Biblos & The Basic Bible

BIBLOS – a silhouette of the Bible. Privately published, 1976.
republished as THE BASIC BIBLE – 160 Key readings with notes. Hutchinson, 1977.


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“Two titles, same book.   I started writing Biblos when I was thirty and published it privately ten years later.   I wrote it for practical citizens of the world who want a basic knowledge of the Bible without becoming involved with the various religions which roost in its branches.

“In two hours you can have the key passages from the whole Bible if you read slowly just the sixty 3*** readings !   If you include the fifty 2** and the fifty 1* readings it will take longer.   And, with the notes and using the index and maps, longer still.

“We sold two thousand copies to schools by post from our house.   The biggest order of 40 copies came from a Roman Catholic school.   Then Hutchinson republished it as The Basic Bible in 1977 and they sold 18,000 copies until they were bought out by an American company who, unfortunately, scrapped it.   I was at that time too busy teaching to find another publisher, but second hand copies can still be found today.   Among its backers were George Thomas, Speaker of the House of Commons and Methodist preacher; George McLeod, Moderator of the Church of Scotland and rebuilder of Iona Abbey with its Community; and Stuart Blanch, the Archbishop of York, who wrote a stunningly supportive page in the Daily Mail; so it should not have been scrapped.

“The key readings are not an anthology.   They were selected by an analysis of three national exam syllabuses over a period of ten years.   The readings have in places been shortened, they have not been paraphrased but the Gospels have been dovetailed to give a single narrative.   They were taken mainly from The Jerusalem Bible and The New English Bible; a few came from J.B.Phillips and The Authorised Version.   So they are as close as you can get in English to the original.”