What is the Revised Version?
The Revised Version (or English Revised Version) of the Bible is a late 19th-century British revision of the King James Version of 1611. It was the first and remains the only officially authorized and recognized revision of the King James Bible. The work was entrusted to over 50 scholars from various denominations in Britain. American scholars were invited to cooperate, by correspondence.
The New Testament was published in 1881, the Old Testament in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894. The best known of the translation committee members were Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort; their fiercest critic of that period was John William Burgon.
The New Testament revision company was commissioned in 1870 by the convocation of Canterbury. Their stated aim was "to adapt King James' version to the present state of the English language without changing the idiom and vocabulary," and "to adapt it to the present standard of Biblical scholarship."
Further, it was to be "the best version possible in the nineteenth century, as King James' version was the best which could be made in the seventeenth century." To those ends, the Greek text that was used to translate the New Testament was believed by some to be of higher reliability than the Textus Receptus used for the KJV. The readings used were compiled from a different text of the Greek Testament by Edwin Palmer.
While the text of the translation itself is widely regarded as excessively literal and flat, the Revised Version is significant in the history of English Bible translation for many reasons. At the time of the RV's publication, the nearly 300-year old King James Version was still the only viable English Bible in Victorian England. The RV, therefore, is regarded as the forerunner of the entire modern translation tradition. And it was considered more accurate than the King James Version in a number of verses.
The Revised Version of the New Testament translators, 1881. The revisers were charged with introducing alterations only if they were deemed necessary to be more accurate and faithful to the Original Greek and Hebrew texts. In the New Testament alone more than 30,000 changes were made, over 5,000 on the basis of what were considered better Greek manuscripts. The work was begun in 1879, with the entire work completed in 1885. (The RV Apocrypha came out in 1895.)
The Revised Version of 1885 was the first post-King James Version modern English Bible at the time to gain popular acceptance; and it was used and quoted favorably by ministers, authors, and theologians in the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as Andrew Murray and Clarence Larkin, in their works.
Other important enhancements introduced in the RV include arrangement of the text into paragraphs, printing Old Testament poetry in indented poetic lines (rather than as prose), and the inclusion of marginal notes to alert the reader to variations in wording in ancient manuscripts.
In its Apocrypha, the Revised Version became the first printed edition in English to offer the complete text of Second Esdras, inasmuch as damage to one 9th-century manuscript had caused 70 verses to be omitted from previous editions and printed versions, including the King James Version.
In the United States, the RV was adapted as the "Revised Version, Standard American Edition" (better known as the American Standard Version) in 1901. The American Standard Version is largely identical to the Revised Version. The most noticeable difference is the much more frequent use of "Jehovah" in the Old Testament, rather than "the Lord" to represent the Divine Name, the Tetragrammaton.
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