Note: The word “Bible” comes from the Koine Greek word “biblios” and it simply means the same as the word “book” in English. Nowhere in the Bible do we find the word “Bible.” However, it is interesting to note the word “kitab” (Bible in Arabic) appears many times in the Quran, referring to the Bible and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians).
Let me begin by saying that the King James “version” of the Bible is in English. There was no English language until the year 1066 AD when the Normans invaded the Saxxons. Therefore the English Bible cannot be anything like what any of the prophets spoke or understood, as it did not exist in their times.
Next, my grandfather, who was a devout and wonderful Christian man gave a gift of the Holy Bible to my sisters and I almost fifty years ago. It was an authorized version of the Bible, being The Revised Standard Version of the Bible which was a revised version of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which was a version of the King James Version, published in 1611, which was revised and corrected for the first time in 1612, etc. I was very much impressed with the easier to read text and clarification of some of the wording which was presented in this version and began to read the Bible on a daily basis for hours at a time. The removal of the Elizabethton English terms, phrases and expressions made the Bible a more accessible and understandable and intimate Book for me. But that is not all the RSV did for me and many others, as well.
My love and respect for the Word of God increased the more that I spent time reading and understanding the message. The Bible became my most prized and respected book in my life. I often turned to it throughout the rest of my life in times of joy, happiness, sadness, troubles and pain. It was my compass, my road map, my weather vane and my friend. However, there were still some problems with this IMPROVED VERSION of the Holy Bible. It began to disturb and concern me to the extent that I made consultation with my father, who was also an ordained minister and student of the Bible since childhood. Based on his research and background in the origin and sources for modern day Christianity, I began to go deeper into the problems which had plagued my thinking and faith since childhood.
I prayed to Almighty God and then found the answers to some of the problems were spelled out very clearly in the very beginning of the exact same book. I have that book lying in front of me on my desk as I write this article and would like to quote to you from some of the PREFACE page iii and iv:
- “The King James Version has with good reason been termed ‘the noblest monument of English prose.’ Its revisers in 1881 expressed admiration of ‘its simplicity, its dignity, its power, its happy turns of express… the music of its cadences, and the felicities of its rhythm.’ It entered, as no other book has, into the making of the personal character and the public institutions of the English-speaking peoples. We owe to it an incalculable debt.”
- “Yet the King James Version has grave defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of Biblical studies and the discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based, made it manifest that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for a revision of the English translation. The task was undertaken, by authority of the Church of England, in 1870. The English Revised Version of the Bible was published in 1881-1885; and the American Standard Version, its variant embodying the preferences of the American scholars associated in the work, was published in 1901.”
- “Because of the unhappy experience with unauthorized publications in the two decades between 1881 and 1901, which tampered with the text of the English Revised Version in the supposed interest of the American public, the American Standard Version was copyrighted, to protect the text from unauthorized changes. In 1928 this copyright was acquired by the International Council of Religious Education, and thus passed into the ownership of the churches of the United States and Canada which were associated in this Council through their boards of education and publication.”
- “…. decision was reached that there is need for a thorough revision of the version of 1901..””In 1937 the revision was authorized by vote of the Council.”
- “Thirty-two scholars have served as members of the Committee charged with making the revision, and they have secured the review and counsel of an Advisory Board of fifty representatives of the co-operating denominations.”
- “Each section has submitted its work to the scrutiny of the members of the charter of the Committee requires that all changes be agreed upon by a two-thirds vote of the total membership of the Committee.”
- “The problem of establishing the correct Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Old Testament is very different from the corresponding problem in the New Testament.”
- “For the New Testament we have a large number of Greek manuscripts, preserving many variant forms of the text. Some of them were made only two or three centuries later than the original composition of the books.”
- “For the Old Testament only late manuscripts survive, all (with the exception of the Dead Sea Texts of Isaiah and Habakkuk and some fragments of other books) based on a standardized form of the text established many centuries after the books were written.”