Sufficient time has elapsed since the publication of the New English New Testament in mid-March to allow an assessment of the initial reaction to this significant event. The reception with which it has met has varied from the uncritically laudatory to the hypercritically derogatory; but on the whole it has been acclaimed as a notable scholarly undertaking, excellent in intention, though not uniformly successful in execution.
In an article in the Church Times (Mar. 17) J. B. Phillips, renowned for his own New Testament in Modern English, writes: “Vital and commanding truths have been insulated from us by the familiarity of repetition, or frozen by sheer beauty into the immobility of jewels. For this reason I myself welcome this new translation with open arms, for there can be little excuse now for the ordinary man to say that the New Testament makes no sense to him.” Nevertheless, he devotes the major portion of his article to a discussion of “irritating blemishes on an otherwise splendid piece of work.” Among the examples of clumsy translation which he gives, he mentions John 1:1 where “we meet the extraordinarily infelicitous beginning, ‘When all things began, the Word already was.’ ” “I find it hard to believe”, he says, “that the team could not have improved upon this.” He gives instances of “the juxtaposition of words, some belonging to one century and some to another,” and of passages where the language is remote “from the English which is spoken today.” He draws attention even to examples where the English is bad or feeble or ridiculous, and declares that he “cannot understand how they could pass these lamentable expressions.” ...1
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