The New Testament in Modern English.

By J B Phillips

Printed: 1958

Publisher: William Collins & Sons. London

Dimensions 16 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 16 x 24 x 4

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Item information


In a fitted box. Red cloth binding with black title plate and gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

1958. 537 pages. No dust jacket, Folio edition with slipcase. Red cloth with gilt lettering. Blue pictorial slipcase.

The Phillips New Testament in Modern English (complete title: The New Testament in Modern English) (Phi) is an English translation of the New Testament of the Bible translated by Anglican clergyman J. B. Phillips first published in 1958. describes the translation as “up-to-date and forceful involving the reader in the dramatic events and powerful teaching of the New Testament. It brings home the message of Good News as it was first heard two thousand years ago.”

John Bertram Phillips or J. B. Phillips (16 September 1906 – 21 July 1982) was an English Bible translator, author and Anglican clergyman. He is most noted for his The New Testament in Modern English. Phillips was born in Barnes, then in Surrey but now in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. He was educated at Emanuel School in London and graduated with an Honours Degree in Classics and English from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After training for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, he was ordained a clergyman in the Church of England in 1930 (both deacon and priest in the same year). During World War II, while vicar of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lee, London (1940-44), he found the young people in his church did not understand the Authorised Version of the Bible. He used the time in the bomb shelters during the London Blitz to begin a translation of the New Testament into modern English, starting with the Epistle to the Colossians. The results appealed to the young people who found it easier to understand. Encouraged by their feedback, after the war Phillips continued to translate the rest of the New Testament into colloquial English.

Portions of the New Testament were published after the war, starting with Letters to Young Churches in 1947, which received C. S. Lewis’ backing. In 1952 he added the Gospels. In 1955 he added the Acts of the Apostles and entitled The Young Church in Action. In 1957 he added the Book of Revelation. The final compilation was published in 1958 as The New Testament in Modern English for which he is now best known. This was revised and republished in 1961 and then again in 1972. Time Magazine wrote of Phillips, “…he can make St. Paul sound as contemporary as the preacher down the street. Seeking to transmit freshness and life across the centuries”. In his Preface to the Schools Edition of his 1959 version of the New Testament, Phillips states that he “wrote for the young people who belonged to my youth club, most of them not much above school-leaving age, and I undertook the work simply because I found that the Authorised Version was not intelligible to them”.

Phillips also translated parts of the Old Testament. In 1963 he released translations of Isaiah 1-39, Hosea, Amos, and Micah. This was titled Four Prophets: Amos, Hosea, First Isaiah, Micah: A Modern Translation from the Hebrew. After that, he did not translate the Old Testament any further. He talked of the revelation he received as he translated the New Testament, describing it as “extraordinarily alive”, unlike any experience he had with non-scriptural ancient texts. He referred to the scriptures speaking to his life in an “uncanny way”, similarly to the way the author of Psalm 119 talks.

Phillips often grouped verses of the New Testament together into longer paragraphs cutting across the individual verses of traditional translations: see for example John 8:27–30:

‘They did not realise that he was talking to them about the Father. So Jesus resumed, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I am who I say I am, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak simply as my Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me now: the Father has never left me alone for I always do what pleases him.” And even while he said these words, many people believed in him.’

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