet a significant proportion of the US population has been unable to drawn the reasonable conclusion from this evidence.

In drawing attention to this matter I am not taking a potshot at the citizens of the USA but reflecting a widespread concern which many in the States have about their fellow citizens propensity to not believe the evidence before them.