By B. E. Junkins
University Press of America, Inc., 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706.
2002. 742 pp., $80.00. Pbk. ISBN 0-7618-2397-2
After finishing the final revision of this version in mid-December, 1999, Junkins decided to put it aside until after the holidays and actively seek a publisher in 2000. However, on Jan. 5, 2000 the translator had a sudden fatal heart attack so that the writing of the Foreword and the working with a publisher fell to his beloved wife and assistant. He had left a “rough draft” of a Preface on his word processor in which he listed the steps of his own development from a Methodist Church S. S. teacher of grades 4-6 boys at 15 yrs. of age through his conversion by two of his high school friends at 16. This was followed by his serving as a boy preacher for a small church an hour’s walk from his home during his last two years of high school. Subsequently he was licensed as a multi-engine aircraft pilot in WW II and enrolled in the Lincoln Bible Institute in Lincoln. IL, where he earned a B.A., B.D., and M.Div. He also pastored several large churches and served as President of Midwest Christian College, in Oklahoma City, OK. He later earned a Ph. D. and was Executive Director of a large Community Mental Health Center.
In an effort to make the NT more readable and understandable, he began making his own translations of the passages that he used in preaching/teaching until his wife suggested that he translate the entire NT. For the last 8 years of his life, this turned out to be his passion and virtually full-time occupation. He wrote in his Preface that he knew of no one, among Restoration people since Alexander Campbell (early Restoration Movement leader) who had “produced a completely new version of the NT, based on the meaning, in ordinary, everyday language,” so he pursued his version. He himself advocated calling it a “Parenthetical” version, though this reviewer often wondered why he did not settle rather for “Paraphrastic” instead, since there are no parentheses to be found in his version.
This version is a particularly stimulating one. (It is an immersionist version throughout). It uses “Savior,” generally an adjective, as a proper name and without the use of “the” before it. Matthew 5:15 is rendered as though it refers to an electric light which was, of course, unknown in Jesus’ lifetime, though it conveys the thought for a modern reader.
An example of Junkins’ expansions is readily seen in his rendering of Matthew 12:1. “On a Sabbath, at about that same time, Savior and His men became hungry. Stepping into the unharvested corners of the grain fields at the side of the rural road that they were traveling, they plucked grain-filled heads from the remainder of the ripe crop, as permitted in Leviticus 19:9, 10. Separating the seeds by rubbing the grain heads between their palms, they blew away the chaff, and ate the grain. (2.) Some passing Pharisees noticed that they were performing at least three kinds of work, as defined by the traditional interpretation of the Law against working on the Sabbath. They accused Savior and His men of reaping, when they pulled the grain heads from the stalk; threshing, when they rubbed the grain heads between their hands; and winnowing, when they blew away the chaff, exposing the grain.”
Junkins’ wife. Patty, in her Preface, anticipates that this translation will jolt its readers at times, for she writes: “I urge you to investigate it and learn from it with an open mind, completely thinking it through, rather than dismissing it because you find it new, different, and perhaps threatening to your feelings. This word can open up a whole new world of meaning and understanding for you if you will just give it a fair chance.” Junkins makes no attempt to adapt his translation to the current feminist interests.
This reviewer will use this translation much as he does Peterson’s The Message for its extraordinary freshness and clarity, never forgetting its unconventional nature.