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Revised Standard Version

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History of the English Bible series.
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The Revised Standard Version (RSV) is an English translation of the Bible that was popular in the mid 20th century and posed the first challenge to the King James Version as the prefered English Bible for Protestants.

Table of contents
1 Beginnings of the revision
2 The 1946 and 1952 printings and reaction
3 RSV differences
4 The 1957 addition of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books and the 1965 Catholic Edition
5 The 1971 New Testament Revision
6 The 1973 Common Bible and 1977 expansion of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books
7 The 1982 Reader's Digest Edition
8 The 2002 Anniversary Edition
9 Revisions of the RSV
10 Sources
11 External links

Beginnings of the revision

The RSV is a revision of the 1901 American Standard Version. The copyright to that version was acquired by International Council of Religious Education in 1928. At that time, a two-year study was done to decide the question of a new revision. In 1937, it was decided that a revision would be done and a panel of 32 scholars was put together for that task. The decision, however, was delayed by the Great Depression. Funding for the revision was assured in 1936 by a deal that was made with Thomas Nelson & Sons. The deal gave Thomas Nelson & Sons rights to print the RSV for ten years. The translators were to be paid by advance royalties.

The 1946 and 1952 printings and reaction

The New Testament was released in 1946. The translation panel used the 17th edition of the Nestle Greek text. The Old Testament was released in 1952. The RSV New Testament was received pretty well. The Old Testament was not received that well. The RSV translators translated the Old Testament from a Jewish viewpoint. Other views, including those of the New Testament, were not considered. This translation style led Conservative sections of the Church to accuse the RSV of tampering with some passages that can be read as prophecies relating to Jesus. There were some people who were so enraged over the RSV that they took their anger to unhealthy extremes. Among this behavior were the actions of a pastor in the Southern USA who burned a copy of the RSV and sent the ashes to Luther Weigle, the chair of the translation panel. Even others began to create unfounded charges that members of the translation panel were communists. At Joseph McCarthy's request, these charges were printed in the US Air Force training manual.

RSV differences

There were two key differences between the RSV and the AV and American Standard Version. One difference was the way the name of God (YHVH) is translated. The American Standard Version translated the name as "Jehovah". The RSV returned to the practice of the AV by translating the name as the "LORD". Another change was in the usage of archaic English for second person pronouns, "thee", "thou", "thy", etc. The AV and ASV used these terms for both God and humans. The RSV only used archaic English for God.

The 1957 addition of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books and the 1965 Catholic Edition

In 1957, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books was added to the RSV. The RSV Apocrypha was a revision of the English Revised Version Apocrypha of 1894. In 1965, a Catholic edition of the RSV was produced. This edition contained the deuterocanonical books in the Old Testament. There were a few light changes in the New Testament. These changes were done so that the RSV would be correct according to Catholic doctrines.

The 1971 New Testament Revision

1971 saw a revision of the New Testament. This revision restored John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20 to the text (in 1946 they were footnotes). The 1971 New Testament revision also made some use of the 3rd edition of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament.

The 1973 Common Bible and 1977 expansion of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books

The Common Bible of 1973 was a way to place the books in a way that pleased both Catholics and Protestants. The Common Bible was divided into four sections:

The expanded Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books gave the Common Bible a total of 81 books. In 1977, the RSV Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books was expanded to include 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Psalm 151, three books accepted in the Eastern Orthodox canon. This action increased the Common Bible to 84 Books. The goal of the Common Bible was to help ecumenical relations between the churches.

The 1982 Reader's Digest Edition

In 1982, Reader's Digest published a special edition of the RSV that was billed as a condensed edition of the text. Familar passages such as the Lord's Prayer, Psalm 23, and the Ten Commandments were retained. The Reader's Digest edition of the RSV was intended for those who don't read the Bible or who read it once in a while. It was not intended as a replacement of the full RSV text. In the end, 55 percent of the Old Testament and 25 percent of the New Testament was cut.

The 2002 Anniversary Edition

2002 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1952 edition of the RSV. To mark this event, Oxford University Press issued a special edition of the RSV. This edition contained the 1971 revised New Testament and the 1977 expanded Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books.

Revisions of the RSV

Since the RSV editions of the 1970s, there have been two revisions of the RSV that have appeared in recent years. In 1989, the National Council of Churches released an update to the RSV called the New Revised Standard Version. In 2001, Crossway Bibles released their own update to the RSV called the English Standard Version.


External links

RSV text online

RSV resources