Religion: Colloquial Scripture

"I doubt very much whether the New Testament writers were as subtle or as self-conscious as some commentators would make them appear," writes the Rev. John Bertram Phillips. "They would be, or indeed perhaps are, amazed to learn what meanings are sometimes read back into their simple utterances!" Anglican Phillips' attempt to make these utterances simple to 20th century readers is The New Testament in Modern English (Macmillan; $6), which last week was headed for the bestseller list.

As vicar of a London church during the World War II blitz, Phillips discovered why it...

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