Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Review of The First Testament by John Goldingay

The First Testament: A New Translation  -     By: John Goldingay

The First Testament: A New Translation
John Goldingay
IVP Academic
ISBN 978-0-830805199-7
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I was sent this book to review by IVP Academic to review for them a few months back. Stated simply The First Testament is a new translation of what is commonly referred to as the "Old Testament". It comes to us from John Goldingay, who is an Old Testament scholar who has written a number of books. Although I am confident that many of his books are phenomenal, he is best known for writting the "For Everyone" commentaries on the Old Testament for which N.T. Wright penned the New Testament portion of the series previously.

For my purposes, The First Testament offers the kind of reading experience I had hoped for. What I hope to get out of a translation like this, or The Message or The Kingdom New Testament, is to read over texts in Scripture that I have heard and read several times, and to be awakened to new insight or understanding. In this translation, Goldingay does just that. For example, as I study Proverbs I become curious  how the word "dimwit" is translated by more traditional versions, and wonder whether Goldingay takes to much liberty translating the "fear of the Lord" as "awe" (Proverbs 15:16). Also, I am challenged to pay attention in different ways in Genesis when the names of the patriarchs and some of the Biblical lands are translated with words that may be more accurate, but are also less familiar.

Like many newer translations, versions, and different study Bibles, intoductions are provided for each book. The introductions are helpful in and of themselves as well. A glossary is provided in the back of the book as well.

As I read through the text, however, I wonder the following:

  • Is this translation "accessible" to the average folks in the pews? (I have my doubts, especially with the more accurate yet unfamiliar translations of names and places).
  • Would this translation be helpful for sermon preparation? (I actually think it would be.)
  • Will this translation find a broad audience (no clue)
Thus, to summarize, I enjoy reading this translation. It teaches me a lot. However, it may not be for everyone, especially the laypersons of your congregation.

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