The Second Testament

A New Translation

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Pub Date Jun 20 2023 | Archive Date Jul 20 2023

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Experience the New Testament Afresh in Scot McKnight's Bold Translation

Typical translations of the New Testament make the biblical text as accessible as possible by using the language of our own day. At times this masks the distance between the New Testament text and modern readers. Scripture continues to speak to us but it speaks as an ancient text to the modern world.

New Testament scholar Scot McKnight offers a translation of the New Testament with a daring approach to the ancient text. Clever in its expression and at times stunning in its boldness, The Second Testament will challenge readers to experience God's Word anew.

God blesses the beggars in spirit because theirs is Heavens’ Empire.

God blesses the grievers because they will be consoled.

God blesses the meek because they will inherit the land.

God blesses the ones hungering and thirsting for the rightness because they will be satisfied. (Matthew 5:3-6)

Features include:

  • Complete text of the New Testament
  • Brief introductions to each book
  • Maps of key locations and events
  • Glossary of key terms in the translation
  • Full-cloth hardcover with foil stamping

Experience the New Testament Afresh in Scot McKnight's Bold Translation

Typical translations of the New Testament make the biblical text as accessible as possible by using the language of our own day...

Advance Praise

"Startling. Scot McKnight's translation flips and scatters our settled habits of thought about the New Testament. McKnight's striking prose in The Second Testament compels the reader to un-hear and then re-hear Scripture's message. I highly recommend it, because after the shakedown, you'll find that you've encountered God's Word afresh."

-Matthew W. Bates, author of Why the Gospel? and professor of theology at Quincy University

"Scot McKnight's translation of the New Testament takes us into the very world of Jesus and the apostles; it breathes the air of antiquity. Rather than try to make the New Testament too familiar, McKnight makes it sound foreign, like a distant land you are hearing about for the first time. The Second Testament is a monumental literary achievement that will enrich and excite readers for generations."

-Michael F. Bird, academic dean and lecturer in New Testament at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia

"Translations produced by committees often reflect negotiations—quite often with well-intentioned ambiguity and ecumenical aims. A translation produced by an individual provides additional space for creativity and boldness, and this is precisely what we have with The Second Testament. McKnight's work is a stimulating glimpse into the original Greek and an encouragement to us all to consider our long-held translations. I look forward to the conversations it generates!"

-Madison Pierce, associate professor of New Testament at Western Seminary

"Scot McKnight's The Second Testament translation offers surprises and causes us to rethink passages we thought we knew."

-Lisa Bowens, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary

"Startling. Scot McKnight's translation flips and scatters our settled habits of thought about the New Testament. McKnight's striking prose in The Second Testament compels the reader to un-hear and...

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ISBN 9780830846993
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Featured Reviews

I listen to Scot McKnight's podcast Kingdom Roots and have heard him talk about his translation of the New Testament, but thought it was already available for purchase. When I saw it on Netgalley available for early access I squealed in delight and promptly reorganized my reading plans, The Second Testament is something I knew I wanted to read immediately.

What a fun, challenging, and inspiring read. Scot sets out to make an English translation that is literal to the original text. This leads to some fun translations, like Yōannēs the Dipper (John the Baptist).

I absolutely love reading this. I find while I am reading the verses, my head reads the new translation and searches for the common translation I'm most familiar with (NIV, ESV). This made the reading very enganging and fun. I gained a new perspective by reading these choppy, sometime clunky verses because it makes me slow down, think about what I am reading, and seek to understand it.

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Over the years, we have a wealth of English translations of the Bible. Whether it is a literal translation, a paraphrase, or the popular dynamic equivalence type, they have all been helpful for those of us unfamiliar with the original languages. For all the competent scholarship and attempts to update the transalations, there is a nagging concern about context. Sometimes, the translations can be so good that English speakers might have mistakenly thought that the Bible was written for the English-speaking world! What if modern readers who do not know the original languages can in some way perceive what the original hearers were hearing? What if we can get closer to Greek ears and still maintain the English text? This is precisely what author and professor, Scot McKnight is trying to do. Understanding the meaning is one thing. Locating the meaning within the original contexts is often another. Moreover, there are certain words in Greek that are hard to translate. Often, this forces translators to choose between literal and contextual. Even in the translation of meaning, too many words might muddle the interpretation. This is McKnight's attempt to help us understand the words within the Greek context. This is what I call a more contextual translation of the New Testament. He begins with a brief introduction to each book, which not only gives us an overview but also unique themes that we can connect with the rest of the Bible. For example, in the introduction to the synoptic gospels, we see clear connections to the other gospels to help us prepare for the road ahead. The same applies to the epistles of Paul. The maps also enable readers to get a feel of the geographical contexts as described in the text. Called "The Second Testament," this new translation of the New Testament complements the "First Testament" which uses similar translation principles for the Old Testament.

My Thoughts
I will offer some of my thoughts as I describe McKnight's approach. McKnight's task here is three-fold. First, start afresh with a new translation directly from the Greek manuscripts. I do not see any technical information about the Greek manuscripts used. I can only assume that it is from the most well-accepted Greek SBL critical editions. For most readers, this should not matter as much so I would not be too concerned. That said, rather than see this version as a new edition, perhaps it might be better to see this as a supplementary edition to our conventional Bibles. One reason why I say "supplement" is because this translation is essentially the work of a single author. I have a bias more in favour of translation committees rather than single authors. The ecumenical flavour appeals more due to the communal nature of the Bible and the translation efforts. Of course, there are also merits to single-author translations, the chief being a more coherent flow.

Second, instead of trying to bring the Greek down to the English level, take our English understanding up to the original Greek audience. The Greek version does not usually operate the way of English. Some words simply do not have an English equivalent. So translators have to make a choice between a clunky (but literally accurate) or a smoother (but contextually compromised) reading. Sometimes, Bible readers commit the error of "familiarity breeds contempt." Not that they despise the work, but they tend to be too comfortable with what they think they already know. Being reminded that our nice bounded Bibles today are not what the original hearers have should remind us not to be complacent with our English readings. Reading Matthew 1 already gives an energetic feel. Instead of begat (KJV) or "father of" (NAS), McKnight's version says "gave a life" which oozes out the added dynamism as per the original Greek text. Other familiar texts like John 3:16 gives us new words to study and ponder about. Words like "Era" instead of "Eternal," and "Kosmos" instead of "World." The famous 1 Corinthians 13 is indeed a more dynamic feel to the active nature of love.

Third, McKnight's translation tries to give us a fresh understanding of the New Testament in a snappy and direct manner. What Eugene Peterson had done from a paraphrase angle, Scot McKnight does this translation from a literal Greek angle. Meant as a supplement to the many translations we have today, this translation is a great wake-up tool that breathes new life into our understanding. Like coffee that perks us up, this version makes us re-examine and re-read the text for the purpose of deepening our insights. It is not meant to replace but to supplement our understanding. That is why I believe that this version should be read alongside other versions. In fact, read this version only after we have become familiar with the other more established versions.

Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham) is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. He is the author of many books, including Reading Romans Backwards, Pastor Paul, The King Jesus Gospel, and commentaries on James, Galatians, and Colossians. He is also a general editor of the IVP Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, second edition.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of IVP Academic via NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Scot McKnight's "The Second Testament: A New Translation" is a captivating and audacious rendition of the New Testament that invites readers to engage with the ancient text in a fresh and thought-provoking manner. Unlike conventional translations that prioritize accessibility by employing modern language, McKnight's translation dares to preserve the inherent distance between the biblical text and contemporary readers. In doing so, it allows Scripture to speak as an ancient voice to the modern world.

One of the remarkable qualities of this translation is its clever and ingenious expression. McKnight skillfully navigates the complexities of the original Greek text, presenting the reader with a rendition that is not only faithful but also strikingly bold. This audacity infuses the verses with a renewed power, challenging readers to encounter God's Word in a way that transcends the boundaries of traditional translations.

For instance, in Matthew 5:3-6, McKnight's translation evokes a sense of divine blessing upon the marginalized and overlooked. The beggars in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. The grievers find solace in the promise of consolation. The meek, far from being overlooked, are assured of inheriting the land. Furthermore, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness can anticipate a satisfying fulfillment. These verses, among others, epitomize McKnight's ability to capture the essence of the original text while imbuing it with a renewed and poignant relevance.

"The Second Testament" also offers a range of helpful features to enrich the reading experience. Each book is accompanied by brief introductions, providing contextual information that aids readers in understanding the background and purpose of the text. Maps of key locations and events further enhance comprehension, enabling readers to visualize the geographical settings of biblical narratives. Additionally, a glossary of key terms used in the translation facilitates a deeper grasp of the text's nuances.

The physical presentation of the book is deserving of praise as well. The full-cloth hardcover, embellished with elegant foil stamping, exudes a sense of durability and elegance. It is a testament to the meticulous attention to detail that went into producing this volume.

In conclusion, Scot McKnight's "The Second Testament: A New Translation" is a daring and captivating work that challenges readers to experience the New Testament afresh. With its clever and audacious expression, this translation breathes new life into ancient texts, bridging the gap between the past and the present. By offering a range of features and an aesthetically pleasing presentation, this book is a valuable addition to any reader's collection. It is sure to inspire and engage those seeking a deeper understanding of God's Word.

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