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Dictionaries :: American Revised Version

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

American Revised Version:

a-mer'-i-kan re-vizd' vur'-shun.

1. History:

On July 7, 1870, it was moved in the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury that in the work of revision the cooperation of American divines be invited. This resolution was assented to, and on December 7, 1871, the arrangements were completed. Under the general presidency of Dr. Philip Schaff, an Old Testament Company of fifteen scholars was formed, with Dr. W. H. Green as chairman, and a New Testament Company of sixteen members (including Dr. Schaff), with Dr. T. D. Woolsey as chairman. Work was begun on October 4, 1872, and took the form of offering criticisms on the successive portions of the English revision as they were received. These criticisms of the American Companies were duly considered by the English Companies during the second revision and the decisions were again sent to America for criticism. The replies received were once more given consideration and, finally, the unadopted readings for which the American Companies professed deliberate preference were printed as appendices to the two Testaments as published in 1881 and 1885. These lists, however, were not regarded by the American Companies as satisfactory. In the first place, it became evident that the English Companies, on account of their instructions and for other reasons, were not willing to make changes of a certain class. Consequently the American Companies insisted on only such readings as seemed to have a real chance of being accepted. And, in the second place, the English presses hurried the last part of the work and were unwilling to allow enough time for adequate thoroughness in the preparation of the lists. But it was hoped that the first published edition of the English Revised Version would not be considered definitive and that in the future such American proposals as had stood the test of public discussion might be incorporated into the text. This hope was disappointed-the English Companies disbanded as soon as their revision was finished and their work stood as final. As a result the American Companies resolved to continue their organization. They were pledged not to issue or endorse any new revision within fourteen years after the publication of the English Revised Version, and so it was not until 1900 that the American Standard Revised Version New Testament was published. The whole Bible was issued in the following year.

2. Differences from English Revised Version:

As the complete editions of the American Standard Revised Version give a full list of the changes made, only the more prominent need be mentioned here. A few of the readings printed in the appendices to the English Revised Version were abandoned, but many new ones were introduced, including some that had been adopted while the English work was in progress but which had not been pressed. (See above.) Still, in general appearance, the American Standard Revised Version differs but slightly from the English. The most important addition is found in the page-headings. Some changes have been made in shortening the titles of the New Testament books. The printing of poetical passages in poetical form has been carried through more consistently. The paragraphs have been altered in some cases and (especially in the Old Testament) shortened. The punctuation has been simplified, especially by the more frequent use of the semi-colon. The removal of obsolete words ("magnifical," "neesings," etc.) has been effected fairly thoroughly, obsolete constructions ("jealous over," etc.) have been modernized, particularly by the use of "who" or "that" (instead of "which") for persons and "its" (instead of "his") for things. In the Old Testament "Yahweh" has been introduced systematically for the proper Hebrew word, as has "Sheol" ("Hades" in the New Testament). Certain passages too literally rendered in the English Revised Version ("reins," "by the hand of," etc.) are given in modern terms. In the New Testament, the substitution of "Holy Spirit" for "Holy Ghost" was completed throughout (in the English Revised Version it is made in some twenty places), "demons" substituted for "devils," "Teacher" for "Master," and "try" for "tempt" when there is no direct reference to wrongdoing. And so on.

3. Criticism:

It may be questioned whether the differences between the two Revisions are great enough to counterbalance the annoyance and confusion resulting from the existence of two standard versions in the same language. But, accepting the American Standard Revised Version as an accomplished fact, and acknowledging a few demerits that it has or may be thought to have in comparison with the English Revised Version (a bit of pedantry in Ps 148:12 or renderings of disputed passages such as Ps 24:6), these demerits are altogether outweighed by the superiorities-with one exception. In the Psalter, when used liturgically, the repetition of the word "Yahweh" becomes wearisome and the English Revised Version which retains "The Lord" is much preferable. Most to be regretted in the American Standard Revised Version is its extreme conservatism in the readings of the original texts. In the Old Testament the number of marginal variants was actually reduced. In the New Testament, only trivial changes are made from the so-called Revisers' Greek Text, although this text did not represent the best scholarly opinion even in 1881, while in 1900 it was almost universally abandoned (Today-in 1914-it is obsolete.) It is very unfortunate that the American Revisers did not improve on the example of their English brethren and continue their sessions after the publication of their version, for it is only by the successive revisions of published work that a really satisfactory result can be attained.

4. Apocrypha:

No American Standard Revised Version Apocrypha was attempted, a particularly unfortunate fact, as the necessity for the study of the Apocrypha has become imperative and the English Revised Version Apocrypha is not a particularly good piece of work. However, copies of the American Standard Revised Version can now be obtained with the English Revised Version Apocrypha included.

Written by Burton Scott Easton


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