Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The New Testament by Fr Nicholas King.

The New Testament, by Nicholas King.

So there I was, in Waterstones, trying to buy a copy of this startling new translation of the New Testament. I queued at the correct counter and when asked what the book was called said, perfectly accurately, 'The New Testament'. 'Who is the author' was the next question, which I suppose is reasonable enough in a neo-secular town like Manchester, 'Nicholas King', I said. This, of course, is not entirely accurate, because Nicholas King is the translator, as I hope you all have gathered. 'Is that the Bible?' was the next question, 'cos we've loads of them, in all sorts of versions'. 'No, it is only part of the Bible' said I. 'Is it a new part?' 'No, it's an old part, just a new translation'. By this point we were both, or certainly I was, in need of a drink and the thought of a pint of best at Mr Thomas' Chop House next door was hard to deny. Eventually, as you can see in the picture above, I was able to find a copy. I think it was with 'self help', which amused me at the time, but is, really, probably the best place for any Bible.

Anyway, it gets a mention here because I use it regularly now for readings at Bible studies and prayer groups and it is written in such a way as to make people listen anew to the stories in the New Testament and to generate discussion afterwards. It also makes me smile from time to time because it reminds me of bucolic summers at school in Lancashire, when Fr Nick, the author, was one of my teachers and it reminds me, moreover, of the beauty of a properly realised vocation, whatever it be to do, a priest, teacher, nurse, parent..... We are lucky to live in a society where we can sometimes sit back on the grass and mull over the pattern of our lives and it makes me smile, again, when I stand up and talk to a group with a copy of Fr Nick's book in my hand, at how things move in circular motions.

We are all directed by the gentle voice of God, I to what I do (and what a surprise it was when I realised, like a lifetime Telegraph taker suddenly finding that all the answers are in the Guardian) and all of us in what we, individually, do. Part of the right worship of God lies in hearing His voice in the bustle and in the desert. I thank God that I have taken the time to hear His voice in the long grasses and am here today. I do not guarantee that the purchase of this book will bring you Zen-like calm, but I can recommend it to you wholeheartedly. It helps us to hear the word of God afresh, and that is beyond any price.