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Chapter 34

The Revised English Version

 

In 1989 the Oxford and Cambridge presses published The Revised English Bible (REB), a revision of The New English Bible which was first published in 1970.

The publication of this Bible had a number of significant implications. That a revision was deemed necessary a mere nineteen years after the publication of The New English Bible is in itself surprising. One matter is certain: in that period there had been no significant shift in the English language, necessitating a revision to discard archaic words. Indeed, it is difficult to dispel the suspicion that the plethora of Bible translations published in recent years is motivated more by commercial considerations than by a desire to bring the precious Word of God to menís hearts. How different is the modern attitude toward Godís Word from that of the dedicated Christians who translated the King James Version! We repeat their motives:

But among all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts, than the blessed continuance of the preaching of Godís sacred word among us; which is that inestimable treasure which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven.

As with a number of new translations, the scholars employed in preparing The Revised English Bible included Roman Catholics. Their faith in Godís Word is seriously compromised by their conviction that church tradition and papal pronouncements supersede the precepts of Scripture. We can scarcely anticipate a Spirit-filled translation from such deluded men.

Furthermore, The Revised English Bible, the translation of which was directed by Professor W.E. McHardy, professor emeritus of Hebrew at Oxford University, has had the "benefit" of secular input, for

McHardy called on poets, novelists, even typists to provide advice on readability. Time, October 9, 1989

Such contributors, even when confined to the expression of opinion on readability, could scarcely be expected to add to the accuracy or sacredness of the task.

Like The New English Bible, The Revised English Bible is based upon the corrupted New Testament Greek manuscripts, thus giving the translation a major handicap from its very inception.

As with a number of other modern translations, The Revised English Bible contains numbers of passages where the "translation" completely ignores the original to serve the biases of the translators. This procedure is most dangerous, for it gives license to contradict Godís precious Word. It can be seen in the foolish effort to remove "sexist" words from the new translation. Two illustrations are provided:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13, KJV

. . . that someone should lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13, REB

Even in the corrupted manuscripts the Greek word used in this verse is man, not someone. But it is typical of the absurdity of such removal of sexist" words that the translators still felt compelled to use the masculine gender pronoun his, twice in this clause, effectively negating the aim of the mistranslation of the masculine gender noun.

We cite a second example of this sort of absurdity from the Old Testament.

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Psalm 8:4, KJV

Here the Hebrew noun is man, as correctly translated above. The Revised English Version translators chose to ignore the true Hebrew word and to substitute two of their own devising, but once more they were unable to eliminate the masculine gender pronoun.

What is frail mortal, that thou should be mindful of him? Psalm 8:4, REB

While such freedom of translation may seem inconsequential at first sight, the astute student of Godís Word will perceive that it usurps a liberty which will not be confined to the elimination of "sexist" nouns at the whim of the translator, but will also permit freedom to make even more serious alterations to Godís Holy Word when the original does not accord with the translatorís biases.

Nevertheless not all is defective in this new translation. Few users of The New English Bible recognize that

when The New English Bible was compiled, it was fashionable among some scholars to depart from the preserved texts of the Old Testament in favor of readings based on nonbiblical writings. Time, October 9, 1989

Fortunately, The Revised English Bible has reversed this faulty trend, for

since then [since the 1950s and 1960s], newly discovered manuscripts have given increased confidence in the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text. Ibid.

It is this Masoretic Hebrew Text which was used by the translators of the King James Version almost 400 years ago. Today many scholars make false claims that influence translators. They cast doubt on the reliability of the pure manuscripts. These claims from the pens of renowned "authorities" have proved convincing to many laymen. But what we see illustrated in respect to the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament is, we believe, equally true of the Textus Receptus Greek of the New Testament.

In the 1950s many "experts" pontificated, and their views were accepted to such a degree that the translators of The New English Bible at times preferred to rely upon nonbiblical writings as being more authoritative than the Masoretic Text. With the passage of time, discovery of further evidence has disclosed the fallacy of the conclusion of the "experts" a mere twenty years ago. The readers of Godís Word will demonstrate proper prudence by ignoring the fanciful claims of the large majority of present-day Bible scholars, for they have proved to be unsafe guides in the past.

 

 


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