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The Four Gospels
Freshly Translated with a Cutting Edge Commentary
by Nicholas King
Publisher:Kevin Mayhew Publishers
‘Congratulations to the poor in spirits – theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. Yes – this is the arresting rendition of Matthew ch5 v 1 – the first of the Beatitudes, in this attractively presented 250-page book. Nicholas King says, in his introduction that there is only one gospel – that of Jesus Christ. However it is presented to us in four texts, each with its distinctive approach.
This book, first published in 2004, was the first for generations to be translated by one person rather than a committee. Nicholas King is a Jesuit priest who spent many years in South Africa and now teaches New Testament studies at Oxford University. He freely admits that no translation can be truly ‘successful’, but his aim is to let the reader experience what it was like to hear or read the Gospels for the first time, and to feel something of their raw power.
Keeping as close as possible to the original Greek, this fresh translation is broken into sections with helpful headings (e.g. ‘Squabbles with Jesus’ religious opponents’ and ‘A woman whose retort changed Jesus’ mind’). Each section is followed by an indented and very helpful commentary, sometimes giving background information, often giving an original slant, and always trying to elucidate the text.
The layout is clear and easy to navigate. Those who have found William Barclay’s commentaries useful will find this book similarly so, and it will be welcomed by sermon writers. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of this book, ‘This translation hits you between the eyes’. I would add ‘Congratulations to him whose scholarship has produced this cutting edge commentary.’
Reviewer: Margaret Walker (21/07/12)