For more than thirty years I have been involved in various manifestations of the Charismatic Movement here in the UK, and more recently also in the USA. In that time I have seen many good things and also some less than good. Very often among those less good things has been Charismatic preachers’ use of the Bible. I have noticed a strong tendency to use very literal Bible versions (NASB has often been a favourite) and to support sermon points with very dubious exegesis of those versions.
Among the UK Charismatic leaders I have long had great respect for is Colin Urquhart. So I was interested to discover, only yesterday for the first time, that he has translated and published his own version of the New Testament, called simply The Truth New Testament. And this version is by no means another literal translation. Here, for example, is John 1:1:
Jesus is the Word. He existed in the beginning, before time began. This Word was with God and, indeed, the Word was God.
The surprising claim is made that
The Truth New Testament is the first UK translation of the New Testament for 50 years.
That can only be true because this version was published in 2009, and so predates N.T. Wright’s 2011 The New Testament for Everyone, sold in the USA as The Kingdom New Testament. Also, to be pedantic, the claim is true only if restricted to translations into standard English, as in those 50 years there were at least two new Welsh translations, one in Scots (not to be confused with Gaelic), and various attempts into English dialects, as well as numerous versions in world languages largely translated and published in the UK.
The Truth New Testament seems to be a genuine translation from the original Greek, not a paraphrase. Urquhart is clearly not a New Testament scholar and theologian in the same league as Wright (but then is anyone?), but he studied for the Church of England ministry (which he left in the 1970s) at a time when he probably had to learn Greek to a reasonable level.
Here is part of Colin Urquhart’s introduction to the version, as found also on its website but here edited and reformatted to match the printed text:
Having been a preacher and teacher of God’s Word for over 45 years, I have a great love for the scriptures. I have been devoted to bringing understanding of its significance for modern living to people in over 40 nations, where I have had the privilege of ministering in the name of Jesus Christ.
As someone who has been interpreted into several languages I am familiar with the process of translating the meaning of the truth from one language to another. I have been blessed with many wonderful interpreters over the years. They have impressed on me that the best interpreters do not necessarily translate what I say literally, but express what I say in a way that will be understood clearly in their own language.
As the principal of a Bible College, among several other aspects of ministry, I have always been deeply concerned that any version of the New Testament should be accurate. But I have also been acutely aware that people will only translate God’s Word into action in their lives if they clearly understand its meaning and implications for them personally.
I mention these things so that you can understand the principles behind this particular version, ‘The Truth’. Any translation inevitably involves a certain amount of interpretation.
There are two types of translation available today. Some are strict word by word or phrase by phrase translations. These are accurate translation of the original Greek text, but do not necessarily draw out the meaning of the text. On the other extreme are modern paraphrases which are certainly edifying but often seem to depart from the original. I believe that God wanted me to chart a middle course between these two extremes.
I sought to do this by first translating the text literally, and then asking the questions, ‘What does this mean? How would you express this in today’s world, with the modern mindset that people have?’
It seemed an awesome task to maintain accuracy with the Greek text and yet have the freedom to expand the translation where necessary so that it can be readily understood. This I have done by sometimes giving the literal translation of the Greek followed by another phrase that puts the same truth in another way that can be readily appreciated by the reader.
I sensed the Lord encouraging me in this by reminding me frequently that this exactly what a good preacher does. He reads the Word and explains it. Yet this had to be done without turning this edition into either a commentary or a study Bible! The text needed to be easily readable and readily understood.
I intend to review the text of this version. But this post is already long enough, so I will leave that to a follow-up post.
The Truth New Testament is available from amazon.co.uk: paperback £10.80, Kindle edition £4.62, hardback study edition £14.99; also at amazon.com: Kindle edition $7.13, print editions available only as over-priced special imports. (Disclosure: these are affiliate links.)