Dear __YOU__,

You can read, and ponder what you’re reading, or you wouldn’t be here presently. Reading is a precious gift. Doing it well, reading between the lines, can be transcendent. (Why was this word chosen, instead of that synonym?) Questioning a text is wise, since a right question is the beginning of wisdom. And words have an array of meanings – which is why literalism contested between readers can result in feeling as though we’re in a combat zone.

In January 2003, as USA was preparing for war in Iraq, I had an epiphany in which I was cautioned not to lose my peace, as war would surely come. But also I learned that the GREAT RED DRAGON described in St John’s apocalypse, Revelation, reveals an aggressive penchant for literalism. 

No one needs to study the writings of Plato or Wittgenstein to realize that interpretation determines experience! How we perceive events shapes what happens. The shaman understands this, as explained in this brilliant set of radio stories. But I digress.

It is with much enthusiasm that I now share with you a simple way of unpacking the words of scripture (a love letter to you!), enabling you to ponder their early meaning. PLEASE NOTE: This scriptural love letter is written to you. Nobody else should presume to interpret it for you! Not your granny, not your pastor or priest. You can do your own thinking, with the help of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit  (– see v.26; many versions can be selected for comparison). And if you are a bible reader who has told others what their love letter says, well, just STOP! Instead of thinking for them, invite them to think by asking leading questions! Does God love your ears and eyes more than those of your friend? (Don’t become like the taliban, who tell others what the Quran says!)

O, that I had these tools when I was in grad school! (NB: To use the linked interlinear translator, enter a word or a verse-address in the LOWER FIELD.) Let me  illustrate, using these familiar verses. Notice that some words at the linked site are blue. They are clickable. When clicked, you will see an array of word meanings from biblical Hebrew or Greek. This gives an idea of the wide variability handy for translators, including you and me. Here is my take on this psalm, based on many years of reflection and study, and now, using the interlinear Bible study tool. Below is what the psalm means to me.


Now you try it!

Now you can translate your own love letters: