Ahoy there, me hearties! Welcome to Bible Pirate.
This all started as an unorthodox fan-project, I being a Bible fan after all. But soon it snowballed into a giant academic adventure! I couldn’t help myself, truth be told, and before you could say “walk the plank!” I’d jumped overboard and was drowning in a sea of translation work. The Unauthorized Version is the result, a pirate project to retranslate the Bible into English.
The Bible Pirate podcast is my attempt to tell an unfamiliar story from familiar (and unfamiliar) texts, using The Unauthorized Version as the translation.
I’ve spent more than 20 years plundering the archives of biblical scholarship. There’s gold a-plenty to be found, but great stores of historical treasure go wasted. The reason, in my experience, is that the Bible is one of the most difficult stories to tell.
The Bible is by far the world’s biggest bestseller. It’s the most translated and widely-read text, and yet it is also one of the most unknown. As a so-called ‘sacred text’, the Bible gets most of its use in religious communities. The thing about sacred texts is that, most of the time, the community that regards them as sacred already has strong opinions about what they can and can’t mean.
The was my world for a long time. I worked for many years within Christian churches and organisations, eventually collaborating all over the world with people who held an extraordinary range of confessional commitments – Roman Catholic Marxists, East Asian Pentecostals, East African Orthodox, and American Evangelicals to name a few. What I found was that, despite wild creative differences, every tradition policed certain meanings from the Bible in quite forceful ways.
Hence the need for some Bible piracy to secure a space for alternatives. This isn’t a project to critique Christian traditions – it’s a project to move beyond them and reclaim life as a Bible-fan. It’s been life-giving to work on it and to find my own voice. I hope you enjoy it!
Matt Valler holds an MA (with Distinction) in Aspects of Biblical Interpretation from the London School of Theology and is currently researching for a PhD in Translation Studies at Queen’s University Belfast. From 2014-2016 he was the global Ambassador for Youth with United Bible Societies, a network of around 150 organisations working in 200 countries. Matt lives in Cornwall, an ancient kingdom colonised by the English and can be found roaming the pirate coast.
Everything I know
is not all there is.
So when the sun goes down
you’ll find me
beyond the horizon
– Abram of Ur