Thomas Moore, the former Catholic monk who drew on multiple traditions to help readers deepen their spiritual lives in the 1992 bestseller Care of the Soul, is turning to his religious roots with new translations of the Gospels.
With brand new language, Moore seeks to highlight a powerful call for change which he believes is obscured in current translations. His forthcoming series will include new translations of the first four New Testament books from the original Greek and his commentary throughout. Skylight Paths Publishing will publish The Book of Matthew in April, with the remaining volumes to be released over the next two years.
“The Gospels have been locked in Christianity too long,” he said. “I wanted to direct this translation to people of any faith or people who don’t have a faith, maybe even atheistic.” Moore also hopes existing Christians will read the series, saying, “My translation could help them re-imagine what their religion and what their faith is all about.”
Moore began translating the Gospels following a flood of questions from readers of his 2009 book Writing in the Sand (Hay House) about which translation is best. “I couldn’t give them a recommendation that I was comfortable with,” said the author. “There are key words in the Gospels that I translate in my own way, and I think they’re very important. They change the point of view, they shift the tone of the Gospels.”
One of these key words, he said, is sin, which “immediately makes people feel guilty. People think, ‘I’ve committed a sin or I’ve done something terrible.’” According to Moore, Aristotle’s classical writings about drama interpreted the same word (“hamartia” in Greek) as a “mistake that we make in life based on our ignorance, so I usually translate what other people call sin [a] tragic mistake.”
Moore’s commentary in the series provides further interpretation of the Gospel message, drawing on the author’s usual eclectic range of sources, including Carl Jung, Greek mythology, the Tao Te Ching, Leonard Cohen, and Paul Tillich.
Emily Wichland, v-p of editorial at Skylight Path, said "there will be welcome surprises for all readers."
And as Moore continues to write about ways religious wisdom can provide guidance in a difficult world, a 25th anniversary edition of Care of the Soul and its follow-up Soul Mates are being issued this year by Harper Perennial. Discussing how his readership has changed over the years, the author noted that half of the audience still asks for autographs on Care of the Soul during appearances. “[There are] still people who are trying to make sense of their lives, they don’t want just a quick shorthand approach to solving their life problems—they want something that reaches deep," he said.