Dear Theological Pea-pickers:

In the bountiful harvest of new translations of Holy Scripture, there has never been one quite like The Cotton Patch Version of Paul’s Epistles by Dr. Clarence Jordan (Association, $2.25 paper). This cotton pickin’, chicken pluckin’ colloquial version moves the locale of Paul’s letters below the Mason-Dixon line and makes the Apostle a hard-hitting, warm-hearted converted Southerner. He addresses letters to Christians in Atlanta (I and II Corinthians), Birmingham (Ephesians), Selma (I and II Thessalonians), the Georgia Convention (Galatians), Washington (Romans), and the Alabaster African Church in Smithville, Alabama (Philippians). Admittedly strained, crude, and at times perhaps inaccurate, this translation of Paul’s ideas (not his words) is an attempt to take the Scripture “out of the stained-glassed sanctuary” and place it “under God’s skies where people are toiling and crying and wondering.”

New Testament scholar Jordan, founder of the inter-racial Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, freely utilizes modern situations in the South to communicate appropriate mood and meaning. Jews and Gentiles are seen as whites and Negroes; the crucifixion becomes a lynching; “eating meat sacrificed to idols” is translated as “working on Sunday.” Occasionally Jordan puts rough words in Paul’s mouth: “So what are we advocating? ‘Let’s wallow in sin so more grace may pour forth?’ Hell, no! How can we who died in sin still live in it?” (Washington 6:1). He refers to “the Man of Tyranny, the damned bastard, who opposes and lords it over everything called God or sacred; in fact, he sits in God’s house and claims that he himself is God” (II Selma 2:5). Robust language, that’s what I like about the South!

The Cotton ...

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