Ever awed by fresh insights! Comparing God’s Word as transcribed by J.B. Phillips alongside the ERV or NIV version gives me a clarity that deepens my understanding of the Truth. Clicking into Biblegateway and selecting any two versions gives any reader insights into God’s living Word over the time lapse of various generations. My home research uncovered a marvelous public domain text written in 1956 by J.B. Phillips about his experience while translating: “it is the sheer spiritual zest and drive of the New Testament which fills one with both wonder and wistfulness. I emptied my mind as far as possible of preconceived ideas and conclusions. As a translator I did my best to be detached and disinterested. As the work went on, steadily a Figure stood up from the pages of the four Gospels. I tried to transmit something of the difference in the style of the four evangelists. Mark wrote in a downright “utility” style, with neither frills nor decoration, and certainly with a minimum of descriptive adjectives. Matthew’s Gospel is careful and precise, a conscientious and, in a sense, calculated short history to prove to the Jewish mind that the One Whom the prophets foretold was now a Fact of history. In Luke we find unforgettable parables in the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Luke writes with
warm humanity, with concern for the Gentile, the outcast, unprivileged, the poor and for the then largely despised female sex. The Gospel of John adds fresh insight, supplying almost another dimension to the Figure. A composite portrait forms in the mind after study of these 4 compositions. The feeling grows that behind these early attempts to set down what was reliably remembered about this Man, there stands the Man Himself! It is His Presence, His Character, which springs to life at the stimulation of these pages. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are nothing but humble instruments. Who is it, Whose human life is it, they are trying to describe and record? The translator, for all his assumed detachment and impartiality, has all his intuitive and imaginative faculties tingling and vibrating by the Presence of Someone Who is almost unbearably near and alive today. That He was properly and thoroughly human is obvious from the records; indeed, He is seen to be more human than one thought. Previously one had accepted the teaching that Jesus was both Man and God, but now from first‑hand acquaintance with these early documents the truth sweeps in afresh, and the indescribable humility of God strikes one with overwhelming awe. The translator constantly feels not merely his own inadequacy but the extreme difficulty of his task, for behind all that he translates is not simply a uniquely important event of history, not simply the story of the greatest man who ever lived, but the active Presence of God Himself. God expressed in a form that can bring both inestimable comfort and surprising disquiet. This astonishing sense of spiritual attack can happen to anyone who is prepared to abandon a closed attitude of mind, and allow not merely the stories but the quality of the Figure Who exists behind the stories to meet him afresh. Neat snippets of a few verses are of course useful in their way, but the overall sweep and much of the significance of the Gospel narratives are lost to us unless we are prepared to read the Gospels through, not once but several times. I would suggest that this be done in an unfamiliar version. Familiar words and verses have their stereotyped reactions. It is not the significance of a single verse that we are seeking here.” Are we not seeking the Truth as the Holy Spirit personally reveals to us? Is He not the Person who Jesus promised would never depart from us as our Teacher, Counselor, Healer and Guide? “I am convinced that very few present‑day Christians have allowed the Truth to personally infiltrate their preferred understanding. If one reads the Gospels thoroughly with serious attention, it is difficult to then dismiss the central Figure as a mere human prophet or tragic idealist. Holy Spirit is not a vague influence for good, not even just a powerful Wind of Heaven, but a Person with a purpose and ideas of His own. The earth was once visited for a few years, visibly, audibly, and tangibly, by God in human form, but thereafter it was (and of course is) continually subject to invasions by the Spirit of Jesus. The special glory of the New Testament is that we are not merely shown a shining beacon of one perfect human life but we are told of what happened after that human life was ended. The light persists, the power continues, the wind of Heaven does not cease to blow. Men and women are being changed: the timid become brave, the filthy‑minded become pure in heart, the mean and selfish become loving and generous. Read these New Testament Letters for yourself then attempt to explain your transformation by your own effort! I have been enormously heartened by the fact that there are thousands of people who are sick of narrowness and churchiness, and who long for the fresh air of the New Testament. There is, I find, a hunger, sometimes almost a desperate hunger, to regain the shining certainties and revel in the freedom and power of the new‑born life “in Him” in His Church. Happily, the Young First Church was sensitive, alert, and flexible, and we can read for ourselves to what miraculous triumphs the Spirit led them. We may find that our timidity and rigidity, our prejudices and preconceived ideas, are most effectively blocking the Purpose of God. We must take the risk of being wide open on the God‑ward side. The love of Christ will not be made known, shown or spread throughout the world by hearts without the marks of total abandoned regeneration. We will never bear the mantle of those former “fishers of men” if the bait we’re using doesn’t look like Jesus. We are fooling ourselves – but not the world!”” ♥ WOW this electronic text of J.B. was a validation in my spirit that in my inadequacy, God’s plan pours through. I pray that as people read “Behind the Curtain” and “Biblia Compacta” that the prominent Figure leaps from the pages and causes an insatiable hunger for more of Jesus. 🌹 Even with my limited education, I relate to much of what J.B. felt. In 2019 while summarizing the New Testament for this ‘drive-thru-generation’, I was never alone as I penned “Behind the Curtain” for an average readers delight. The Figure stood in my room and gave me this assignment. 100 page Summary of NT LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Alley-Hoyle/e/B07S7YJ8NF?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060 Eventually, JB also did some translations from the Hebrew Bible. He wrote a book in 1962 entitled Your God is too Small. Search for this APP in Google Play to access the PHILLIPS easy to read version of the New Testament. Compare jOHN 1:1-14 in Biblegateway with ERV / CJB / PHIL versions. ERV (Easy to Read) JOHN 1:1-14 “Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was there with God in the beginning. Everything was made through him, and nothing was made without him. In him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it. There was a man named John, who was sent by God. He came to tell people about the light. Through him all people could hear about the light and believe. John was not the light. But he came to tell people about the light. The true light was coming into the world. This is the true light that gives light to all people. The Word was already in the world. The world was made through him, but the world did not know him. He came to the world that was his own. And his own people did not accept him. But some people did accept him. They believed in him, and he gave them the right to become children of God. They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan. They were born from God himself. The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his divine greatness—the greatness that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth.” CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) JOHN !:1-14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing made had being. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.There was a man sent from God whose name was Yochanan. He came to be a testimony, to bear witness concerning the light; so that through him, everyone might put his trust in God and be faithful to him. He himself was not that light; no, he came to bear witness concerning the light. This was the true light, which gives light to everyone entering the world. He was in the world — the world came to be through him — yet the world did not know him. He came to his own homeland, yet his own people did not receive him. But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God. The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” J.B. Phillips” version: “At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and He existed with God from the beginning. All creation took place through Him, and none took place without Him. In Him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out. A man called John was sent by God as a witness to the light, so that any man who heard his testimony might believe in the light. This man was not himself the light: he was sent simply as a personal witness to that light. That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He came into the world—the world He had created—and the world failed to recognise Him. He came into His own creation, and His own people would not accept Him. Yet wherever men did accept Him He gave them the power to become sons of God. These were the men who truly believed in Him, and their birth depended not on the course of nature nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God. So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw His splendour (the splendour as of a father’s only son), full of grace and truth.” The Reader’s spirit embraces what the Spirit is saying…….
John Bertram Phillips or J.B. Phillips was an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman. He attended University of Cambridge and he was fastidious to translate the New Testament into the modern language of his day. JB held an Honors Degree in Classics and English from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was ordained an Anglican clergyman in the Church of England in 1930. JB translated the New Testament letters from the Greek text with a forward by none other than C.S. Lewis. In the PHILLIPS translation more than any others I feel like I’ve experienced the Gospels as real letters written to real people as they would have read them. This is an admirable accomplishment as the stuffy formal versions leave me scratching my head to understand. Rev. J.B. Phillips had nothing against the “Authorized Version”, known today as the King James translation, but believed that because the epistles of the New Testament were originally written in “common Greek”, that they should be translated into the “English of today.” Phillips died in Swanage in Dorset, England in 1982.