Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Guest Post: The Knox Bible and Contemplation

Courtesy of Baronius Press

Thank you to my good friend John for offering this reflection on contemplative prayer and the Knox Bible.

Greetings. I was offered an opportunity to comment on The Knox Version by my good friend and fellow Catholic Timothy.

Last year I was taking a class in Sacramental Theology and it was mentioned in the lesson that the Church of the future would return to the wisdom traditions and the mystical. At the same time I had started reading, with Timothy's advice, Thomas Merton's "The Seven Storey Mountain." I read the whole book in one night. As a liturgical person and wanting "something more" of closeness with the living God, I became interested in Christian silent contemplation. It was then that extended conversations with Timothy led to wondering which Bible to use, besides my reading Bible, the NABRE which I used all the time. I wanted to be in line with the Church and read a Catholic Bible. 

I had been a praying man all my life using the formal prayers of the Church, the Daily Office, and other books on prayer. Thomas Merton had mentioned that he used the Latin Psalter. He refers to it often in his journals. I decided to read the Douay-Rheims Bible. It wasn't hard to grasp because I'd already become familiar with the King James Version in my earlier years. However, brother Timothy asked if I had ever read "Knox." Knox who? Hmm... Before long I decided to send for a copy from Baronius Press Ltd. When it finally arrived, I turned to the Psalms, remembering Merton had used the Latin Psalter, and that I was holding a translation of the Latin Vulgate in hand. Something happened, deep down, I felt so refreshed reading the Psalter in Knox's pregnant phrasing, his colorful verbiage, his direct address. I had found the perfect "contemplative" Bible! I have never been the same.

Having read all the modern translations and versions I could get my hands on, there was nobody with the poetic translation of Knox. Reading the Knox Version has refreshed my prayer life and now when I am in the silence in, when God comes close, it is Knox's translation that comes to mind, a word, a phrase, a verse, in Knox's inimitable fashion. Silent prayer and Knox.. I recommend this wonderful translation. I hope anyone reading this will give it a try.

This is a recent Psalm I prayed silently to the Lord while contemplating:

Psalm 26:8-14:
"Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to thee; hear and spare. True to my heart's promise, I have eyes only for thee; I long, Lord, for thy presence. Do not hide thy face, do not turn away from thy servant in anger, but give me still thy aid; do not forsake me, do not neglect me, O God, my defender. Father and mother may neglect me, but the Lord takes me into his care. Lord, shew me the way thou hast chosen for me, guide me along the sure path, beset as I am with enemies; do not give me over to the will of my oppressors, when false witnesses stand up to accuse me, breathe out threats against me. My faith I, I will yet live to see the Lord's mercies. Wait patiently for the Lord to help thee; be brave, and let thy heart take comfort; wait patiently for the Lord."

"shew me the way thou hast chosen for me" was my main emphasis there.

Another silent prayer when I was feeling down came from Psalm 41:6:
"Soul, art thou still downcast? Wilt thou never be at peace? Wait for God's help; I will not cease to cry out in thankfulness, My champion and my God."

Sometimes I preach to myself; and Knox says it best.

May God bless you all. God waits to draw near and speak in the silence. Sometimes he sounds like Knox.


Leighton said...


Wonderful reflection on prayer and the Knox translation. It seems it's hard to go wrong with a translation Fulton Sheen used so often.

I wish the Knox version layout was different for the psalms, but if one takes them slowly and prayerfully (which is best, anyway), praying the Knox version of the psalms is indeed a beautiful experience. I think the entire translation draws one in and forces one to slow it down, because it is so rich. Maybe that is one reason it is so conducive to prayer.

Having the Knox Bible on the bedside table is a gift.

John Podgorney said...

Nobody says it like Knox. he is my constant companion.