J. B. Phillips and the Power of God’s Living Word
I have always loved J. B. Phillips, Ring of Truth and many portions of His New Testament rendition. Justin Taylor shared a great post about Phillips on his blog. What a great story of a man enlivened and transformed by the living power of God's Word:
J. B. Phillips (1906-1982) is perhaps best known today for his book, Your God Is Too Small. He was also a periphrastic Bible translator, working from the Greek text to put the New Testament into a breezy, British, mid-20th-century vernacular. In 1947 he published Letters to Young Churches. In 1952, he added the Gospels, followed by the book of Acts in 1955 (The Young Church in Action). In 1958 he published the entire New Testament in Modern English, with revisions in 1961 and 1972.
In 1967 he wrote a memoir describing the experience, entitled Ring of Truth: A Translator’s Testimony.
In it he describes his view of the text before he began his work:
I must, in common justice, confess here that for years I had viewed the Greek of the New Testament with a rather snobbish disdain. I had read the best of classical Greek both at school and Cambridge for over ten years. . . . Although I did my utmost to preserve an emotional detachment, I found again and again that the material under my hands was strangely alive; it spoke to my condition in the most uncanny way. I say “uncanny” for want of a better word, but it was a very strange experience to sense, not occasionally but almost continually, the living quality of those rather strangely assorted books. To me it is the more remarkable because I had no fundamentalist upbringing, and although as a priest of the Anglican Church I had a great respect for Holy Scripture, this very close contact of several years of translation produced an effect of “inspiration” which I have never experienced, even in the remotest degree, in any other work. (pp. 24-25)