Years ago my Dad and I joked about making custom Bibles like Orange County Choppers makes custom motorcycles. We would use only quality materials and, at least back then, we knew Hebrew and Greek well enough to translate the whole Bible. I’m sure we could do the same now but we’ve gotten a bit rusty.
The proposed goal would be to take orders for custom Bibles which would include verbiage, social/cultural context, as well as questions about what kind of Scriptures you would like in the Bible. If you would like a vernacular derived from the Urban Dictionary, we could do that for you. If you would rather your Bible be in Irish Brogue or the slang of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we could do that too.
If you think the Bible should include the Apocrypha, consider it done. If you think miracles are untenable, consider them omitted. If there are passages of Scripture that you think belong in the Bible or ought to be omitted from the Bible based on your interpretation of the textual evidence found in the apparatus, we would make those adjustments for you. Then you could have a Bible that you really understand; one that fits your definition of sufficient reliability like a glove. No compromises.
And except for the “omission of miracles” option I’m sure most NT academics would consider our custom Bible products to be “sufficiently reliable” texts for leading one to salvation in Christ and to a certain degree of Christian growth and sanctification. So there should be little overall pushback from those who disagree with us.
Of course we find this whole idea of custom Bibles to be abhorrent and so the whole idea was in jest and ultimately in parody of our interlocutors.
In all seriousness though, when I was in Greek class we were encouraged to come up with our own translations and if we wished we could translate the whole NT and make that our NT. Which should be no shocker to anyone. Well known Bible software suites allow the user to do just that. In fact, the CBGM computer tools are geared and made available to preachers and laypersons alike to start such custom work based on the several deliverances of their respective minds. Regarding the CBGM, Wasserman and Gurry write,
“In our experience, scholars, students, pastors, and translators want to know why a part of their Greek New Testament is now different. They naturally want to understand what the change means and why they are being made. They also want to know how they can use the new method in their own work, but they have struggled to understand it.”Wasserman and Gurry, A New Approach to Textual Criticism, 14.
And yet, as I have been observing lately, this is perfectly in line with Expressive Individualism and the rise and triumph of the modern self so masterfully examined and explained by Carl Trueman in his book by the same name. Consider this quote as Trueman delineates the transition in the West from mimetic/structured culture to poietic/performance culture,
“…institutions cease to be places for the formation of individuals via their schooling in the various practices and disciplines that allow them to take their place in society. Instead, they become platforms for performance, where individuals are allowed to be their authentic selves precisely because they are able to give expression to who they are ‘inside.'”Trueman, Rise and Triumph, 49.
This is the position of the academic evangelical mind regarding the versions issue. – If you can, make your own so long as it is sufficiently reliable. The best Bible is the one that makes sense to you, they say. There are many good Bibles out there; read the one you like, it is said. And now, given the CBGM, preachers and laymen are encouraged to come to their own conclusions regarding the data. The Traditional Text argued by Burgon is out. The Ecclesiastical Text as argued by Letis is also out, so is the Confessional Text as argued by Riddle. A standard sacred text is also out. Why?
Because the mimetic world, the world of intrinsic meaning and intrinsic order has been/is being replaced with the poietic world which “sees the world [or Bible translation] as so much raw material [or manuscript evidence] out of which meaning and purpose can be created by the individual [custom Bibles via your own translations or that of a select committee]” .
We may be closer to Orange County Bibles than we originally thought.