Wednesday 13 February 2013

The Knox Bible - Online

I have long been a fan of Monsignor Ronald Knox.  His 'Slow Motion' series of books (The Mass in Slow Motion, The Creed in Slow Motion, and Retreat in Slow Motion) are favourites to which I return frequently.

His translation of the Bible is also the one I read on a daily basis.  It is an astonishing feat, and I understand it to be the last translation (into English) made by a single individual (and apparently it took him nine years), rather than a committee.  That shows: the style is consistent and individual.  Knox has chosen a slightly heightened style (hieratic, one might say) including thee and thou, but also one that is clearly not old-fashioned; indeed at times it is quite idiomatic. 

Thus reading Knox has the refreshing quality of seeing the text anew, without the disconcerting vulgarity, or simple infelicities of style which bedevil some more recent translations.

So I was delighted to see (courtesy a commenter on Fr Z's blog) that it his translation is available online.

To give you a flavour, here is Psalm 22 (or 23):

Psalm 22 (23)

(A psalm. Of David.)

The Lord is my shepherd; how can I lack anything? He gives me a resting-place where there is green pasture, leads me out to the cool water’s brink, refreshed and content. As in honour pledged, by sure paths he leads me; dark be the valley about my path, hurt I fear none while he is with me; thy rod, thy crook are my comfort. Envious my foes watch, while thou dost spread a banquet for me; richly thou dost anoint my head with oil, well filled my cup. All my life thy loving favour pursues me; through the long years the Lord’s house shall be my dwelling-place.

and here is St Luke, telling of the Annunciation:

When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 where a virgin dwelt, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 Into her presence the angel came, and said, Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.[d] 29 She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, and cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting.30 Then the angel said to her, Mary, do not be afraid; thou hast found favour in the sight of God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call him Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and men will know him for the Son of the most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; 33 his kingdom shall never have an end. 34 But Mary said to the angel, How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man? 35 And the angel answered her, The Holy Spirit will come upon thee, and the power of the most High will overshadow thee. Thus this holy offspring of thine shall be known for the Son of God. 36 See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, 37 to prove that nothing can be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word. And with that the angel left her.

Knox's translation is also republished by Baronius Press, if you wish to buy a copy.

1 comment:

Joseph Shaw said...

See my review in the new Mass of Ages: the Psalter is problematic because he translates the Pian Psalter, not the ancient Latin one.