| Tired of Christianity Lite?
In a hard world, we need real answers. The Way of
Wisdom: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of
Solomon is a fresh translation of the Bible’s Wisdom
books, the deepest truth there is. Long before TV,
psychologists or the internet, God’s Word spoke to the
deepest longings of our heart. God showed us how to
succeed in life.
The Way of Wisdom has nothing to do with fads or
theories. There is nothing “pop” about it. Instead, God
shows us through it who we are, what life is about, and
how we can live it well.
These four works from The Bible – Job, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon – offer us
better advice than any other source could ever hope to.
Job shows us what a human being is and where our
comfort comes from. Proverbs teaches us how to
succeed, whatever our path may be. Ecclesiastes
teaches us what lasts and what doesn’t. The Song of
Solomon shows us what true love is all about.
“What really pleases me as I read your translation is the
way you have set it up and the beautiful way in which you
have caught the essence of each verse with elegant
English (simple and understandable).”
– Rev. Dr. Robert Gartman, Texas.
Who: John Cunyus, an ordained Disciples of Christ
minister, is translating the Old Testament from Biblia
Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem, the Latin-language
Bible, into contemporary English. John, a graduate of
Rice, TCU, and Pacific Western Universities, is the author
of several books. He publishes the website, www.
JohnCunyus.com, and a blog, “Rolling the Wheel.”
What: The Way of Wisdom: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,
the Song of Solomon is a translation of the wisdom
literature from the Bible, shared in common by Jews,
Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox.
When: Saint Jerome translated the Bible into Latin from
the original languages, Hebrew and Greek, between 382
and 405 of the Common Era.
Where: Jerome’s translation, done in Jerusalem, became
The Bible of the Roman Catholic Church for over 1,000
Why: Ad maiorem dei gloriam.
“To the greater glory of God.”
How to Present This Material
A Typical Program
The best approach is to read the books aloud, several
chapters at a time, over a period of several sessions.
This allows those present to hear them the way Jesus and
his contemporaries would have, orally and in their
Typically, classes would include informal sharing, an
opening prayer, twenty to thirty minutes of reading, then
discussion. The class could then close with a prayer.
An abridged, one session program:
Introduction to the Translation
Reading from Job: Chapters 1, 2, 13, 14
Reading from Proverbs: Chapter 1, 8, 14
Reading from Ecclesiastes: Chapter 1
Reading from Song of Solomon: Chapter 2.
John is available to present the material, if you would
like. He has given presentations in 47 churches in 14
States during his active ministry. John does not accept
payment from churches for speaking, beyond
reimbursement for duly-noted expenses.
Contact John Cunyus
How Did This Translation Come About?
I spent twenty years as a Protestant minister, serving
congregations in Texas. When that ended in July, 2005, I
was so hurt and so angry I almost lost my faith entirely. I
felt cut off, abandoned, cast out by the church. During
that period, I passed “through waterless places seeking
rest; and finding none,” as Jesus said in Luke 11:24.
Looking back, I suppose there were only two reasons I
didn’t give up on faith and church entirely. My Sunday
School class, the Sojourners at Central Christian Church
in Dallas, was so relentlessly accepting and loving toward
me that I couldn’t let them go. My dear friend since
college, Myles Hall, wouldn’t let me let go of the Christian
commitments I’d had since childhood. I can’t say I
appreciated either of them for it at the time.
In late 2007, still struggling to hold on, I began writing a
book on Buddhism. Buddha’s words kept reminding me
of Ecclesiastes, a difficult little book from what Christians
call “The Old Testament.” As I worked, I thought to myself
(often sarcastically), What would Christian faith look like if
it started with Ecclesiastes, instead of Genesis?
When I finished A Path Beyond Suffering: Working the
Buddhist Method, I felt compelled to find out. I began
working my way laboriously through the Latin version of
Ecclesiastes. I chose the Latin, in part, because I hadn’t
studied Hebrew since seminary in the mid 1980s. I
considered working through it in Greek, as I often had
done with New Testament texts. But I wanted the fresh
perspective of a language that was new, to me at least.
As I translated, I felt an increasingly heavy burden on my
heart. I would have said, during my former life as a
minister, that God was calling me back to Himself. But I
didn’t want to go back. I was still angry. I had come to
see so much of Protestant church life as self-centered, a
cult of personality around pastors and buildings, bearing
little resemblance to the biblical faith.
Yet a contrarian little voice in my head was insisting ever
more loudly that, yes, one’s faith could begin with
A turning point in my journey came when my interest in
Latin led me to a Latin-language Tridentine Mass at St.
Thomas Aquinas Church, the parish in my neighborhood.
I’d known about the service for years and told myself for
years that one day I would attend. I hadn’t, because they
insisted on holding it at 6:30 in the mornings!
One night, in the midst of translating Ecclesiastes, with
family out of the country visiting other family, I told myself I
would go the following morning, if I woke up in time. I
woke up early, tried to roll back over and go back to
sleep, and found I couldn’t. Lying there, I said to myself,
‘Well, I can stay in bed, or I can take a shower and go to
I grumbled, got out of bed and went to church. I
understood perhaps four words of the entire liturgy. The
priest, as is customary in the Latin rite, said the service
facing away from the congregation, toward the altar and
crucifix. Yet one thought hit me like Job’s tornado: this
service wasn’t about the worshipers! The service wasn’t
about the priest, the congregation, the preaching, or
anything else. It was about God. That realization rushed
over me like a flood. I found myself praying, pouring out
my heart to God, as I hadn’t been able to in years. I
experienced peace, a rootedness in God, that I had
sorely missed during my time in the waterless places,
seeking rest and finding none.
I have been working on translations of the Latin Old
Testament since. Whether they ever touch anyone else,
they have already touched my heart beyond description.
August 10, 2008
|Words, Images, and
©2008 John G. Cunyus
All Rights Reserved
John Cunyus is a
working in North Texas.