A Murder Mystery about . . . Bible Translation?

Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees is the third, and most recent, novel by Daniel Taylor featuring as its protagonist a lapsed former Baptist named Jon Mote, who, at this book’s beginning, has found employment working for a publishing house. In his review, John Wilson classifies Mote as “a low-key 21st-century version of the accidental amateur sleuth” familiar from genre fiction:

When his employers decide that they want a piece of the lucrative if already crowded market for Bible translations, Jon is drafted to serve as a nonvoting member of the committee that will oversee the new translation. “The word is, Mr. Mote, that you grew up among the fundamentalists. Those are your people. We need someone on our side who understands them.” Of course, Jon didn’t grow up among “fundamentalists,” but his bosses aren’t interested in such fine distinctions.

Taylor knows a bit about the business of Bible translation, having served for many years as a consultant on the New Living Translation, working hand-in-hand with biblical scholars. . . . While the committee in Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees differs in many respects from [that] group, the issues that arise in trying to translate the Bible accurately but distinctively (else why yet another version?) are basic to any such project.

Taylor’s novel gives us a sharply satirical and often hilarious account of the jousting between experts with conflicting agendas (not to mention the prime directive of the publisher: what will sell?). But it also asks readers (like me) who believe that the Bible really is “the Word of God” to think carefully about what that entails. . . . And the murders that occur in the course of the novel? The motive for them is timely just now, having to do with the terrible hypocrisy of many who brandish their Bibles and quote Scripture effortlessly. (We’re not like that . . . are we?)

Read more at First Things

More about: Bible, Fiction, Translation

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy