To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken.—Jer. 6.10

["Revised" New Testament.]

Excerpted from:

VOL. III.        DECEMBER, 1881.        No. 4.

We have read many criticisms on this revision, and in many of them we have been anticipated. We have said elsewhere that the word revision has not been accurately defined. Any person may find in "Annals of the English Bible, by Christopher Anderson," that the learned author makes use of the terms revision, version, and translation, as interchangeable; as if not synonymous, at least equivalent. Such loose usage of words always tends to mislead the reader and is the cause of much controversy. {101}

Our space does not admit of entering into minute or detailed criticism on words changed, clauses transposed, &c. We must be limited in our remarks to matters more general and comprehensive; and we can say, by way of concession, that the revisers have rendered some obscure words and phrases more intelligible to the unlearned Christian; these instances however are indeed comparatively few. In view of the necessary distinction between a revision and a new version or translation, we venture to affirm that the work partakes more of the nature of the latter than of the former. In making so free with the sacred text we think the first and second rules adopted by themselves were sometimes violated, or forgotten, "To introduce as few alterations as possible into the Text of the authorized version; to limit the expressions of such alterations to the language of that version." Now, the reader does not need to be skilled in either Greek or grammar, to discover a multitude of verbal variations from the authorized version, where there are no compensations by making the meaning easier of comprehension to his mind, or impressive to his heart. This, we believe, will be the most general objection among the people to the revised version—and very justly.

The almost uniform translating of the Greek article by the English definite the, seems so monotonous and puerile as to raise a suspicion that the revisers looked upon the idioms of the two languages as the same in the use of the article. If so, their competency to their task would be doubtful. Indeed, the frequent placing of the article the before the relative which, would seem to indicate a "dusky intellect" in the use of articles, as the frequent use of which for who suggests a singular fondness for adhering to archaisms while professedly modernizing our English Scriptures.

Nor have the revisers removed the very objectionable superstitious symbols of Prelatic taste which king James’ Bible still exhibits to the eyes of the reader, except perhaps the word "Easter." The four Evangelists still appear canonized by the prefix "St." And then as inconsistently as before, in all his three epistles "the beloved {102} disciple" is denuded of this honorable distinction, to reappear before his name as the writer of "The Revelation." Many generations have passed since Coverdale, contrary to Tyndale’s example, interposed the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testament; which profane act has all along fostered superstition. "Prayers for the dead—the intercession of saints—the heroism of suicide—the doctrine of purgatory—atonement by alms-giving—justification by the works of the law are taught in the Apocrypha." If the word saint be a title of honor and preeminence, why did the revisers deny it to the apostles Paul, Peter, James and Jude? and why prefix it to Mark and Luke, who were "not numbered with the apostles?" In this instance of superstition and inconsistency the American is decidedly preferable to the English company of revisers.

As we do not believe that "ignorance is the mother of devotion," neither do we think that superstition generates reverence for God or his precious Word; and we grieve to say that the learned revisers, especially the English, seem to be defective in reverence. Boldness, sometimes bordering on recklessness, appears in their adding to and taking from "the Authorized Version." They attempt to justify this freedom by the number and antiquity of Greek manuscripts and versions. But every scholar knows, or ought to know, that this rule of judging is fallacious—a deception long since relegated to papal Rome. Who may not see that through the incompetency, carelessness or design of transcribers, errors may be transmitted to many generations? History proves this in other cases.

The manifest growth of superstition and general tendency Romeward; the undue deference paid to mere intellectual culture, to German philology and consequent neology, render the present age unpropitious for such arduous and responsible work as revision of our dignified, stately and venerable English Bible. Limited as is our space we feel constrained to adduce a sampling of the rashness betrayed by this revision. Assuming that the divine inspiration of the Bible is a fundamental doctrine; and also that the supreme deity of Christ is essential to salvation; {103} the reader of the Revision will find inspiration invalidated, 1 Tim. 3.16, and the divinity of Christ obliterated, Acts 8.37. When Saul of Tarsus was converted, "straightway he preached Christ—that he is the Son of God;" but the revisers have suppressed the same testimony from the mouth of the newly converted eunuch! Acts 9.20; 8.37. And this is only a sample of many such liberties taken by the revisers. Surely all pious readers, in view of like improper and unwarrantable license, have reason of thankfulness to the Author of the Bible, that the eternal Sonship and supreme deity of the only Saviour, are doctrines frequently taught and clearly revealed elsewhere throughout both the Old and New Testament.

This Revision, which is indeed rather a translation, will of course stand or fall on its intrinsic merits or demerits; but meanwhile some good results may be expected to flow from its circulation. Many have had their attention drawn to the Lively Oracles; and to comparing of versions in the vernacular tongue; while the learned will be engaged in comparing the revision with the original Greek, and with the "various readings"—both classes of readers often—too often, actuated by no higher principle than mere curiosity. The imperfections, moreover, and the blemishes which the authors had the candor to acknowledge in the "Preface," may be discovered by others to be more serious than the authors apprehended. Discoveries of this sort are not confined to those who may be famous for erudition. The Holy Scriptures were not designed for the learned only, nor for them chiefly, but for the common people. This is presupposed in the frequent and imperative commands of the gracious Author—"Search the Scriptures," "Try the spirits," &c. Accordingly he enjoins upon his amanuenses—"Make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it," Hab. 2.2. No, The Bible is not to be a sealed book, shut up in the cloister of monks. As matter of fact the recognized and official guides of the church have often been guilty of "taking away the key of knowledge," and this may be done by "wresting," as by concealing the Scriptures. {104}

There is "an unction from the Holy One" possessed by unlearned Christians. 1 John 2.20. To such humble disciples "the Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God." Better than the most learned critics, destitute of that unction, they understand the internal evidences of the divine original of the Bible. "The eyes of their understanding being enlightened," they discern the "majesty, purity, harmony, and light" of the Scriptures in their understanding, and feel their power upon their heart. If after sufficient examination of the "Revised Version" by this large majority of English-speaking Christians, they desire another and truer one, the labors of the English and American Committees of Revision will not have been in vain.