O Me of Little Faith

We’re sprinting through Chapter 7 of Pocket Guide to the Bible, which details the most popular biblical translations. Previously, we covered the familiar and intimidating KJV. Today’s subject is the Revised Standard Version.

The Revised Standard Version (RSV)

First published in: 1952, by Thomas Nelson & Sons
Translation style: Formal Equivalence

Quick description: The first serious challenger to the King James, mainly a re-translation that builds on its solid base while trying to make the text more understandable. It keeps much of the familiar phraseology of the King James, including the thees and thous…but only in reference to God.

Why you should read it: Because it still feels like the King James but is a teensy bit more modern.

Not so fast: Hardly anyone reads this version anymore, it seems, so you’ll be all alone in your RSV devotion. Plus, some folks think this translation is tainted by godless liberalism. Why? Because the RSV’s translation of Isaiah 7:14 — a verse traditionally considered to be a prophecy of Christ’s birth — replaces “virgin” with “young woman.” (Footnote: “Young woman” is actually the more accurate translation of the Hebrew word almah, which is used in the Isaiah passage and is not, in fact, a technical word for “virgin.” But, it generally appears in the context of virginity. And when the Gospel writer references the Isaiah phrase in Matthew 1:23, he uses “virgin” for sure. So, obviously, communism is involved.)

Incensed, some Christians take to burning this translation in the years immediately following its release. Before long, they’re actually charging members of the translation panel with communism. Senator Joseph McCarthy even sticks his red-sniffing nose in the fray. This is why a lot of people decided it would be better to just stick with the non-commie KJV. And by “stick with,” I mean “believe to be divinely inspired.”

“You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Previously: The King James Bible
Up next: The Jerusalem Bible

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