Stephen Mitchell (translator)

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Stephen Mitchell (born 1943 in Brooklyn, New York) is a poet, translator, scholar, and anthologist. He is best known for his translations and adaptions of works including the Tao Te Ching, the Epic of Gilgamesh, works of Rainer Maria Rilke, and Christian texts.[1]


Stephen Mitchell was born to a Jewish family, educated at Amherst College,[2] the University of Paris,[2] and Yale University,[2] and "de-educated" through intensive Zen practice.[3] He studied for four and a half years with Zen master Seungsahn and for two and a half years with Robert Baker Aitken, Rōshi.


Mitchell's translations and adaptions include the Tao Te Ching,[4] which has sold over a million copies, Gilgamesh,[5] The Iliad,[1][6][7][8] The Odyssey,[9] The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita,[10] The Book of Job,[11] The Second Book of the Tao, and The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. He twice won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. His Selected Rilke has been called “the most beautiful group of poetic translations [the twentieth] century has produced” (Chicago Tribune), his Gilgamesh was runner-up for the first annual Quill award for poetry, and his Iliad was one of the New Yorker's Favorite Books of 2011.

He is also coauthor of three of his wife's bestselling books: Loving What Is, A Thousand Names for Joy, and A Mind at Home with Itself. His 2019 book, Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, is a Zen-inflected midrash on the Joseph story from the Book of Genesis. The First Christmas is a reimagining of the Nativity story.

Personal life[edit]

Mitchell is married to Byron Katie, founder and promoter of the self-inquiry method 'The Work.'[12]



  • Parables and Portraits, HarperCollins, 1990, ISBN 0-06-092532-9



  • A Mind at Home with Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Turn Your World Around, by Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell, HarperOne, 2017, ISBN 0062651609
  • A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are (with Byron Katie), Harmony Books, 2007, ISBN 0-307-33923-8
  • Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life (with Byron Katie), Harmony Books, 2002, ISBN 1-4000-4537-1
  • The Gospel According to Jesus, Harper Perennial, 1993, ISBN 0-06-092321-0

Translations and adaptations[edit]

As editor[edit]

  • Question Your Thinking, Change the World: Quotations from Byron Katie, Hay House, 2007, ISBN 1-4019-1730-5
  • The Essence of Wisdom: Words from the Masters to Illuminate the Spiritual Path, Broadway Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7679-0305-6
  • Bestiary: An Anthology of Poems about Animals, Frog, Ltd., 1996, ISBN 1-883319-48-X
  • Into the Garden: A Wedding Anthology (with Robert Hass), HarperCollins, 1993, ISBN 0-06-016919-2
  • The Enlightened Mind: An Anthology of Sacred Prose, 1991, ISBN 0-06-092320-2
  • The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, HarperCollins, 1989, ISBN 0-06-092053-X
  • Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn, Grove Press, 1976, ISBN 0-8021-3052-6

Children's books[edit]


  1. ^ a b "It's Not All Greek to Him". The Wall Street Journal. September 20, 2011. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c ""About the Author" HarperCollins Publisher". Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  3. ^ Ezrahi, Sidra (January 2, 2020). "Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness". Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Stephen (1988). Tao Te Ching: A New English Version. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061142666.
  5. ^ "'Gilgamesh': The Iraq War, 2500 B.C." The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  6. ^ "Conversation: Stephen Mitchell, Author of the New Translation of Homer's 'The Iliad'". NPR: National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  7. ^ Mendelsohn, Daniel (October 8, 2013). "What Do You Look for in Modern Translation?". The New York Times.
  8. ^ McAllister, Sue (October 12, 2011). "Back story: 'Iliad' translator Stephen Mitchell". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  9. ^ Homer (September 23, 2013). "The Death of Argos (Homer's Odyssey, Book 17: 260-327)". The New Yorker Magazine. Translated by Stephen Mitchell.
  10. ^ "Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation". Publishers Weekly. February 10, 2000.
  11. ^ Gross, John (September 25, 1987). "Books of The Times: The Book of Job". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  12. ^ "Byron Katie". Archived from the original on 2013-10-26. Retrieved 2013-10-22.

External links[edit]