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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

Thou Shalt Not Kill Roy Fuller

AS a boy I was often at Church of England services. At fourteen or fifteen I became an atheist and have remained one ever since, but now in my later sixties I have started to go to church again, albeit less often than in my youth-in fact, for the funerals and memorial services of friends and professional connections. When this round got into swing I was surprised to find myself saying a different Lord's Prayer from the parson's: 'Our Father who art in heaven,' the fellow would begin. And with increasing frequency I heard, as the Lesson, some more or less strange garbled piece of prose. Of course, despite my long divorce from ecclesiastical experience, I knew what was happening: reformed services and new versions of the Bible were actually coming into common use.

I must confess, even when the complete New English Bible was published in 1970 (the New Testament had been published alone in 1961), I was gormless enough to think that it would not, as it were, 'catch on'; that it would remain little used and faintly ludicrous, brought into being by some not entirely sane whim and lots of cash-resembling the business of Bernard Shaw's phonetic alphabet. However, the use of the NEB (and other texts of that kind) is plainly spreading, as will no doubt be emphasised in this symposium by those qualified to quantify the matter. In the remarks that follow I will confine myself to the NEB, comparing it with ...


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