IF READING THE BIBLE sometimes feels like decoding a message from another planet, you might find The Amplified Bible a helpful translator.
Its aim is "to reveal ... clarifying meanings that may be concealed by the traditional translation method," the preface explains, helping "the reader comprehend what the Hebrew and Greek listener instinctively understood (as a matter of course)." "Preface," The Amplified Bible, Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1987), p. v.
This can make for a choppy, if illuminating, read. For instance, the first beatitude: "Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!" Matt. 5:3, Scripture quotations taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org).