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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 28, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 28, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Clarity of New Chronological Bible at Question
  • Priest Cracks Code to Methodist Founder's Journal
  • India: Orissa Violence Claims More Lives
  • China Detains Underground Catholic Bishop

Clarity of New Chronological Bible at Question

A new study Bible offers a decided twist on Scripture - publisher Thomas Nelson will release the Chronological Study Bible next month, marketing it as the "only study Bible that presents the text of the New King James Version in chronological order," according to the Christian Post. The edition merges books or lifts them to entirely different places to fit the historical timeline. For instance, the Gospels are condensed into one narrative centered around Mark's order, and Psalm 51 is placed immediately after the story of David and Bathsheba. Many biblical scholars argue the edition twists the Bible's original purpose as holy instruction, a position which the Christian blogosphere mostly echoes. "I do think you do lose something when you start demolishing any book of the Bible," said Richard Hess, professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado, according to The Tennessean. "You lose the literary and theological context."

India: Orissa Violence Claims More Lives

Compass Direct News reports that three more deaths were reported Thursday in the eastern state of Orissa, where a spate of anti-Christian violence began after suspected Maoists murdered Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples on Aug. 23. The number of people confirmed dead has risen to 21 on the fourth day of ongoing violence in Kandhamal district and other parts of Orissa. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that more than 114 anti-Christian attacks have taken place in various parts of the state. “The worst hit are the people in Kandhamal district, where more than 400 churches, more than 500 houses and many Christian institutions have been demolished,” GCIC President Dr. Sajan K. George said in a memorandum to the state governor. Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported that three more bodies were recovered today. One body was discovered from Phiringia area and another from Raikia in Kandhamal. Kandhamal district collector Kishan Kumar told IANS, “A third person was rescued in a critical condition, but died on Tuesday night in the hospital.” IANS reported that the state administration today issued “shoot-at-sight” orders to police in Kandhamal, as “mobs defied curfew, blocked roads and attacked churches and Christian homes.”

Anglican Priest Cracks Code to Methodist Founder's Journal

ASSIST News Service reports that an Anglican priest has finally cracked the code Methodist co-founder Charles Wesley used when writing about sensitive matters in his diary some 250 years ago. Jenna Lyle, writing for Christiantoday.com  says that more than 1,000 handwritten pages dating from 1736 to 1756 have been deciphered by the Rev Professor Kenneth Newport, pro vice-chancellor for research and academic development at Liverpool Hope University. Lyle says the transcribed pages reveal the extent of Charles’ anger with his brother, fellow Methodist founder John Wesley, over the latter’s plans to marry and disagreements over a split from the Church of England. "He was very much opposed to separation, he saw the Methodist Societies as within the established church and anything that smacked of separation was something he took a very strong view of," Rev Prof Newport was quoted by The Telegraph newspaper as saying. Lyle reports the transcribed diary pages will be published together with 9,000 never-before-seen poems and hymns.

China Detains Underground Catholic Bishop

The Associated Press reports that Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, an elderly bishop of an underground Catholic church, is being held by government officials with no word on where or why he was arrested. Jia, 73, was arrested from his church hours before the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Those the AP reached with the public security bureau said they knew nothing about the case. According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, which aims to promote the Roman Catholic church in China, said Jia has been details at least a dozen times since January 2004. Catholics may worship only in government-sanctioned and approved churches in China.