Youth and Children’s work

Taken from the November edition of YCW Magazine (Youth and Childre’s Work

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 Recent research suggests that as many as 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives. Liz Edge looks at how we can encourage the children and young people in our groups to talk about these issues and seek help where they need it.

If the Bible tells me not to worry, then why am I so anxious all the time? It was questions like this that flooded my mind as a teenager after being diagnosed with anxiety.

I attended a loving church, but no one wanted to answer – or even explore – these sorts of questions. Church members would discourage me from thinking this way and unintentionally pour guilt into my mind for even contemplating these thoughts. Surely I couldn’t be the only teenage Christian living in the void? During my adolescence, I quickly learnt that emotional health and God didn’t mix. Over a decade later, after becoming a professionally qualified youth worker, I realised that young people were still asking similar questions. This void in conversation still exists, yet anxiety in the younger generations is on the rise. The responsibility is ours to help close this void and create a culture of resilient children and young people.

What is anxiety?
Definition: Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It incorporates both the emotions and the physical sensations we might experience when we are worried or nervous about something. Although we usually find it unpleasant, anxiety is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response – our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened. (Mind, 2015).

Anxiety is experienced by everyone at different times in their lives. It is often an unpleasant experience, but it is completely normal in most cases. Common times when a young person may experience bouts of anxiety are sitting an exam or starting a new school. After the exam is sat or the first few days of a new school have passed, the anxious symptoms usually stop and you can continue to normal life.

Signs and symptoms
There are all sorts of physical and physiological indicators that show a young person might be suffering from anxiety. Here’s a list which includes some of the most common factors to keep an eye out for:

- Muscle tension
- Nausea
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling ‘on edge’
- Restlessness
- Sweating
- Hot flushes
- Feeling a sense of numbness
- Pins and needles
- Fearing the worst/sense of dread

YCW (Youth and Children’s Work)

Click here to view Liz edge’s new book Exploring Emotional Health, Available in Paperback and ebook formats 



Still Vaued and Blessed (Review)

Still Valued and Blessed: Patrick Coghlan4 star

Kevin Mayhew In the growing number of books written to help those in their senior years, this will not be a standout addition, yet it does provide a useful resource for those who minister to this significant age group. Coghlan’s main purpose is to develop among seniors a mindset whereby they approach old age with a positive attitude and an expectation that God can still use them. Each chapter is short and to the point, with large-print text. There are many suggestions on how we can be used by God as we grow older: providing a listening ear and a word of encouragement, sharing our wisdom and experience setting a good example for our families, developing a ministry of prayer, and sharing our testimony. The impression given is that old age is not a time for slowing down or of losing focus because God can still use us. Coghlan seems to write for those who are still active, mentally alert and physically fit rather than for those who may be increasingly frail, in need of support and potentially housebound. This makes the book more suitable for the newly retired rather than for those who are true seniors. TH

Exploring Emotional Health


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On average, three children in every class at school are affected by a mental health issue

Did you know …

  • It is estimated that half of all mental health problems manifest before the age of 14 years old

  • Child and adolescent mental health services are turning away approximately 25% of children referred to them for treatment

  • Only 0.7% of the NHS budget is spent on children’s mental health

  • 2 in 5 young carers have a mental health problem

  • 1 in 12 young people self-harm

Youth leaders recognise that issues around emotional health are growing and research shows that young people want to talk about it!

In her debut book, Exploring Emotional Health, author Liz Edge provides key information and six ready-to-go workshops covering: self-esteem; anxiety; depression; self-harm; and identify and coping with emotions, to enable even the busiest of youth leaders to provide effective support in building resilient young people.

Liz says: “This book was born out of identifying personally and professionally the need to support youth leaders and young people in exploring emotional health and faith. Each workshop is the start of an ongoing conversation that we must engage with in our practice.”

Liz Edge is a professionally qualified youth work practitioner, holding a first-class degree in Youth Work and Ministry. She has worked with young people across a wide range of Christian and other settings and now delivers innovative youth work through education, training and intervention.

To contact Liz for interviews and enquiries please email her at Alternatively, head over to her website or follow her on Twitter: @LizEdge_

The Bumper Book of Resources: Instant Youth Group (Volume 8)



Imagine if you had in one place material from some of the most well-respected writers for young people!
Anyone who works with young people knows how difficult it is to come up with something fresh and exciting that will keep them interested. And in today’s increasingly busy world, time is shorter than ever.Now imagine if there was a book that you could just dip into to help you with prayers, services, sermon ideas and illustrative material, both for general and all-age worship, that covers the major festivals of the Christian year …

Well here it is! The Bumper Book of Resources: Instant Youth Group!

Topics covered include:

Weekends away, All-age worship, Getting teenagers to talk, Club sessions, Ice breakers, Quizzes, Sessions for 9-14 year olds, Sessions for 11-16 year olds, The Church Year, Prayers, Dramas

Contributors include: David Adam; Tony Bower; Philip Eley; Nick Fawcett; Michael Forster; David Gatward; Phil Green; Nick Harding; Rob Hurd; Ray Jackson; Susan Sayers; Tim Storey, and Pete Townsend.



Downloadable Clip art resources available

Still Valued and Blessed


When do we move from middle age into old age?  Is it when our hair begins to turn grey – or we lose it? Could it be when we hit the age of being eligible to receive our pensions? Maybe it is at that time of life when we cease to carry out any kind of paid employment? Is it when our health begins to fail, or when we come to a point of realising that we can no longer do what we used to? Many people say that ‘old age’ is all about attitude of mind.

God doesn’t want us to stop living fulfilling lives – filled with joy and hope – just because we have reached a certain age. We still have spiritual needs to be met; callings to fulfil; and, through our relationship with Jesus, an eternal spiritual connection with God that no one and nothing can take away. And this is why I came to write Still Valued and Blessed. Not to try and define when old age does or does not begin, but to encourage the kind of understanding of Scripture, relationship with Jesus and mind-set that enables us to approach, enter and journey through old age with a positive attitude that will enable it to be a spiritually fruitful and fulfilling time of our lives.

Just because we are older, doesn’t mean we have to stop! Indeed, surely it is better to see this stage in all our lives as nothing more – and nothing less – than another chapter! New experiences lie ahead, new wonders, new challenges.

With God beside us, these senior years have as much promise as the ones which we have already lived. It is not about dwelling on the things we can no longer do – though don’t for a minute think just because you’re a certain age you can’t run a half marathon or learn a new skill – it is about seeking God’s continued calling, no matter what our age. And in that, realising and relishing the fact that we are, each and every one of us, Still Valued and Blessed.

Patrick Coghlan

A very personal translation…

Review by The Rev Dr Paul Ellingworth for The Methodist Recorder

The Bible Presentation Edition - Nicholas King

It is probably correct to describe The Bible: A Study Bible, freshly translated by Nicholas King (Kevin Mayhew hardback edition £49.99, presentation edition £59.99), as unique. There have been other English versions of the Bible by single translators such as James Moffatt and Ronald Knox. However, for the last generation or more, these have been based on Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the Old Testament and Greek of the New.

There have also been English translations of the Greek version of the Old Testament, commonly known as the “Septuagint” or “LXX”. Since 1851 the best known of these has been that by a translator with the resounding name of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton; this version was recently republished in American English by Michael Paul Johnson as LXX2012. In addition, there is a “New Translation of the Septuagint” (NETS), published by Oxford University Press in 2007, and reprinted with corrections and emendations in 2009. There are also in progress translations of the Septuagint into Spanish, French and German. So what makes Nicholas King’s version unique? Like the others, it offers an English translation of the Greek Old Testament, including the apocrypha or deuterocanonical writings, misleadingly described by the publishers as being “from the original Greek”; but it adds a translation of the New Testament which is, of course, from the original.

King describes his version as a “Study Bible”. Each book and in the Old testament each group of books (the Pentateuch, the historical books, the wisdom literature, and the prophets), has a concise introduction and explanatory footnotes. In the New Testament, footnotes are limited to references to Old Testament texts; explanatory material is presented on the page in the same type as the text, but heavily indented to avoid confusion.

This is a very personal work. One cannot imagine Moffatt or Knox beginning a preface with the address: “Dear Reader”. King came to understand “this translation [as] a vocation, a calling within the wider calling to be a Jesuit priest who teaches biblical studies”.

He speaks of his surprise when the work was completed and also of “a sense that something is missing which I had come greatly to value”. The language of both translation and additional material is fresh and appropriately informal: the introduction to the Acts of the Apostles begins: “The racy tale that you are about to read …”, and concludes, referring to the Holy Spirit: “Watch how this power is made evident throughout this extraordinary story.”

This is a version intended to be read rather than analysed, so detailed criticism is best left to academic journals.

But readers may be somewhat deterred by a few features which are not part of current English style, such as the repeated “and” at the beginning of sentences in both Old and New Testaments. It would also be helpful if, in any future edition, verses were individually numbered in the New Testament as they are in the Old. It can be frustrating to search for a particular verse in a passage for example, as long as John 8. 12-59 or as compact as Galati ans 3. 6-29. King defends his choice to translate the Septuagint by stating, correctly, that it was “the version most used by our New Testament authors” and that the LXX manuscripts “in some cases preserve a superior reading”. This does not, of course, mean that the LXX as a whole is superior to the Hebrew and Aramaic texts.

The publishers are to be congratulated on producing a book of more than 2,400 pages which is still pleasant to handle. Methodists need have no fear of being led astray by a tendentious Roman Catholic version: Gabriel’s greeting to Mary is rendered: “Rejoice, you who have received favour.” I recommend that readers of the Methodist Recorder look at this translation for themselves – of course along- side others. They will learn much from it and mostly enjoy it.

A quick chat with Ali Dee…

Summer Songs

Describe a typical day in the life of Ali Dee

Currently, my day starts with a bounce (literally!) on my mini trampoline, as I try to convince my body that it is alive and awake and raring to go.  I listen to music while I bounce, looking out into my garden, watching the cats chase the birds in the willow tree.  I’d like to say I listen to music which is uplifting and inspirational, but the reality is that I listen to whatever my husband had put onto his old walkman years ago and spend most of my time skipping tracks!

Shower, jobs and porridge out of the way and I’m off!  And from then on my days can be quite varied …

I work from home, so on a song writing day, I will settle down with my piano, keyboard and computer.  The first I love, the second I tolerate and the third I loathe but couldn’t work without! I often have nuggets of songs (which I record) pop into my head … when I’m washing up or in the car, or quite often at 3 o’clock in the morning which can be irritating, so I may start by listening through these and then begin to develop ideas.

I prefer to be on my own when I write as I like to sing and play without feeling inhibited by other people’s ears.  If it’s a rousing, moving song such as ‘This Could be the Moment’ from Sing with the Stars, I can get quite carried away and if the windows aren’t shut, the neighbours get a real treat!!  If it’s one of my sillier songs such as ‘Spooky Spider’ in Sing Make Believe Songs, then I definitely have to keep the windows closed or I would very quickly be whisked away by the men in white coats!!  I can also be seen dancing and leaping around to some of my action songs – just to make sure they work!  That is fine until the postman walks by the window when I am mid-leap!

On editing days, I am attached by a thread (aka my inbox) to Donald, the wonderful music editor who lives hundreds of miles away, as he tries to make sense of my music and bring it to a semblance of order!

I also work in schools, taking music workshops and on these days I am in full view leaping about with the children as we dance, sing and play instruments with great enthusiasm!  I love these sessions and the creativity the children bring to their music making is inspiring!

What is left of my day then involves squeezing in my mum, my husband, my daughters and my grandchildren and then all those mundane bits of life which we none of us can escape  … and so to bed!  Zzzzz!

Do you have a specific writing/composing process?

No, as with most of my life, it is all fairly erratic.  Having said that, maybe there is some kind of process happening … I usually work on the lyrics and music simultaneously.  Somehow I can’t seem to separate these out from each other, so they tend to grow and develop as one entity.  I sit at the piano to play and sing around an idea that is in my head, jotting things down on bits of paper, teasing out melodies and chords and words as I go along.  Although I do read music, I tend to play by ear and would certainly never sit and write anything out on a piece of manuscript paper.  But eventually, what is in my head has to make it into manuscript form if I want other people to be able to play/sing it, so I turn to my computer program which magically converts what is in my head into something legible (Donald may disagree!).  I would then record what I have written to send off for approval,  struggling I confess, to play from the music I have written (I would prefer to play straight from my head, but as this can change each time I play, I try to conform to what is on paper in front of me)!

Can you tell us some of the styles and influences on your work?

Not sure I’m allowed to do that as it would be advertising the competition – but there are some great children’s composers out there whose work I love!  There are also plenty of children’s songs which are dull and boring and a lot which are just old! It is surprising how many schools still stick with songs that have been around for decades (and they were boring in the first place!) because they lack the confidence or motivation to learn something new.  I think that’s a real shame and the children and staff really miss out on some exciting singing opportunities.  Many more, though, are beginning to realise the value of singing and its importance to school life.  There is a real buzz when you hear a singing school – and a confidence about the children when they sing!  Back to the question! I do, however, glean inspiration from all over the place.  Any music I listen to, be it jazz, folk, pop, classical, world music, whatever,  might pop an idea into my head – maybe a particular rhythm that sounds good or a musical phrase or chord sequence that jumps out at me.  Ideas for lyrics could come from anywhere, a phrase read in a story, a conversation on the radio, a picture that startles me, a walk in the countryside, a peaceful moment in the garden, the design on a pair of curtains, a giggle from a child…


Did you grow up in a musical household?

My dad always loved to sing, very enthusiastically – but not always in tune, but as children we were encouraged to learn to play instruments so I had piano lessons and played in a recorder group.  Like most children, I never wanted to practise and it wasn’t until we all agreed that I didn’t have to take music exams any more that I actually started to enjoy playing.

Was music something you studied formally?

Oops!  Think I tumbled into answering that one too soon!  So, yes, I took piano exams up to grade 5, but then carried on having lessons without the constraints of an exam syllabus and started having fun playing pieces up to around grade 8 standard.  Then followed the years which perhaps changed the way I play forever.  I stopped having lessons, stopped playing from music and started playing by ear.  I found a freedom to express myself musically which I had never known before and loved being able to play something which was all me – not my interpretation of somebody else!  I guess this is where the composer was born.  I taught myself to play the guitar and began to write songs, singing them wherever I could.

Was it always your ambition to reach young children with your music?

I have always loved working with and being around young children and I have always loved music, but it wasn’t until quite late on in my career that the two came together.  Working as a teaching assistant in a local infant school, the music co-ordinator had left and music was in danger of fizzling out.  I offered to take some percussion workshops which were used as a reward for the children who had been picked as ‘Stars of the Week’.  These were hugely successful and I began to put together my ideas for bringing music back into the classroom, writing a topic-based music scheme of work for the whole school which provided the children with lots of hands-on instrument playing and exciting music projects to engage with.  At the same time, I began writing songs for the school – a school anthem, which made the staff and parents cry every time the children sang it, and a song about the school motto. From the on teachers would say ‘do you know a song about …?’ and I would say ‘no, but I will write one’!  And so began the song writing for children.  I had a ready made quality control system in the children … they tend only to sing really well the songs that they really like.  And, fortunately for me, they seemed to like my songs!

Do you offer individual mentorship or workshops?

I work predominantly in schools, running music workshops for whole classes.  These are either one-off music sessions or longer term projects where I work with a class over a period of weeks, for instance, to create a composition which they can then perform.  This kind of workshop requires a lot of energy and organisation, and is the sort of thing that can be difficult for class teachers to fit in themselves on top of everything else that is demanded of them.  Many teachers have commented on the fact that as they are not responsible for running the sessions, it frees them up to really see what the children are capable of and they are frequently amazed by what even the very young children can achieve!

What reasons would you give for using your music?

As with all aspects of education, I do think it is crucial to constantly find new things to inspire, not to get stuck in ruts of doing something because that is how or what has always been done.  Therefore new music is always important to keep singing alive and vibrant.  Why use mine?  I always write for a reason, not on demand, and so I feel that all my music comes from inside me.  It therefore hopefully reflects my character and is original, genuine, quirky, funny or moving.  The children are the true test of my songs, and all the feedback I get is that they love to sing them.  I can’t ask for higher praise than that!

What are your hopes and intentions for the Sing series?

I would love for this series to take off in schools across the UK and beyond.  It provides songs for so many of the popular school topics, for supporting PSHE work and assemblies, for choirs and for singing in the classroom.  There are plenty of simple, catchy songs but also those with optional harmonies and second parts to stretch the more adventurous.  I do think there is something in here for pretty much every occasion, and hopefully more to come!

How long did the series take you to write/compose?

It is still ongoing really, as more are coming out this year and I hope to continue to write more books.  Some are songs I wrote when I was a teaching assistant, but most have been written in the last couple of years.

There's always one!

If you had to be a character in one of your musicals who would it be and why?

Hmm… that’s a tricky one!  I think it would either have to be Our Duckling from ‘There’s Always One’ or Shirley the Sheep in ‘The Fleas’ Christmas Story’.  Our Duckling is one of those characters you just can’t keep down – there is so much to explore and discover, he is all over the place, into everything, causing mayhem but loved by everyone!  Shirley only has a small part in the Christmas story, but her character comes across in the song ‘A very excited sheep’.  She, like Our Duckling, is so exuberant, that she just bursts out into bounces, hops and skips as she can’t contain her excitement about this new baby.  Maybe these choices reflect something of my character ?!  I blame my hair which has something of a wild and excitable nature!

What can we look forward to next from you?

The Drummer Boy is coming out very soon – a new Christmas musical for KS 2 children which I am very excited about.  There is scope not just for singing and acting but also for budding musicians to play their part too.

More books in the Sing series are on their way – one for each season.

And we are currently working on a big project which is due out in September. This is going to be a fully resourced topic based, but highly adaptable, scheme of work for children in Foundation Stage (F2) and Key Stage One.  There are six projects based on popular topics such as recycling, castles and gardens but all of them can easily be adapted to fit many other topics.  Each project will have a series of music lesson plans for each year group, a listening unit, musical stories and poems, songs and interactive elements.  All come with resources such as music clips, videos, power point presentations, pictures etc provided.  This is a huge project, not just for me but for the whole team at Kevin Mayhew, who are working fast and furiously and incredibly skilfully as I write!  I have done all the donkey work, but they are the ones who are about to bring it all to life!  Watch this space…

From the archives: Finding your Inner Treasure (2010) ~ Helen Warwick


A good proportion of this rather meaty 346 page book is made up of hands-on exercises involving (amongst other things) paper, felt tips, paint, symbols, words, magazine cuttings, dough, the Bible and using the imagination- all of which are aimed at getting you to learn ‘the language of your unconscious to connect to God in a way that’s personal to you.’ All of these techniques require an instinctive approach, and are very much grounded in interpretation and looking for connections between what’s happening in your life and what you’ve found yourself visualising, sculpting or putting down on paper.

Notable chapters deal with examining the pace of your life,decision making and finding your true purpose. Later chapters seem to have a kind of anchoring effect which may appeal to those who have problems living in the present moment or who are anxious about what the future might bring. Her reflections on the Bible and the way she relates it to back to life issues will suit all readers- whether your copy is gathering dust on a shelf or you’re just looking for a fresh approach to it.

Reflections on Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, The Catcher in the Rye, Henri Nouwen and St Teresa of Avila also make a pleasing appearance and there are some candid insights into her past struggle with ME, her life in general, as well as methods and case studies from her work as a Spiritual Director.

Early on in the book, Helen writes with the assumption that the majority of her readers will have lost touch with their creativity at some point along the way and offers reassurance to those who may be sceptical about some of her methods. She also speaks directly to those with busy lives with little time for reflection, promising them a journey towards wholeness. For those who are already in touch with their creativity and/or spirituality the book offers a fun and fresh take on exploring your inner landscape and something that will go some way to consolidate the insights already gained on your spiritual journey.

Finding your Inner Treasure is available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from Kevin Mayhew online or by telephone 01449 737978
Posted by Sarah

How low can you go? Hymns in lower keys

Chubby Checker Limbo Party

We haven’t been practising the limbo in the KM office this week!…but thinking generally about hymns in lower keys and a resource (Hymn Tunes in Lower Keys) that we published back in 2011 for which we’ve always received postive feedback: I simply had to write to tell you what a phenomenal difference the book has made! The response of church and crematorium congregations has been wonderful. Once they realise they can actually manage ALL the notes of the melody without bursting blood vessels…my word, they have been singing with some oomph!- Without wishing to be blasphemous, this book has become my BIBLE- it never leaves my side during the working day! (Dr David N. Evans)

Hymn tunes in Lower Keys

Do you find that most hymns in today’s hymnals are written in keys too high for the average churchgoer to sing? This (apparently) despite many hymns being in lower keys today than they were in hymnals fifty years ago. Musicians have various theories as to why hymns now seem too high: “Hymns were always too high, but in the past, vocal styles were different. Singers of whatever genre didn’t belt out a song the way American Idol contestants do today. Voices were thinner and more fluid, allowing for a larger range….” Says one Blogger here:

…I suspect it was and still is a struggle though- for those who are simply more comfortable in the low part of their vocal range, or that have a voice that suits the lower range of notes.

Maybe you are someone who can transpose notes ‘at sight’? Perhaps Kevin Mayhew resources are ideal for you or maybe they are too low or not low enough?! Do you use lower key resources but switch to higher keys once your voice has warmed up? Whatever your experience we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch below or by email, Facebook or Twitter!

50 Hymns in Lower Keys

Both resources are available from all good Music Shops and Christian Bookshops. You can also purchase them direct from the KM website (Book) and (CD)

Posted by Sarah

Q&A with Nicholas King

Nick King

If you didn’t catch Nicholas King’s talk on Bible translation at CRE, Sandown earlier this month, then you will have missed one of the highlights of the whole event; delivered with humour, humility and zest,  I was inspired to put on my theology hat for a bumper blog post! Below the respected New Testament scholar and Oxford University lecturer talks New Testament ‘freshness’, Hebrew, learning Zulu passed 40, ‘elderly gym antics’ and the ‘impossibly difficult task’ that is Bible translation!

At a recent talk given at CRE, Sandown you said you began by translating two Gospels simply ‘just to see what it was like’. You’ve also been quoted as saying that Bible translation happens because ‘the community has forgotten the language of the sacred texts’- do you think subconsciously you were feeling this when you chose to translate?

I don’t think that was what was going on inside me; I sat down to translate Mark and John because I had to give a summer school about the two of them, and there is no better way of getting a ‘feel’ for a document than to translate it. And it was certainly a great education.

Nicholas King
Nick signs copies of his latest book ‘The Prophets’

What age did you begin learning Hebrew, how long did it take you to master and also what advice would you give to someone wanting to learn the language?

I started learning Hebrew in my mid-20s; and my advice is that the brain works better the younger you are. I learnt Zulu when I was past 40, and that was really hard work. The only advice is that learning a language is very hard work, and you must never give up. Do a bit every single day; do new stuff in the morning, and familiar material last thing at night before you go to sleep.

Nick King - Book Signing

Presumably you’ve read the bible simply as a reader and believer in God as much as you’ve read it as a scholar…how much do you think personal beliefs inadvertently ‘cloud’ a translation…would having no belief in God take some of the feeling out of the text?

Many non-believers have worked on the biblical texts (though I sometimes wonder why); so it is certainly possible to work on them without believing in them. As for being clouded by ‘personal beliefs’,any translator is the person they are and not some other person, and what you do as a translator is greatly affected by the person you are.

Before you began each of your translations did you have an idea of what you didn’t want to produce…what you didn’t want it to sound like and also how you’d strike a balance between literal renderings and paraphrase; about pitch of discourse, style and format?

Before I started the translation, I thought translation was easy; I thought, for example, that every word in the source language would always be translated by the same word in the target-language, and that I could control the effect of what I was doing. I found in fact that the translation dictated itself, and that it was out of my hands. The one quality that I wanted the NT to have was that of ‘freshness’ which is there in the 27 documents that make up the original; and I am pleased to notice that several reviewers have used that word. Now I know that translation is an impossibly difficult task.

The Old Testament - Nicholas King

Did you find yourself seeing, in your minds eye, the various people in the Bible– was there enough there in the text to get that kind of clarity?

One always forms an impression of the people who are part of the narrative; how accurate the impression is, must be, of course, another matter.

You spoke of avoiding ‘puréed sludge’; translating the various voices in a way that they all retained their uniqueness rather than sounding like one and the same. Are you able to summarise in one or two words the personalities/character traits of say, Matthew, Mark and Paul?

Matthew: a school-teacher, with all that implies
Mark: young and vigorous
Paul: a great lover

The New Testament - MathewThe New Testament - Mark

Have there been many sleepless nights during the course of translating the Bible and has there been anything that was particularly difficult to translate?

The hardest bit was Romans; at times I found that the closer I looked the less I understood what Paul was saying.

Not that man - Nicholas King

Are there any parts that seemed ‘easier’ than others to translate and why do you think this was?

Perhaps Joshua to 2 Kings, the ‘Deuteronomic History’, because it is mainly narrative. Ruth, because it is a breath of fresh air after the appalling narratives with which the book of Judges ends.

Who or what kept you sane throughout…I read that you’re a big cricket fan so perhaps watching/playing?

Playing cricket and squash, as well as some running and downhill skiing, until osteo-arthritis brought retirement upon me. Now I content myself with elderly antics in the gym.

Did you check your translations with other readers?

For some reason I felt very private about the translations, preferring to wait and see how readers reacted. However I had an excellent copy- editor in Peter Dainty, who was incredibly vigilant, and a former student, Yolande Trainor, who read every word of the text with her Ladies’ Bible Study group in South Africa, and preserved me from many blunders.

With regards to the things left unspoken in the Bible, for instance in Mark 16:8…why do you think that some translators have felt the need to fill in the gaps- do you think it’s because they didn’t trust the reader to get the nuances in the text or simply because they wanted to put their own stamp on it?

It is probably a bit of both; biblical narrative operates by understatement, such, for example as the terrible story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, which is simply crying out to fill in the gaps. And quite often later authors have been unable to resist the temptation to fill them in.

Strangest Gospel - Nicholas King

You have said “The Greek text of the New Testament is only a scholars’ guess, and what we have in our modern editions is not a manuscript that ever existed; all the manuscripts that we possess have mistakes in them, so we do not even know what the original text was”…does this conflict in any away with your belief that god’s voice is just below the surfacedo you believe that this voice will get harder to hear/find?

This is where the Church comes in; we get the Bible from the Christian community, and not the other way round. However (and this is really important) it is also true that the Church is subservient to the text, as well as being its source, and we all have to listen to that voice of God which is there “below the surface of the text”, whatever the quality of the translation, and whatever the state of the manuscripts.


You mentioned the biblical narrative has ‘a certain fullness’ would you say that in distilling/ editing this ‘fullness’ in your own translations you’ve done away with poetics? Was there a chance that the translation would not only have been ineligible but twice the size if you’d left the ‘fullness’?

“A certain fullness”. I can’t quite remember saying this, nor what precisely what I might have meant by it! However I have tried to be faithful to the text, and where it was poetic I have tried to be poetic, and so I don’t think that I distilled it in a way that would have made my final text notably shorter than the original.

At CRE, you spoke of your affinity with Ronnie Knox (a theologian who amongst other things translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, using Hebrew and Greek sources)– remarking that you said a prayer at this grave in ‘allegiance’. Are there other people you admire/feel an allegiance to?

The list is too long, but those who taught me above all. In different places, Peter Hardwick (and he would be surprised by that), and Geza Vermes, both of whom have died this year; Robert Murray SJ, Professor Christopher Rowland – and many many others.

Father Ronald Knox
Father Ronald Knox d. 1957

Has translating the Bible changed your understanding of it in any significant way? And would you say it’s strengthened your faith?

One thing that it has taught me is how much I love the bible. And, yes, I think that my faith has gone deeper.

And finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to translate the bible?

Think twice about it.


With special thanks to Nick for this interview!

Posted by Sarah

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