The New Testament with an Interactive Study Guide

King, Nicholas
Kevin Mayhew (2004)
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With so many different Bibles available so cheaply there should not be many ardent Christians who do not have access to more than one version; but in this blessed plurality we need to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses which are not only intrinsic but relate to the way we react. In my own case, for example, I now find it so easy to read the Authorised Version that I find myself skating and skipping instead of reading deliberatively and prayerfully whereas I tend to pay much more attention to translations I have not seen before. Likewise, we might choose different translations for study (NRSV) and reading aloud (AV).

Nick King's New Testament is primarily suited for study; and because he mirrors bad or even incomprehensible writing in his translation it is not suitable for reading aloud. But there is the vital clue; he freely admits when a passage is impossible to understand which has certainly relived me after years of battling with knotty passages. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Romans, the totemic, iconic Epistle of Paul and the flagship text for the Reformation which, he points out, has many passages which defy parsing, which makes a nonsense of any claim that The Bible should be taken literally. On the other hand, his tendency to step back and ask questions often made me feel that he had ducked the big issues and left them to me. The book claims to provide an interactive study guide but this should not be misunderstood: he splits the text into paragraphs and provides a true, non interventionist translation, almost uniformly excellent elucidation of what a passage means and cannot be said to mean, and concludes with an often maddeningly difficult question which you think he should have answered.

In spite of my disappointment with his lack of help with Romans (which he would say must be blamed on the text, not him), he made Hebrews meaningful for me for the first time, his account of Revelation is enormously reassuring, and the way he handles the translations of the four Evangelists emphasises their different virtues and peculiarities. I wouldn't take it to my desert island but, as long as I can have more than one version, I would not be without it.