(Photo: Zach Myrow)
A New York City artist modified a copy of the Bible and embedded a small jar of salt on a corner of its cover with the instructions, "Take before reading," as a representation of his artistic approach to reading the scriptures, which he says should be taken with a grain of salt.
"The 'Salis Bible' is a response to fundamentalist Christians who interpret the Bible as inerrant truth, and believe it gives them the right to restrict the freedoms of others in a democracy that promises separation of church and state. It is a request for readers to keep an open mind and to draw their own moral conclusions," Zach Myrow writes on his website.
Myrow told The Christian Post the inspiration for the Salis Bible "had been brewing for years" adding that he considers those who question religion to have a richer life experience versus those who take the Gospel message literally.
He argues that certain biblical passages on homosexuality, divorce and premarital sex are outdated and do not align with today's society and encourages readers to decide which scriptures resonate best with them.
"Although irreverent, the Salt Bible is not meant to offend. It is meant to prompt readers to be vigilant and, more importantly, to go into reading the Bible asking questions," said Myrow.
However, not everyone agrees with his perspective.
"This is not the first time someone minimizes and diminishes the authority of the Bible," said Erik Thoennes, professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola University.
He added, "There are things in the Bible that he wouldn't like for us to take with a grain of salt, including loving your enemies and human rights. I chose to realize I need a higher perspective other than my own limited perspective and culture," referring to his belief in the literal meaning of the Bible.
Thoennes says the Salt Bible is merely an interpretation of Myrow's own contemporary culture.
"Everyone has an authority, wherever contemporary culture happens to be, whether it's Miley Cyrus or whatever is cool. It's a terrifying prospect and very arrogant to say that our own stance right now, is it."
He also said the Bible should be taken literally because "if someone knows the Bible to be the truth, I know no other take," while adding, "his piece of art will come and go but the Bible's profound influence will remain."
Contrary to Thoennes' differing opinion, Myrow said the feedback on his Salt Bible has been positive and encouraging.
"I have received some constructive criticism and different interpretations on what the piece means. Some have drawn parallels to Lot's Wife and Pliny the Elder," said Myrow, referring to a biblical figure who became a pillar of salt and a Roman write known to have coined the term, "a grain of salt."
According to Myrow, readers of the Bible should recognize different teachings and have tolerance of the conclusions that others may draw.
"Many people are frustrated with those who try to change others for having different beliefs. Self-discovery, personal growth and guidance can be sought from the Bible, but it has also been used to legitimize the restriction of others' rights," said Myrow.
He added, "I asked people to take the Bible with a grain of salt. In the spirit of personal growth and questioning, I expect people to take my words with one too."