Friday, January 23, 2009

2 Bibles and 2 (or was it 3?) Presidential Inaugurations

I originally planned to write this short piece a couple days ago. When I saw the video done by that I posted yesterday, this post got 'poned (if you don't understand, insert another post at the point of the apostrophe).

This month we have seen two African presidents installed (though "African American" is the proper description of one of them): President Barack Obama of the United States of America, and President John Atta Mills of Ghana. Both of them took a presidential oath with a Bible. The fact that President Obama took a do-over oath (almost secretly--citing an abundance of caution) is really an afterthought to this post. I really wanted to talk about the Bibles used.
Obama took his oath, not on the Quran, but on the same Bible that was used in the first inaugural of Abraham Lincoln. John Atta Mills also used a Bible, but when I saw the photo (click on the link just to the left to see a larger image of the photo above), I was taken back. It is an English Standard Version, which is a relatively new entry (2001) into the world of English Bible Translations. The ESV site, linked above describes their translation philosophy in these terms: we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence. The more I use the ESV, the more I like it. In fact, I am reading through the Bible devotionally this year from the ESV. If you do not have an ESV, you also can read it online at the ESV site. It was earlier this year, when reading in Genesis from the ESV, that I noted a play on two Hebrew words in the same verse that I had never noted by reading any other English Bible. I checked the Hebrew text, a sure enough, two consecutive words, built off the same root. The ESV is the only English Bible I have ever read of that text that allowed me to make the mental connection between the words in the original. Try it, you just might like it!

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