Most people believe all Amish are godly, conservative Christians. Most believe all Amish read, study, and live the words of the Bible.
I was speaking recently when an audience member raised her hand and asked, "Do the Amish use a Bible?"
"Yes." But the explanation is as complex as the Amish.
Some higher (less restrictive) orders read an English-language Bible.
Some moderate orders allow a German/English parallel Bible.
The Swartzentruber order, believe the German-language Bible is the "only true Bible!" Sorry to disappoint them but, original Biblical languages were Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) - specifically Koine Greek. I'm perplexed why the Amish froze on German as the "only true" language.John from the Old Order said, "My dad told me that if we read an English bible we will be misled." Yet, another Old Order man from Illinois said, "We had mostly English/German parallel bibles."
Harvey Z. - I posted about him last November - began reading the Bible in English while he was still Swartzentruber Amish. His practice was, of course, against the Ordnung rules! Nonetheless, he and his wife secretly read the Bible in their home. Once they began, a new door opened to their understanding.
Harvey - like others - realized, "If you happen to read your English Bible you will find things that the Lord Jesus commanded the church to do that the Amish DON'T do. The Bishop and Ministers want you to do as they say is the Amish custom, not what the Bible says, if it differs. One man says that he was personally instructed this way in his settlement.
Young Uriah - who has been in my home many times - related how he began reading an English language Bible. His Amish father discovered the breach of rules and promptly burned that Bible.
Likewise, as an Old Order Amish preacher, Lester began reading the Bible in English. He gained new understanding. Learned new truths. Discovered some discrepancies between the Bible and what the Amish taught. His Bishop discovered Lester's behavior and discouraged him from continuing the practice. "But I'm learning so much," protested Lester. Eventually, the settlement's bishop gave Lester and his wife an ultimatum: Read only in German or leave Amish! Lester and his wife left.
Along with the language insistence, most Amish adhere to the "only true" version - King James. I've seen several former-Amish struggle to accept AND ARGUE AGAINST any other translation including New International Version, The Living Bible, The Message, or The New King James Version.
Hey, I'm thrilled they want to read the Bible! But I point out that in 1611 King James - who was really Prince James VI of Scotland - ordered a written translation of sacred manuscripts. And that since 1611, several word meanings have changed. Some words in 1611 had meanings opposite of today's understanding. Besides, the king had quite the ego and his personal life was controversial. Look it up.
Didn't I tell you the answer was complex? Maybe TMI?
Your turn! Do you have a story about the Amish and the Bible? Leave your comment below.
(C)Copyright, 2015. Brenda Nixon.