A remarkable and accessible new translation of the Gospels, destined to become a definitive edition of these canonical texts, from one of today’s most respected translators of ancient literature
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY • “Electrifying . . . [Ruden transforms] these most familiar of ancient texts into fresh reading experiences.”—The Christian Science Monitor
For millennia, the first four books of the New Testament have not only supported the central tenets of Christianity but have also proved to be formative texts for the modern Western world.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—but they are perhaps best understood as four separate versions of the same story, showing complex origins, intricate interweavings, and often inherent contradictions.
Faithfully pointing the reader back to the original Greek, this masterful new translation from the renowned scholar and acclaimed translator Sarah Ruden is the first to reconsider the Gospels as books to be read and understood on their own terms.
Mediating between the authors of the Gospels and present-day readers with unprecedented precision and sensitivity, Ruden gives us the most accessible version of the text available to date. Illuminating footnotes and a discursive glossary explain new word choices and phrasings, and present the Gospels as they originally were: grounded in contemporary languages, literatures, and cultures, full of their own particular drama, humor, and reasoning, and free from later superimposed ideologies.
The result is a striking and persuasive reappraisal of the accounts of these four evangelists, and presents a new appreciation of the ancient world as the foundation of our modern one. This robust and eminently readable translation is a welcoming ground on which a variety of readers can meet, and a resource for new debate, discussion, and inspiration for years to come.
Ruden (The Face of Water) wrestles fresh meaning from Christianity's sacred texts in her startling new translation of the four Gospels. Working from the original Greek text and within the context of the ancient Greco-Roman-Jewish era, Ruden strives to rescue a "defensively hermetic" text from "under the muffling, alien weight of later Christian institutions." The result makes the familiar unfamiliar and intriguing. Faith and believe are translated as "trust"; one does not repent but "changes purpose"; disciples is rendered as "students"; and Jesus is not crucified but "hung on the stakes." When Jesus comes to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead, Ruden uses the affecting formulation that Jesus "howls within." Ruden also appealingly modernizes many scenes, such as Pilate, after having Jesus whipped, saying, "Look at this guy." Thousands of her word choices differ from common translations, and footnotes provide essential pithy explanations of her reasoning, as do a lengthy introduction and a "discursive glossary" of key terms. This audacious translation is essential reading for anyone who thinks they already know the Gospels.