Guest Post

People don't know their (CEV) Bible

I lament biblical illiteracy as much as anyone,
but I think surveys sometimes load the dice against scripture when illustrating
the public's unfamiliarity with the Bible. A recent example was noted by the
American Bible Society
as it released The
Freedom Bible
in connection with the 9/ll anniversary.

People were asked the source for this quote: "We
often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don't know what to do, we
never give up."

The choices (and the tally for each) were Martin
Luther King Jr. (699), George W. Bush (402), Captain America (328), the Bible
(306) and "other" (837).

The Bible was edged out by Captain America?
Well, the ABS/Harris online survey answered by more than 2,500 adults was taken in
early August, not long after a film starring the old comic-book hero hit movie

The quote, however, is from 2 Corinthians 4:8. If
"the Apostle Paul" were offered instead of "the Bible," would a few more people
have guessed correctly?

Maybe not. The survey drew the verse from the Contemporary English Version of the
Bible. The CEV sounds different from other translations.
It shares only one key word--"crushed"--with the NRSV: "We are afflicted in
every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair." Likewise, the
NIV has only "crushed" in common with the CEV. The KJV includes none of the
same key words.

The Bible (and perhaps MLK) surely would have
received more responses if the survey's quote included verse 7, which begins,
"We have this treasure in clay jars"--a metaphor used by Paul as well as by
some Old Testament prophets.

John Dart

John Dart is news editor at the Century.

All articles »