Thomas a Kempis p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give a few samples from old or out of print books. Sometimes these books are forgotten, or not as well known as they once were, but they’re well worth reading.

Maybe ten years ago, I bought a secondhand paperback for fifty cents, published by Fontana Books in 1967. It was called The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. The back cover probably gives as good a summary as any: “After the Bible, this is perhaps the most widely read book in the world. Since it was written, early in the fifteenth century, thousands of editions and translations have appeared. It describes the way of the follower of Christ as he learns to mould his life in conformity with the pattern set by Christ. It is an intensely practical book, which faces the temptations and difficulties of daily life, but also describes the joys and helps which are found on the way. The book has proved astonishingly relevant to people in different ages and of differing views.”

The book was written from 1418-1427, in Latin, in the Netherlands. It was meant as a guide for the clergy and Christians in general. Its principles are very relevant in the internet age. It teaches to focus on the will of God, and the principles of Christianity. It says not to value external things, which are somewhat ephemeral. And it helps the reader dismiss the illusory or deceitful, and there is no shortage of that these days. It’s a good book to dip into at random and find some good advice.

Read on for a sample from the paperback, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, translated by Betty I. Knott. This Fontana edition would be hard to beat. As the back cover says, this translation is written in clear and vivid English.

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