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The New Testament in Scots
is a popular paperback edition of William Lorimer’s lifework – a
translation of the New Testament into Scots from the Greek originals.
Professor Lorimer died in
1967. He taught Latin and Greek for
many years, mainly at
In 1957, two years after his
retirement, he began his work. It
took him the last ten years of his life. The translation
is not uniform, but varies from book to book reflecting the various styles of
Greek used by the individual writers of the Gospels and the other books of the
In a lengthy introduction
his son, Robin Lorimer, explains his late father’s methods and enthusiasm for
this monumental task. After his father’s death, Robin Lorimer edited the
handwritten text for final publication in 1983.
I have a copy of that 1983
first edition. It’s a handsome
volume, but it’s enormous! It’s
not too practical for everyday reading.
By contrast, the Canongate
paperback edition is handy to use. The
text is broken up into single column paragraphs.
This makes it very readable. Most English Bibles and New Testaments print
the text in double columns and print each verse as if it was a separate
paragraph. This is good for
finding references but it interferes with the narrative flow.
In Lorimer’s Scots text, verse references only appear on the top right
of each page.
Throughout this splendid
translation, the timeless message of the New Testament speaks clearly to us.
In the second chapter of John’s Gospel – a report of the wedding
feast at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine – the bridegroom is told, “Aabodie
pits doun his guid wine first and keeps back his puirer wine till fowk is fu,
but ye haired your wine till nou!”
‘ploughboy’ New Testament in English and Martin Luther’s German New
Testament did much to establish and standardise their respective vernacular
languages. Enthusiasts for the
Ulster-Scots language revival should get hold of a copy of Lorimer’s Scots New
Testament. Keep it by your bedside and read from it regularly.
It will improve your grasp of written and spoken Scots and maybe do your
soul good too.
A THIRD WAY FOR ULSTER
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