The History of the English Bible Part 14: RV (1885) ASV (1901)

ASV 1901 title page

In 1870 Dr. Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Winchester proposed a revision of the Authorized Version as the King James had come to be called. A resolution was passed and 16 scholars were appointed to supervise the translation. 54 translators were chosen among a mix of British and American scholars. Many of these were well known and still well known and read today. It was hoped by having two American committees one version could be made for both England and America. This didn’t happen because the British did not want to remove the archaic language and the Americans did not like the connotations of the word ghost, choosing spirit instead.

The RV did not do as well as the AV due to strict adherence to the rule that there could be only one English word for each Greek or Hebrew word. This helps in use of a concordance but leads to odd and stilted English. Charles Spurgeon responded to this version by saying it was “Strong in Greek, weak in English.”

The Americans working on the RV agreed not to make their own version for 14 years. When the time was up, Thomas Nelson published the ASV in 1901. Some of the words the ASV changed from the KJV were using Jehovah for God and LORD, holy spirit for holy ghost, hades for hell and grave, for pit or hell they used sheol.

The Presbyterian churches immediately adopted it for usage but it never caught on like the KJV. One reason for this is it did not go so far as to change English into modern English. another reason is that while it used newer manuscripts for it’s text, textual criticism was not what it is today. Some of the newer manuscripts available to the ASV revisers that were not previously available were Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrius.

John 3:16 RV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Lord’s Prayer from the RV  Matthew 6:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
(Mat 6:9-13)

John 3:16 ASV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Lord’s Prayer from the ASV  Matthew 6:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Print Friendly

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *