Despite the fact that our shelves are sagging beneath the weight of all the scriptures that have appeared in the last forty years or so, we still await a version that strikes us as a genuinely contemporary version. Life and language move so quickly that it is a matter of running to stay in the same spot, and translators of the scriptures are characterised by care and caution rather than by the need to keep pace. Move on new must, however, if we believe the scriptures have abiding value for every age and culture as a unique record of humankind's adventure with God.
What usually passes for a paraphrase rather than a translation indicates the degree of venturesomeness in elucidating the meaning. An attempt at word for word translations produces not clarity but ambiguity. According to the gospels, the genius of Jesus lay in his ability to put into language that could be grasped by ordinary people things that the scribes obscured by their sophistication or pedantry. This new translation takes the bull by the horns in providing a translation of the early Christian scriptures in the idiom of today.
It also follow the principle of cultural translation, where for instance "demon possession" becomes what it is as understood as today, "mental illness." It follows "contextual translation," following the sense over longer sections. It is also "inclusive," following the principles which Jesus adopted in relation to his culture. It is women, gay and sinner friendly. Other radical departures reflect the need to demythologise in order to translate adequately into our own culture. For instance "Kingdom of God" thus becomes "God's New World."
Perhaps the most controversial departure from all other translations is a return to the selection of books which were held in the highest esteem by the early Church in the first two centuries. So, for instance, Revelation is out, the Gospel of Thomas is in.
In reading this translation we come closer to the impact the scriptures had on the people of the time than before.
Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures by John Henson was published by John Hunt Publishing in August 2005 and is our 20054th best seller. The ISBN for Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures is 9781905047116.