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Joseph_F
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Book Discussion: Rapture Ready! (End-times discussion now!)

[ Edited ]

 

Rapture Ready!

  

 

by Daniel Radosh

 

 

This book discussion is not tied to any month. I expect it to go on until at least February due to the holiday season.

 

I am very excited about this book. I recently read it, and it is one of the most nuanced and entertaining explorations of modern American evangelicalism I've ever read. In it, an atheist New York Jew explores every facet of evangelical pop culture, from Christian theme parks to Christian pro-wrestling.

 

What makes this book so great is the narrator. He is not afraid to make fun of things that deserve to be made fun of, and he's not afraid to call things creepy that are creepy, but he is careful to always get the full context of everything he is seeing, to talk to the people involved extensively, even voicing his concerns to them and reporting their response. The result is a book that leaves you an impression of the broad spectrum within American evangelicalism, from the deeply conservative to the deeply liberal and everything in between.

 

It is one of the best books on religion I've read in awhile, and I urge you all to join me in reading it, especially if you are unfamiliar with evangelical Christian culture besides the broad stereotypes in the media.

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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

I certainly hope someone out there is reading this book, because it is fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough. Also for anyone reading it, there is a digital appendix online that allows you to check out related photos, videos, and websites: http://getraptureready.com/appendix/  Even if you don't have the book, a look through that can be interesting.

 

So, as for the book: Right from the start he defines his goal, which is to explore the culture rather than the religion of evangelicals. Although obviously the two are wound tightly around each other, his basic guideline was to ignore anything that would be considered "worship" by an objective outsider. This guideline, however, allows him a more nuanced view of American Evangelicals because he is looking at how they actually live and act, rather than how they might say they live and act.

 

The first chapter throws us right into a Christian merchandise tradeshow, looking at what even the merchants refer to as "Jesus Junk". There were some very interesting moments in the chapter I though, including the head of the trade show preemptively asking him not to bring up the "money changers in the temple" story, one that apparently has a tendency to come up when people write about the event (although just because he is aware of the issue, he doesn't seem to offer much of a rebuttal to it).

 

The other is when the author considers the imitative quality of Christian pop culture, that it for the most part only provides Christian versions of secular products and entertainment. He comes to the conclusion that this is not the nature of Christian pop culture, but rather the nature of pop culture in general: Pop culture, any kind of pop culture, is imitative. One thing becomes popular, and there are suddenly hundreds of things just like it. This is not unique to the Christian version of that world.

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Choisya
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

Sorry Joseph, not available here.  Brits don't do Rapture:smileyvery-happy:.  The website was amazing:smileysurprised:.  

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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


Choisya wrote:

Sorry Joseph, not available here.  Brits don't do Rapture:smileyvery-happy:.  The website was amazing:smileysurprised:.  


 

That's very surprising to me! You'd think with the global force that American Evagelicalism has become, British people would be interested in learning about the movement as well.

 

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Choisya
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

Evangelism is not very evident here Joseph, the Rapture not at all, even though there has been some little increase in the evangelical movement, especially from American evangelists who target us from time to time. I remember some, dressed in white, who 'worked' the tube some years ago and the Silver Ring Thing people have been here.  I think 'Rapture' is a bit OTT for Brits who in any case 'don't do religion'.  The Afro-Caribbean 'hot gospel' churches seem to be the most OTT ones here.  Here is the census breakdown of religion in the UK. 

 

This UK press report about US pet care for those in The Rapture indicates a degree of interest here. There is now a British version so I guess there must be British 'rapturists'.  Does the book mention their arrangements for pet care?  

 

 

 

 


Joseph_F wrote:

 


Choisya wrote:

Sorry Joseph, not available here.  Brits don't do Rapture:smileyvery-happy:.  The website was amazing:smileysurprised:.  


 

That's very surprising to me! You'd think with the global force that American Evagelicalism has become, British people would be interested in learning about the movement as well.

 


 

although the Afro-Caribbeans do OTT with their hot gospel stuff.   

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


Choisya wrote:

Evangelism not very evident here Joseph, the Rapture not at all, even though there has been some little increase in the evangelical movement.  I think it is a bit OTT for Brits who in any case 'don't do religion'. 

 

 

 


Joseph_F wrote:

 


Choisya wrote:

Sorry Joseph, not available here.  Brits don't do Rapture:smileyvery-happy:.  The website was amazing:smileysurprised:.  


 

That's very surprising to me! You'd think with the global force that American Evagelicalism has become, British people would be interested in learning about the movement as well.

 


 

although the Afro-Caribbeans do OTT with their hot gospel stuff.   

 


Hmm at it best all you Brits are missing is some badly acted overly dramatics, at it's worst a lot of hate. But my personal experiences do tend to the extremes so...

 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

 


TiggerBear wrote:
Hmm at it best all you Brits are missing is some badly acted overly dramatics, at it's worst a lot of hate. But my personal experiences do tend to the extremes so...

 

 

You must have posted when I was editing TB!  Yes, they do seem to be rather dramatic - I quite like the 'theatre' of some of them but I really can't take them seriously, especially when it comes to the pet care arrangements, even though they purport to be serious.  I like the ones who sing a lot:smileyhappy:.

 

The guy and gals who targetted the London tube weren't at all popular, especially in the rush hour!

 

Another interesting thing about 'rapturists' is their ability to email their loved ones when they are in heaven, after the Rapture has taken place.  This is how it works.   I wonder if the book mentions this?

 

 

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

Despite the title, there actually is very little about the end times and the rapture in the book. It's focused on the pop culture of American Evangelicals rather than their religious beliefs.

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TiggerBear
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


Joseph_F wrote:

Despite the title, there actually is very little about the end times and the rapture in the book. It's focused on the pop culture of American Evangelicals rather than their religious beliefs.


 

Hmm still what I was talking about. Not here to bash anyone's religion. But perhaps how they act in public.

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


Joseph_F wrote:

Despite the title, there actually is very little about the end times and the rapture in the book. It's focused on the pop culture of American Evangelicals rather than their religious beliefs.


 

Hmm still what I was talking about. Not here to bash anyone's religion. But perhaps how they act in public.

 


 

I think you might benefit a lot from giving this book a try. He approaches it at first from a very similar point of view as you, seeing as he is an atheist Jew from New York. But what he discovers when he really takes the time to talk to people is the huge variety of belief and practice within American Evangelicalsim. There are conservatives, yes, but there are also, surprising as it may seem to you, liberals. There are crazy people, greedy people, very smart people, and wonderful people. The nuance within the movement is usually lost on us outsiders, which is why I really cannot recommend this book enough for everyone.

 

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Choisya
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

 

But what he discovers when he really takes the time to talk to people is the huge variety of belief and practice within American Evangelicalsim.....There are crazy people, greedy people, very smart people, and wonderful people..
But isn't this the case within every religion?   What's new?   All the major religions have had schisms since their inception and a wide variety of adherents.  But sometimes certain practices and people come to define the religion just as in our times the jihadist has come to define Islam. The Puritans of Salem came to be defined by their treatment of 'witches' yet I suppose there were many good people among them.    In the UK it is said that ordinary, peaceful Muslims are not doing enough to condemn the extremists within their midst and it seems to be the same with Evangelists.         


Joseph_F wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


Joseph_F wrote:

Despite the title, there actually is very little about the end times and the rapture in the book. It's focused on the pop culture of American Evangelicals rather than their religious beliefs.


 

Hmm still what I was talking about. Not here to bash anyone's religion. But perhaps how they act in public.

 


 

I think you might benefit a lot from giving this book a try. He approaches it at first from a very similar point of view as you, seeing as he is an atheist Jew from New York. But what he discovers when he really takes the time to talk to people is the huge variety of belief and practice within American Evangelicalsim. There are conservatives, yes, but there are also, surprising as it may seem to you, liberals. There are crazy people, greedy people, very smart people, and wonderful people. The nuance within the movement is usually lost on us outsiders, which is why I really cannot recommend this book enough for everyone.

 


 

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


Joseph_F wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 


Joseph_F wrote:

Despite the title, there actually is very little about the end times and the rapture in the book. It's focused on the pop culture of American Evangelicals rather than their religious beliefs.


 

Hmm still what I was talking about. Not here to bash anyone's religion. But perhaps how they act in public.

 


 

I think you might benefit a lot from giving this book a try. He approaches it at first from a very similar point of view as you, seeing as he is an atheist Jew from New York. But what he discovers when he really takes the time to talk to people is the huge variety of belief and practice within American Evangelicalsim. There are conservatives, yes, but there are also, surprising as it may seem to you, liberals. There are crazy people, greedy people, very smart people, and wonderful people. The nuance within the movement is usually lost on us outsiders, which is why I really cannot recommend this book enough for everyone.

 


 

 

Hmm I have seen it from the inside. I have a grandfather that for 6 years had a radio show and for 8 years had a local newspaper 3rd of the page, on how we were all going to hell and the world was ending midnight 2000. A grandmother who left living as a missionary for evangelicals to be his wife. The other grandmother who was a gospel minister. A mother who was a Salvation minister. A mother in law who won't willingly take her necessary medicine because she thinks any day she will be raptured and because a TV Evangelical dude told her medicine was created by men working for the devil to make you sick. Half of my house is covered in EV merc! Oh and throw in 3 year of Baptist school (pre to K) 6 years of Catholic school (1-6) and 3 of Quakers school (11+) on top of the pile. I've been in churches where you need ear plugs for the shouting just so you won't go deaf. Been to snake holder church. In fact every bit and taste of Christian church flavors and I've been there at least once. Been baptisted twice, comformationed twice. When I walked away form Christianity, I knew what I was doing.

 

He's not coming for the same point as me (shrug).

 

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Nadine
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 

 

Hmm I have seen it from the inside. I have a grandfather that for 6 years had a radio show and for 8 years had a local newspaper 3rd of the page, on how we were all going to hell and the world was ending midnight 2000. A grandmother who left living as a missionary for evangelicals to be his wife. The other grandmother who was a gospel minister. A mother who was a Salvation minister. A mother in law who won't willingly take her necessary medicine because she thinks any day she will be raptured and because a TV Evangelical dude told her medicine was created by men working for the devil to make you sick. Half of my house is covered in EV merc! Oh and throw in 3 year of Baptist school (pre to K) 6 years of Catholic school (1-6) and 3 of Quakers school (11+) on top of the pile. I've been in churches where you need ear plugs for the shouting just so you won't go deaf. Been to snake holder church. In fact every bit and taste of Christian church flavors and I've been there at least once. Been baptisted twice, comformationed twice. When I walked away form Christianity, I knew what I was doing.

 

He's not coming for the same point as me (shrug).

 


 

What Quaker School, Tigger. There are not too many. I did seven years in a Quaker School (Lincoln).

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 


Nadine wrote:

 


TiggerBear wrote:

 

 

Hmm I have seen it from the inside. I have a grandfather that for 6 years had a radio show and for 8 years had a local newspaper 3rd of the page, on how we were all going to hell and the world was ending midnight 2000. A grandmother who left living as a missionary for evangelicals to be his wife. The other grandmother who was a gospel minister. A mother who was a Salvation minister. A mother in law who won't willingly take her necessary medicine because she thinks any day she will be raptured and because a TV Evangelical dude told her medicine was created by men working for the devil to make you sick. Half of my house is covered in EV merc! Oh and throw in 3 year of Baptist school (pre to K) 6 years of Catholic school (1-6) and 3 of Quakers school (11+) on top of the pile. I've been in churches where you need ear plugs for the shouting just so you won't go deaf. Been to snake holder church. In fact every bit and taste of Christian church flavors and I've been there at least once. Been baptisted twice, comformationed twice. When I walked away form Christianity, I knew what I was doing.

 

He's not coming for the same point as me (shrug).

 


 

What Quaker School, Tigger. There are not too many. I did seven years in a Quaker School (Lincoln).

 


 

Carolina Friends School

 

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Choisya
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

Oh my TB what a tale!:smileysurprised:  Makes me glad I come from an atheist family:smileyvery-happy:.  But why on earth have you become a Wiccan - I would have thought you would have put all forms of religion behind you?

 

You may be amused to know that my younger son, when he was taking his music degree, composed a piece using American evangelicals 'shouting' about hellfire and brimstone between snatches of gloomy orchestral music. For that and another piece for three didgeridoos (!) he received commendations:smileyhappy:.  

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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

I'd like to try again to encourage everyone to give this book a try. I think it is both entertaining and extremely important to understanding the role of evangelicalism in modern America. Even if you think you know everything you need or want to know about the movement, I guarantee you will walk away with lots of things you hadn't known, and you'll have a good time along the way. As part of this encouragement, I'm extending this book discussion another month.

 

In the meantime, some thoughts on Chapters 2.

 

Chapter 2 is all about Christian theme parks (whoops, I mean "living bible attractions." For tax reasons, they can't call them theme parks). Some of you might not have been aware that such a thing existed. Some of you may have read the news articles about them. Some of you might mainly know them from the Simpsons episode.

 

What the author explores mainly in this chapter is the interesting clash that occurs when the presumed authenticity of spiritual experiences are put into the context of the artificial world of a theme park. The viewers of the passion play at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando are genuinely affected in a religious way, and yet even the owners of the theme park are aware that their tall, white Jesus is not likely a particularly accurate depiction. They are intentionally making the experience more artificial in order to make the viewers' experience more genuine, in other words to prevent them from having to leave their religious experience in order to consider new information (Jesus being Middle Eastern, for instance).

 

The strangest example of this he brings up is when several people give money to the fake beggars that are part of the fake Jerusalem street scene. It's a baffling act on the face of it, charity for those who are only pretending to be in need. And maybe it isn't fair to assume that these same people would not give money to a real beggar on a real street, but I suspect that, like most of us, they have learned to just generally walk on by. A woman later tells the author she just liked the feeling of giving. A genuine feeling of charity from a fake act of charity.

 

One other important note from this chapter is the introduction of Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye. He's an example of a very different type of evangelical than the one that we have come to expect. He is resolutely liberal, open to other religions, and believes that what other evangelicals are doing is wrong at best and dangerous at worst. Here's the website for the church he started in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: www.revolutionchurch.com. He, and people like him, are one of the reasons I'd like more people to read this book. These are evangelicals that need more media coverage and influence than they are getting.

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Peppermill
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

One other important note from this chapter is the introduction of Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye. He's an example of a very different type of evangelical than the one that we have come to expect. He is resolutely liberal, open to other religions, and believes that what other evangelicals are doing is wrong at best and dangerous at worst. Here's the website for the church he started in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: www.revolutionchurch.com. He, and people like him, are one of the reasons I'd like more people to read this book. These are evangelicals that need more media coverage and influence than they are getting.

 

 

Huh?   Explain yourself. Are you saying he is walking different footsteps than his parents?  They certainly received a lot of media coverage.


Joseph_F wrote:

I'd like to try again to encourage everyone to give this book a try. I think it is both entertaining and extremely important to understanding the role of evangelicalism in modern America. Even if you think you know everything you need or want to know about the movement, I guarantee you will walk away with lots of things you hadn't known, and you'll have a good time along the way. As part of this encouragement, I'm extending this book discussion another month.

 

In the meantime, some thoughts on Chapters 2.

 

Chapter 2 is all about Christian theme parks (whoops, I mean "living bible attractions." For tax reasons, they can't call them theme parks). Some of you might not have been aware that such a thing existed. Some of you may have read the news articles about them. Some of you might mainly know them from the Simpsons episode.

 

What the author explores mainly in this chapter is the interesting clash that occurs when the presumed authenticity of spiritual experiences are put into the context of the artificial world of a theme park. The viewers of the passion play at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando are genuinely affected in a religious way, and yet even the owners of the theme park are aware that their tall, white Jesus is not likely a particularly accurate depiction. They are intentionally making the experience more artificial in order to make the viewers' experience more genuine, in other words to prevent them from having to leave their religious experience in order to consider new information (Jesus being Middle Eastern, for instance).

 

The strangest example of this he brings up is when several people give money to the fake beggars that are part of the fake Jerusalem street scene. It's a baffling act on the face of it, charity for those who are only pretending to be in need. And maybe it isn't fair to assume that these same people would not give money to a real beggar on a real street, but I suspect that, like most of us, they have learned to just generally walk on by. A woman later tells the author she just liked the feeling of giving. A genuine feeling of charity from a fake act of charity.

 

One other important note from this chapter is the introduction of Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye. He's an example of a very different type of evangelical than the one that we have come to expect. He is resolutely liberal, open to other religions, and believes that what other evangelicals are doing is wrong at best and dangerous at worst. Here's the website for the church he started in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: www.revolutionchurch.com. He, and people like him, are one of the reasons I'd like more people to read this book. These are evangelicals that need more media coverage and influence than they are getting.


"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

 

That is exactly what I mean. He is a liberal evangelical who wants to live the values of charity and humilty, and rejects homophobia and the like. Check out his church's webpage.

Peppermill wrote:

 Huh?   Explain yourself. Are you saying he is walking different footsteps than his parents?  They certainly received a lot of media coverage.


 

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

Chapter 3 is all about the Bible business, which, he points out, is a huge one.

 

The Bible is not only the bestselling book of all time, but the bestselling book every single year, according to the author. That's pretty astounding, especially since, he also points out, most of the audience for the book already own a copy.

 

The trick for the Bible business, then, is to figure out new ways to package this old book that will make people want to keep buying. This is where we get designer bibles, bibles with commentaries from various scholars, bibles aimed at various specific youth demographics (teen girls, skaters, etc.), even bibles designed to match your outfit. Just type "bible" into the Barnes and Noble search, and see how many results you get.

 

Some evangelicals see this is a positive step, that it is a way to get the Bible to people who would otherwise not want to read it. Others see it as a negative, that it is asking the Bible to move towards modern culture rather than asking modern culture to move towards the Bible.

 

What do you think of all these bibles? And the massive amounts of sales they generate?

 

And how many bibles do you own? Personally I own two, a complete Hebrew bible with both the original text and a translation, and then a modern Reform Jewish commentary of just the Torah. I actually don't own a copy of the Christian bible.

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Peppermill
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

The Bible is not only the bestselling book of all time, but the bestselling book every single year, according to the author. That's pretty astounding, especially since, he also points out, most of the audience for the book already own a copy.

 

The trick for the Bible business, then, is to figure out new ways to package this old book that will make people want to keep buying.


And how many bibles do you own?

 

Your comments really made me think.  Thanks!

 

My Bible collection really began to grow about eight years ago when I began studying with a pastor who made a point of introducing us to various versions.  She did Bible study by starting with reading a passage a verse at a time, each person contributing from whatever Bible edition they chose.  Some were firmly wedded to the tradition, poetry, and beauty of the KJV.  Others of us had grown up on the RSV, now replaced by the NRSV.  She would often bring a large Longaberger basket filled with different versions and encourage us to use one from it.  Slowly, or not so slowly, my own collection has grown.

 

While NRSV remains my "standard" and I have paperback editions that I have annotated to link to my audio version, which corresponds to the NSV, as well as a couple of study Bibles (Oxford and Harpers -- my preference is the latter) and a student edition and one small enough to carry easily for study or worship services, certainly my most precious Bible (in sentiment) is one that I can't read: a family heirloom in Danish!  We also have two over-sized illustrated gift Bibles, including the Washburn College edition.

 

But here are some other editions that enrich my studies (about 2 hours/week in a group setting):

 

 

 

TANAKH  Highly respected for its scholarship.  Of course, it does not include what Christians usually refer to as the New Testament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Message, Numbered Edition  Mine is different than this edition, but it is numbered and does include both Testaments.  I like it for Eugene Peterson's use of contemporary language, although it is not truly a translation per se.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Literary Study Bible  This is based on the English Standard Version, which has some especially beautiful English language in some of its books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Jerusalem Bible with Apocrypha, Standard Edition  This is the fine translation used by my Catholic friends.  Although I have a copy, I am not as familiar with it as some others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't think I can find the link, but an edition I use when I want to be a troublemaker in our studies has several (8?) parallel translations of the New Testament, including the very literal NASB.  Since I can't read the original Greek or other languages, they provide the closest I can get via English.

 

So, yes, over time, I certainly have become a part of that target market of those Bible sellers -- even Zondervan.

 

Given the breadth and depth of Biblical stories, I can only hope that a goodly portion of the authors of today and tomorrow continue to be or become familiar with its contents, whether or not they affirm the faiths proclaimed.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy