On this side of the Atlantic, there has been very little talk about the 2018 publication of The Bible for Everyone. Only available through SPCK in the UK, it is the combined work of two eminent biblical scholars, John Goldingay and Tom (NT) Wright. The Bible for Everyone combines the 2011 Tom Wright translation of the New Testament, known in the US as the Kingdom New Testament and in the UK as The New Testament for Everyone, with John Goldingay’s 2018 translation of the Hebrew (39 Books) Old Testament, known as The First Testament. As I was in the market for a second bible to complement my daily reading (lectio), I became intrigued by this one.
The Bible for Everyone is the result of a passionate conviction that scripture should be something that everyone can read, understand and enjoy. Two world-renowned biblical scholars and communicators have therefore undertaken a tremendous task: to draw together, revise and supplement the translations that appear in their popular For Everyone commentaries, making a rounded, readable and reliable version of the Bible that will prove helpful to people of all religious backgrounds at every stage of their lives.
It is difficult to say where along the spectrum these translations fit. In some places they are very literal, while in others they tend to be a bit more dynamic. (Of course, most translations are seeking a balance between being accurate and understandable to the modern reader.) What makes this translation unique is that there are two different styles, due to the two different translators. I remember listening to (or perhaps reading) something that Msgr. Knox once said regarding his translation of the Bible. He was giving advice to a future translator of the Bible and recommended that the two Testaments should have a different feel to them. He thought the Old Testament should sound as if it were from an earlier age, while the New Testament, written in the common Koine Greek of the day, should sound more modern. I think the translators do a very good job doing this, although clearly this was not intentional since seven years separate their respective publications. For more on the style of these two translations, I recommend the reviews on Scot McKnight’s blog The Jesus Creed for more on its style:
(It is interesting to note that McKnight is currently working on his own translation of the New Testament, which will eventually be paired with the Goldingay OT for publication in the US.)
During my search, one of the bibles I was comparing The Bible for Everyone with was the Revised New Jerusalem Bible. I had a copy of the NT and Psalms for the RNJB, but ultimately decided not to get the full edition. Some of the reasons are due to the translation style of the RNJB, which I think makes a mistake in attempted to be a formal translation, although I understand why that was attempted. One of the other reasons that turned me off was the quality of the book itself. Having held a copy of the massive US edition of the RNJB, I was shocked to see it not being a sewn edition. Clearly it was glued. On the other hand, the hardcover The Bible for Everyone is sewn and comes with a ribbon marker. The paper is thicker than the typical, super-thin paper we have seen with a number of recent bibles, and it is very good to read from and feels quite sturdy. It was clearly created to last. While it doesn’t have references or annotations, the type-setting is very clear, with plenty of space for annotations and reflections. This bible is also line-matched.
Along with the text, which does not include the Deuterocanonical books, there are brand new introductions for each of the biblical books, done my the translators. Each Testament comes with its own introduction as well. There are plenty of in-text maps scattered throughout the volume, found at their appropriate places. (There are somewhere around 66 of them in total.) Also included are glossaries for both the Old and New Testaments, again written by the translators. These have already proven to be a great help, with some of the entries being pretty substantial in size and content.
So, will The Bible for Everyone appeal to the typical Catholic bible reader? I am not sure. Personally, I have enjoyed what I have read so far. Goldingay’s decision to transliterate many of the well-known Hebrew names and places makes reading his Old Testament feel very intimate and more personal. Wright’s New Testament is more of a known quantity to me, so I haven’t been all that surprised with it. I enjoy Wright’s work, so his NT has always appealed to me. I plan on using this extensively in the new year. I was able to get this edition via Amazon for right around $30. It is also available at Book Depository. It took about two weeks to arrive, but considering how expensive some more recent Catholic editions have been costing, I consider it a steal. A blessed Advent and Christmas season to you all.