Once, when the devil and God were having one of their endless arguments, God finally said in exasperation, "I shall write a book". To which the Devil retorted ominously, "I shall write many books". Of course, even of God's one book many versions have been produced over the centuries, aiming to meet the different needs of succeeding cultures and generations. Now Nicholas King, Fellow of Campion Hall, has produced a version of the Bible which the publishers, Kevin Mayhew, describe as "freshly translated".
And fresh it is. Not only is it a highly impressive new translation of the Bible from the Greek, including the Old Testament version known as the Septuagint (Greek "seventy") because traditionally that number of scholars was inspired to translate the original Hebrew version together. It also aims to capture the spirit and effect of the original, and manages to do so with a fresh lapel-grasping use of modern idiom too. For readers familiar with the Bible one of the constant pleasures here is to note how many verses which they know of old have had their faces washed and have been freshened up, to present themselves now with a new appeal.
The translation has been well received, warmly welcomed as it was at a launch held in January at Heythrop College in Kensington by His Eminence Emeritus Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and the former Dominican Master-General, Fr Timothy Radcliffe. An added bonus resulting from Nick's heroic labour is that, not the King James, but now the King version, not only presents us with a lively, readable translation, but in addition provides a brief, but masterly, commentary on it.