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'Out of the archives and into the light of day'



Editor Martin Manser introduces Word Come Alive, an expanded translation (paraphase) of the New Testament into contemporary English 

How did it come about?
Word Come AliveIn 2014, I was discussing motives in Christian service with a friend. After our chat I looked at 1 Thessalonians 2, where Paul discusses motives. I looked up those verses in all my commentaries, focusing on the three verbs in verse 12, where Paul refers to how a father treats his son. The verbs are translated as ‘encourage’, ‘urge’, ‘plead’, ‘comfort’, which are fair but I don’t think they had much impact on me.

I thought, ‘What do fathers do?’ They seek to motivate their children and then the thought occurred to me, why not put verses 1 to 12 into contemporary English? So I did that and then I felt there was something almost pulling me to continue.
I then edited the whole of 1 Thessalonians, showed that to friends and they encouraged me to do more. Another friend then urged me to work on John’s Gospel, and that is what I did.
Since then, I’ve completed John’s Gospel (available in hard copy as an illustrated book from Eden / CLC and also digitally) Mark’s Gospel, Ephesians, Philippians and 1-3 John (all available digitally). Romans 1-4 are in final draft and I am up to chapter 18 in Matthew’s Gospel.

What impact is this having?
I’m delighted to say that I know of individuals and house groups who have been helped by my translation. Some churches are using them to give away too; I’ve also heard of copies being given away at a market stall!
Some reviews: ‘I have greatly enjoyed reading your paraphrase of the NT. Congratulations on such an excellent job. It reads smoothly and provides a very true but accessible version of the text. I loved, just to give examples, your reference to Jesus telling the blind man, “You've seen him with your new eyes!” (John 9:37). And words like “You scum!” (John 9:34) pick up the sharp reality of the text and overcome our suburban niceness in interpretation.’ –  Derek Tidball, former Principal, London School of Theology; Visiting Scholar, Spurgeon's College, London
‘St John’s Gospel reads very well. I very much like the choice of adopting a naturalistic style. All power to you.’ – Professor David Crystal, Honorary professor of linguistics, University of Bangor, Wales; broadcaster and author
‘This [is an] exciting and thoroughly helpful project … this great venture.’ – Stuart Olyott, pastor, missionary and author
‘Your translation of the book of John is really clear and easy to understand. Your paraphrase has indeed helped the Bible to come alive!’ – Ramon Rocha, Director of Publisher Development, Media Associates International
Here are some other comments:
‘This version … lifts the story up out of the archives and into the light of day.’
‘Thank you for this. [Your paraphrase] was very tender in places, easy to read and moving.’

‘[“Word come alive”] is engaging … a truly fresh rendering of the text.’

What impact is this having on you?
I am discovering parts of the New Testament that I didn’t know were there e.g., verses 49 and 50 at the end of Mark 9:

Be on your guard, then, because everyone will be salted with fire, refined to bring out their distinctive quality. Salt is useful, but if salt loses its distinctive quality, it’s completely worthless – how can you restore its effectiveness? Have salt in yourselves, that is, have peaceful relationships with one another.’
Or in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration, he writes
But Jesus came to them and touched them gently with his hand to encourage them. He said, ‘Stand up. Don’t be afraid.’ (Matthew 17:7).
The text is stretching me - or to put it spiritually, God is challenging me and speaking to me in fresh ways: e.g. the use of ‘conveniently forget’ in Matthew 15:3-7:

Jesus answered them, ‘Why do you reject God’s commandments in order to respect your traditions? For example, God commanded, “Honour your father and mother” and, “Whoever insults their father or mother is sure to be put to death.” You are to treat your parents with great respect.

But you say that if anyone tells their parents that the support they were going to give them is instead “committed to God”, then they no longer need honour their father or mother. In fact, in so doing, you’re conveniently forgetting God’s word. Your traditions have become more important than God’s word and you’re cancelling out God’s message for the sake of your tradition.

You’re hypocrites! Isaiah hit the nail on the head when he prophesied about you…

Martin Manser is a professional reference book editor who has compiled or edited more than 200 reference books, particularly Bible-reference titles, English-language dictionaries and business books. He was Managing Editor of the NIV Thematic Study Bible (Hodder & Stoughton), editor of the award-winning Collins Bible Companion and revising editor of the 8-million word Matthew Henry Commentary (Zondervan).
Martin is a member of Southcourt Baptist Church, Aylesbury

Visit wordcomealive.net

Baptist Times, 25/07/2018
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