I’ve spent a few hours looking at N.T. Wright’s translation of the New Testament. It is called The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation. In the Preface Wright makes it clear that this “is a translation, not a paraphrase.” (xii) He also explains that he has been risky with other words such as the Greek word Chistos which most versions translate as Christ. To help the reader understand this is not Jesus’ surname he says he “experimented not only with ‘Messiah’ (which is what the word literally means) but sometimes, too, with “King.’” (xiii) He says the translation “was originally to accompany a series of ‘guides’ or popular commentaries on the New Testament. This series (Matthew for Everyone and the rest) was itself designed for people who would never normally read a ‘biblical commentary,’ but who just wanted some help to get into the text for themselves.” (xv) I was under the assumption that this was simply the translation used in the commentaries simply gathered together into one place. I have, however, found one difference between the New Testament translation and the commentary translation. It is John 2:4. In the New Testament it reads: “Oh, Mother!” replied Jesus, ‘What’s that got to do with you and me? My time hasn’t come yet.” I was surprised by the “Oh, Mother!” so I looked it up in his commentary to see if that would help and I found this translation: “All right, mother,’ replied Jesus, ‘but what’s that got to do with you and me? My time hasn’t come yet.” The difference is minor but the former seems to express more frustration than the latter (especially with an exclamation mark!).

First, some general observations about the book as a whole. It comes in hardcover only and is single-column text with section headings printed in the margins. It is black-letter text on regular paper (not thin Bible paper). There are maps but most of them are throughout the book of Acts. Each map in Acts has a note indicating the passage in the book where that particular map covers. Here are some highlights from the text.
Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest, And peace upon earth among those in his favor.”
1 Cor. 15:46 – “But you don’t get the spirit-animated body first; you get the nature-animated one, and you get the spirit-animated one later.”
1 John 2:18 – “Children, it is the last hour. You have heard that ‘Antimessiah’ is coming—and now many Antimessiahs have appeared! That’s how we know that it is the last hour.”
Matt. 16:18 – “And I’ve got something to tell you, too: you are Peter, the rock, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell won’t overpower it.”
Matt. 4:4 – “The Bible says,” replied Jesus, “that it takes more than bread to keep you alive. You actually live on every word that comes out of God’s mouth.” (See also John 7:38; 12:14; 13:18 “the Bible says”)
Gal. 6:16 – “Peace and mercy on everyone who lines up by that standard—yes, on God’s Israel.”

Of course the influence of the New Perspective is prevalent throughout Paul’s writings.  Rom. 3:25-26 – “God put Jesus forth as the place of mercy, through faithfulness, by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his covenant justice, because of the passing over (in divine forbearance) of sins committed beforehand. This was to demonstrate the covenant justice in the present time: that is, that he himself is in the right, and that he declares to be in the right everyone who trusts in the faithfulness of Jesus.”
Phil. 3:9 – “and that I may be discovered in him, not having my own covenant status defined by the Torah, but the status which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness: the covenant status from God which is given to faith.”

Ardel Caneday complained in an essay that two popular translations (NET and ISV) were inconsistent in their rendering of pistis Christou in Gal. 3:22-26. To be consistent, he claimed, they should have translated the passage “with reference to this faithfulness.” (“The Faithfulness of Jesus Christ as a Theme in Paul’s Theology in Galatians,” in The Faith of Jesus Christ edited by Michael Bird and Preston Sprinkle, p. 187.) No such inconsistency can said of Wright. His translation reads:

“But the Bible shut up everything together under the power of sin, so that the promise—which comes by the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah—should be given to those who believe. Before this faithfulness arrived, we were kept under guard by the law, in close confinement until the coming faithfulness should be revealed. Thus the law was like a babysitter for us, looking after us until the coming of the Messiah, so that we might be given covenant membership on the basis of faithfulness. But now the faithfulness has come, we are no longer under the rule of the babysitter. For you are all children of God, through faith, in the Messiah, Jesus.”

Overall I found the translation to be fresh yet different. I’m not sure why Matt. 16:23 reads “Get behind me, Satan!” while Mark 8:33 says, “Get behind me, Accuser!” The use of contractions is one thing but I did find it odd to see “What d’you mean?” (Mark 9:23; see also John 11:56). Also new to me was Jesus healing people of a “virulent skin disease” (Luke 5:12; Matt. 8:2). I suppose it’s better than “leprosy” but I don’t use “virulent” that often. Catholics will object to Matt. 1:25 which reads “but he [Joseph] didn’t have sexual relations with her until after the birth of her son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” But I think they may like what he did with Matt. 16:18 (see above). I was amused at Jesus walking on the water. The passage says (Matt. 14:26-27), “The disciples saw him walking on the sea and panicked. ‘It’s a ghost!’ they said, and they screamed in terror. But Jesus at once spoke to them. ‘Cheer up,’ he said, ‘it’s me! Don’t be frightened!” If someone “screams in terror” I wouldn’t tell them to “cheer up.” But now I’m nit picking. John 3:16 will take some warming up to. “This, you see, is how much God loved the world: enough to give his only, special son, so that everyone who believes in him should not be lost but should share in the life of God’s new age.” This won’t become my regular reading Bible but I like it better than The Message.