This daily feature is an introduction to a full book review by Philip L. Barlow. To read the full text of this review, follow the link below.
Thomas Wayment, classics professor at Brigham Young University, has earned a reputation as one of the most capable and reliable Latter-day Saint scholars of the New Testament and the ancient classical world in which Christianity arose. Educated at the Claremont Graduate School of Religion, Wayment generally addresses Latter-day Saint audiences, whose faith he shares. His writing includes credible work on New Testament manuscript traditions, Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, and the historical lives of Jesus and Paul. Wayment has now accomplished his most ambitious project to date: a fresh translation, based on the best available Greek manuscripts, of the entire New Testament into a modern, lucid English.
Wayment’s translation seeks to serve the perceived needs of English-speaking members of the Church. This goal is evident in both the translation proper and the supplementary material. Wayment explains the need for a New Testament in readily understood modern prose: “Jesus did not speak using archaic English terms and phrases. His speech was quite ordinary [for its time and place]. . . . As language evolves, so too translations need to evolve” (viii). A student of scripture, for example, can with Wayment’s translation conveniently read Jesus’s parable of the wheat and weeds in Matthew 13 without having to look at a footnote to learn what tares are (31–32). But more than mere convenience is at stake in this translation. In many passages, Wayment’s modern English can save a hapless reader from being stumped by intricate Pauline arguments that are entangled in the half-foreign tongue of Jacobian English. Wayment’s modernizing service to us is important. His text is readable and intelligible, hence inviting.