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Willis Barnstone


For the first time since the King James Version in 1611, Willis Barnstone has given us an amazing literary and historical version of the New Testament.  Barnstone preserves the original song of the Bible, rendering a large part in poetry and the epic Revelation in incantatory blank verse.  This monumental translation is the first to restore the original Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew names (Markos for Mark, Yesuah for Jesus), thereby revealing the Greco-Jewish identity of biblical people and places.  Citing historical and biblical scholarship, he changes the sequence of the texts and adds three seminal Gnostic gospels.  Each book has elegant introductions and is thoroughly annotated.  With its superlative writing and lyrical wisdom, The Restored New Testament   is a magnificent biblical translation for our age.

Here is an excerpt from Mattityahu (Matthew) the parable of The Sower:

The Restored New Testament 

A New Translation with Commentary,

Including the Gnostic

Gospels Thomas, Mary and Judas


    Look a sower went out to sow

    And as he was scattering seed,

    Some of the grain fell on the path

    And some of the birds came and ate it.

    Other seed fell on the stony ground

    Where there was not much soil

    And the grain sprang up quickly,

    For the soil had no depth.

    But when the sun came up

    The seedlings were parched

    And, having no roots, withered.

    Some fell among the thorns

    And the thorns grew and choked them.

    But some fell among good earth and bore fruit

    A hundred fold and sixty and thirty

    Whoever has ears to hear, hear.

“Barnstone’s new English version of the core texts of Christian scripture is almost startling in its freshness.  Scraping away many centuries of stylistic fussiness and supersessionist  distortion...”

--Robert Alter

Willis Barnstone’s The Restored New Testament is both an eloquent, fresh translation of the four gospels and of Revelation, and also a superb act of restoration...”

--Harold Bloom

“...Did you think Jerome’s or Tyndale’s or James’s ‘Song of the Sparrows’ from Matthew was thrilling?  Look at Barnstone’s.  Or look at his version of Paul’s heartbreaking lines of love in Corinthians 13.  If Barnstone through a long life of poetry, translation, story and memoir, in language after language, had nothing else but this book, it would be a lifetime of extraordinary achievement.  We are blessed by it.”

--Gerald Stern


“Starred Review. In an achievement remarkable by almost any standard, and surely one of the events of the year in publishing, renowned poet and scholar Barnstone has created a new and lavish translation—almost transformation—of the canonical and noncanonical books associated with the New Testament....The high bar Barnstone has set for himself is the creation of an English-language Scripture that will move poets much as the 1611 King James Version moved Milton and Blake. Only time will tell if Barnstone has achieved his goal, but his work is fascinating, invigorating, and often beautiful. Essential.”

--Library Journal

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