Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adult Sunday School

We were doing a study of Bible translations. It was adult Sunday School. Most Christians think Sunday School is for children so when you graduate from childhood you don't have to go anymore. How did we get this idea? I don't remember ever saying it. Maybe Christians don't think that. I just think they do. Maybe they think the Bible is boring or maybe they are intimidated by the Bible and they think that the adult Christians who do go to Sunday School must know a whole lot more than they do so they don't want to be embarrassed showing how much they don't know. Maybe most of their reading now that they are adults are manuals and forms for work and when they read for pleasure, if they ever do, it is internet reading which is like reading with ADD. Maybe they think they just don't have time, the time you would need if you were going to read God's Word! Now, that's an intimidating thought! What if I don't get it? What if I had to write a paper on God's Word and didn't pass? What if God looked surprised at how bad I did? And said, you can't come up here where I am until you get smarter about My Word? But, what if I did get it? And then left my job and became a missionary or pastor or an adult Sunday School teacher? That's risky stuff. Better off not rocking the boat.

So we are doing this class on Bible translation and as I hinted not too many adults came. Now, some were camping since it was the first nice Spring weekend we have had this year. Some were traveling with school sports teams or music teams. Some were off the island visiting family. This is graduation season from colleges. But even if all that was not going on we still would have had a small group, as I said. I was hoping for more people. It was a good study. The Bible is a cool book and it is fascinating to think about the whole translation process. I think, anyway. I would've thought God would've got the word out to people to be there. But, then I wish He and I were on the same page more often than it appears we are.

There are lots of Bible versions. It seems like there is a new one every year. Why do we need so many of them? I mean isn't the King James Version enough? I used to think so. Back when I didn't read the Bible much. Back when I didn't know why I would want to read the Bible much. Back before I knew it was such a cool book. Now, I read Bible commentaries for pleasure! Is that odd or what? How many Christians do that? Is it just a pastor thing? We have to do it for our work, for preparing sermons but no one else has to! But, I think it would be cool if they did. What if Christians were so excited about the Bible that they bought and read Bible commentaries for pleasure reading! Wouldn't that be something! But, somehow that is related to the question about why adult Christians don't go to Sunday School.

So, there are lots of Bible versions. And they are all pretty good. They fill a purpose. Some are for different audiences. Some try to capture the literal meaning of the words and phrases. Some focus more on communicating the meaning of the words and phrases. Words are pretty dynamic. Like what is the literal meaning of the word, key? Well if I am coaching basketball and I tell a player to get down to the key, he better know what part of the court I am talking about or he will learn the word bench real quick. But, if I tell my wife to remember the key when she leaves the house she will not be dismantling part of the basketball court to take to work. So, what is the literal meaning? There is none. The meaning of the word key depends on the context, the relationship it has with other words in the sentence. In Bible translation so many words are like that. They have a range of meaning. And different Bible versions capture part of that range. But, so often one English word just cannot convey what the original Hebrew or Greek means. So, it's good to use several versions to get the full meaning of Scripture. And there is all kinds of stuff going on in the Bible: puns, riddles, poetry, allusions, similies and metaphors and so on. Like, in John 10, which we call the Good Shepherd chapter in John, Jesus actually starts out by saying he is the gate to the sheepfold. Now, Jesus is not really a gate but good shepherds used to lay down and act like a gate to keep the sheep in at night and keep the bad guys or animals out. So, he is a gate in that sense. Just one little example of the richness of the Bible. Then, you have all the ways the Old Testament is woven into the New Testament. Why is Jesus called the Son of Man, or the Son of David? I mean there's a lot of this stuff you just don't get from reading a small portion of Scripture at the Sunday morning service.

There's a lot more to it. A lot more. And it is cool. So, maybe, just maybe, I will ask adult Christians that question, why don't you come to Sunday School? Then, maybe we will know for sure and maybe we can do something about it.