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


Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad