You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
The Gospel and Epistle readings at Mass following the 1662 Book of Common Prayer are taken from the King James Authorised version of the Bible. However, since language moves on words and phrases sometimes have a different meaning now to that originally intended. Equally, the words and sentence construction it uses can be difficult for the modern reader or listener to understand. No doubt that is why we have such a proliferation of Bible translations in existence nowadays. Perhaps it is no wonder then that the AV - indeed the Bible in general - can be open to misinterpretation or misunderstanding, so that texts may be taken from it to validate an opinion or viewpoint which may not be what the writer intended, but nevertheless appear to confirm the speaker’s viewpoint. Indeed, there are some in our world who use religion as an excuse to treat others terribly; but theirs is no valid religion, despite their frequent claims to be its only authoritative followers.
Of course, it is not only texts from the Bible that can be misinterpreted; how often have you said something only to wish in the same instant that you could take it back? With this modern day dominance of social media, what might have been wiser to think about before publishing is out there for the entire world to see in an instant. And once said or published it cannot be unsaid – the words are out there. Yet many years ago the author of Proverbs was aware of the potential problems when he said: ‘Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity’ Proverbs 21:23 NIV (UK). (The KJV says: ‘Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.’) But, St Paul had the right idea when he wrote his letter to the church at Corinth. Here he said: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal’ 1 Corinthians 13:1(NIV). And that is the key, say what you have to say with love, not hatred or ill-will.
The words of the Bible, whichever version you prefer is as true today as it ever was, we must not forget that but, please, I pray, let us remember the words of the Psalmist: ‘I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”’ Psalm 39:1 (NIVUK).
Think before you write, or speak and pray before you think!
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years