For 13 years a select team of British scholars has been poring diligently over biblical manuscripts, occasionally assembling to compare notes in the tapestry-adorned Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey. Their aim was to produce a successor to the 350-year-old King James Version. First fruits of their labors will be unveiled March 14 with the publication by Oxford and Cambridge University Presses of the New Testament of The New English Bible.

Dr. F. F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism and exegesis in the Victoria University of Manchester, has been commissioned by CHRISTIANITY TODAY to prepare a major review of the New Testament of The New English Bible.

The publishers are optimistic. First printing amounts to 500,000 copies, largest initial order in British publishing history. Another 325,000 copies are being printed in other countries. All but a few highly-prized copies circulated among key reviewers are being held for the March 14 publication date. A sample page taken from the First Epistle of John is reproduced below, along with the corresponding pages from the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version.

The Old Testament is due in about six years, and the Apocrypha after that.

Translators and publishers alike stress that The New English Bible is not simply a revision of the Authorized Version or any other version. It is a completely new translation. The announced intent was to create a Bible “not obscured by an archaic language but enlivened by a clear and contemporary vocabulary” drawn from the original Hebrew and Greek “as understood by the best available scholarship.”

The language used is not overly modern, however, says the prospectus. “The style is neither old-fashioned nor self-consciously modernistic. ...

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