1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a Biblical text? I'm not really sure, but I have to say that "The Good Shepherd Bible Story Book" was probably the source. The cover was Frances Hook's illustration to the right. My mother would come into our room and sit on the end of one of our bed's. (We took turns... bed 1, bed 2, bed 3...) Then she would read us one of the stories before we said our prayers and went to sleep.
2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? The NRSV is my favorite for its scholarship. Sometimes I miss wording from the RSV because it was the translation of my childhood.
3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage? See what love the Father has for us that we should be called children of God- and so we are." I John 3:1. I also am especially fond of Jonah and the gospel of Mark.
4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Okay, so first of all I want to defend my man Martin. This is from a longer article by James Swan
"... this quote only appears in Luther's original 1522 Preface to the New Testament. After 1522, all the editions of Luther's Bible dropped the "epistle of straw" comment, along with the entire paragraph that placed value judgments on particular biblical books. It was Luther himself who edited these comments out.
It is true Luther had a contextual problem with the content on James. He saw a contradiction between Paul and James on faith and works. Some conclude Luther missed the harmonization between these two Biblical writers, but this isn't true either. Luther's great biographer Roland Bainton pointed out, "Once Luther remarked that he would give his doctor's beret to anyone who could reconcile James and Paul. Yet he did not venture to reject James from the canon of Scripture, and on occasion earned his own beret by effecting reconciliation. 'Faith,' he wrote, 'is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith' " [Here I Stand, 259].
Having said that, I really think that if you are patient and if you are willing and if you are kind- all of the books make for good cradles for Christ.* All of them have something to say about God's goodness and grace.
5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral? I learned this one best from my dad who once said that if the language used for proclaiming the Word made someone feel left out of the good news, then we need to make a change. I am for inclusive language by all means. But I am also for serious scholarship, accurate translations and language which calls to mind all of the wonders of God. Inclusive does not mean deadly dull and neutered.
Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart? Like a lot of Lutherans, Psalm 46 has a special place in my heart.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
After a long dark period, I found Psalm 13 which spoke to something in my soul.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes....
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
And then there's 150. A shout and dance and join the band kind of song!
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
*Another Luther quote which says that the Bible is the cradle in which we find the Christ child. It is the book in which we find God's Word.