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  1. May 1, 2013 6:04 pm

    Thank you for this interesting post. In partial defense of Phillips, he was writing for British people of the 1940s, my parents’ generation, for whom for a man to kiss a woman, even on the cheek, was almost a proposal of marriage. But British culture has changed a lot in over 60 years, and American culture today is still more different. Does he really “presume[] to stand for all who use modern English in the Western world”, or only for his own target audience? Maybe Phillips had to avoid encouraging kissing among the church youth groups he was writing for. Maybe he would have avoided suggesting man and woman handshakes if he had been writing to a conservative Muslim readership, e.g. English speakers in Pakistan. But I think he would accept that this adjustment is unnecessary for America in the 2010s.

  2. May 1, 2013 6:27 pm

    Thank you for reading the post and finding it interesting. You make an excellent point about the times and the church context of Phillips. You are absolutely correct that there are the shifts in culture; the location certainly changes things (“e.g. English speakers in Pakistan… [vs. English speakers in] America in the 2010s”). And I would add that there are sociolinguistic (diachronic and synchronic) issues of shift in time as well. When I referenced “modern” English, I may have been making more of that than Phillips and his publisher were making of it when they eventually entitled his completed translation, The New Testament in Modern English. If he or somebody else were revising it today, could it be The New Testament in Postmodern English? Or have most of us English users on the planet now gone beyond postmodern (as if postmodernists – whoever they are today – could allow that)? I’m glad you have us thinking about what it once was, and not too long ago, “for a man to kiss a woman, even on the cheek.” You will have me thinking about such things for a long time, I’m sure.

  3. May 1, 2013 9:48 pm

    Yes, a good observation about “modern” – when did it change its meaning to something like “concerning the recent past”? Not long after Phillips, “Good News for Modern Man” was changed to simply “Good News Bible”, and it wasn’t just “Man” that they dropped. So “Modern” has become a bit like “New”, as in New College, Oxford (1379) and the New River of Virginia and West Virginia (300 million years old!).

  4. May 2, 2013 6:25 am

    Your comment about “new” reminds me of a misunderstanding I had as a child when my Southern Baptist minister father would immerse members of his church in the waters of the baptistry saying, what I thought was, “… buried with Christ in baptism… raised to walk in Eunice of life.” And aren’t they now the GNT, the NRSV, the NASB, the NKJV, the NET Bible and the NETS, the NT and the OT, the NLT, and what most would be analogous to the “New College, Oxford (1379)” – the TNIV and the NIV 1984 or just now the new plain old NIV 2011?

  5. May 2, 2013 8:52 am

    Yes, of course, the New Testament is even older than New College, Oxford, though not as old as Νεάπολις = Naples, Italy, and probably various other “new” places from antiquity.

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