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  • Jim Edwards

Living and Breathing the Psalms - a translation?

My first 'Living and Breathing' book was on the Psalms, and do I include that as a translation? No! No way! This is taking what those Psalmists wrote and re-interpreting it through our Christian faith and understanding. This is interpreting those songs and prayers, through our knowledge of Father God as revealed to us through Jesus, who came to show us what the Father is really like.

While one can hardly call this a translation, I have tried to maintain and include many of the details and nuances of the original. So in my translations of the Epistles where the New Testament writers quote the Psalms, I have quoted from Living and Breathing the Psalms which usually illustrates these truths very powerfully.

David and the Sons of Korah set up 24/7 praise and worship in an era when this was completely unknown. This was in an era when only one priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year. But these worshipped around the Ark of the Covenant, the very Presence of the Lord, day in, day out. So many of these songs are directly addressed to the Lord, and come from this constant experience. So often these come with an understanding of forgiveness and a love relationship that we only experience through the love of Jesus, particularly Psalms 37, Psalm 42, Psalm 73, and Psalm 139. But this side of the cross when we are called to come into such a love relationship, through Jesus, surely this is how they should all be phrased,

Just as Amos declares, “on that day I will restore the tabernacle of David which has fallen down, and repair its damages,” Amos 9:11.

So I hope I have done justice to these wonderful songs and prayers. I read them myself, usually last thing at night or first thing in the morning, and find them hugely encouraging to engender a truly thankful heart and mind. But please… don’t try and sit down to read them from cover to cover. These are to be read, prayed through with Father God, soaking in His Love and Presence.

No, I best describe Living and Breathing the Psalms as a personal prayer walk.

By contrast, the coming Living and Breathing Hebrews to Jude is an amplified paraphrase, into today's language, which I would refer to as a translation. This will be a detailed expression of the writers’ original meaning and intent, as far as we can currently understand, but expressed in the everyday language of the 21st Century. Now this is also amplified to explain the meaning, references and where necessary the context too. It is only in Biblical matters is a ‘translation’ restricted to a word for word transcription – in any other field a translation is that expression of the original meaning into another language.

However, in biblical matters we have to translate that expression into a different culture with little or no understanding or comprehension of the original culture – its norms or values. And the different recipients of the different letters had different cultures themselves. Ephesus was a matriarchal society where women ruled in no uncertain terms. By contrast, the Judean culture treated women as little more than slaves. So we need to translate these letters, mindful of those to whom they were addressed, and often this will require an explanation for today’s reader.

While I love the Amplified Translation in many ways, I find the main amplifications are over single words, rather than amplifying to help make for better sense of the passage as a whole. This is what I have endeavored to do in Living and Breathing Hebrews to Jude.

I am repeatedly surprised at my very different wording – I hope you too find it helpful.

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