Rap Genius, a website that allows the public to critique and interact with "thousands of canonical rap songs," has added the entire King James Bible to its expansive database. At least one biblical scholar who engaged the KJV text welcomes the idea of the interactive "study Bible," although he calls for wisdom in discerning the "gems" from the "junk."
David Lamb, author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?, told The Christian Post that making interpretation of the KJV Bible open to the public can lead to meaningful discussions about Scripture, and forces people to actually read the Bible, an activity that many churchgoers are said to avoid.
"It's always good for people to read and discuss the Bible. It's a confusing book and the more we read it and talk about it, the better we'll understand it. Rap Genius is providing another way to do this for people who may not typically attend Sunday school classes on a regular basis," said Lamb, who is also associate professor of Old Testament at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa.
"However, people need to realize that before they accept what people say in the Rap Genius comments they need to evaluate it. Does it make sense? Does it fit the text? Does it fit my spiritual experience with God? If it doesn't, then they should comment and share their own thoughts," he added.
Rap Genius, formerly known as Rap Exegesis and which attracts about 10 million unique monthly visitors, announced this week that since the user-generated website "was always the internet Talmud," it was inevitable that it would become "the actual Talmud." The Talmud is the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial laws and traditions along with rabbinical commentary.
"The Bible. On Rap Genius. In classic King James flavor. It's here and we need your help explaining it like never before. Audio, video, pics, maps, comprehensive links to relevant lyrics and memes. Serious theology. Comic theology. You don't have to be of any particular faith (or any faith) to help out: you just have to contribute stuff that's informative and entertaining," it was explained in a statement on the website.
Users with verified accounts, including actual music artists, can log on to the database and make contributions, similar to Wikipedia, the popular crowd-sourced encyclopedia. Particularly noteworthy explanations and interpretations can earn users "Rap IQ," based on thumbs up or thumbs down reviews from the RapGenius.com community.
Notable users on the website include "John Wesley," who has made verified contributions in explaining Philippians 1:1. Wesley, actually an 18th century Christian theologian, has also provided explanations on the website for some of his "songs," or sermons, including "Awake, Thou That Sleepest" and "The Almost Christian."
Professor Lamb, identified as Rap Genius user "dlamb," decided to contribute a note to the KJV Bible, specifically for Gen. 3:6, after reading a comment that suggested a woman was single-handedly responsible for the Fall, described in Christian theology as the event that saw Adam and Eve disobey God and lose their innocence, resulting in humans and nature falling under judgment.
Gen. 3:6 reads: "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
Professor Lamb's submitted explanation of the KJV verse: "They were both at fault. He was with her when she ate and said nothing. Whenever the serpent speaks here, he uses plural 'yous,' basically, 'you all.' The man also heard the command directly from YHWH, where she must have heard it from the man."
After his submission, "dlamb" was soon notified that his "excellent comment" was accepted and added as an official explanation for Gen. 3:6.
"Engaging with people who we disagree with can help us understand our own perspectives better. We just need to not turn off our mind as we do it," said Lamb, who has since been declared "a certified rap genius" – which he hopes will win him some street cred with his two teen sons.
Rap Genius, which also published this week the "Top 10 Biblical References in Rap," was founded in 2009 by Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, and Ilan Zechory, who met as undergraduates at Yale University.