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Monday, 15 October 2012

New edition of Ronald Knox Bible from Baronius Press


Baronius Press today launches its new edition of the Knox version of the Bible.

Mgr Ronald Knox translated the Bible according to the classical English pattern (now found more commonly in the United States) rendering the text accurately into good English so that it would sound as if an Englishman had written it.

I have a 1955 edition given to me on the occasion of my Confirmation by my great-aunt, "Auntie Stella" who was "Mother Theresa" in the Daughters of Jesus. I took it with me to Rome as a student. One year (I think as an optional course in second cycle) I went to lectures given by a kindly American priest on the redaction criticism of the gospels. I think that he wanted to check that people were present, so he would look down his list, select a name and ask the person to read the passage under consideration from the bible that he had with him. He would then ask which translation the student had used. In a slightly mischievous frame of mind, once I saw that this was done regularly, and that the normal answer was "the new American Bible, Father" or "The Jerusalem Bible, Father", I made sure to be prepared. It was fun to get the chance to answer in a slightly hammed-up Oxford accent "The Ronald Knox version, Father."

Along with a summary of his principles of translation which are well worth reading, Mgr Knox details in his book "On Englishing the Bible" some of the problems that and frustrations that he encountered in getting his translation approved by the Bishops. It is immensely sad to consider that just a few years after his death, the hierarchy gave approval for the liturgical use of the vastly inferior translation of the "Jerusalem Bible" with which we most Catholics have been lumbered ever since. (A copy of "On Englishing the Bible" comes free with the new Baronius edition of his translation.)

Baronius has the objective of producing fine quality books in durable binding, completely re-typeset (rather than facsimiles). Paradoxically, this is a strategy well-suited to the age of the e-book reader. There is little point nowadays in buying a cheap glued paperback when you can put the text on an e-book reader, but the delight of really well produced books will stay with us, and we need publishers like Baronius to produce fine books. They have also worked with Biblegateway.com to make the text available online, recognising the worth of electronic texts alongside fine editions of those texts.

There is more information at the dedicated Knox Bible site. The Bible is available for £39.95 (UK) $54.95 (USA) from Baronius Press.


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