The Revised Version Of The Old Testament -- By: Samuel Ives Curtiss

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 043:171 (Jul 1886)
Article: The Revised Version Of The Old Testament
Author: Samuel Ives Curtiss


The Revised Version Of The Old Testament1

Rev. Samuel Ives Curtiss

There can be no question that a revision was needed, not because the style could be improved, for hardly any period could be more favorable for producing a faultless English than the early part of the seventeenth century. Indeed, there was the same danger of marring the classic beauty of the version as there would be of injuring the masterpiece of some great painter by retouching the canvas. But this view of the question would be to exalt the

style of a particular version above fidelity to the text itself, and to demand for the Scriptures what even the Divine Spirit did not think requisite in the choice of those who wrote the sacred books, for while many portions of the Old Testament are models of beauty in the original Hebrew, others are not. No consideration, then, of preserving a classic like our English Bible should deter us from desiring a revision. God’s truth is a jewel of infinitely more importance than the casket in which it is contained.

The need of such a revision was at least threefold:

1. On account, of changes in the English language. Numerous words which were current two hundred and fifty years ago are obsolete, and the meaning of them is not understood even by people of more than ordinary intelligence. If for no other reason, a revision was needed in which words should be substituted which are commonly known.

2. On account of mistranslations. Dr. Chambers, in his admirable work entitled a Companion to the Revised Old Testament, gives a list of over sixty cases of words incorrectly rendered, some of which are of great importance.2 Besides, there were entire passages which were wrongly translated, as, for example, Isa. 9. i, which read in the King James’ Version: “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” This translation is not only obscure, it is absolutely incorrect. Compare with it that of the Revised Version: “But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” This is a

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