An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The End of the New Revised Standard Version

This past month I have been doing my initial morning reading of Proverbs in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).  I had never read the RSV much so I was interested to see how the NRSV worked.  It is generally readable but I became suspicious of its reliability as I read.

The NRSV is billed as being “gender neutral.”  You can find more extensive comments on this at Medley of Worship but to sum it up the editors and translators decided that the feminists were right and the Bible was written by a bunch of Male Chauvinists who needed to be brought into line.  As a result they have consistently changed the word “son” to “child” and the word “he” to “one.” In 18:24 they change “brother” to “one’s nearest kin.”  In 19:14 they change “fathers” to “parents.”  Although this does not totally destroy the lesson in most cases, it does tell me that the translators are more interested in being accepted socially by their peers than spiritually by God.

One place where these changes became an issue to me was in Chapter 30.  To me this is a Messianic passage.  It clearly refers to Jesus and yet they change “son” to “child” in verse 4.  This takes away from our understanding of the text.
(Proverbs 30:4 KJV)  Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
Do you see what I mean by messianic?  Is it just my imagination?

The edition I am reading includes the Apocrypha just as the Douay Version.  It also has the same tendency of that version to add to verses that are longer in the Greek Septuagint. 
(Proverbs 25:20 KJV)  As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
(Proverbs 25:20 NASB)  Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.
The NRSV reads this way:
Like vinegar on a wound is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Like a moth in clothing or a worm in wood, sorrow gnaws at the human heart.
Notice the similarity to the Douay,
(Proverbs 25:20 DRB)  And one that looseth his garment in cold weather. As vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a very evil heart. As a moth doth by a garment, and a worm by the wood: so the sadness of a man consumeth the heart.
This is noted in the foot notes. 

As a study tool the cross references were weak in the edition I had but the explanations of literal meanings were adequate.

If you were stranded on a desert island I am sure that you could make good use of this translation but in a society that has a wealth of accurate translations it would be a waste of time.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1994.


Gorges Smythe said...

I wish I remembered where they were, but even the the OLD Revised Standard Version seemed to vary in meaning from the King James in a couple places, and in such a way that I decided the King James was actually more likely to be correct. Of course they could have been misprints.

A.M. Mallett said...

I guess I am rather old fashioned as I still love the KJ AV as well as the NKJV although I like the NASB for exegetical study.

Pumice said...


I too have vague memories of people criticizing the RSV. Since I didn't use it, I paid no attention. My favorite was the NASB before the update but writing this blog and using the KJV for my quotations has given me a new appreciation for it as a translation.

Thanks for the comments.

Grace and peace

Pumice said...

Introspective Arminian,

I also prefer the NASB. First because it is a word-for-word translation. I have heard good things about the NKJV but have not needed to go there.

My second reason for liking the NASB is that there are serious study tools using the Strong numbering system that help people like me that are totally lacking in Hebrew and weak in Greek. It is a good thing that the Holy Spirit is the one doing the real teaching.

Thanks for the comments.

Grace and Peace