Skip to comments.Southern-Style Scripture And Other Technological Leaps Of Faith
Posted on 06/21/2013 7:52:07 PM PDT by Altariel
Its the Good Book like youve never heard it before.
The tech guru at Dallas Theological Seminary has built a web app that translates the Bible into Texan.
But replacing yous with yalls is just one of the faith-based technology projects John Dyers involved in.
Resident KERA Texan BJ Austin had no problem reading John Dyers Texas Bible aloud. In fact, her 'yalls' sounded pretty natural. Thats the idea, and thats also why John Dyers translation app isnt limited to the South.
Im looking at John 15 where Jesus is talking to his Disciples right before he dies. So theres a lot of reference where he says you are the branches and I am the vine but now it says youse guys are the branches and I am the vine, Dyer says.
Enlarge image Credit Courtney Collins / KERA News John Dyer's web app in "ya'll" replacement mode.
The app is truly a choose your own region piece of technology. If you favor the simple you guys, theres a translation for that. Folks from across the pond can sub in you lot, and Old English history buffs can choose the traditional ye.
Dyers office at the Dallas Theological Seminary is clearly the space of a man who loves technology.
He uses a wireless mouse and keyboard to surf on a giant, wall mounted monitor. And there are several shelves in his bookcase devoted to memorabilia like old model cell phones and Viewmasters.
Dyer says invention has always been a part of our religious history; think Noahs Ark and the Tower of Babel.
So you see this all throughout, you even see at the end of the biblical story, theres a city that comes down from heaven full of things people have made, Dyer says. So I think made things play a big role in the way the Bible portrays what humanitys about.
While the bible project was amusing and educational, Dyer has also designed technology for serious missions. He works with a company that brings SD cards loaded with bible software to countries like Iran and North Korea.
It doesnt install on the computer, so theres no software that someone could find afterward, and then it doesnt hit the internet in any way so its not like someone can watch the traffic, so in theory, even the NSA doesnt know what youre doing, says Dyer.
His SD cards are designed to be low-key, but he points to other religious technology thats supposed to make a splash.
Since the King James Version of the Bible is public domain in America, people can alter or add to its text. Theres a Green Bible for environmentalists, the Queen James Bible for the gay community and dozens of others. These custom scriptures are known as Franken-Bibles and are simple to print-on-demand.
A small church could do 100 copies very easily whereas even a decade ago, 100 copies would have been pretty expensive, now its almost nothing, Dyer says.
Not advanced enough for you? How about something that literally syncs your smart phone with the pulpit on Sunday. Yep, theres an app for that.
Dyer says technology will continue to advance and bring the church with it. But one thing he holds sacred is physically going to church.
I think if you were ever to get to the point where you just sat back on Sunday morning and watched TV and that was church? I think that would probably be taking entertainment a bit too far, says Dyer.
Should you be interested in trying the plugin, here it is:
Stupid and silly!
And the author’s rationale here:
Why, Why Did You Make this?
And now heres the fun part. Why in the world would someone do this? Heres a few reasons:
1. For Fun and Joy
I enjoy the programming gifts Gods given me, I like to tinker with the Bible, and I like to learn new programming techniques such as making a browser extension which before this I had never tried.
2. Commentary on The Individual vs. The Community
On a more serious note, it seems that since the Protestant Reformation weve tended to emphasize the salvation of the individual and, with inverse proportion, downplayed Gods work in the Church as a community of people.
There are, of course, many reasons for this, but I think that two technologies (i.e. human inventions) have exacerbated the issue: (a) The technology of the book which encourages us to encounter Scripture textually in isolation rather than orally in a group; and (b) The technology of the English language (again, a human creation) which doesnt have an agreed upon second person plural and therefore discards or hides important biblical data.
I cant do much about the first issue, but the Texas Bible extension does work to overcome the second. Heres a few examples of the human community emphasis in Scripture:
And God said, Behold, I have given yall every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. Yall shall have them for food. (Gen 1:29, tESV Texan ESV)
For I know the plans I have for yinz, declares Yahweh, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give yinz a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, pESV Pittsburgh ESV)
Work out your guyss salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you guys, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-14, usESV)
To me, its a very different Bible and one that tells us something important about the the body of Christ.
3. Commentary on Language
You might notice that in the second example above, the term the LORD has been switched to Yahweh. In English translation, the Hebrew name for God (the four letters YHWH) has been traditionally translated as the LORD (usually in small caps) in an effort to revere the name of God and carry on a a tradition of the Jews not to speak his name
However, I find that outside nerdy academic circles almost no one knows that the LORD (Yahweh) is different from the Lord. What was originally meant as reverence may now actually be unintentionally hiding something important about God himself. This leads to the question: Which is worse, not revering the name of God or not knowing it exists to revere? In the Chrome extension this is an option, so you get to decide.
I, too, want to revere God and his holy name, and yet I also want to take this chance to point out how powerful language itself is in shaping what we see in the world. Just as Adam formed his world by naming the animals, we continually form and reform our world by what we words we assign to it (are you pro-life or anti-choice?). These words are not simple references or tags, they color what we see and what we cannot see.
Bible translators, therefore, have an enormously complex task of trying to transfer whole worlds between cultures and inevitably things get lost in translation. Hopefully, this plugin will offer some options as to what we read.
4. Commentary on Text in the Age of Remixes
Penultimately, I am doing something rather radical here: I am messing with Gods word.
But is it really Gods Word which which I am messing? As weve said, isnt a translation already that but also more?
This means I am only taking the work of translation one step further. But what right do I as an individual have to remix, reuse, and change someone elses hard work? Zondervan/Biblia is free to update the NIV1984 to the NIV2011, but what about me? If I were to publish these changes, I could rightfully be sued. So what have I done exactly?
To answer this question, we must realize that in the Age of the Internet, a text is something very different than it was in the Age of Print. Texts are not fixed entities sitting on shelves, reflecting only the notes and highlights that one person has added. On the web, a text is something more like an oral story from the age before Print, in that anyone can take, change, and edit the text, and then reproduce it.
And yet, I have not even done that. I have only provided the tools to mass produce a change that is stored as data. Ah, what a strange new world in which we live where a text is not a text!
5. Commentary on Scripture Itself
Finally, I am deeply interested in talking about what exactly Scripture is and how mediums contribute to our understanding of them.
Is the Bible, a love letter from Jesus or a storehouse of timeless truths captured in chapters and verses? Is it the very words of God dictated through several different men or does it merely record events of revelation? Does it become revelation as we read it and does it have a single meaning in all ages or multiple meanings that expand with the canon? Is it like other books or it is somehow sanctified and holy? Can a nonbeliever study it the same way Christian do, or does the Spirit have an ineffable role in interpretation? Furthermore, is Scripture it something to be studied, proclaimed, and understood, or does it change us as we hear it spoken aloud in a community? Does any of this change if we hear a scroll read aloud, read a printed book in our own room, scan the text on our phones, or hear it on the radio in a closed country?
However you yall answer these questions, I do hope you yall like the tool, and it helps you yall grow closer to the LORD Yahweh!
Already been done, re: “The Cotton Patch Gospel”
My minister would occasionally read from this to nuance a particular passage.