Cotton Patch Gospel

May 25, 2011

This quarter, I have taught Sunday School using the Cotton Patch Gospel, a translation the New Testament that situates Jesus in Georgia in the 1960s. Written by Clarence Jordan, who had a Ph.D. in Greek New Testament, this version helps illuminate the scriptures by putting them in a context that is more understandable and making them fresh again. Jordan is also known for founding Koinonia, a racially inclusive Christian farm and community--which was particularly radical when he started it in 1942. Millard Fuller was inspired by his time at Koinonia to start Habitat for Humanity. The Cotton Patch Gospel is great for both those who do not know the Bible well (since it often makes more sense than the New Testament does for those who do not understand the references to issues and places in Israel 2,000 years ago) and for those who grew up in the church and know the Bible well (because it makes us think about the passages again instead of just assume we already know it). There is even a hilarious musical Cotton Patch Gospel (with music by Harry Chapin), which we are watching the final two Sundays this quarter. The Cotton Patch Gospel and other writings and sermons by Jordan are challenging as we are confronted with how to live out our faith today.

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