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Chapter 32

The New Revised Standard Version

 

This version was published in 1989, thirty-seven years after the publication of the original Revised Standard Version. G.W. and D.E. Anderson have concluded:

As with most modern translations, in the scholars’ desire to improve the previous translations the end result produces more problems than it solves. This is very true of the New Revised Standard Version. Although it is more readable than the New American Standard version, and more accurate than the New International Version, it still falls short of what makes a translation great, long-lasting, and God-honouring. Thus we cannot recommend this translation for those Christian people who desire to understand God’s Word. G.W. and D.E. Anderson, "The New Revised Standard Version," Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Jan-Mar, 1991, 21

This translation has followed the current fad of translators in desiring to eliminate "sexist" language. It seems difficult for men and women today to comprehend the nature of the English language. Many do not understand that some "masculine" words depend upon context for meaning. In some contexts they are exclusive in their reference to those of the male sex. In other contexts the words refer to all humans, irrespective of sex. There is nothing degrading to either men or women in this linguistic arrangement. Many other English words have more than one meaning, and it causes no offense. Let us take the word house as an example. Manifestly it means an inanimate structure in the context "He built a brick house." But in the context, "Queen Elizabeth II belongs to the House of Windsor," the same word refers to her family. Yet no one asserts that it degrades the humanity of the Queen’s family to use a word which is also used for an inanimate object. We all accept that context can markedly alter the meaning of many words. We hear no protests from men when the pronoun she is used in relation to a country or ship.

It must be understood that just like the English language, the Greek also lacks a common singular pronoun including both sexes, and Hebrew is more deficient in this respect, for it does not contain such a neuter pronoun. Thus when "sexist" pronouns are translated in this new manner not only are we doing violence to the English language for no good purpose, but also to the Greek. As the Andersons have written:

The biggest problem with the New Revised Standard Version’s gender-inclusive language, however, is that it is not what is found in the original language manuscripts. The fact that the words God inspired are masculine-oriented cannot be escaped; nor can the idea that, if not for the women’s movement in the 1970s and the resultant desire of women to abandon their God-given positions in life, there would be no argument for gender-inclusive language in the Scriptures. The question arises: Must God’s Word be changed to adapt to culture? And if so, how far will those changes go? Ibid., 17

Yet despite the logic of this viewpoint, it has been stated in reference to this new translation:

Masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture. Bruce Metzger, New Revised Standard Version, xiii

Thus the statement quoted by Christ from the Pentateuch has been altered:

Man doth not live by bread only. Deuteronomy 8:3, KJV

One does not live by bread alone. Deuteronomy 8:3, NRSV

The impact of Christ’s words when asked to judge between a man and his brother is needlessly weakened. When Jesus replied He posed the question:

Man, who made me a judge or a divider over thee? Luke 12:14, KJV

The New Revised Standard Version substitutes the word Friend for Man. Yet clearly Christ was addressing a man and there was absolutely no logic in altering the plain sense. Surely men are still entitled to be called Man.

In the Old Testament the translators have followed a perilous course. Most students of God’s Word are aware that in the spelling of Hebrew words only consonants are utilized. This fact has given cause for difficulty. By way of illustration, let us examine such a spelling technique if used in English. If we spelled a word as ct it could equally refer to cat, cot or cut. Of course, in practice there would rarely be any difficulty, for the context would make the meaning evident. In the sentence, "I ct my hair," no one would misunderstand that ct referred to any word but cut. Similarly the sentence, "The mother placed her baby in its ct" would cause no difficulty.

But there are occasional difficulties where context does not suffice. We illustrate: "My ht was destroyed." Does ht in this sentence refer to hat or hut? The context does not provide a clear-ct answer.

For this reason, Masoretes between the sixth and the eighth centuries, Christian Era, added vowel points based upon centuries-old traditions, passed from generation to generation by the oral reading of the scriptural scrolls in the synagogues. These are accepted as highly accurate. Yet the translators of the New Revised Standard Version have adopted a policy in which

the vowel signs, which were added by the Masoretes, are accepted in the main, but where a more probable and convincing reading can be obtained by assuming different vowels, this has been done. No notes are given in such cases, because the vowel points are less ancient and reliable than the consonants. Bruce Metzger, op. cit., xiii

Even some of the consonants have been changed.

Departures from the consonantal text of the best manuscripts have been made only where it seems clear that errors in copying had been made before the text was standardized.

Examples of this type of alteration is seen in Genesis 21:9, where Ishmael’s mocking of Isaac is changed to playing with him; and in 2 Samuel 18:27, where David’s recorded slaying of 200 Philistines is reduced to 100.

A matter of more concern is the use of Apocryphal statements within the text of the canon of Scripture. It occurs in the book of Ezra, and in one instance in the book of Nehemiah, where readings from the first book of Esdras in the Apocrypha are inserted. Thus on the basis of 1 Esdras 9:2, Ezra 10:6 is altered:

and when he came thither . . . Ezra 10:6, KJV

where he spent the night . . . Ezra 10:6, NRSV

and in Ezra 2:70 is added

lived in Jerusalem and its vicinity. Ezra 2:70, NRSV,

on the basis of these words in 1 Esdras 5:46. Thus by subtle means, the noncanonical books of the Apocrypha are entering the Holy Scriptures.

Perhaps the most serious shortcoming of the new version is that some changes have been made purely upon the conjectures of the translators without the support of a single example of manuscript evidence.

Occasionally it is evident that the text has suffered in transmission and that none of the versions provides a satisfactory restoration. Here we can only follow the best judgment of competent scholars as to the most probable reconstruction of the original text. Ibid.

On this basis Christ’s eternity—from everlasting—is altered to

from ancient days . . . Micah 5:2, NRSV,

along with other unwarranted interference in Holy Writ.

We shall add little further concerning the New Testament, for the New Revised Standard Version follows most of the basic mistakes already cited concerning other modern translations. Suffice to say that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Jewish scholars were included with Protestant translators in the work of translation. That they have produced such a faulted result is cause for no surprise.

Nor is there surprise that the New Testament translation is based upon the Greek text of the United Bible Societies, Third Edition Corrected. In Latin America, it is a translation based upon this text which the Roman Catholic Church sees as stemming the tide of Protestant advance (see chapter 24, entitled The Bible Societies).

Thus another new translation has been produced which does little service to the Christian faith and which is hailed by most apostate religions. It cannot be recommended for serious Bible study.

 


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