Thursday, May 25, 2017

Indian Bible Contains Verses from the Vedas

Thank you to my friend Louis for sharing this link with me.  This is an earlier article, 2008, about the New Community Bible.  Might be an interesting discussion starter, particularly with some comments from my readers who live in India.

From the Times of India:

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Pictures of a turbaned Joseph and sari-clad Mary with baby Jesus in an "Indianised" version of the Bible is set to create waves across the country. In a unique experiment, the Catholic Church is coming out with a version of the Bible with verses from ancient Indian texts like the Upanishads and Vedas to explain the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

This is an unprecedented attempt to encourage a contextual reading and understanding of the Bible, says the church spokesman, Paul Thelakat.

"The Biblical text remains the same but verses from Vedas and Upanishads have been used to interpret Christian teachings," says Thelakat. As far as Catholics are concerned, they have to live and interpret their Christian faith and scriptures within the given culture, he adds.

Continue reading this article here.


Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I am worried about how conservative Hindus will react.

Theophrastus said...

I believe that a revised version that omitted Hindu scriptural quotes and references appeared around 2013.

See for example, this 2009 Canadian newspaper article discussing how the revised edition would remove some of the more daring material.

I am not aware the earlier version is in print; looking at Amazon India, I only see the revised version for sale.

(I have tried but failed to find a copy of the older Indian version for sale.)

Steve Molitor said...

Jerry read the first comments (all I read) on the linked article. I'd say they are not reacting well!

Is there a way to order this bible in the US?

Biblical Catholic said...

Given that Jesus was not born in India and never even visited India, and there was no interaction at all between ancient Israel and India, it is rather absurd to argue that quotations sacred Hindu writings are necessary 'to place the scriptures in their cultural context.'

CWBuckley said...


Don't tell anyone, but I hear that ALL Bibles also include passages from the Torah too!

Mark D. said...

I've got mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm all in favor of drawing links between the Bible and the various cultures in which Christians live -- including the religious traditions of those cultures. One can see St. Paul doing something along those lines in Acts, when he talks to the Greeks about the "unknown God" they worshiped, for example.

On the other hand, we also need to draw a very clear line between what is the true Word of God, and the religious traditions of pagan societies -- religious that contain some truth, no doubt, but which also contain terrible error and in some cases outright evil.

Steve Molitor said...

The linked article is dated Aug 6, 2008. So I think Theophrastus is right, this is old news. This bible may not even be published anymore.

Personally however I think it sounds fantastic. I would love to have a copy. As long as they clearly delineate what is Christian scripture and what is in effect commentary (the verses quoted from Indian scripture), I have no problem with it. Probably not going to be able to find a copy though.

Steve Molitor said...

The article is dated Aug 6, 2008. So I think Theophrastus is right, this is old news. This bible may not even be in publication anymore.

Personally however I think it sounds fantastic. I would love to have a copy. As long as they clearly delineate between Christian script and what is in effect commentary (the quotes from Indian scripture), I don't have any problem with it. Probably not going to be able to find a copy though.

CWBuckley said...

One of the things that made a big impression in seminary was when a professor, talking about the cultural implications of the Gospel, described its impact on Hindu converts.

Beyond merely bridging caste discrimination, as famously practiced by Saint Teresa of Calcutta and her Sisters of Mercy, Christianity also poses a profound theological challenge to Vedic belief.

"He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption for the forgiveness of sins." -Col 1:13-14

To Western ears, this is "merely" another Pauline restatement of our adoption by grace and ultimate slavation.

To Eastern ears, it's a direct challenge to the eternal cycle of death, karma, and reincarnation. As described to me, the spiritual appeal of Christianity to Hindu converts - especially from the lower castes - is that it promises an escape hatch from all that. From a system where no human life has individual value, to one where every individual is a unique creation of infinite value to God. From a system that says your current suffering is the result of karma from your past life, to one that says your suffering is not inherited but transformative. From a system where death will only lead you to another life in an endless cycle based on your decisions in this one, to a system where you are transferred out of the cycle of rebirth entirely as a divine gift and received once and for all into his heaven.

After all, what is the point of baptism to one who initially believes their soul is not created unique, but has lived before and will live again in another body? So, if the the NCB is using Vedic quotations to evangelize, to show how the gospel is the remedy to Vedic thought, it's an entirely valid and necessary point. It's no different than the Book of Hebrews discussing the finer points of temple worship to show how the new Christian form of Judaism fulfills and overturns many of the practices and unquestioned teachings of contemporary temple worship.

rolf said...

I bought a New Community Bible from the Sisters of St.Paul during the LAReligious Ed. Congress a few months ago. It is a blue synthetic cover with a zipper! I actually like this translation quite a bit. It uses the third edition of the Christian Community Bible as its base and edits it from there. There sre many improvements made over the CCB. The notes are a little more historical-critical than the CCB, and in a few locations there are some references to the Hindu religion to help explain a Christian theological concept in terms that a enquirer might understand!

Erap10 said...

Theophastrus! Long time no see! 😃

Deacon Dave said...

Rolf, I have that very same blue zippered New Community Bible and I agree that its very good. I use it rather often though not as my primary edition.

Erap10 said...

I find the yellow cover absolutely atrocious.

rolf said...

I am curious why there was such a need in India to authorize a Catholic edition of the NLT when they already had the New Community Bible? It is not like they needed a more formal translation for use in the Mass or for study, because the NLT may be an even more dynamic than the NCB.

rolf said...

I took my morning walk to Barnes and Noble, I compared the RSV-2CE, The New Community Bible and the the NLT. I did a quick comparison of Psalms 1, 2, 3, 8, 18, 23 and quickly realized that the NLT is quite a bit more dynamic than the NCB! The NLT changes verses into plural to make them more inclusive. The NCB approaches inclusive language more like the NJB does. Now I did not use the NLT- CE, but I don't think the changes would be too different since the NLT-CE will only be used for personal use and not in the Liturgy.

Erap10 said...

That's a good point actually.