The New Testament for Everyone – N.T. Wright’s Translation

I got in the mail The New Testament for Everyone by Tom Wright (SPCK) also published as The Kingdom Version (HarperOne). It is basically the translation of the entire NT derived from Tom Wright’s “New Testament for Everyone” series. In the preface, Wright claims that he’s provided a translation, not a paraphrase, and he notes the problems of translating the Greek NT into readable English. He thinks there is great profit in doing new translations, whilst taking into account those before you, because each generation must wrestle with the Word at the translational level. It is good to read through books in a single sitting, as it is to wrestle with the exegetical minutia of singular passages. In this translation, Wright was aiming for “a less formal and academic, and a more deliberately energetic, style”.  It is Wright’s hope and prayer that “many people will discover through it just how exciting and relevant the New Testament is”.

Let me give some examples from NT4E:

“The book of the family tree of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1).

“‘All authority in heaven and on earth’, he said, ‘has been given unto me! So you must go and make all the nations into disciples. Baptize them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit. Teach them to observe everything I have commanded you. And look: I am with you, every single day, to the every end of the age.’” (Matt 29:18b-20).

“Many people have undertaken to draw up an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled in our midst. It has been handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses and stewards of the word. So, most excellent Theophilus, since I had traced the course of all of it scrupulously from the start, I thought it a good idea to write an orderly account for you, so that you may have secure knowledge about the matters in which you have been instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4).

“‘It’s written’, he said, ‘my house shall be a house of prayer; but you’ve made it a brigands’ cave.’” (Luke 19:46).

“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was close beside God, and the Word was God. In the beginning, he was close beside God.” (John 1:1-2).

“The time came for the Judaeans’ Passover. Lots of people went up to Jerusalem from the countryside, before the Passover to purify themselves.” (John 11:55).

“And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever.” (John 14:16).

“But these ones are written so that you may believe that the Messiah, the son of God, is none other than Jesus; and that, with this faith, you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31).

“This is the Jesus we’re talking about! God raised him from the dead, and all of us here are witnesses to the fact! Now he’s been exalted to God’s right hand; and what you see and hear is the result of the fact that he is pouring out the holy spirit, which had been promised, and which he has received from the father.” (Acts 2:32-33).

“When the Gentiles heard this, they were thrilled, and they praised the word of the Lord. All those who were marked out for the life of God’s new age became believers, And the word of the Lord spread through the whole land.” (Acts 13:48).

“The jailer called for the lights and rushed in. Trembling all over, he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘will you please tell me how I can get out of this mess?’ ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus,’ they replied, ‘and you will be rescued – you and your household.’” (Acts 16:29-31).

“Paul, a slave of King Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart from God’s good news, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the sacred writings – the good news about his son, who was descended from David’s seed in terms of flesh, and who was marked out powerfully as God’s son in terms of the spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead: Jesus, the king, our Lord!” (Rom 1:1-4).

“But now, quite apart from the law (though the law and propehts bore witness to it), God’s covenant justice has been displayed. God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith. For there is no distinction: all sinned, and fell short of God’s glory – and by God’s grace they are freely declared to be in the right, to be members of the covenant, through the redemption which is found in the Messiah, Jesus.” (Rom 3:21-24).

“What shall we say, then? Have we found Abraham to be our ancestor in a human, fleshly sense?” (Rom 4:1).

“So, my dear family, this is my appeal to you by the mercies of God: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Worship like this brings your mind into line with God’s. What’s more, don’t let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out what God’s will is, what is good, acceptable, and complete.” (Rom 12:1-2).

“The word of the cross, you see, is madness to people who are being destroyed. But to us – those who are being saved it is God’s power.” (1 Cor 1:18).

“The Messiah set us free so that we could enjoy freedom! So stand firm, and don’t get yourselves tied down by the chains of slavery.” (Gal 5:1).

“Peace and mercy on everyone who lines up by that standard, yes, on God’s Israel.” (Gal 6:16).

“He chose us in him before the world was made, so as to be holy and irreproachable before him in love. He foreordained us for himself, to be adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus the king. That’s how he wanted it, and that’s what gave him delight, so that the glory of his grace, the grace he poured on us in his beloved one, might receive its due praise.” (Eph 1:4-6).

“They must study undisturbed, in full submission to God. I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; rather, that they should be left undisturbed. Adam was created first, you see, and then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and fall into trespass. She will, however, be kept safe through the process of childbirth, if she continues in faith, love and holiness with prudence.” (1 Tim 2:11-15).

“For once people have been enlightened – when they’ve tasted the heavenly gift and have had a share in the holy spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the coming age – it’s impossible to restore them again to repentance if they fall away, since they are crucifying God’s son all over again, on their our account, and holding him up to contempt.” (Heb 6:4-6).

“My children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone does sin, we have one who pleads our cause before the father – namely, the Righteous One, Jesus the Messiah! He is the sacrifice which atones for our sins – and not ours only, either, but those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2).

“Judah, slave of Jesus the Messiah, brother of James, those who are called, the people whom God loves and whom Jesus, the Messiah keeps safe!” (Jude 1).

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am David’s root and offspring; I am the bright morning star. The spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the thirsty come; let anyone who wants to water of life take it freely.” (Rev 22:16-17).

My own thoughts is that it is a rather enjoyable translation to read. It does have an overlay of interpretation that is NTW-ish, but all translations have an element of interpretation, no surprise that NTW’s own hobby horses come out. It is paraphrastic at times, but refreshingly so. It strikes me as a cross between the NRSV and The Message. It’s worth consulting if you’re preaching or working through the text, just out of curiosity. It’s probably not going to become anyone’s “pew Bible”, but it’s a fun read and makes one think.

  • Bangladesh

    Solid post. Thank you.

    By the way, are you able to extract the whole passage from Romans 3:21-26? The portion above seemed to be until Romans 3:24.

  • Bangladesh

    Solid post. Thank you.

    By the way, are you able to extract the whole passage from Romans 3:21-26? The portion above seemed to be until Romans 3:24.

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  • Mike

    Could you explain Wright’s reasoning for translating “theos” in John 1 in the lower case?

    Thanks

    • Eric Weiss

      Yeah, what’s up with that?

  • Mike

    Could you explain Wright’s reasoning for translating “theos” in John 1 in the lower case?

    Thanks

    • Eric Weiss

      Yeah, what’s up with that?

  • http://twitter.com/inchristus Paul D. Adams

    “it’s impossible to restore them against to repentance”

    Is that right? you mean “again”?

  • http://twitter.com/inchristus Paul D. Adams

    “it’s impossible to restore them against to repentance”

    Is that right? you mean “again”?

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  • Curtis Sheidler

    I agree with Bangladesh–it looks like your citation of Romans only goes from 3:21-24, rather than all the way through v. 26. If that’s the case, what specifically does Wright do with the language of propitiation in 3:25 and with “both just and justifier” in v. 26?

  • Curtis Sheidler

    I agree with Bangladesh–it looks like your citation of Romans only goes from 3:21-24, rather than all the way through v. 26. If that’s the case, what specifically does Wright do with the language of propitiation in 3:25 and with “both just and justifier” in v. 26?

  • http://profiles.google.com/bluesyboy1 Peter Málik

    how does he handle the son of man passages? (sorry If i overlooked an included one in the abovementioned list). Also, it’s interesting that he takes Danker’s approach to translating Ioudaios.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bluesyboy1 Peter Málik

    how does he handle the son of man passages? (sorry If i overlooked an included one in the abovementioned list). Also, it’s interesting that he takes Danker’s approach to translating Ioudaios.

  • Daniel J. Phillips

    Is “god” in John 1:1 a typo on your part, or is it Wright’s attempt to communicate what he thinks the anarthrous theos signifies — i.e. (and I’m presuming, here) that the Logos is not all there is to God, so that the Father is not a distinct person; but that the Logos is as to His essence full deity. If so, while perhaps not wildly heretical, I think it’s wildly ill-advised.

  • Daniel J. Phillips

    Is “god” in John 1:1 a typo on your part, or is it Wright’s attempt to communicate what he thinks the anarthrous theos signifies — i.e. (and I’m presuming, here) that the Logos is not all there is to God, so that the Father is not a distinct person; but that the Logos is as to His essence full deity. If so, while perhaps not wildly heretical, I think it’s wildly ill-advised.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/347 Justin

    So do we know what the difference is between this and “The Kingdom New Testament” to be released in October? Is it formatting differences only, or what?

    Thanks for this post by the way!

  • http://www.twitter.com/347 Justin

    So do we know what the difference is between this and “The Kingdom New Testament” to be released in October? Is it formatting differences only, or what?

    Thanks for this post by the way!

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