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Beyond King James

From the April 2005 issue of The Christian Science Journal

It's been called the Holy Scriptures, the Good Book, and "the chart of life." Science and Health, p. 24. What is it? The Bible, And since King James commissioned his well-known English translation, published in 1611, dozens of other Bible lovers have followed suit. Some have focused on accessibility, others on equality, still others on being as true as possible to the original texts. But all have the same purpose: Spread the Word. This month, the Journal begins a new series that looks at various English translations of the Bible, starting with the Revised Standard Version.

THE BIBLE OF ANTICHRIST is the title of one pamphlet that greeted the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the first really major English translation of the Bible after the King James Version (KJV) of 1611. Edited during 1937-1952 by a well-grounded group of scholars, this translation was believed by at least one critic to have been influenced by communists—a hefty charge during that period in United States history, but one that was never substantiated. One American minister actually burned a copy of it in his pulpit. See F. F. Bruce, History of the Bible in English (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). p. 196 . From a marketing standpoint, one couldn't have asked for a better way to ensure sales! Interest in this new translation was so great that the entire first edition—a million copies—sold in only two days. See Mary Metzner Trammell and William G. Dawley. The Reforming Power of the Scriptures: A Biography of the English Bible (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1996), p. 212 .

The RSV aimed to reach the person in the pew by simplifying and modernizing the language of the KJV, REMOVING archaic words like "thee" and "thou," for example. It also took advantage of scrolls containing Jewish Scriptural texts and religious writings that had been discovered in caves near the Dead Sea around that time.

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