"A colloquial translation with a Southern accent"
also known as
The Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament
Link - http://rockhay.tripod.com/cottonpatch/
Both a Biblical scholar and a prophetic man of action, Clarence Jordan lived out the New Testament in the soil of rural Georgia. A visionary during the struggle for the civil rights of all God's children, he founded an inter-racial community called Koinonia (fellowship). On this farm, folks worked side-by-side to make a living, following Jesus - a radical concept fifty years ago. They experienced a great deal of opposition, even from those who followed the same Lord. This community still exists, Koinonia Partners, even though the visionary who started it died unexpectedly on October 29, 1969, at the age of fifty-seven.
Clarence was a powerful preacher - "direct, Bible-centered, and sternly contemporary," as Edward A. Mcdowell, Jr. put it. "He spoke with the earthiness of Amos of Tekoa, the boldness of Jeremiah, but often with the tenderness of Hosea. There was something in Clarence of the asceticism and gentleness of Saint Francis of Assisi but he never deserted the contemporary scene and spoke and wrote with the dogged determination of Martin Luther." When he preached, Clarence would write his own translation of a scripture he wanted to use. "Only gradually did he realize he had hit upon a style of translation that brought the Word to the reader with a new contemporary power," McDowell wrote. "As time went by, he completed individual books of the New Testament which were widely circulated in pamphlet form. But eventually he had done enough to be able to publish The Cotton Patch Version of Paul' s Epistles."
Clarence didn't call it a translation, but a "version," for he sought to take the text out of the 'long ago and far away' and place it in the 'here and now' of those with whom he lived and worked - the task of any preacher. This Cotton Patch Version is firmly planted in the cotton fields of the southern United States, not Palestine. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians, for instance, became the Letter to the Christians in Birmingham, Alabama. And the early Christian church, which struggled to integrate both Jews and Greeks, became the movement which joined "white man and Negro" within the same Gospel mission. "We ask our brethren of long ago," Clarence wrote, "to cross the time-space barrier and talk to us not only in modern English but about modern problems, feelings, frustrations, hopes and assurances; to work beside us in our cotton patch or on our assembly line, so that the word becomes modern flesh. Then perhaps, we too will be able to joyfully tell of 'that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes and have felt with our hands, about the word of life' (I John 1:1)."
Of course, this "version" has its limitations. Clarence himself wrote, "obviously the 'cotton patch' version must not be used as a historical text. The Revised Standard Version and the New English Bible are excellent for this purpose." Today's reader also becomes aware that this version itself is dated. Many things have changed in the South since Clarence's death. Furthermore, this paraphrase came before the modern concern for inclusive language. So be it. The one who penned this version would probably challenge us to put the words into the soil of our own "Cotton Patch." Even so, much of this work is remarkably current. The words still speak with great clarity, revealing the meaning within the text. [p.s. when exploring the Cotton Patch, a good place to begin might be with the introductions to each volume by Clarence, or the brief biography found in the last one - see below.]
We (myself and the "scribes" who scanned or typed the text into digital format as an act of love and appreciation) originally placed the Cotton Patch Version online with the permission of Koinonia Partners. Smyth & Helwys Publishing, as holders of the copyright and full publication rights to the CPG, several years ago gave permission to keep this online version available provided that we kept links to the printed copies on their website. We thank them for doing so. Unfortunately, they have now asked for these pages to be removed, writing: "As the nature of publishing evolves from print to digital, so do the requirement placed on holders of copyrights for digital products. As Smyth & Helwys now has ebooks of each Cotton Patch Gospel for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, we will no longer be able to allow your site's open access to this copyrighted material." Therefore, we have removed the texts with appreciation for their courtesy to us for many years.
The hardcopy books are still available for purchase online. Buying them from this website helps support the ongoing mission of Koinonia Partners. The new edition of these four books (with new forewords by Tom Key, Tony Campolo, Will Campbell, and Henlee Barnett) is also available from Smyth & Hylwys. To purchase ebook versions, see Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), and Apple (ibooks apps for Ipad and Ipod).
By the way, Clarence has had a great influence upon many persons, including Habitat for Humanity founder,Millard Fuller. Furthermore, President Jimmy Carter grew up just down the road from the original Cotton Patch. The foreword to a recently published collection of Jordan's sermons - The Substance of Faith and Other Cotton Patch Sermons - was written by our former President.
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Cotton Patch Gospel
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Cotton Patch Gospel is a musical by Tom Key and Russell Treyz with music and lyrics written by Harry Chapin just before his death in 1981. Based on the book The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John by Clarence Jordan, the story retells the life of Jesus as if in modern day, rural Georgia. Though the setting and the styling of the language greatly differs from the original telling of the Gospels the plot structure and the message of the story stays true to the historical recording in The Gospel of Matthew.
Using a southern reinterpretation of the gospel story, the musical is often performed in a one-man show format with an accompanying quartet of bluegrass musicians, although a larger cast can also be used. A video recording of the play was released in 1988 with Tom Key as the leading actor.
The story begins with the story of a young couple. Mary is engaged to Joe Davidson ("David's Son" referring to the lineage of Christ coming through the line of David). Even though she is a virgin, she is found to be with child before they are married. This child is conceived of the Holy Spirit. Joe considers not going through with the marriage, but is visited by an angel who tells him that it is the will of God that is occurring and not foul play, so he marries his girl. Due to an income tax audit, they must then travel to Gainesville; on the way, Mary suddenly goes into labor. There's no room for them at the Dixie Delight Motor Lodge, but the manager helps Joe break into an abandoned trailer out back, where the baby, Jesus, is born: "They wrapped him in a comforter and laid him in an apple crate". Jesus grows up like no other child in Georgia with his neighbors befuddled and his parents often at a loss as to what to do. Jesus then is baptized by a wild preacher named John the Baptizer, and begins to teach the people and convince the disciples. He shares with them the love and peace he offers, and miraculously heals and feeds many. During this time Jesus gathers a band of constant followers—known as the Apostles in the Bible. This group eventually heads off to Atlanta with a mixed air of excitement and foreboding.
The main characters are:Jesus, Mary, Joseph Husband of Mary, Pontius Pilate, John the Baptist, Caiaphas, Herod, Apostle Peter, Apostle Matthew
The show's unique use of the live band on stage often incorporated into the acting adds to the entertainment of the performance and creates a fun and lively atmosphere.
Something is Brewing in Gainesville
+ all song selections
- "Something's Brewing in Gainesville"
- "I Did It/Mama Is Here"
- "It Isn't Easy"
- "Sho Nuff"
- "Turn It Around"
- "When I Look Up"
- "Busy Signals"
- "Going to Atlanta"
- "Are We Ready?"
- "You are Still My Boy"
- "We Gotta Get Organized"
- "We're Gonna Love It While It Lasts"
- "The Last Supper"
- "Thank God for Governor Pilate"
- "One More Tomorrow"
- "Well I Wonder"
The rephrasing of well known scripture into the context and colloquial language of the south eastern region of the United States is creative and is the source of much of the humor in the production lines delivered out of their familiar scriptural language such as:
The Temptation of Jesus Christ
Jesus: [after being tested by the devil] "I passed." Matthew: "And then angels appeared with a sack of chili cheese dogs for him."
Instead of: Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus: "Men don't live by grits alone."
Instead of: Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"
Cotton Patch Gospel Act 1 (Part 1 of 4)
Cotton Patch Gospel Act 1 (Part 2 of 4)
Cotton Patch Gospel Act 1 (Part 3 of 4)
Cotton Patch Gospel Act 1 (Part 4 of 4)