Metodboken — Bibel 2000 (1999)

Creators

Elisabeth Svalin (editor).

Extent

Read in 2018.

Categorization

A study guide, especially a guide to anyone seeking to lead a study circle on the subject. A collection of essays.

Subject

The Bible (ca. 110 CE) in its then-new Swedish translation. Contents include:

“Bibel 2000 — ett signalement” by Christer Åsberg: On editorial decisions creating the translation from multiple sources. These include not translating the Hebrew selah because its meaning is not known, correcting entrenched prior errors, marking apocryphal and missing sections, and including Swedish authors in the work from the start to control for style.

“Alla änglar har inte vita vingar” by Mikael Hansson: On the use of popular film to get people interest in the bible. For instance, the gruesome revenge of the sons of Jacob is compared to Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), and the comparative dominance of male characters (1315 named males in the Old Testament, 85 women) is compared to Braveheart (1995).

“Tematiska studier” by Gillis Simonsson: Lists of verses on particular themes.

“Så fick vi vår bibel” by Jan Carlquist: On the history of the text, including Jerome’s misreading of the Hebrew KRN for kärän (radiance) as karàn (horns), which led to canonical depictions of Moses with horns. This is in reference to Exodus 34. Carlquist also notes that the Lutheran church in Sweden forbade conventicles—roughly the kind of study this book is meant to encourage—until 1858.

“Bibelsyn och tolkning” by Göran Eidevall: On hermeneutics and the dangerous temptation to create a “canon within the canon” by systematically disregarding some passages and foregrounding others, but also on liberation theology etc. He mentions a conflict between the theological schools of Alexandria, making allegorical readings, and Antioch, making historical readings of the same texts. The Alexandrian school championed interpretations of the Old Testament as prophecies about Jesus, something Matthew and others like to do in New Testament sensus plenior readings. Eidevall explicitly likens biblical apocalypticism to The Lord of the Rings (1954) and Narnia.

“Bibeln som litteratur” by Göran Agrell: On stylistic features, such as different kinds of parallels, and the happy end.

“Folkbildningsexegetik” by Greger Andersson: On the virtues of reading entire books of the bible and not sweating the details. Andersson uses Amos as an example, a champion of social justice. Amos’s precise identity and audience are unknown and, in Andersson’s view, of secondary interest.

Commentary

The essay on IT is obsolete, more so than most writing on the subject from this period. Much else is equally useless to an atheist intending to study the bible. For instance, the suggestion to run a TRPG. This book aims below college level.

A non-judgmental editorial policy is evident. There is little attempt to assert or circumscribe the supernatural, but wishful thinking is abundant. In a brief interview with singer Sara Isaksson who helped make sure the psalms could be sung, she says “Ja, om kristendomen är att varje människa är lika mycket värd och om Gud är kärlek — då är jag kristen.” That would make for a short bible. Carlquist concludes his essay saying that “När jag så småningom fattade det, blev jag faktiskt glad över att det inte fanns någon urbibel, för hur lätt hade inte en sådan kunnat manipuleras. Det är egentligen trosstärkande att vår bibel blivit till på det sätt som skett.” (p. 116). Instead of seeing the evidence of human manipulation and error as an indication of the human origins of the text, he draws the opposite conclusion. He also relates the anecdote of the Pool of Bethesda having had five covered colonnades, as related in the bible and later proven by archaeologists, so he celebrates science when its results strengthen his faith, and says nothing about the numerous instances where it disproves the bible.

Hansson’s film analyses are poor: Transparently manipulative and poorly conceived. He defends the sexism of the Old Testament in his comparison with Braveheart, using whattaboutism, ignoring that Gibson himself is a Christian fanatic and that the figure of William Wallace slipped into Scottish Christianity. For instance, you can see a figure of Wallace in the stained-glass window of St. Margaret’s Chapel, inside Edinburgh Castle – and he doesn’t look like Gibson.

non-fiction text