God Caring and Existing: A Reflection   Leave a comment

Above:  YHWH in Hebrew

Psalm 10:4 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God does not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Psalm 10:4 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

The wicked, arrogant as he is, in all his scheming [thinks], “He does not call to account; God does not care.”

Psalm 14:1 (New Revised Standard Version):

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.

Psalm 14:1 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

The benighted man thinks, “God does not care.”  Man’s deeds are corrupt and loathsome; no one does good.

When translating from Language A into Language B any text loses something.  We who have translated even short passages (in my case, from French into English) know this well.  Thus, I read the Bible in translations, for each version has its own strengths and weaknesses with regard to shades of meaning, as well as literary style and reading levels.  (I prefer translations with lyrical literary styles and advanced reading levels, yet with modern English alone.  Containing the whole canon–all 73 books–of Scripture is also a wonderful feature.)

Often a comparison of translations reveals uses of different synonyms or the breaking up of Paul’s run-on sentences into short sentences.  (The latter is especially agreeable to me.)  Yet sometimes a comparison of versions reveals an interesting point of theology and nuance of translation.

Consider the translations of Psalm 10:4 and 14:1 in the New Revised Standard Version (National Council of Churches, 1989) and TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures (Jewish Publication Society, 1985).  I ask, “Is divine care implicit in the existence of God?”  I think that the answer is affirmative.

Consider the following note from The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004) on Psalm 10:4:

The translation of Heb[rew] “There is no God” as God does not care is based on the assumption that atheism did not exist in antiquity (see also 14:1).  People could, however, believe in a deity who created the world, but then absented himself from running it.

So, Deism was just a restatement of an old idea.  Qoheleth was correct in Ecclesiastes:  “Nothing is new under the sun.” (1:9b, New American Bible)

In today’s sermon Beth Long, my priest, stated that meaningful theology flows from life in the community of faith.  Any theology which does not do this consists only of words.  This is an accurate assessment.  In my experience (which I group with reason in my understanding of the Anglican Three-Legged Stool, which is actually a tricycle–one big wheel with two smaller ones) I have perceived a caring God via my fellow human beings, which I understood (and continue to understand) as agents of grace.  This sense is not unique to me.  My theology tells me that caring is part of the divine nature.  God cares because that is who God is:  God is love.  Love entails caring.  As a Christian I see this in many ways, notably the Incarnation, the crucifixion of Jesus, and the Resurrection.

All this I affirm.  Here I stand; I can and will do no other.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 10, 2010

THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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