What is Timshel and Why I am Writing it
Hi! My name is Bonnie, and I am writing a new Bible translation. Even though I have my Masters of Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, have been in a pastoral role for the past 5 years and am a theologian, I have always had a hard time connecting with the Bible on a personal level. The characters of the Bible often seemed idealistic to me and many of the interpretations of the text were shallow and hard to identify with.
Timshel translation is for those who feel spiritually homeless or on the fringes of the Christian map. It is for you and for me and for all of us who are in process and need a new way to experience Jesus. It is for all of us who have ever picked up the Bible and wanted ore context and information because it can be hard to understand. Timshel is for those of us who believe that Scripture is alive and beautiful and want to find new meaning inside of it. It is a new way to read the Bible that sets the stage for creative interpretation, questions, wrestling and dialogue.
The Bible is about what it means to be human and how God interacts with us along the journey.
When I preach and speak at churches, I dive deep into the text we are discussing and look at it from every angle: the historical and cultural background, word studies in the original language, commentaries on the passage at hand, the way the passage fits within the whole Biblical narrative, and the literary genre of the book. Looking at all these different parts of the text allows us to understand the text and the characters through a deeper dimension, by understanding how their lives and circumstances affected them on a very personal level.
Each time I share the passages through this new lens, people always tell me it was "something they never heard before" or that it "woke something up inside of them." I believe that the Bible has something to say to all of us, but not just how we are to live.
The Bible is a collection of poems, letters, and stories of different literary genres that have historical data, and meaning found in the original language. Timshel translation combines these intellectual disciplines with the historical and cultural vernacular. Timshel brings out the emotions, thoughts, struggles, triumphs, and psychological journeys that the Biblical characters are going through. These efforts create a Bible translation in which readers can find a point of connection to their own inner journeys and personhood.
The Product and the Process
Timshel translation is a collection of 20 different Bible passages translated in a whole new way. To mirror the beauty and depth of the Bible itself, we have decided to print this translation to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.
Designer and artist, Katie Noel, who designed our logo, will also be creating a limited edition book cover. Her design will be foil stamped as seen in the mockup:
The softcover editions will include the exclusively designed book cover, foil stamped and expertly put together. The cover and pages are of finest quality and the dimension of the book reflect that of a novel so that it is easy to carry with you.
The hardcover edition of the book will include the exclusively designed cover foil stamped on hand-woven linen fabric. The cover and pages are of finest quality and the dimension of the book reflect that of a novel so that it is easy to carry with you. Each book is expertly sewn and handmade.
Each of these editions will also include limited edition 20 pieces of artwork on colored, glossy paper, that reflect the new themes of each story found in Timshel.
If this project gets fully funded, I will be translating the following 20 passages* of the Bible:
- Creation: Genesis 1:1-4:9
- Tower of Babel: Genesis 11
- Binding of Isaac: Genesis 22:1-23:2
- The Exodus: Exodus 7:1-14:31
- The Shemah: Deuteronomy 6
- Psalm 23
- Proverbs 31
- The Land of Dry Bones: Ezekiel 37:1-5
- The Fall of Jericho: Joshua 6:1-27
- The Seven Woes: Matthew 23:1-39
- Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30
- Word Became Flesh/Birth of Jesus: Matthew 1-2/Luke 1-2/ John 1:1-18
- Nicodemus: John 3:1-21
- Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman: Luke 7:36-50
- Mary and Martha: Luke 10:38-42
- Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
- Jesus and the Adulterous Woman: John 7:53-8:11
- Death and Resurrection of Lazarus: John 11:1-44
- Death and Resurrection of Jesus: Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21
*The exact verses of these passages are subject to change, and due to the literary genre of some passages, not all verses will be translated directly, or as in the case for the Birth of Jesus narrative, more than one book will be combined to form a more complete angle.
I will be doing the translating, but will be working with a Psychologist and Creative writer, Kyle Horst, as well as professional editor, Jeremy Armstrong, and graphic designers to assist in the creative process as well as fine-tuning all of the writing elements.
Our timeline is to have two passages translated on average every month, giving ourselves 10 months for the writing and editing process. We then have up to four months in the schedule for proofing, printing, and shipping so the books will be in your hands by February 2020, one year after the completion of this campaign!
How it Will Read
In order to understand our work process as a team, as well as give you a sample of what this translation will read like, we have completed one our chosen passages from the Old Testament and provided you with the text. Below you will find Genesis 22:1-23:1, "The Binding of Isaac" from Timshel translation. We suggest you read this story in your standard translation first for an accurate juxtaposition.
"The Binding of Isaac", Genesis 22:1-Genesis 23:1, Timshel
22 Years after Abraham had moved to Canaan and had the promise of his son fulfilled in Isaac, an ethereal voice called out to him in a dream. Abraham believed the summons came from Elohim, one of the pagan gods he worshiped, a god whose voice he heard when he left Ur. Yet, unbeknownst to Abraham, the pagan gods had remained silent, and it was Yahweh who spoke. Yahweh yearned to uncover Abraham’s ancestral convictions—to figure out what he still clung to and what he was willing to leave behind. He was measuring Abraham’s faith while Abraham was intent on discerning Elohim’s place in the divine hierarchy.
“Abraham, Father of Multitudes! Are you with me?” came the resounding voice. Although dreaming, Abraham responded, “Yes. All of me is here. I am not distracted or divided. I see you, and I hear you.” 2 Yahweh brought a request to Abraham, one to which He gave Abraham complete free will to accept or deny, “Please, take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” 3 On waking from the dream, Abraham, father of, actually, only one—rose with the sun and saddled his donkey. He did not question Yahweh or dispute this request. Deliberately and precisely he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and with two servants and his son, he went to the place where Yahweh directed him.
4 The trip’s weight burdened Abraham, and despite—or perhaps because of—his free will in the matter, he moved slowly with his eyes down. His journey was equally both inward and onward. Neither Isaac nor Abraham spoke along the path; for three days they traveled in silence, each playing the impending events in their minds. While Abraham believed in child sacrifice and its ability to grant favor, the weight of its now-personal consequences clung to him while he hauled this internal conflict up the mountain.
At the same time, Isaac dutifully took a path he had traveled many times before: the gods called, and he went. Both of them understood sacrifice as an offering of the devout, a plea for respite in times of distress—a universal acknowledgment of the gods’ rite over the first fruits of a human’s labor. All reasons justified and deserving, yet with no clarity for the rationale of the impending ceremony. On the third day, Abraham arrived at the place Yahweh had directed him.
Capitulation to the gods had plagued him his entire life up until this point. Abraham always operated within an inherited belief system, yet the voice of Yahweh was different—Yahweh asked for connection instead of submission. Never born strictly out of obedience, true righteousness is begotten from mutual and worthy expectations. Abraham followed the voice of Yahweh out of Ur and into Canan; he left his tribe and family to do what this god said. But today, with his son on the altar the unique, intimate, voice of Yahweh left Abraham wrestling.
Since Abraham left Ur, Yahweh’s interaction with him functioned in the realm of kinship—a new set of beliefs marked by partnership between God and a human being. Abraham burned with great faith, but his faith was better defined as an active movement—a journey. Since encountering Yahweh, each sacred stage of life stretched and pulled his faith. Far from the old ways, this new faith was constantly redefined as he learned what fit and what didn’t, who Yahweh was and who he wasn’t. The old system sufficed until he himself held crying parents in his arms and carried dead children to their graves. Then the ways of his ancestors faltered in his heart, but they even still had a grip on him. Abraham desperately wanted to leave these ways behind but he needed divine permission to do so.
The place where the sacrifice would occur came into view, and Abraham feared his old convictions would outrun his new pace. All rituals eventually become predictable and unvarying, and the steps ahead were clear: he would walk, worship, and build the altar, as was expected for a sacrifice. However this time, he would be giving his own test, as well. It was a trial to both himself and Yahweh, a type of quest for identity and character. Abraham was a man too focused on righteousness and faithfulness to disobey, but he desperately needed absolution on this particular sacrifice. His faith preservation required Yahweh to speak once again and confirm the relationship, as well as the justice, love, and mercy he had suspected.
He needed Yahweh to show up—to meet him on the mountain and stop the prevailing inequity he’d known for so long. Without Yahweh’s divine interception, he feared he would go through with the sacrifice—a choice that would unearth his darkest corners, never to be buried again. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together, as one mind, like father, like son. 7 And Isaac said to his father, “Daddy!” In the midst of Abraham’s search for truth, Isaac searched for the man he knew Abraham to be: his dad. “I see you, and I hear you,” Abraham responded. Isaac revealed his own awareness when he asked the obvious question: “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb?”
8 With sorrow, Abraham answered, “Yahweh will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” Walking side by side, their steps weighted by difference, experience, and perspective, Abraham was never more aware of how alike the two had become. As modeled by his father, Isaac loyally followed him up the mountain. So they went, both of them together—like father, like son.
9 When they came to the designated place, Abraham built an altar, laid the wood in the proper order, bound Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Isaac did not resist because Abraham had raised him to believe his own existence was disposable if the gods demanded it. Their religion depended on this ultimate possibility. Isaac did not argue. His silence was excruciating. Like father, like son.
10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to sacrifice his son. 11 A combination of betrayal, horror, and blind devotion to his father rose to the surface in Isaac. Suddenly, the angel of Yahweh called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham! Father of Multitudes!” Breathless and covered in sweat, Abraham could barely get the words out, “Here I am.” At the same moment, Isaac gasped and released the breath he held as if full lungs would have blunted the knife.
12 At that moment the angel said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him.” The holy permission Abraham needed so desperately had come! The blessing to break ancient ways! Yahweh had seenhim and heardhim—heard his innermost thoughts, traced his conflicts and held them with care when they ebbed and flowed. He never left Abraham’s side. He journeyed with him, talking to Abraham in the sacrificial language he would know and understand. It was a stark contrast to the moral fiber of the pagan gods: Yahweh would never ask his worshipers for their firstborn son. 13 And Abraham lifted his eyes and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. With a thud, the knife hit the ground and Abraham severed the cords that bound Isaac, who collapsed in his arms. Then Abraham seized the ram to replace his son.
14 So Abraham named the mountain, “Yahweh will provide.” And it is called, even to this day, “On the mount of Yahweh it shall be provided.” Yahweh had provided much more than a ram that day. Abraham and Yahweh had encountered one another on the mountain, willing to put the other on trial for the sake of a new direction. Yahweh acted in a way Abraham yearned for and needed—a compassionate measure to put his former beliefs to death and raise new ones to life. Yahweh provided pardon where there once was death, forgiveness where there once was shame, and grace where there once was demand. Instantly the old ways of worship were made obsolete. The new day had arrived.
15 And the angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “Your character has been made clear to me, and mine has been made clear to you. I do not resemble the gods of your past. While the other gods ask for your children, I have saved Isaac and will bless you with more. 17 I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have listened to my voice and heard my heart.” 19 Abraham and Isaac returned to the young men who accompanied them on their journey, and they all arose and went together to Beersheba.
Father and son had much to discuss—to forgive. Pain, betrayal, hurt, and confusion plagued Issac, and the journey home gave appropriate space. Unraveling beliefs marked the odyssey down the mountain, which from there would spread out to the infinite. Like father, like son, they began the process of grief, evolution, and eventually celebration. Finally, freedom belonged to them! And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
23 Upon Abraham and Isaac’s arrival, Sarah could not be found. She had gotten word of the purpose of Abraham’s trip and could not bear to live a life without her son. 2 Moving to Kiriath-arba (Hebron) Sarah grieved the loss of her son, the betrayal of her husband and the resulting state of her broken marriage. She rued the barbaric ways of the gods, and the many years she had spent in devotion to them. Her grief was too much to bear, and she died of a broken heart. Abraham received word of her death and went to weep for her. His anguish forever altered his existence. With his new faith still expanding, he had another piece to consider: Yahweh intervened on the mountain to deliver Isaac, but where was Yahweh to rescue Sarah?
We are excited about each of these rewards and have worked hard to curate a collection that reflects the project!
Limited Edition Artwork
Artist Michael Petrila will be creating an exclusive and limited edition piece of art that depicts the overarching theme of Timshel and narrative of the Bible. Michael excels in blending modern and historic elements, which is exactly what Timshel is all about. This piece will be made once the project is fully funded, but you here are two samples of his work to get an idea of his style.
First Draft with Editor Markups
For the book nerd and writing curious in all of us, we've decided to give you an exclusive look at the writing process by providing a first draft of one of the stories with all of the editor's mark ups. This will be a digital download, but it will be fun to compare how the draft began and where it ended up.
For those that need a copy of Timshel on their phone or tablet. We've got you covered.
Exclusive Audio Conversations
One of our goals with Timshel is that because of the unique nature of this translation, it opens up dialogue, wrestling, questioning and...more dialogue. We believe that the Bible should be looked at from different angles, pondered and discussed. To help demonstrate this and give a bit more inside information to the eager ones in the bunch, we will be recording exclusive audio of our Editorial team discussing the many layers of some of the passages.
Author at Your Event
In addition to being an author and theologian, Bonnie Lewis is also a preacher and public speaker. Have her come to your event or conference. While she is open to different topics, here are a list of suggested topics:
- What is the purpose of the Bible and how should we use it?
- Biblical interpretation and reflection
- Exegesis on specific passages
- In-depth discussion on new way to interpret the text
- How to navigate an evolving faith
- Other topics open to collaboration.
Timshel Team at Your Event
It's the perfect sceanrio for a writing conference, art and theology, panel discussion, Biblical interpretation, or evolving faith. Three of our team members (Bonnie Lewis and two additional team members whose expertise best fits your desired topic) will attend your event and collaborate with you to help bring value to your attendees.
Here is the breakdown of the funds we are asking for:
- Graphic Design and Artwork: $7,000
- Editorial Expenses: $12,000
- Kickstarter Video: $3,600
- Foil Stamping: $120
- Die Costs: $150
- 2 proofs: $150
- Shipping costs: $5,775
- Kickstarter's cut: $2,879
- Total Cost: $31,674
If the project gets fully funded, I will break even. The editorial expenses cover the team I have hired for this project. If we make more than our goal, then the extra money will be used to help develop more passages for subsequent versions, extra video and audio content, and the process of creating a website and e-commerce store to sell more copies (without the exclusive cover art or 20 original art pieces) once everyone from Kickstarter has received theirs rewards.
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform. If we do not make our fundraising goal, then we don't get any of the funds contributed.
Thank you for your support and contributing to our Kickstarter campaign! We are so excited to create Timshel!
Risks and challenges
We know that it's hard to predict life, or how long a specific passage will take. In order to overcome this challenge, we already did a "trial run" with Genesis 22 and have mapped out our timeline accordingly. Even then, we have overestimated our timelines to ensure we stay on track.
If this project gets an abundance of orders, we have already made sure that our book printing company can handle large amounts of orders. In addition, we have already worked with this company and know their quality and work process when we printed our mock version of the book for the Kickstarter video.
Finally, we are aware that many people may miss out on the Kickstarter and want a copy of Timshel once you have your copy in your hands. In order to keep the exclusivity of those who give to our Kickstarter campaign, we will sell the book later down the road but these copies open to the public will not include the following elements that only Kickstarter patrons will receive: limited edition cover design, 20 colored pieces of original artwork, limited edition artwork for Kickstarter contributors, first draft with editor markups, and exclusive audio conversations.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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