The Latest Translation Of The Bible -- By: Henry M. Whitney

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:236 (Oct 1902)
Article: The Latest Translation Of The Bible
Author: Henry M. Whitney


The Latest Translation Of The Bible

Henry M. Whitney

III. From Another Standpoint

The American Revision is manifestly a great improvement upon its English predecessor, especially in the Old Testament, but in each Testament in a multitude of points. We believe that it has at least destroyed the chance of the English Revision to become the recognized successor, in American respect and affection, of the version of 1611. British conservatism, the failure to be determined to be intelligible and interesting to the average man,—these have settled the case, and even the exclusion of the American text from the British islands will not save the day. The more the two versions are compared by the scholar or used by the masses, the more this conclusion will appear.

But will the American version be that successor? How good is the work in itself? The answer to these questions has already, in this discussion, been partly brought out. For further light it may be well to go around on the other side of the subject and to look at the American New Testament in comparison with a version that is antipodal to the English Revision in that it undertakes to be perfectly modern in form. “About twenty persons, members of various sections of the Christian church,” issued, in 1898, the Gospels and the book of Acts under the name of the “Twentieth Century New Testament: a translation into modern English; Part 1.” The rest of the New Testament has since been brought out. The authors say: “The

translation now offered to the public had its origin in the discovery that the English of the Authorized Version (closely followed in that of the [English] Revised Version), though valued by the more educated reader for its antique charm, is in many passages difficult for those who are less educated, or is even unintelligible to them. The retention, too, of a form of English no longer in common use not only gives the impression that the contents of the Bible have little to do with the life of our own day, but also requires the expenditure of much time and labor on the part of those who wish to understand or explain it. We believe that the New Testament will be better understood by modern readers if presented in a modern form. Our constant effort has been to exclude all words and phrases not used in current English. In this translation not only every word, but also the emphasis placed upon every word, has been carefully weighed, and an effort made to give the exact force and meaning in modern English.” The reception given to this version shows not only that its serious intent has been recognized, but that, in some degree at least, it meets a want that is felt; as a candidate for public acceptance, it is not to be despised.

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