A distinctive paraphrase

An extended translation…

Word Come Alive is an extended translation or paraphrase with words added to explain and at times apply the text, much as a preacher does on a Sunday or notes do at the foot of the page in a study Bible. These additions are within the text itself, and are in italics, so readers can see what has been changed or added. For example:

Matthew 11:28-30
28 ‘Come to me, all of you who are worn out, overwhelmed and weighed down by the stresses and strains of life. I will relieve you of these heavy burdens. 29 Submit to me; live your life harnessed to me. Follow me and become my apprentices. Let me teach you and train you because I am sensitive and humble in heart and you will find spiritual strength and refreshment. 30 Following me is a delightful joy, not a chore or heavy burden.’

The device of using italics to translate words that were not in the original text is used in the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible; I have extended its application.

Contemporary English…

Word Come Alive is written in contemporary, slightly informal and slightly idiomatic English to reflect the fact that most of the New Testament was written in Koinē (common, everyday) Greek. This is consistent with my aim of helping readers easily understand the message of the New Testament and so respond to its challenge. Examples:

Luke 9:58
Jesus answered him, ‘Do you know what you’re saying? Foxes live in holes and birds live in nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no fixed home to rest in. Following me is no picnic. It’s a tough life. Have you really counted the cost of following me?

In John 14–16 the contemporary word ‘Mentor’ is used to refer to the Holy Spirit as the ‘Advocate’, ‘Counsellor’ or ‘Helper’.

Acts 1:8
‘You will receive power from heaven when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Only when you’re brimming over with the energy of the Holy Spirit will you be equipped to take the initiative and be effective witnesses for me. The Holy Spirit will mobilise you to boldly declare the good news. You will go out in ever-widening circles, first to Jerusalem, next to all of Judea and Samaria and then eventually to the furthest corners of the earth.’

British English…

Word Come Alive is in British English

Spellings and punctuation

The text uses single quotes not double at first level; -t rather than -ed: ‘leant’, not ‘leaned’


John 4:39
‘He’s told me everything I’ve ever done.’ (US would have: ‘He told me everything I ever did’)

Idiomatic expressions

John 6:8-9
Just then, another one of Jesus’ apprentices, Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother) spoke up, ‘There’s a young boy here with five small loaves of barley and two small fish, but that’s just a drop in the ocean compared to what’s needed for everyone here!’ (US would have: ‘a drop in the bucket’)

What text has been used for ‘Word Come Alive’?

Word Come Alive is an expanded translation (paraphrase) that uses the dynamic equivalent principle of translation.

I and my reviewers have worked from and checked this text against the latest edition of United Bible Societies’ Novum Testamentum Graece [Greek New Testament] (Nestle-Aland). I have also consulted other English translations of the Bible and a wide range of Bible commentaries, dictionaries and other reference sources.

As important as the biblical reference sources that I have consulted have been English-language resources, such as dictionaries, thesauruses (or thesauri, if you prefer), books on English grammar and usage, and dictionaries of collocations (word partners) and phrasal verbs.

My reviewers are respected authorities on the New Testament:

  • Gervais Angel, formerly New Testament Greek Examiner for the Church of England and tutor in New Testament Greek at Trinity College, Bristol, United Kingdom.
  • Dr Pieter Lalleman, Pastor of Knaphill Baptist Church, Surrey, United Kingdom and Senior Research Fellow of Spurgeon’s College, London, United Kingdom.

How have you dealt with anachronisms and cultural aspects?

Every Bible translator (and indeed every writer) has to make decisions about their choice of words. Even the previous sentence here is a case in point. It shows a particular choice in the word ‘their’. If I had been writing this text forty years ago I might well have put ‘his’ [to refer to male or female writers] or possibly ‘his or her.’ My choice is ‘their.’

Readers who want to pursue this could examine the relevant usage notes in successive editions of the Concise Oxford Dictionary e.g., from 1964 (fifth edition) onwards and also the Oxford Dictionary of English (first edition 1998). ‘In the late 20th century, as the traditional use of he to refer to a person of either sex came under scrutiny on the grounds of sexism, this use of they became more common. It is now generally accepted in contexts where it follows an indefinite pronoun such as anyone, no one, someone, or a person … In other contexts, coming after singular nouns, the use of they is now common, though less widely accepted, especially in formal contexts.’ Oxford Dictionary of English (second edition 2003, usage note at they, page 1832). I have also commented on this in my Good Word Guide, 7th edition (Bloomsbury, 2011).

  • On cultural matters, my preference has been to express the text as far as possible in contemporary terms: I was faced with similar difficulties in updating Matthew Henry’s 8-million-word Commentary (Martin Manser, Revising Editor, The New Matthew Henry Commentary: Unabridged, Zondervan, 2013).
  • Days of the week: alongside ‘Sabbath’ to say ‘Sunday’, ‘Friday’, etc.
  • Times of day: to use our clock, e.g., ‘12 noon’
  • Weights and measures: normally to use metric, except for certain non-metric ones, for example, miles.

By ‘anachronism’ I mean something that is set in a different time, not something that is old-fashioned. Examples of things that existed in Bible times but not then known by contemporary words that I may use:

  • Jacket The moment Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It’s the Lord!’ he wrapped his fisherman’s jacket tightly round him (because he had hardly anything on) and jumped into the water. John 21:7
  • Leave your comfort zone ‘You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and commissioned you to go and leave your comfort zone to bear fruit.’ John 15:16
  • Library Jesus did very many other things as well. Actually, I think if they were each written down then all the libraries of books about him could not fit into the whole world. John 21:25
  • Roll out the red carpet If I go and get your rooms ready, I will then ‘roll out the red carpet’ for you all. I will return and welcome you with open arms. John 14:3

Use of footnotes

Footnotes are used to refer to passages quoted from the Old Testament and to give different interpretations of the text.