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American Standard Version

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American Standard Version
ASV Star Bible.jpg
Star Bible's facsimile reprint of the American Standard Version
Full nameRevised Version, Standard American Edition
AbbreviationASV
OT published1901
NT published1900
Online asAmerican Standard Version at Wikisource
Derived fromEnglish Revised Version 1881–1885
Textual basisNT: Westcott and Hort 1881 and Tregelles 1857, (Reproduced in a single, continuous, form in Palmer 1881). OT: Masoretic Text with some Septuagint influence).
Translation typeFormal equivalence
Reading levelHigh school
Version revision1929 (copyright renewal)
CopyrightCopyright expired
Religious affiliationProtestant inter-denominational
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The American Standard Version (ASV), officially Revised Version, Standard American Edition, is a Bible translation into English that was completed in 1901 with the publication of the revision of the Old Testament. The revised New Testament had been released in 1900. It was previously known by its full name, but soon came to have other names, such as the American Revised Version, the American Standard Revision, the American Standard Revised Bible, and the American Standard Edition. By the time its copyright was renewed in 1929, it was primarily known as the American Standard Version. Because of its prominence in seminaries, it was sometimes simply called the "Standard Bible" in the United States.

History[edit]

Title page to the ASV

The American Standard Version, which was also known as The American Revision of 1901, is rooted in the work begun in 1870 to revise the King James Bible of 1611. This project eventually produced the Revised Version (RV) in the UK. An invitation was extended to American religious leaders for scholars to work on the RV project. In 1871, thirty scholars were chosen by Philip Schaff. The denominations represented on the American committee were the Baptist, Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, Friends, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, and Unitarian. These scholars began work in 1872. Three of the editors, the youngest in years, became the editors of the American Standard Revised New Testament: Drs. Dwight, Thayer and Matthew B. Riddle.[1][2]

Suggestions from the American Revision Committee were accepted only if two-thirds of the British scholars agreed. This principle was supported by an agreement that if their suggestions were included in the appendix of the RV, the American Committee would not publish their version for 15 years. The appendix contained about three hundred suggestions.

The Revised Version New Testament was published in 1881, the Old Testament in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894, after which the British team disbanded. Unauthorized copies of the RV then appeared in the US, having the American team suggestions in the main text. This was possible because while the RV in the UK held a Crown copyright as a product of the University Presses of Oxford and Cambridge, this protection did not extend to the US where the text was not separately copyrighted. In 1898, Oxford and Cambridge Universities published their editions of the RV with some American suggestions included. However, these suggestions were reduced in number from those in the appendixes. Some of the Americanized editions by Oxford and Cambridge Universities had the title of "American Revised Version" on the cover of their spines. Some of Thomas Nelson's editions of the American Standard Version Holy Bible included the Apocrypha of the Revised Version. The Revised Version of 1885 and the American Standard Version of 1901 are among the Bible versions authorized to be used in services of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England.[3][4]

In 1901, after the 15-year deferral agreement between the American and British Revisers expired, the Revised Version, Standard American Edition (ASV) was published by Thomas Nelson & Sons. It was copyrighted in North America to conserve the ASV text. In 1928, the International Council of Religious Education (the body that later merged with the Federal Council of Churches to form the National Council of Churches) acquired the copyright from Nelson and renewed it the following year. By the time the ASV copyright expired in 1957,[5] interest in this translation had waned in favor of more recent versions, so textual corruption never became the issue with the ASV that it was with the RV.

The language of the ASV intentionally retained the King James Version's Elizabethan English. It was often printed using lower quality paper and binding, and was perceived to be excessively literal. It never achieved wide popularity, apart from some Protestant seminaries. The King James Version would remain the primary choice for American Protestant Christians and laypeople until the publication of the Revised Standard Version in 1952.

Rationale[edit]

There were two rationales for the ASV. One was to circumvent the unauthorized editions of the RV that had been circulating in the US. The other reason was to incorporate more suggestions from the American translators, since the British team used only a subset of those, even in their 1898 edition.[citation needed] While many of the American scholars' preferences were based on the differences between American and British English, others were based on differing scholarship. Consequently, some changes to the KJV text in the ASV were not made in the RV.

Features[edit]

The divine name of the Almighty (the Tetragrammaton) is consistently rendered Jehovah in 6,823 places of the ASV Old Testament, rather than LORD as it appears mostly in the King James Bible and Revised Version of 1881–85. There are seven verses in the King James Bible where the divine name appears: Genesis 22:14, Exodus 6:3, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 plus its abbreviated form, Jah, in Psalms 68:4. The English Revised Version (1881–1885, published with the Apocrypha in 1894) renders the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah where it appears in the King James Version, and another eight times in Exodus 6:2,6–8, Psalm 68:20, Isaiah 49:14, Jeremiah 16:21 and Habakkuk 3:19 plus as its abbreviated form, Jah, twice in Psalms 68:4 and Psalms 89:8. The reason for this change, as the Committee explained in the preface, was that "…the American Revisers… were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament…"[6] Other changes from the RV to the ASV included substituting "who" and "that" for "which" when referring to people, and Holy Ghost was dropped in favor of Holy Spirit. Page headings were added and footnotes were improved.

Revisions[edit]

The ASV has been the basis of seven revisions, a "refresh", and a paraphrase:

  • Revised Standard Version, 1971 [1946–52] including two New Testament translation efforts: the 1946 RSV New Testament published alone, with the entire Bible completed in 1952, and then a "second edition of the RSV New Testament, issued in 1971, twenty-five years after its initial publication".
  • the New Revised Standard Version, 1989[7]
  • the Amplified Bible, 1965
  • the New American Standard Bible, 1995 [1963–71]
  • the Recovery Version, 1999
  • the World English Bible, 2000
  • the New Heart English Bible, Jehovah Edition, 2010.
  • the Bibliotheca group American Literary Version, 2016.
  • the Refreshed American Standard Version, 2021.[8]
  • the ASV was the basis for Kenneth N. Taylor's Bible paraphrase, The Living Bible, 1971.

Use by Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

The ASV was used for many years by Jehovah's Witnesses. Their reasons for choosing the ASV were twofold: its use of "Jehovah" as the Divine Name, which was a translation of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) into English as some early Bible scholars had done (i.e. Tyndale at Ps. 83:18[9]). They also derived their name from Isaiah 43:10, 12, both of which contain the phrase, "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah." Also, there was a perception that the ASV had improved the translation of some verses in the King James Version, and in other places it moved verses from the main text that they considered to be erroneously translated in the KJV to footnotes.[10]

Jehovah's Witnesses' publisher, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, had printed the King James Version since 1926, and did not obtain the rights to print ASV until 1944. From 1944 to 1992, they printed and distributed over a million copies of the ASV. By the 1960s, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT), copyrighted by the Witnesses, had largely replaced ASV as their Bible.[11] Jehovah's Witnesses' publications frequently quote from other translations, including ASV, as well as the NWT.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Worth, Roland H. (1992), Bible Translations: A History Through Source Documents, p. 107, In between these two periods, the American translators continued to meet on a yearly basis to lay plans for the eventual publication of their work. Matthew B. Riddle, the last survivor of the original group of Americans, writes of how the group went about their work: Three of these, the youngest in years, became the editors of the American Standard Revised New Testament: Drs. Dwight, Thayer and Riddle. Dr. Thayer lived to see the published volume, but died a few months afterward…
  2. ^ Riddle, Matthew Brown (1908), The Story of the Revised New Testament, American Standard Edition, Philadelphia: Sunday School Times, Dr. Ezra Abbot was the foremost textual critic in America, and his opinions usually prevailed when questions of text were debated.
  3. ^ American Standard Version of the Bible (1901), The Episcopal Church, On July 7, 1870, the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, England, voted to invite some "American divines" to join in the work of revising the Bible. An American Revision Committee was organized on Dec. 7, 1871, and began work on Oct. 4, 1872. In 1901 their work was published as The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated Out of the Original Tongues, Being the Version Set Forth A.D. 1611 Compared with the Most Ancient Authorities and Revised A.D. 1881–1885. Newly Edited by the American Revision Committee A.D. 1901. Standard Edition. This is one of the versions of the Bible authorized by the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion for use in worship.
  4. ^ "Versions of Scripture", A Note by the House of Bishops, The Church of England, retrieved 5 June 2015, While the Church of England authorises the Lectionary — what passages are to be read on which occasion — it does not authorize particular translations of the Bible. Nevertheless, among the criteria by which versions of Scripture are judged suitable for reading in church during the course of public worship are the following: 3 Versions of Scripture which are translations and appear to satisfy at least four of the criteria set out in paragraph 1 above include: The Authorized Version or King James Bible (AV), published in 1611, of which a Revised Version was published in 1881-5.
  5. ^ Bell, Tom W. "Trend of Maximum U.S. General Copyright Term". Tom W Bell. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Preface", ASV (American ed.), Christian Classics Ethereal Library. It is speculated that because of this, the Jehovah Witness name-dogma was created by Joseph Franklin Rutherford around this time.
  7. ^ "To The Reader", New Oxford Annotated Bible (Third ed.), Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. xvii, xviii.
  8. ^ Refreshed American Standard Version (RASV).
  9. ^ "The Tetragrammaton and the Divine Name in the Hebrew Scriptures - NWT". JW.
  10. ^ "Why a new translation was commissioned", New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
  11. ^ "Printing and Distributing God's Own Sacred Word", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower, 1993, p. 607.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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