The New Revised Standard Version: A Review -- By: Arthur L. Farstad

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 03:2 (Autumn 1990)
Article: The New Revised Standard Version: A Review
Author: Arthur L. Farstad

The New Revised Standard Version: A Review

Arthur L. Farstad

Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Dallas, Texas

I. Introduction

In May of this year the latest and most thoroughgoing revision of the RSV appeared, sponsored by the National Council of Churches.

I must confess that I have been having my morning devotions in the NRSV for the last several months.1

The reason for this is that I have been asked by our Book and Periodical editor to write a review of the NRSV, and the associate editors agreed that this was probably a work of such influence as to merit a full article, not just a brief review. Also, I thought it only fair to read as much of the new version as time permitted between May and going to press with the Autumn Journal. I cannot say, to update the words of a 1952 Eternity Magazine title by Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, that “I Have Read the NRSV,” but I have read most books in the NT, several OT books, and selections from the others, including the Apocrypha.

In my boyhood, when the RSV first came out (1952), our daily paper, The Washington Post, printed several weeks’ worth of two-column excerpts from the KJV and RSV (right on the front page, if I remember correctly). These I clipped out and compared in some detail. It gave me the incentive to buy the full text sometime later. I have read the complete RSV two or three times and the RSV NT several times.

At Bible school one of our most influential teachers, though extremely conservative in theology, used the RSV because he believed that the KJV was made from “corrupt” manuscripts. (At that time I was convinced he was right.)2

When the NT of the RSV came out in 1946, knowledgeable Greek scholars generally said it was a good, linguistically conservative updating of the Tyndale-KJV-ASV tradition. Denominationally the translators were all Protestants, mostly of the liberal persuasion. Nevertheless some verses came out stronger for the deity of Christ than in the KJV, due to the translators’ understanding of “Granville Sharp’s rule.” Examples of this are seen in the phrase “our (great) God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13; 2 Pet 1:1).

Some conservatives objected to the RSV’s use of “thee” and “thou” for God the Father and “you” and “your” for God the Son. The answer given was that “thee” and “thou” were used only in prayer an...

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