SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN the week of May 12 that hasn't happened in nearly 100 years. The Bible Lesson "Mortals and Immortals" that will be studied that week and read in churches on Sunday, May 18, will contain passages in the Golden Text and Responsive Reading from a Bible translation other than the King James Version. The Golden Text will be from the New International Reader's Version, and the Responsive Reading will be from the New International Version.
I'd like to share with you how this came about and the thinking that is behind the Publishing Society's decision to occasionally use Bible translations other than the King James Version. And please note—this will only be done occasionally in the Golden Text and Responsive Reading. The main text of the Lesson will still use the King James Version.
About five years ago, the Bible Lesson Committee asked me to research the early Bible Lessons from 1898 until 1916. I looked at the total number of sections, number of citations within sections, total number of citations in the Lesson, as well as the use of different Bible translations in the Golden Text and Responsive Reading.
There was great variety in the way the Lessons were compiled. The number of sections varied from four long to eight short ones; often there were more than five citations from each book in a section; and, on occasion, another Bible translation was used in the Golden Text and Responsive Reading, while the body of the Lesson remained in the King James Version.
After reviewing Mary Baker Eddy's correspondence and the early Lessons, we realized that, on the infrequent occasions when she was in touch with the Bible Lesson Committee, her comments dealt with metaphysical content, not with issues such as what Bible translation was used or how many sections or citations were in the Lesson.
In light of this review, the Trustees of the Publishing Society agreed to lift some of the Bible Lesson Committee's guidelines that had not been in place during Mrs. Eddy's time, but which had grown up over the years since. In a letter to the Trustees concerning these changes, the Committee wrote: "The force of spiritual inspiration should wing our lessons to rouse the human consciousness to awaken to the universality of God's law that triumphs over sin, disease, and death. Our Lessons are ordained to be a living power of healing and blessing in our church services, in the lives of individuals that read them, and in our precious world."
The Bible Lesson Committee is finding (just as their predecessors did) that a different translation can sometimes convey a fresh sense of a specific verse in a Golden Text or Responsive Reading. For example, in the "Love" Lesson for January 27, 1901, the Golden Text was from the Revised Version for First Corinthians 13, so that the word "love" was used instead of "charity."
In June 2005, the Christian Science Board of Directors published an article in the Journal entitled "Christian Science Bible Lessons and the King James Version." Referring to other Bible translations, the article stated: "Occasionally, Mrs. Eddy quoted from these contemporary Bibles in her published writings. One of the best known of these quotes is in the 'Cross and Crown' emblem on the cover of Science and Health: 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.' The emblem, taken from Matthew 10:8 of the Revised Version, is on all Mrs. Eddy's other writings as well, and appears in all the religious periodicals she founded. In another significant departure from the King James text, Mrs. Eddy chose the American Standard Version wording of Mark 4:28 for the motto of the newspaper she founded, The Christian Science Monitor: "First the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.'"
Please join us in loving and supporting the May 12–18 Lesson, "Mortals and Immortals," as well as all of the upcoming Christian Science Bible Lessons as they continue to unfold "new views of divine goodness and love" to seekers for Truth around the world (Science and Health, p. 66).