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The Imitation of Christ: How Jesus Wants Us to Live - A Contemporary Version Hardcover – November 21, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A beautifully produced gift edition of Thomas a Kempis's The Imitation of Christ, newly translated by William Griffin (a noted expert on C.S. Lewis) renders this timeless classic in a contemporary idiom. Imitation consists of four sections that deliver exactly what they promise: "The Spiritual Life: What It Is & How It Works," "The Interior Life: Where It Is & How to Find It," "Internal Consolation: How Jesus Describes It & How the Soul Experiences It," and "The Sacrament of the Altar: How to Prepare for It & What It Tastes Like." Richard Foster, in his introduction to this edition, observes that Griffin's translation abandons the smoothly spiritualized serenity of earlier English versions. Instead, Griffin renders Imitation in "the gusts and grunts and hiccups and heehaws of the common fun of the earth" (a phrase borrowed from the poet Dylan Thomas). Foster is right; there is lots of funny stuff here and lots of raw emotion: "All-nighters of roister-doistery lead only to mornings of hugger-muggery, that's to say, of sickness and sadness." Maybe you've never considered the intimate connection between roister- doistery and hugger-muggery before. You will now, and you'll be better for it.

Review

"I cannot recall when an inspired translation has so effectively converted a timeless classic into an idiom that goes straight to my modern bones." --Huston Smith, author, "The World's Religions"William Griffin's translation is a resurrection! So alive, so redolent with wit, so supple and lithe! Reading this "Imitation, we know immediately why for so many generations it's topped the bestseller lists in spiritual reading. I've been using Ronald Knox's translation for thirty years'and I'm ready now to trade it in for the Griffin translation."--Eugene Peterson, translator, "The Message; professor emeritus, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada"Through centuries of spiritual-life writing, scarce few books have been more beloved than "The Imitation of Christ. But its words seem increasingly archaic to our modern sensibilities. William Griffin's masterful rendering will go far in helping new generations of readers discover the attractions of this ancient classic. His decidedly daring translation allows the "Imitation once again to brim with light-hearted energy and life-changing insight. There's not a stuffy moment in it."--Timothy Jones, author, "Awake My Soul and "The Art of Prayer"An astonishingly fresh translation of the great spiritual classic that has been shrouded in deadly piety far too long. So daring and playful and passionate--keep it close and read it slow." -- Coleman Barks, translator of "The Essential Rumi"As I began cheering wildly after reading the last page of the galleys, the woodpeckers started pecking, the swallows started swallowing and the Mississippi River started rippling: cosmic applause for this magnificent modern rendering of "The Imitation of Christ. Bill Griffin hasgiven an invaluable gift to the Body of Christ."--Brennan Manning, author of "Ruthless Trust"Reading the manuscript of Bill Griffin's revival of "The Imitation of Christ was sheer enjoyment. I could never imagine how anyone could put that masterpiece into a modern idiom. But, Bill accomplished the impossible and with humor and tongue in cheek all throughout. I could tell he was enjoying the task immensely, because it shows in the lightness of the read and the clarity of the thought. I am sure it will widely read and for a long time."--Fr. Joseph Girzone, author of "Joshua"Like Griffin I had read the "Imitatio" 50 years ago as a Jesuit novice, and when I got some distance from novice fervor, I wondered why everyone thought it a spiritual classic. Now I know why. This translation is a gem. It brings out the fresh, down-to-earth, straight-from-the-shoulder wisdom of the author. Thomas a Kempis once again can engage his readers to pull them into serious reflection on the fundamental issues of the spiritual life, indeed of life itself. A classic has been given a translation it deserves."--Fr. William Barry, author, "The Practice of Spiritual Direction"William Griffin's version of "The Imitation allows it to strike you in the face, as it must if one is to get its point. Any imitation of Christ that is not shocking is not an imitation of Christ. This is an invaluable supplement to the spiritual library that "The Imitation has now become." --Dallas Willard, author of "The Divine Conspiracy"Colloquial, savory, practical, astringent, and earthy are words that came to mind as I turned these pages. Latinist Bill Griffin's penetrating, acerbic intelligence serves him well in his new redering of thisChristian classic."--Luci Shaw, writer in residence, Regent College, author of "The Angles of Light"In this fresh translation of "The Imitation of Christ, William Griffin, a Christian man of letters and of wit, breathes life and passion into a devotional classic that has already touched millions of people deeply across the centuries." --Fisher Humphreys, Professor of Divinity, Samford University""Tole, lege!Here is a new gate to an ancient garden.All is made new here!Even the path has been refurbished.Yet it still amblesthrough the lenten lands of lush renewal.And best of all, above this old familiar Eden stands JesusCrying come and becloned in my likenessSo you will matterIn my world."--Calvin Miller, author of "The Singer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Revised ed. edition (November 21, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060634006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060634001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,498,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
William Griffin's translation of this great classic is truly inspiring. It is filled with wit, soul, humor and insight into the choices we make in following the teachings of Jesus Christ. This should be required reading for all Christians and non-Christians alike. There are so many catch phrases that keep running through my head. I read this book daily for inpiration. Moreover, once the reader is familiar with the text, you can go to those sections that pertain to the daily issues that challenge us daily. This book is a must for any "seekers" personal library. Thank you, Mr. Griffin for thia great translation and my God continue to bless you and your family......Chet Nichols, Northbrook, Illinois....(....)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas à Kempis's classic The Imitation of Christ has been a slow read for me. I read a quote from this contemporary version by William Griffin and the vivid, dancing language drew me in even more than the devotional thoughts.

There is much to be praised about both the original and the translation. I did find myself arguing with the book on many of the pages. I don't believe that we are just passing time here on earth and waiting for life in heaven to fulfill us, that we should despise this life. Just as often, though, the words hit their mark and resonated. I received a great benefit from the constant reminders to examine motives, deny myself, and take up my cross. Its design makes it perfect for short readings.

Griffin's clever phrases captured and delighted me. Here are some samples:

-- Toad I must be, O Lord, and toad I must remain. Why? Because I toed the mark and failed. Of course, I could have toadied up to You, Lord God of all amphibians, but even in this I failed.

-- Grace and Charity have this way of clearing the floor of cranks and releasing all the warmths of the soul.

-- If you think of yourself as an ant, and really despise your antics, and don't antagonize others, and prefer to be squished under foot than crowned king of the world--then that's something to be truly proud of.

-- Drown me in Love, my Lord, that I may learn how smooth and swimming it is to love.

-- Yes, consolation's a good thing, but not all consolations are good. We're succored by some, but suckered by others.

-- Dust up and empty out that place within, and don't leave behind any fur balls. Strip bare your soul, and purify your heart first; then you'll have some time to see how sweet the Lord is.
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By Q. on April 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Encyclopedia Britannica calls it "The most influential work in Christian Literature." I'm going to have to disagree slightly and relegate it to 2nd place with the Bible still in 1st, however, this book is truly amazing. If the older versions read like the King James Bible, this one reads like the Message. Where else will you hear God say, "I'm miffed!"? Truly worth reading; this is a definite bridge to a classic Christian work for the younger generation.
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Format: Hardcover
I would 'not' recommend this translation. While I am respectful of Griffin and his hard work, his attempt to use novel and cute language in his translation really detracts from what Kempis is trying to say. After reading other translations that maintain the devotional depth and beauty of The Imitation of Christ, I found Griffin's novel word choices a constant distraction. Additionally, as another big distraction Griffin occasionally uses Latin phrases in his translation. On the upside Griffin does catalog these Latin phrases in the back of his translation but this requires the reader to stop reading, look up the Latin phrase, then resume reading.

Lastly Griffin's marked departure from the more traditional translations made me constantly question the veracity of his translation. In other words how much of Kempis did Griffin actually translate versus how much is paraphrased? This said, for some people who are looking for a novel paraphrase of Kempis this may be what you are looking for. However, for me I have found that Aloysius Croft's, Joseph Tylenda's and Ronald Knox's translations are far, far superior to Griffin's novel paraphrase of Kempis.
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Format: Hardcover
The original work was composed somewhere in the 15th century, a devotional classic with origins in the Brethren of Common Life (a religious group in the Netherlands). Griffin brings this book alive once again, retaining Kempis's emotional scope originally found in the original (prior to the plethora of sometimes incorrect translations). There is a tinge of comedy herein, something which should appeal to most modern readers.
The Imitation of Christ has 4 sections: the spiritual life, the interior life, internal consolation, and the sacrament of the altar. One who follows the footprints left in sand by Christ must be ready to endure, and even suffer, trials and tribulations without recoil. Kempis says, "those who can't withstand temptations become the shipwrecked, cast adrift forever."
This book calls attention to a process of spiritual progression attained through diligent practice. A person must want to change. "Change your ways, give yourself a fresh coat of paint, convert yourself. Do all this, and you'll find the Cross before it finds you." This is much more than a symbolic "baptism" where one, in a moment of so called "utter clarity", accepts Jesus as his/her savior. No, this entails a commitment, a lifelong determination which cannot waver. This book can be life changing, if approached with an open mind. Enjoy!
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