Translation was the first thing that happened in the early Church of Acts, N. T. Wright reminds us as he starts The Kingdom New Testament. God has always called for his people to bring the Word — both the Bible and Jesus himself — to people in the language they can best understand. Just as God brought Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch who did not understand the copy of Isaiah he was reading, Wright has set out to do the same with the New Testament for a generation for whom the Bible sometimes sounds foreign, stuffy and archaic.
Wright emphasizes that The Kingdom New Testament (KNT) is a “translation, not a paraphrase” (Preface, xii). As his wife and kids encouraged, he has tried to abide by the original Greek text while also refraining “from using long, fuzzy words where short, sharp ones would do instead” (xvii). Because Wright wants to be immediately relevant and readable to a broad audience (as he tried to be in his For Everyone commentary series, where this translation was first used), he has opted for a “less formal and academic, and a more deliberately energetic, style” (xiv).
Technically, though Wright does not state this, the KNT strives for “dynamic equivalence.” Therefore, it sounds more like the New International Version than the English Standard Version, and at times even approaches the conversational style of The Message (see Romans 8:1-2 for instance).
What I am especially drawn to in this new translation is the “kingdom” accentuation promised by the title. Anyone familiar with the work of Wright would expect nothing less. In a recent little e-book Junia Is Not Alone, Scot McKnight reminds us that even the act of translating the Bible can be “political” or ideological. That is certainly true. I am looking forward to the ways Wright will pull out the “kingdom” nuances in unexpected places.
Whether you read Wright’s translation or your favorite or something new entirely, I hope you will join me as we start reading through the New Testament beginning Monday.