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In 2010, I featured three posts on the three-year Lectionary: February 22, December 6 and December 7. You can find out more about the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) by examining the ecumenical committee which puts it together.

I try to be fair about the Lectionary, but when I return to it weekly for the Forbidden Bible Verses series, I cannot fathom how or why CCT members over the past 40 years can leave out so many verses. Without them, we lose the significance of Scripture.

How do you know you are hearing a truncated Bible passage if you don’t have a copy of the Good Book in the pew?  Normally, your church bulletin tells you what is being read.  Skipped verses are indicated by a comma or an ellipsis, the three dots which indicate either a pause in dialogue or an omission.

Recently, I was delighted to find out that other voices in the wilderness are pointing out the omissions and how much meaning the passages have when read in full.  To be fair, some priests and pastors read the appointed passages in their entirety, but not enough.  Lectionary supporters say that clergy cannot do everything; it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for his own scriptural education.  But, really, most people think they are getting everything they need on Sundays and, because those readings are sanitised to meet 100% mass consumption (sorry if that offends, but there’s no other way of expressing it), they have no interest in pursuing the Bible further.

That said, I bring you the thoughts of Not Another Episcopal Church Blog, which has several entries on Lectionary edits.  These help to prove that the ellipsis is not always your friend.  (I have added the blog to my blogroll.)

Excerpts follow — please take the time to read the posts in full if you are in any way concerned about Scripture knowledge or the lack thereof!  Different examples are posted each time.  Emphases mine below.

‘O Lectionary, Lectionary, Thou that carves up the words of the prophets and the words of the Lord’:

I suggest to you that the Lectionary is contributing to the delinquency of Sunday pewsitters. It is a clear pattern, and you have to wonder why the people who wrote the lectionary chose to present a watered down version of the Scriptures to the congregations (who do not read the Bible regularly and whose only exposure to the text is likely to be on Sunday morning). My theory has been that the editors do not want to scare people with all that judgement and wrath business (as if they might not come back next week for more). I am beginning to think that there are deeper theological implications of the lectionary edits. How does the revision affect our thinking about things such as repentance, salvation, atonement, sin, judgement, and the might and power of the Lord?

The long term effects of listening to an expurgated Bible every Sunday cannot be healthy.

Maybe that has something to do with the decline of the church.

‘There’s Something Wrong with Our Bloody Lectionary Today’ (emphasis in the original in this entry):

I have heard the excuse that the lectionary shortens some Sunday readings so that the service does not run long. I think we have debunked that myth in the past when it was noted that one or two verses were all that was cut. Just yesterday I was reading an explanation of the Lectionary in the Prayer Book Society’s Spring Quarter 2010 (print version not on-line) of “Mandate,” and while the Rev. Gavin Dunbar gives a capable commentary on the history, weaknesses, structures, and purpose the lectionaries, there was no comment like the one I am about to make about the RCL:

There is a conspiracy to keep you from reading things that might offend the zeitgeist.

… when even an under the radar Bible reader like me notices that the verses that sound easy, sweet, and soothing never seem to be the ones that get sunk, is it any wonder that one’s mind starts questioning the intentions of those commanding the fleet?

This third post addresses missing verses from Revelation, which comprised one of my earliest Forbidden Bible Verses posts.  But don’t miss what Not Another Episcopal Church Blog has to say on the matter in ‘A Warning to the Writers of the RCL’. (RCL stands for Revised Common Lectionary, by the way.)

More Lectionary edits tomorrow

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