The Life and Death of Mr. Badman Version Comparison

Th Life and Death of Mr. Badman 3d Cover

The Life and Death of Mr. Badman: A Modern-Day Version on John Bunyan’s The Life and Death of Mr. Badman takes Bunyan’s original text and interprets it for the modern-day reader. 

In my revision, you’ll notice several distinctions from the original. For one, I converted Bunyan’s antiquated text into simple, conversational English without being unfaithful to the original text. I invite you to compare the two versions as you’ll find no key element missing. I also retained the marginal scriptural references included by Bunyan.

Second, Bunyan presented his original book in the form of a dialogue. As you will read in his preface, he actually thought this would make it more enjoyable for the reader. Perhaps it did for those of his time, but I believe today’s culture is more conditioned to a storyline format. So I divided his long dialogue into chapters and wrote in a storyline that I believe helps the overall narrative flow better.

Third, there are three main characters in the story, whose names I’ve altered a bit. There is, of course, Mr. Badman, whom I just refer to as Badman; Wiseman, whom I refer to as Wise; and Attentive, whom I left alone. Again, it seemed to help with the flow of the story.

Take a few minutes and from the first chapter from John Bunyan’s original version and the new Modern-Day Version.

John Bunyan's Original Version

Wiseman. Good morrow my good Neighbour, Mr. Attentive; whither are you walking so early this morning? methinks you look as if you were concerned about something more than ordinary.  Have you lost any of your Cattel, or what is the matter?

Attentive.  Good Sir, Good morrow to you, I have not as yet lost ought, but yet you give a right ghess of me, for I am, as you say, concerned in my heart, but ’tis because of the badness of the times.  And Sir, you, as all our Neighbours know, are a very observing man, pray therefore what do you think of them?

Wise.  Why?  I think, as you say, to wit, that they are bad times, and bad they will be, untill men are better: for they are bad men that make bad times; if men therefore would mend, so would the times.  ’Tis a folly to look for good dayes, so long as sin is so high, and those that study its nourishment so many.  God bring it down, and those that nourish it to Repentance, and then my good Neighbour, you will be concerned, not as you are now: Now you are concerned because times are so bad; but then you will be so, ’cause times are so good: Now you are concerned so as to be perplexed, but then you will be concerned so as to lift up your voice with shouting; for I dare say, could you see such dayes they would make you shout.

Atten.  Ai, so they would, such times I have prayed for, such times I have longed for: but I fear they’l be worse before they be better.

Wise.  Make no Conclusions, man: for he that hath the hearts of men in his hand, can change them from worse to better, and so bad times into good.  God give long life to them that are good, and especially to those of them that are capable of doing him service in the world.  The Ornament and Beauty of this lower World, next to God and his Wonders, are the men that spangle and shine in godliness.

Now as Mr. Wiseman said this, he gave a great sigh.

Atten.  Amen.  Amen.  But why, good Sir, do you sigh so deeply? is it for ought else than that for the which as you have perceived, I my self am concerned?

Wise.  I am concerned with you, for the badness of the times; but that was not the cause of that sigh, of the which, as I see, you take notice.  I sighed at the remembrance of the death of that man for whom the Bell tolled at our Town yesterday.

Atten.  Why?  I trow, Mr. Goodman your Neighbour is not dead.  Indeed I did hear that he had been sick.

Wise.  No, no, it is not he.  Had it been he, I could not but have been concerned, but yet not as I am concerned now.  If he had died, I should only have been concerned for that the world had lost a Light: but the man that I am concerned for now, was one that never was good, therefore such an one who is not dead only, but damned.  He died that he might die, he went from Life to Death, and then from Death to Death, from Death Natural to death Eternal.  And as he spake this, the water stood in his eyes.

Atten.  Indeed, to goe from a death-bed to Hell is a fearful thing to think on.  But good Neighbour Wiseman, be pleased to tell me who this man was, and why you conclude him so miserable in his death?

Wise.  Well, if you can stay, I will tell you who he was, and why I conclude thus concerning him.

Wiseman. Good morrow my good Neighbour, Mr. Attentive; whither are you walking so early this morning? methinks you look as if you were concerned about something more than ordinary.  Have you lost any of your Cattel, or what is the matter?

Attentive.  Good Sir, Good morrow to you, I have not as yet lost ought, but yet you give a right ghess of me, for I am, as you say, concerned in my heart, but ’tis because of the badness of the times.  And Sir, you, as all our Neighbours know, are a very observing man, pray therefore what do you think of them?

Wise.  Why?  I think, as you say, to wit, that they are bad times, and bad they will be, untill men are better: for they are bad men that make bad times; if men therefore would mend, so would the times.  ’Tis a folly to look for good dayes, so long as sin is so high, and those that study its nourishment so many.  God bring it down, and those that nourish it to Repentance, and then my good Neighbour, you will be concerned, not as you are now: Now you are concerned because times are so bad; but then you will be so, ’cause times are so good: Now you are concerned so as to be perplexed, but then you will be concerned so as to lift up your voice with shouting; for I dare say, could you see such dayes they would make you shout.

Atten.  Ai, so they would, such times I have prayed for, such times I have longed for: but I fear they’l be worse before they be better.

Wise.  Make no Conclusions, man: for he that hath the hearts of men in his hand, can change them from worse to better, and so bad times into good.  God give long life to them that are good, and especially to those of them that are capable of doing him service in the world.  The Ornament and Beauty of this lower World, next to God and his Wonders, are the men that spangle and shine in godliness.

Now as Mr. Wiseman said this, he gave a great sigh.

Atten.  Amen.  Amen.  But why, good Sir, do you sigh so deeply? is it for ought else than that for the which as you have perceived, I my self am concerned?

Wise.  I am concerned with you, for the badness of the times; but that was not the cause of that sigh, of the which, as I see, you take notice.  I sighed at the remembrance of the death of that man for whom the Bell tolled at our Town yesterday.

Atten.  Why?  I trow, Mr. Goodman your Neighbour is not dead.  Indeed I did hear that he had been sick.

Wise.  No, no, it is not he.  Had it been he, I could not but have been concerned, but yet not as I am concerned now.  If he had died, I should only have been concerned for that the world had lost a Light: but the man that I am concerned for now, was one that never was good, therefore such an one who is not dead only, but damned.  He died that he might die, he went from Life to Death, and then from Death to Death, from Death Natural to death Eternal.  And as he spake this, the water stood in his eyes.

Atten.  Indeed, to goe from a death-bed to Hell is a fearful thing to think on.  But good Neighbour Wiseman, be pleased to tell me who this man was, and why you conclude him so miserable in his death?

Wise.  Well, if you can stay, I will tell you who he was, and why I conclude thus concerning him.

Atten.  My leisure will admit me to stay, and I am willing to hear you out.  And I pray God your discourse may take hold on my heart, that I may be bettered thereby.  So they agreed to sit down under a tree: Then Mr. Wiseman proceeded as followeth.

New Modern-Day Version

It was a beautiful summer morning. The sun was climbing over the trees as Wise sat in his usual spot, having just finished his quiet time. He loved sitting on his front porch early in the morning while taking stock of the day before him.

The whap of a farmhouse screen door closing on squeaky hinges interrupted his train of thought. It was his neighbor Attentive, who lived in a house across the field that lay between their properties.

Despite their age difference, the two men had become good friends, and Wise considered him a thoroughly conscientious young man. It was unusual, though, to see him out so early in the morning. He must have an appointment.

“Good morning, Attentive!” Wise shouted over to him. “You’re up early!”

There was no response. That’s odd, he thought. Attentive was never rude and normally so friendly. Perhaps he just didn’t hear him. He hoped nothing was wrong, although he was wondering since Attentive seemed visibly upset and completely disheveled.

Wise stepped off the edge of his porch and called out to him again, this time a little louder, “Attentive! Are you all right? You seem unusually distracted this morning. You haven’t lost your job, have you?”

Startled by the sound of the other man’s voice, Attentive glanced over and noticed Wise standing by his porch. He waved apologetically and hollered back, “Good morning, Wise!”

He was not normally up this early, but after a restless night of tossing and turning, Attentive just couldn’t stay in bed any longer. There were a million thoughts running through his head with questions he didn’t have answers to. And what was worse, he wasn’t sure how to express any of them.

It had occurred to him in the middle of the night that maybe God was trying to teach him something. Well, if that was the case, he was ready. Let’s get this over with. He simply couldn’t take another sleepless night.

The rustling noise of nearing footsteps in the grass broke his train of thought again. He glanced up to find his neighbor walking over to him. Knowing he must look a mess, he felt a little embarrassed being barefoot with an old pair of pants and a t-shirt on, but then again, he hadn’t expected to run into anyone.

He and Wise had become good friends over the years. Wise was older and knowledgeable and had experienced much of life already. Not only that, but he was a good listener and always provided sound advice. Attentive decided at that moment to use his friend as a sounding board for the thoughts that were troubling him.

“Hi, Wise,” he said, putting on his best face as his neighbor approached. “And no, I’m sorry. I’ve not lost my job, but you’re right; I am a little distracted this morning.”

He paused for a moment before his voice took on a more exasperated tone.

“To tell you the truth, Wise, I’ve become completely overwhelmed and depressed when I think about how evil the world has become. Everyone knows you’re an observant man. Tell me, do you also share my concern?”

 Wise studied Attentive carefully. It was obvious by his appearance and demeanor that he had spent the night wrestling with this issue. Wise was all too familiar with these thoughts as he had exhausted enough mental energy of his own, not to mention sleepless nights, pondering the exact same thing. But there was no simple answer to his question and no point in downplaying his concerns. This matter was weighing heavily on his friend’s mind.

“Well, Attentive, I agree with you,” he stated quite directly. “The world is bad, and honestly, it’s just going to continue getting worse unless people get better. The fact is, bad people make a bad world, and if they were to get better, well then, so would the world…right? But this is really foolish thinking because as long as sin runs free in the world and there are those who practice it, nothing will get any better.”

Quickly realizing his words had done little to lift Attentive’s spirits, he softened his approach.

“Think about it this way. If God were to bring every sinner to repentance, then your thoughts would be consumed with how good the world is rather than how bad, right?”

Attentive thought about it and nodded. Then Wise continued.

“You’re struggling with why the world has to be so bad. However, I bet if the world was full of only good, you would lift your voice to the heavens with praise! Can you imagine living in such a world that makes you want to shout with praise?”

 “Oh, yes!” Attentive said enthusiastically. “I’ve prayed long and hard for that exact world. But I fear it’s like you said; it will only get worse before it gets any better.”

“Let’s not come to that conclusion just yet,” Wise interjected. “God has the hearts of men in His hand and can change them from worse to better and the times from bad to good. Scripture tells us that God gives long life to those who do good, especially to those who are capable of serving Him in this world.”

Wise believed that in his heart, but then remembered what had happened yesterday and sighed deeply.

“Next to God and His wonderful creation, it’s those who shine God’s light that make this world a beautiful place to live in.”

“Amen to that!” Attentive said, feeling somewhat encouraged while also noticing Wise’s sudden change of countenance. “I’m curious though. Why did you sigh? Do you now share my same concerns about the state of our world?”

Wise gave a comforting smile. “Like you, I’m also concerned about how bad the world has become, but no, that’s not why I sighed.”

His then took on a more serious tone. “I sighed when I thought about the town bell ringing for a man who died yesterday.”

Attentive’s face changed with startling suddenness. “Why, I hope your neighbor, Mr. Goodman, is not dead! Although I heard he had had been sick.”

“No, no, he’s fine,” Wise said, shaking his head. “Had it been him, I wouldn’t be concerned as I am right now. If he had died, my only concern would be that the world had lost a light.”

Tears welled up in the old man’s eyes, although he wasn’t sure why.

“The man I’m concerned about was never any good and, therefore, is not only dead, but damned. Like it says in Revelation, he died twice, going from life to death and then from death to death. He went from a natural death to an eternal death.”Revelation 21:8

Attentive now understood Wise’s concern.

“Yes, to think about going from your deathbed to hell is frightening. Please tell me, Wise, who was this man, and why do you consider him damned?”

“Well, I’d be happy to share his story with you this morning if you have time.”

Attentive had nothing but time today. As a matter of fact, he had planned on clearing the rest of his day anyway. Besides, he had a real sense that spending time with Wise would lift his spirits; it had already.

“Absolutely!” he said, keenly interested. “I really want to hear more about this man’s life. Perhaps God will use his story to both teach and encourage me.”

Teach, yes. Encourage…well, Wise was not so sure.