Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Out of the Patch Bible

Out of the Patch Bible. Advertisement.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, Clarence Jordan, founder of a Christian farming community in Georgia, produced the Cotton Patch Bible. The time has now come for an “Out of the Patch” Bible! This is an accurate, readable rendition from the original languages that removes obsolete agricultural references. It utilizes language that is citified, simple and sensible. The modern urbanite knows milk comes from the grocery store and that goats live in a petting zoo. How can we expect even the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth about farms and fields, sheaves and sheep, plows and planting? Never fear, the Out of the Patch Bible is here! Unconvinced? Try these two sample readings: 

Genesis 18:1-7: Once upon a day, a story of an appearing to Abraham
Abraham was cooling under the AC. Three unexpected guests showed up (they must not have had cell phones, for they should have called ahead!). He turned down the music on the MP3, greeted them, and asked them to stay awhile. Then he handed them some ice cold Evian. Abraham told them to chill a spell while he got things ready. He sent his housekeeper down to the corner store with his credit card to get some green tea, bread and cold cuts.

Genesis 2:15-17: the mall of Eden, a creation story
God put Eve and Adam in a shopping mall on the east side of town, to shop to her heart's content. God commanded them, “At every vendor in the food court you may are free to eat: But you may not eat at Krispy Kreme: for someday you will develop diabetes and die -- but for now you will die in a sense because you have disobeyed me.”

Comparing Luke 9:62 in the King James and Out of the Patch Bibles:

  • KJV: And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
  • OUTPV: Jesus said, “No one, having put the pedal to the metal and looking down to text, is fit for the pearly gates (but may get there sooner).”

See? Makes hermeneutics so easy even a kindergartener can do it! First editions, signed, sealed and delivered: $199. (Text me.)


dave b said...

I had to look up this Cotton Patch Bible, and I'm flabbergasted. Found some samples on

"When Jesus was born in Gainesville, Georgia during the time that Herod was governor, some scholars from the Orient came to Atlanta and inquired..."

Oh my. But I wonder why the scholars are still from the Orient rather than just New York city.

R. L. Vaughn said...

The Cotton Patch Gospel is something I have heard about for years, but didn't know anything about. I chose it as the "foil" in my satire simply because of the agricultural reference in the title -- as opposed to the theoretical Bible that removes agricultural references. It may have actually been a distraction from the main point of the satire, which is how ridiculous American Christians have become about needing to have an updated Bible every three or four years.

The Cotton Patch Gospel isn't actually a "Bible," as it is called in the satirical piece (which isn't intended to be accurate), but looks like it is most of the New Testament, less Mark and Revelation. And other portions are omitted (e.g., the first seventeen verses of Matthew, because "this purely historical material has already been well transalted"). The Smyth & Helwys 2012 edition contains this intriguing note: "These translations by Dr. Jordan were based on the Nestle-Aland Greek text, twenty-third edition (1957)." While Clarence Jordan evidently was a scholar who could translate Greek into English, it seems to me to be pressing the edges of language to call this work a translation. It seems as much paraphrase as translation (the Georgia Encyclopedia online in one place calls it "colloquial interpretations").