Changing Scripture

There is a passage in the Bible I wish to change. Or rather I would restore the meaning by changing a word that has shifted meaning.

In the time of Jesus the title princeps was an elective honor. The first speaker of the Roman Senate. It had just recently become the characteristic honor of what would become the line of Roman emperors. And of that line there were then only Augustus and Tiberius. The modern conception of a monarch who ruled over you because his father had because his father had because his father had … going back to Odin, or Hercules, or some other pagan god was unknown among the Romans. Or rather had been recently reintroduced by Virgil in the Aeneid but had not yet the patina of tradition. The Imperium was new enough that most people still thought that the Senate ruled Rome.

So when Jesus referred to Caesar we understand the meaning. But when we hear “Put not your faith in princes.” we get the warm feeling of a declawed Prince Phillip with a supposed tradition of Old World honor. But the princeps of Jesus’ time were brutal, manipulative politicians without the constraint of long tradition. Think Nixon, Obama, or Pelosi.

I think “Put not thy faith in princes.” translates better as “Don’t trust politicians.”

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