A modern English blending of the New Testament

Everything Jesus said and did, nothing more, nothing less.

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Jesus - a Bible in Modern English

Jesus - a Bible in Modern English

A blending and paraphrase of the 4 Gospels
Everything Jesus said and did
by Charles Templeton

Foreword to the online edition by Brad Templeton

You may prefer to start with the author's original preface or Table of Contents. This foreword is here to tell a bit more of the history of this remarkable book and why you should read it.

From the late 30s to the late 50s, my father, Charles Templeton, (known then as Chuck Templeton) was one of the best known evangelists in North America. He and his best friend Billy Graham toured the USA, Canada and the World preaching about Jesus. In 1948, my father started work on a challenge most biblical scholars had declared to be too difficult -- a synthesis of the 4 main books of the New Testament into one narrative. This is difficult because even the first three don't agree completely, and the book of John is quite different from the others.

Here is the endorsement Rev. Billy Graham offered for the dustjacket:

The idea of someone synthesizing the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John into a single biography of the life of Christ and entitling it Jesus is an excellent one. It helps to accomodate both the outsider to Christianity looking in and the devout believer in Christ in their respective attempts to get the total picture of the life of Jesus as a whole.

I would also like to commend Charles Templeton, who claims to be an agnostic, for overall honesty in not letting interpretive biases creep into this presentation. Rather he has let the Gospel record speak for itself. Of course there are arbitrary decisions which had to be made with regard to the chronology of events in the life of our Lord and the actual sequence of His teaching, a few of which I would have perhaps placed in slightly different order, but none of these affect the cardinal doctrines of historic Christianity.

All in all it is my hope that this publication will have a deep and abiding impact on its readers equally in the areas of evangelism, edification and education.

However, today if you've heard of Charles Templeton's religious career, it is because in the late '50s he gave up his faith, and for the rest of his life, until his death in 2001, he was an agnostic. His last book was entitled Farewell to God. In spite of this, he remained fascinated with the life and philosophy of Jesus the man even if he no longer felt him to be Jesus the divine.

As such, in the early '70s he sought to complete his work, and using his improved writing skills (he had since become Canada's leading journalist and editor and would become a writer of bestselling fiction) he completed the task, paraphrasing the blending of the 4 books into modern English.

Of course, there was doubt as to whether people would accept a Bible version written by such a famous apostate. To remedy this, a board of recognized biblical scholars from the church and academia was convened. They reviewed the work for biblical accuracy and assured that it contained all that Jesus said and did -- nothing less, and nothing more.

So why write and publish such a book, if one is not devout? Quite simply, the New Testament is one of the most important books of world history, regardless of whether you believe in the divinity of its subject or not. It is the philosophical underpinning for most of the world's powerful nations, and the foundation of faith for a billion Christians and related creeds.

Yet at the same time, remarkably few (even among the faithful) have really read it in full. The "standard" translations are dense, and in language archaic to most modern readers. No matter who you are, you should read this book, for without it you can't understand much of western history. This paraphrase will allow many more to access the work. At the end, an index links each page with the King James bible verses that were the source material.

The book reached the bestseller lists in 1973, and was published in many editions and translations around the world, but is now out of print.

I've now put this work up online for free. Feel free to link to the work, or to print out a personal copy. However it remains Copyright © 1973 by the Estate of Charles Templeton, so contact me if you wish to print multiple copies or make it available elsewhere in electronic form.

To The Preface

You should also consider reading "Hints on reading a book on a computer."

Other commentaries:

An excellent book that should be read by every evangelical Christian. It is thoroughly evangelical, conservative and fundamental. Every basic doctrine of the Christian church is to be heard loud and clear. I think it is a great piece of work. -- Dr. Paul Smith, The People's Church, Toronto

I like to think that the conversations reworded in the text are what we might have heard if we had walked the streets of Jerusalem two thousand years ago. -- Winnipeg Tribune

Here at last is a harmony of the Gospels that makes the old, old story live. I was prepared for a work that would soar, and it does! Wherever I have dipped into this anagram of the Gospels I have struck sound scholarship and forceful prose. The story of Jesus is rendered in a linguistic style that is neither breezy nor pedantic but freshly up to date." - Dr. Ernest T. Campbell, The Riverside Church, New York