Obama to receive a CEV Bible

As the Church Times blog has reported, the Evangelical Alliance here in the UK, noticing that no Bible could be found for President Barack Obama’s second swearing in, decided to send him one. And they didn’t just send him any old (or new) Bible; they sent him a copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible, of which they also write:

Recently Prime Minister Gordon Brown was presented with The Poverty and Justice Bible at Downing Street. And in July last year, hundreds of Bishops carried The Poverty and Justice Bible as they marched across Westminster in a campaign against world poverty.

As a (former, more or less) Bible translator I was interested to find out what translation is used in this Bible. The answer is at this Bible’s own website: the text is that of the Contemporary English Version (CEV):

Almost every page of the Bible speaks of God’s heart for the poor. His concern for the marginalised. His compassion for the oppressed. His call for justice.

The Poverty and Justice Bible megaphones his voice as never before.

Using the clear Contemporary English Version (CEV) text, it highlights more than 2,000 verses that spell out God’s attitude to poverty and justice.

But the blessed Barack needs to be careful with his gift. I presume that this particular text is the British edition of CEV, which actually differs quite substantially from the US and “Global Standard” editions of this version, as I documented here. So if, as I would consider appropriate, he gets copies of CEV for his daughters, and if he ever finds time to have family devotions with them and uses The Poverty and Justice Bible, there is some danger of confusion.

I can’t help thinking that there would have been more of an outcry in some quarters if Obama had been sworn in on The Poverty and Justice Bible than if no Bible was used at all!

7 thoughts on “Obama to receive a CEV Bible

  1. We’ve used the UK version published in South Africa for the last ten years and are quite used to it. I haven’t compared them as extensively as you have but I’m sure that a third-culture kid like Obama is used to dealing with a range of English dialects.

    BTW, he claimed to have “left his Bible at home.” I wonder home is?

  2. I ma not sure what to make of all this, the Inauguration swearing in is largely symbolic, the proof of his integrity will not be whether or not he forgot his Bible on a day of ceremony but in the way he conducts himself and leads his country in the future.

  3. Pingback: Peter Kirk: Obama needs to be assasinated to be considered great « The Church of Jesus Christ

  4. I can’t help thinking that there would have been more of an outcry in some quarters if Obama had been sworn in on The Poverty and Justice Bible than if no Bible was used at all!

    This is all too true.

    Sally –

    whether or not he forgot his Bible on a day of ceremony

    Actually, he had the Bible on inauguration day. But Chief Justice John Roberts misstated the oath during the inaugural, and Obama repeated what Roberts said. Since the U.S. Constitution explicitly states the oath the President is required to take, the two of them got together the next day to get it right. And neither of them remembered to bring a Bible to that meeting.

  5. Uh, a Bible is NOT NOT NOT required to take the oath upon! NOT! It’s a tradition, not a requirement in the Constitution. The reason the oath of office was repeated was because both the Chief Justice and President Obama messed up the oath of office and there was a question of the possible legality of the oath. (The CJ started, and the President compounded the problem.) It should be noted that two previous presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge, had similar issues and had to repeat the oath.

    Here’s what the Constitution actually has to say on the matter: Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” (Article II, Section 1) As you can see, there is no Bible mentioned or required.

    There are exactly two religious-type mentions in the US Constitution: the first is the following, from Article VI, section 4: “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The second is the date, in the signers’ section: “the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.”

    The third is not in the Constitution proper, but in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and that would be in Amendment 1: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    I should also note that many, many people take oaths to uphold the Constitution. Congressmen do, and they don’t do it on a Bible. Lawyers do; I did when I was sworn in to the bar 20 years ago and I didn’t do it on a Bible either. (Nobody did, there were several hundred lawyer types in a room.) Soldiers do; I saw a picture of the son of a coworker taking a re-enlistment oath being administered by the Secretary of Defense last fall, and there were no Bibles in evidence.

    As a ardent church-state separationist, I’d prefer that the President not take his oath on any Bible, but if he had to use a Bible, the Lincoln Bible was pretty appropriate for the occasion. Being snarky about the Bible Obama used or didn’t use is pretty low, IMO.

  6. The other bible publishers missed their grand opportunity to get some publicity. I don’t Obama would mind swearing in using a plain leather gold-edged TNIV or NLT bibles, and as long as it doesn’t have one of those post-modern fancy artistic covers on it.

  7. Thanks for the comments. Kevin, I can’t help thinking that Obama might privately have preferred “one of those post-modern fancy artistic covers”, although he probably wouldn’t have thought it appropriate for the occasion.

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