The Unvarnished New Testament Translated by Andy Gaus – Published by Phanes Press, 1991

The Unvarnished New Testament Translated by Andy Gaus – Published by Phanes Press, 1991

What Andy Gaus has achieved (and brilliantly achieved) in his new Translation is to present the ideas, words and context of the various books of the New Testament as they would have been perceived by a majority of educated Greek readers in the third and fourth centuries.

To take but one example, Gaus rightly points out that the Greek word “hamartia” does not mean “sin” in the sense of a deep separation by human beings from the will and purposes of God. It is an archery term that simply means “missing the mark”.

I think Gaus misses the mark himself, however, when he chooses to translate “pneuma” as “breath” rather than “Spirit”. True, “pneuma” can mean “breath”, but in the Septuagint the word is extensively used to describe the Holy Spirit. For example in Wisdom 9:17, the inspired author writes: “Who has known Your counsel unless You give Wisdom and send Your Holy Spirit from above?” Surely the author is not asking for God’s holy “breath” but His Holy Spirit?

However, although he keeps referring to their “original Greek”, the main problem that Gaus makes no attempt to solve is that the original New Testament texts are no longer extant. Gaus does not state which of the rival texts he has used, so presumably he has consulted Nestle and the American Bible Society and other editions and arrived at a consensus. He has made no attempt to correct obvious errors by editors and copyists (John 18:40 for example), not does he explain what method, if any, he has applied to punctuation. (The original texts have no punctuation whatever).

The result is certainly very readable. Even a little controversial. But the reader who is anxious to discover what the New testament authors really wrote is not going to find out here. For example in John 18:18, Gaus writes that the slaves and servants were standing around a charcoal fire and “Peter was standing there with them.” Now, that’s not what John wrote at all. That is a “correction” made by third and fourth century copyists. In earlier manuscripts, John states that “Peter was loitering around with them.”

Nor does Gaus make any attempt to fill in words that are explicitly implied. For example, in John 20:17, Jesus does all but explicitly state to Mary that He had “not yet ascended to the Father” because He was waiting for her, which He obviously was, since He was anxious that she deliver a message for Him!

In all, Gaus has made the New Testament readable, but in the main, thoroughly conventional.