A remarkable and accessible new translation of the Gospels, destined to become a definitive edition of these canonical texts, from one of today’s most respected translators of ancient literature
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY • “Electrifying . . . [Ruden transforms] these most familiar of ancient texts into fresh reading experiences.”—The Christian Science Monitor
For millennia, the first four books of the New Testament have not only supported the central tenets of Christianity but have also proved to be formative texts for the modern Western world.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—but they are perhaps best understood as four separate versions of the same story, showing complex origins, intricate interweavings, and often inherent contradictions.
Faithfully pointing the reader back to the original Greek, this masterful new translation from the renowned scholar and acclaimed translator Sarah Ruden is the first to reconsider the Gospels as books to be read and understood on their own terms.
Mediating between the authors of the Gospels and present-day readers with unprecedented precision and sensitivity, Ruden gives us the most accessible version of the text available to date. Illuminating footnotes and a discursive glossary explain new word choices and phrasings, and present the Gospels as they originally were: grounded in contemporary languages, literatures, and cultures, full of their own particular drama, humor, and reasoning, and free from later superimposed ideologies.
The result is a striking and persuasive reappraisal of the accounts of these four evangelists, and presents a new appreciation of the ancient world as the foundation of our modern one. This robust and eminently readable translation is a welcoming ground on which a variety of readers can meet, and a resource for new debate, discussion, and inspiration for years to come.
About the Author
Sarah Ruden was educated at the University of Michigan, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins. She has translated a number of ancient literary works, among them Vergil's Aeneid and Augustine's Confessions, and is the author of Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time and The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible. She is a past recipient of Guggenheim and Whiting awards, and completed the Gospels translation with the help of a grant from the Robert B. Silvers Foundation. Formerly a scholar-in-residence at Yale Divinity School, she is currently a visiting researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.
“One of our greatest living translators . . . [Sarah] Ruden’s rhetoric throughout is sharp and bright, as compulsively readable as she contends the originals were written to be.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Fascinating . . . [Sarah Ruden’s] new translation of the four canonical accounts of Christ’s life is somehow both clever and wry, serious and sincere. . . . [It returns] much of the Gospels to the fresh clay from which they were made, before they hardened into their familiar forms. . . . For anyone wanting to read the Gospels anew, it will be a welcome and challenging companion.”—The New Yorker
“Let the epistemic humility that guides her in this work, her English translation of the canonical gospels, be for us a lesson in how to read the Bible. Like all translations, Ruden’s thought-provoking version of the gospels is an interpretation. It’s not the only translation you should work with, but it’s one of them. Add it to your library.” —National Review
“Ruden (The Face of Water) wrestles fresh meaning from Christianity’s sacred texts in her startling new translation of the four Gospels. Working from the original Greek text and within the context of the ancient Greco-Roman-Jewish era, Ruden strives to rescue a ‘defensively hermetic’ text from ‘under the muffling, alien weight of later Christian institutions.’ The result makes the familiar unfamiliar and intriguing… This audacious translation is essential reading for anyone who thinks they already know the Gospels.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Ruden is one of the leading translators of ancient classical literature and has taken a unique and innovative approach in this latest book….Her translation draws closely from the Greek text, showing clearly such elements as wordplay, humor, color, and imagery. She also takes care to translate with contemporary readers in mind, avoiding words and phrases that might be misleading or unclear…. An instructive and thought-provoking translation of the Gospels, and their historical context, that will interest a variety of readers, from students to scholars.”—Library Journal
Praise for Sarah Ruden The Aeneid
“The best translation yet, certainly the best of our time.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
“The first translation since Dryden’s that can be read as a great English poem in itself.”—Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books The Face of Water
“If you seriously want to know what the Bible says . . . Sarah Ruden is the best guide you are likely to find: friendly, informal, yet with a scholarly grasp of just how unrealizable perfect translation is.”—J. M. Coetzee
“This combination of casual ease and serious scholarship allows Ruden to bring fresh insights into even the most familiar stories. . . . A true pleasure for anyone with an interest in translation or the Bible.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)