In yesterday’s post I shared some excerpts from N.T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (HarperOne, 2011). Today I’d like to share a few random observations regarding this fine work.
* The binding is a quality hardback which lies flat at any opening except for the first few pages. No softcover or electronic version is available yet.
* The text appears in a very readable single-column format.
* The only notes, footnotes, or comments are headings for the Biblical text. All of the headings appear in the side margins rather than within the text, a practice reminiscent of times gone by, and one, frankly, I find very helpful.
* Obvious OT quotes appear in italics.
* As to textual variants, know that both long and short endings to Mark’s Gospel are included and John 7:53-8:11 is included in the text without note, comment, or formatting in regard to its authenticity.
* The inclusion of 39 simple, black and white maps is a real plus. As you might guess, 35 of the 39 relate to Acts. The maps do not appear together in one place, but are scattered throughout the Biblical text, wherever they might be of most practical use. There is an index to these maps near the front of the volume. All of the maps, save one, include a scale of miles in both miles and kilometers.
* The preface is six-and-one-half pages of “classic Wright” (i.e. – crystal clarity laced with insight and wit). Lovers of Wright will not be disappointed. For example, take the opening sentence: “The first thing that happened in the life of the church was translation.”
* This work is a translation. In Wright’s words: “It’s a translation, not a paraphrase. I have tried to stick closely to the original. But, as with all translations, even within closely related modern English languages, there are always going to be places where you simply can’t do it word for word. To do so would be ‘correct’ at one level and deeply incorrect at another. There is no ‘safe’ option: all translation is risky, bit it’s a risk we have to take.”
* As to why yet another English translation of the New Testament, Wright says: “… translating the New Testament is something that, in fact, each generation ought to be doing. This is a special, peculiar, and exciting point about the very nature of Christian faith. Just as Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, our bread for each day, we can never simply live on yesterday’s bread, on the interpretations and translations of previous generations. … Inherited spiritual capital may help you get started, but you need to do fresh work for yourself, to think things through, to struggle and pray and ponder and try things out … a new translation … is a key tool for that larger task.”
The bottom line: the Kingdom New Testament has certainly found a permanent place in my Biblical studies library.