The Revised Version (RV) or English Revised Version (ERV) of the Bible is a late 19th-century British revision of the King James Version. It was the first and remains the only officially authorised and recognised revision of the King James Version in Britain. The work was entrusted to over 50 scholars from various denominations in Britain. American scholars were invited to co-operate, 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.
Outside cover of Revised Version of Bible, bound in leather with a full yapp. Published by Oxford in 1885.
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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." To those ends, the Greek text that was used to translate the New Testament was believed by most to be of higher reliability than the Textus Receptus. 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,[by whom?] 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 the main Protestant English Bible in Victorian England. The RV, therefore, is regarded as the forerunner of the entire modern translation tradition. It was also considered more accurate than the King James Version in a number of verses.
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 throughout the 1900s, such as Andrew Murray, T. Austin-Sparks, Watchman Nee, H.L. Ellison, F.F. Bruce, 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 Revised Version was adapted and revised 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 of 1885, with minor variations in wording considered to be slightly more accurate. One noticeable difference is the much more frequent use of the form "Jehovah" in the Old Testament of the American Standard Version, rather than "the LORD" that is used more so in the Revised Version of 1885, to represent the Divine Name, the Tetragrammaton.
The Revised Version (both the 1885 and the American Revision of 1901) are some of the Bible versions that are authorized to be used in services of the Episcopal Church and also of the Church of England.
The American Standard Version was the basis for many revisions in the first hundred years after it was released. The RV itself has never been the basis for any revision except for the American Standard Version and the Apocrypha in the Revised Standard Version.
As the Revised Version is out of copyright worldwide, it is widely available online and in digital formats although it is significantly less popular than the KJV or the ASV in this manner. However, it is not widely available in published form today with only Cambridge University Press publishing it in the form of a KJV/RV interlinear.
- Marlowe, Michael D. "English Revised Version (1881-1895)". Retrieved March 22, 2004.
- Hall, Isaac H. (ed.) "History of the English Revised Version (1881)". Retrieved March 22, 2004.
- Palmer, Edwin. ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ. The Greek Testament with the Readings Adopted by the Revisers of the Authorised Version. London: Simon Wallenberg Press, 2007. ISBN 1-84356-023-2
- Ryken, Leland (2002). The Word of God in English. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. ISBN 1-58134-464-3
- Burgon, John William (1883). The Revision Revised.
- Bible: Apocrypha, Revised Version. The Apocrypha, Translated out of the Greek and Latin Tongues, Being the Version Set forth A.D. 1611 Compared with the Most Ancient Authorities and Revised A.D. 1894, [as] Printed for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1896. ix, 175 p.
- Revised Version - CAMBRIDGE - At the University Press - London: Cambridge University Press, 200 Euston Road, N.W., Synopsis
- Mark D. Chapman'Which used the ALEXANDRIAN Greek from the Vatican rather than the Alexandrian Greek of the King James Bible. New Testament revision company (act. 1870–1881), ODNB
- Palmer, Edwin, ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ. The Greek Testament] with the Readings Adopted by the Revisers of the Authorised Version. London: Simon Wallenberg Press, 2007. ISBN 1-84356-023-2
- "The Development of Bible Translations". HyperHistory. 2008-11-11. Archived from the original on 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-04-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- GREATSITE - English Bible History This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2002 by author & editor: John L. Jeffcoat
- The Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church: Canon 2: Of Translations of the Bible Archived 2015-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
- Versions of Scripture The Church of England - A Note by the House of Bishops - While the Church of England authorises the Lectionary - what passages are to be read on which occasion - it does not authorize particular translations of the Bible. Nevertheless, among the criteria by which versions of Scripture are judged suitable for reading in church during the course of public worship are the following: 3 Versions of Scripture which are translations and appear to satisfy at least four of the criteria set out in paragraph 1 above include: The Authorized Version or King James Bible (AV), published in 1611, of which a Revised Version was published in 1881-5. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
- Google Books: Revision Revised. Books.google.com. 2006-03-14. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- The text of the RV online
- The text of the RV with Apocrypha online
- Prefaces to the English Revised Version (1881-85)
- The New Testament, in the revised version of 1881, with fuller references (1910) – Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.
Editors: Moulton, W. F. (William Fiddian), 1835-1898; Moulton, James Hope, 1863-1917; Greenup, A. W. (Albert William), 1866-1952; Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose, 1813-1891.
- The interlinear Bible : the Authorised version and the Revised version ; together with the marginal notes of both versions and central references (1907) – Cambridge University Press
- Works by Revised Version at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)