The New Peace Treaty

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    THE NEW PEACE TREATY is a translation with one, simple purpose behind it: to help you understand the Bible, at least that portion of it commonly referred to as the New Testament. This is fundamentally important for Christians because all Christians, regardless of their particular tradition, believe that in the person of Jesus Christ, the person and character of God is most clearly revealed to humanity. So it becomes a simple formula: in order to know God, one must know Jesus Christ; and in order to know Jesus Christ, one must read the New Testament, for Jesus is found within its pages. Therefore, reading the Bible is how we know who God is, not just that God exists, but who God is, what God is like, what sort of character God has. But if one does not understand what one is reading, then one is missing out on that vital piece of information.

    Pastors, priests, ministers, theologians, and church leaders continually bemoan the contemporary culture that is often characterized by general biblical illiteracy. Clergy consistently offer the same counsel to their congregations: Read the Bible. In and of itself, this appears to be good counsel. Nevertheless, the implication seems to be that it is the people in the congregation who are to blame. They just won’t read their Bibles. Yet, this is not my experience of people in the church. I have been told over and over again, “I try to read the Bible, but I just don’t get it. I get lost and confused and I just give up.”

    Biblical illiteracy is not merely the product of Christians being too lazy to read their Bibles! On the contrary, biblical illiteracy is more the product of average Christians finding what they are trying to read difficult to understand. THE NEW PEACE TREATY addresses this issue.

    Generally speaking, most translations fall somewhere between a literal translation and a dynamic equivalent. Literal translations attempt to convey a word-for-word translation of the original text into English. Literal translations also attempt to maintain word order from the original as well. So literal translations will attempt to lift the structure and vocabulary from ancient Koine Greek into contemporary English. This is laudable, but often impractical for understanding the text. The other extreme is that of dynamic equivalent, which seeks not to convey a word-for-word translation, but a meaning-for-meaning translation. In this method, the translator decides what the text means, and then finds a way to convey that meaning in English. As previously stated, most translations are somewhere in the middle, but leaning toward literal translations. The compromise is that most translations, even contemporary language translations, still seek to maintain the sentence structure and vocabulary as much as possible, only occasionally straying from that method as dictated by necessity.

    THE NEW PEACE TREATY is a translation, not a paraphrase, of the New Testament. In addition, it is somewhere between a literal translation and a dynamic equivalent, but whereas most translations lean toward literal translation, THE NEW PEACE TREATY leans more toward dynamic equivalent. It is a word-for-word translation in those places where word-for-word works well in English; however, it is not a structure-for-structure translation as most translations are. All the words in a sentence may be conveyed word-for-word, but the sentence is restructured in a manner that is spoken in English. This alone allows for greater comprehension.

    Most people never realize that most, if not all, of the authors of the New Testament documents had no idea that they were writing the Bible. They were simply writing documents for their own use. Paul is writing letters to churches addressing a variety of issues. In those letters, he occasionally vents his frustrations and even occasionally uses bad words. As far as Paul knows, he is simply writing a letter to a church, or churches, in a particular area regarding specific issues.

    The language in which the New Testament was written was that of Koine Greek. This means that it was “common” Greek. It was the Greek spoken by the average person. As a result, the Greek of the New Testament is laced with idioms, which cannot be translated literally. For example, say archeologist a thousand years from now find a letter that you have written to a friend. In that letter you state that you think that someone is “pulling your leg.” This is an example of an idiom that if translated word-for-word will mislead the future readers of your written document. So, THE NEW PEACE TREATY conveys idioms-for-idioms wherever possible.

    Another feature of THE NEW PEACE TREATY is that technical and theological words are also translated. Words such as “repent” and “righteousness” and even “Christ” are translated to their meaning, not because there is anything wrong with these words, per se, but because most people do not understand what the words really mean, and those who believe that they know their meanings tend to moralize them in a manner that would not have been understood in the first century. “Repent” in the first century did not mean “you’re bad, be good,” as it often seems to be understood today. In the first century, the word translated “repent” meant “change your attitude,” with the implication that the world is not like you think it is, so change the way you think about the world. The word translated “righteousness” meant being in a “right relationship with God.” The word “Christ” was not Jesus’ last name, but his title: “the Anointed King.”

    One very noticeable feature of THE NEW PEACE TREATY is the absence of versification. The documents are not divided up into “chapter” and “verse.” The authors of the New Testament did not write in chapter and verse, but simply wrote documents in the same manner as we would. The division of the Bible into chapter and verse occurred in English with the printing of the Geneva Bible around the middle of the sixteenth century. Since that time, chapter and verse have been standard in Bibles. The advantage is that it makes portions easy to find (like John 3:16, which is famous at sporting events). The disadvantage is that it creates false contexts. There are many portions of the Bible that have been separated from each other by a division of chapters. This affects how these portions are read and understood. THE NEW PEACE TREATY reads like the New Testament would have been read in the first century in that there are no “chapters” or “verses” to influence the reader, only the words of the author.

    In short, THE NEW PEACE TREATY is the Bible that does not look or read like most Bibles. This does not detract from the texts; on the contrary, for many people, it allows the text to come alive for the first time in their lives! THE NEW PEACE TREATY looks like a book and reads like a book. THE NEW PEACE TREATY is designed for those who want the power and the clear meaning of the New Testament to come alive. It is the perfect translation for personal reflection and personal devotion. It is the first translation to look and read like what first century Christians would have heard if they lived in the twenty-first century.

    Lastly, THE NEW PEACE TREATY does not only help Christians read and understand the Bible, it is the perfect translation for those who are not Christian. It is hoped to be the book form of the preaching on Pentecost, where listeners heard the Apostles preach to them in their own language. God does not speak to us in some archaic language and require us to understand. God comes to us on our level. God comes to us where we are. THE NEW PEACE TREATY attempts to translate the Word of God into the words of 21st century people.

    THE NEW PEACE TREATY attempts to transfer the feel of the Greek New Testament. As a result, the titles of each of the New Testament books as presented in this text are as they appear in the Greek New Testament. Also, throughout the book, there are occasionally words in brackets [ ]. These brackets occur in the text of the Greek New Testament and are carried over into this translation. The only exceptions to this occurs at the end of Mark’s Gospel and are accompanied by citations. Finally, Old Testament quotes are italicized and a citation is provided so that the quote in its original context may be examined by the reader.

    I pray that you find the God, who is begging to be found by you, today, within these pages. And may that God fill your life with blessing and peace.

In the name of Jesus the Anointed King,

R. Joseph Owles

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