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May 06

Usually it is best to slow down

Robert Mounce. Jesus In His Own Words. B&H Books, 2010.

In other blog posts I’ve talked about slowing down by listening to the Bible instead of reading it. We can also slow down by reading a translation that is new to us. Robert Mounce has written a translation of the Gospels that presents the story of Jesus in a unified autobiography with Jesus narrating his own life.

Mounce was president of Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington (1981-1987) and has written commentaries on Matthew, Romans and Revelation. He was on the translation committees whose work culminated in the New International Version, New Living Translation, and English Standard Version.

The book is clear, understandable and in places challenging. Jesus telling the story of his betrayal, trials and crucifixion is very moving.

Regularly I found myself stopping and looking at a more literal translation of one of the gospels to see if Mounce had gotten the sense of a passage correct. I almost always found myself stretched by his thoughts and agreeing with his choices.

Books like this can help us see a passage differently, even more clearly. In the summer of 1943 a London vicar named J. B. Phillips sent C. S. Lewis a copy of his new paraphrase of Colossians. Lewis wrote back on August 3 that the translation “was like seeing a familiar picture after it’s been cleaned.” He encouraged the vicar to continue with his work and not to worry about those who would criticize him for spoiling the King James Version. Phillips’ work grew into the New Testament in Modern English. (William Griffin. Clive Staples Lewis: A Dramatic Biography. 221-222.)

Highly recommended

This post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

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