H.R. Bill 535: Year of the Bible in Pennsylvania

Posted by By at 1 February, at 07 : 57 AM Print

The legislature is in session. Here are some things the legislature WILL NOT be passing.

  1. A tax on the natural gas at a rate of 39 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of gas and that 100% of the tax money goes toward schools, roads, and the protection of the environment. Keep in mind, coal, oil, and gas companies made three quarters of a trillion dollars in profits last year. With profits like that, there is no such thing as job killing energy tax. However, what is quite probable is the existence of job killing energy profits.
  2. Restoration of the $550,000,000 in basic education cut from the budget.
  3. Eight year term limits on legislators, the same as on a governor.
  4. A repeal of the law that gives the legislature, governor, and judges an automatic pay raise every December 5th.
  5. A repeal of the gold-plated Cadillac health care plan for the legislature, governor, and judges while 41,000 people living in the Commonwealth have been kicked off adultBasic health care coverage. Keep in mind, Capital Blue Cross made a profit of $72,000,000 this year and Highmark made $463,000,000 in profit, there were bonuses paid to the CEOs and contributions made to Gov. Corbett’s election campaign.
  6. A resolution demanding that Gov. Corbett stop using tax payer money to invalidate Tom the National Affordable Health Care Act until a state affordable health care act has been enacted.
  7. A uni-cameral legislature of 100 people, with the districts chosen by a non-partisan panel.
  8. A redistricting process that is based on something other than returning Republican incumbents to office.
  9. Speaking of redistricting, restore transparency on decisions such as redistricting. It might also be a great.
  10. Speaking of transparency, restore the same number of minority members to House and Senate committees that had been the case before January 2011.
  11. Support a constitutional amendment that prevents a candidate from taking political contributions from companies doing business in the Commonwealth.


Here is something the legislature WILL be passing.


House Resolution No. 535, printer’s No. 2938.


Declaring 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania. 2

WHEREAS, The Bible, the word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people; and WHEREAS, Deeply held religious convictions springing from the holy scriptures led to the early settlement of our country; and WHEREAS, Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; and WHEREAS, Many of our great national leaders, among them President Washington, President Jackson, President Lincoln, President Wilson and President Reagan, paid tribute to the influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as exemplified by the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests”; and WHEREAS, The history of our country clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the scriptures in the lives of individuals, families and societies; and WHEREAS, This nation now faces great challenges that will test it as it has never been tested before; and WHEREAS, Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people;  therefore be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of both the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.

Sounds like something a pastor with over 25 in the parish ministry in Pennsylvania could get behind, right?  Most certainly. PROVIDED, it is the right Bible.

Is the right Bible the Roman Catholic Bible which includes the books of 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirach, Baruch, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and 1 and 2 Maccabees? Most Protestants don’t include any of these books in their Bible, and, besides, chapter 4 of Jesus ben Sirach has all that Socialist stuff in it such as “My son, deprive not the poor of his living, and do not keep needy eyes waiting. Do not grieve the one who is hungry, nor anger a man in want.  … Do not turn your face away from the poor.” Better not use the Catholic Bible.

Or is the right Bible, the Protestant Bible which states emphatically that none of those books are canonical. If we use the Protestant Bible, we’ll anger the Catholics. Maybe we can talk the Protestants into accepting some of the books such as fun stuff in Judith 6 where Judith hacks off Holofernes’ head with only two blows. Actually, it’s not a good idea to use the Catholic or Protestant Bible because there’s all that Socialist nonsense about loving your neighbor as your self and Dives, the rich guy who goes to hell man because he doesn’t love the poor man Lazarus. We also need to omit other parts such as “It is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle, than it is for him man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Of course the congregation of Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, founded in Philadelphia in the 1740s, might have a different view of what is in the Bible. But there’s that pesky problem again – the Torah is loaded with talk about loving the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the illegal aliens called sojourners. There is also this Hebrew word “hesed” which means loving kindness and it peppered all over the place. Then there’s the dreadful prophet Amos, calling rich women beef cattle. “Hear this, you cows of Basham, .. who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming when they shall take you away with hooks.” That’s not very nice. Neither is the f-word in Jeremiah 3:2.

Even if we agree upon which Bible to use, there is the problem of translation. Jesus the Jew spoke Aramaic; the New Testament, written by gentiles, is entirely in Greek.  And the Greek text we do have has to have a thing at the bottom of each page called the critical apparatus giving all the variant Greek readings such as the most ancient versions of the gospel of Mark ending at 16:8 in what appears to be midsentence.  The critical apparatus also tells us that the story of the woman taken in adultery appears in lots of places besides John 8:1-11.

There are other problems. Should we use the Septuagint or the Masoretic text? Should we rely on the St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate or Codex Vaticanus, or Sinaticus? If it’s an English translation, should we rely only on the King James Version or use the Geneva Bible, the Bible used by the Pilgrims? If we do rely on the KJV, do we care that King James was a homosexual? Do we care that the marriage vows from the English book of Common Prayer sates, “Until death us do part,” but these words are never included in Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act? We have a huge German heritage in Pennsylvania. Is it Debts or trespasses? Vater unser or unser Vater?

Perhaps some legislators may reach a compromise. Since we can’t use the Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish Bible, and since H.R. No. 535 quotes the Founding Fathers, why not use Jefferson’s Bible? Oh, that’s right, more Socialist stuff again.  Karl Rove and Ayn Rand are not gonna not like it.

Here is an idea for H.R. No. 535. Put down your Rand and your Rove, both avowed atheists by the way, and read whatever is in your Bible. I don’t care if it is Catholic, Protestant, Hebrew scripture, or written in Latin, Greek, English, or Aramaic. No matter which one you read, you will find kindness, love, acceptance of others who are perceived to be different from you, help for the poor, grace, mercy, and peace. Then, after you have read it, go and do likewise. Pass some legislation to provide health care for all not just some and then pass some more legislation that restores the money for schools for our children by taxing the Marcellus shale. I can’t think of a better way for legislators to honor the Bible.

Photo by GeoWombats
This post was written by:
- who has written 29 posts for Rock The Capital
The Rev. Timothy Dewald was Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Lebanon Valley College joining the faculty in 1989. He retired in May 2010. In 1993 he won the College's Evelyn J. Knisley award for Inspirational Teaching. In addition to teaching mathematics, Rev. Dewald served the College in 1992 as acting chaplain, taught courses in East Asian religions, a First-Year Seminar on Darwin and evolution, Einstein’s general relativity, and the New Testament, as well as a mathematics and statistics courses. He also served as a parish minister for 23 years. Rev. Dewald graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in political science and religion. He earned a master of divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1987, he received certification in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University. - Email Timothy Dewald

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