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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings together a lifetime's work, 22 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Restored New Testament: A New Translation with Commentary, Including the Gnostic Gospels Thomas, Mary, and Judas (Hardcover)
This major work serves at several levels: as a translation of the New Testament plus the gospels of Thomas, Mary and Judas into contemporary American English; as a study in itself of the scriptures covered and a pointer to further study of the ancient writings and many scholarly studies referenced; and as an exposition of Barnstone's views on aspects of biblical translation, not least what, if anything, can or should be done about the pro-Roman anti-Jewish whitewash that he perceives in much of the New Testament as we have it.

I am not qualified to comment on the accuracy of the translation, but the fact that the great majority of the text is closely similar in structure and conveyed meaning to that of most other translations from Tyndale onwards confers confidence. Barnstone does not introduce much modern idiom, and Americanisms - for the user of British English liable to fail to convey the intended meaning - rarely intrude. Where he makes a word choice that might be regarded as controversial - "the darkness could not apprehend/comprehend it"; "If I speak in the tongue of men and angels But have no love/charity" - all aspects of the issue are fully discussed and become in themselves an occasion for constructive contemplation on the part of the reader.

Much harder to come to terms with is Barnstone's decision to use the Hebrew/Greek/Latin form of virtually all proper names in accordance with how they would have been used at the time. Thus we read throughout the translation not of Jesus Christ but Yeshua the Mashiah , of his mother Miriam, the place of his birth as Beit Lehem, and his place of death Yerushalayim. So far, so good, you might think, but when it comes to the prophets Yeshayahu (Isaiah) Yirmayahu (Jeremiah) and others, a glance at the relevant footnote or the appended glossary is likely to be necessary almost every time.

The decision to use the (predominantly Hebrew) original names is in accordance with Barnstone's desire to overcome in as much as he can the appropriation of the Christian story by a much later and much more western culture. As he sees it, in the interests of their personal survival and the propagation of the faith, the gospel writers and their later redactors slanted the story in favour of imperial Roman power and against "the Jews" (even though Jesus, his disciples, the apostles and virtually all the early Christians were Jews). When further translation was made into English and other vernacular languages, names were removed yet further from their original (to Peter, James, John, etc.) and the story still further from the original participants. He writes at great length about these matters, and with great erudition. Whether or not persuaded that it is helpful at this stage to re-adopt the original nomenclature, the reader will certainly finish the book with a very full perspective of the issues, informed with much detail on matters such as the standpoint of the Pharisees relative to the Sadducees (and Rome), the savagery of the Roman occupation of Palestine, and more, much more.
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Lost John
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Location: Devon, England

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