I have several large Bibles with commentaries but only two, one King James Version and one Revised Standard Version, which are small enough to carry around.  Both were gifts and both are wearing out at the bindings.  I decided to shop for a portable New Revised Standard Bible (NRSV).  It turned out this translation is out of favor.  The rows of Bibles at Barnes and Noble feature, along with KJV, NIT, NLT, ESV and a few other versions.  I scanned the shelves, closing in on those which were smaller, but none were NRSV.

One such smaller volume in the row turned out to be labeled “The American Patriot’s Bible.”  The WHAT?

This is a puzzling confusion of categories.  I wasn’t willing to pay the $12 to find out what gives this edition the claim to patriotism.  I pictured a focus on the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, in which the Israelites are trying to make themselves right with God by cleaning up their laws and purifying their blood lines.  Does anyone still give those stories much weight?

I’m proud to be an American, but I can’t figure out what in the Bible connects to that.  There are passages about welcoming the stranger and about caring for widows and orphans that suggest to me some good principles for responsible citizenship.  Is this what the editors have in mind?  When I say I suspect that it is not I reveal my own bias: those who wave the flag of patriotism often have another agenda.

Perhaps this “Patriot’s Bible” makes the claim that America is, or was, or should be a “Christian nation.”  Christian reformers have been a force for good in our history, but they are not the whole story.

I’ll stop at that and let the reader ponder what an “American Patriot’s Bible” might be, while I continue my search for a portable NRSV Bible for use when I travel.

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