THOSE in a "torpor of overfamiliarity" with the Bible should
take notice of a new translation, which "hits you between the
This endorsement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been given to a
new translation by Fr Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest who teaches
New Testament at Oxford University.
Launched on Thursday of last week at Heythrop College, the Bible
is believed to be the first single-handed translation of both
Testaments from the Greek version.
The publicity describes the translation as "exceptionally
stimulating and sometimes startling". For example, Psalm 139 reads:
"For you, O Lord, have possessed my kidneys; you helped me from my
The project began in 2002, when Fr King translated the Gospels
of John and Mark before teaching at a summer school. In the class
was the wife of the publisher Kevin Mayhew, who eventually
persuaded Fr King to undertake the whole Bible.
He has translated the Old Testament from the Greek Septuagint.
He explained on Tuesday that this was the text used by the authors
of the New Testament; it "tells us a great deal about the way Jews
were thinking about their own scriptures". Second, the manuscripts
of the Septuagint were older than those of the Hebrew text, "and in
some cases preserve a superior reading". Those who had produced
these manuscripts had "kept the Hebrew idioms", which "force you to
stop and think".
The translation includes the Deutero-Canonical books which are
found in the Septuagint.
Fr King hoped that the translation would be "for everyone", from
theology students to atheists, and advised people reading the Bible
always have two versions open in front of them.
The Bible is published by Kevin Mayhew, at £49.99 (Church Times Bookshop, £45 - use code