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My Work for the New Revised Standard Version Committee

QUESTION:

If my memory serves me, you (as a graduate student?) were involved in the development of the NRSV Bible version in 1989. Could you describe your work please?

RESPONSE:

Yes, that’s right.  The New Revised Standard Version Committee was appointed by the U.S. National Council of Churches to produce a revision of the famous Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, which had come out in 1952.  Since the time when the RSV had been produced (mainly in the 1940s), many important developments had happened in the scholarship of the Bible.

  • New discoveries had been made and partially published, especially: the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Scrolls contained a number of different kinds of writings, produced by Jews living at the turn of the Christian era, including a large number of copies of the Hebrew Bible, in Hebrew, as it was known in that day.  These are very important for determining the oldest form of the Hebrew text of the Bible for some of its books.
  • The English language had changed in important ways. That may seem strange, since we are talking only about a few decades, but changes had indeed occurred. For one thing, some of the language of the RSV seemed stilted and antiquated.  For another thing, a major movement had transpired in the use of inclusive language, where the words “man” and “men” and the pronoun “he” were now taken to refer to males, not to females as well,, so that if one wanted to refer to both men and women, other terms had to be used.
  • There had been an intense amount of research into the meaning of many, many passages in the entire Bible that helped scholars better understand what they were saying, and therefore how they ought to be translated.

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  December 18, 2016

    I did not know about the problem of the Hebrew Bible being the only significant Hebrew writing of that period making translation problematic. That’s very interesting.

  2. Avatar
    Robby  December 18, 2016

    Let’s take the OT for example. In your opinion, are the individual books better translated “stand alone” to get the authors intent or better translated in light of other OT books? I can imagine there are advantages and disadvantages both ways.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 18, 2016

      My view is that each author should have his own say, and should not be interpreted in light of what some other author has said. But for pure linguistic usage, it is always helpful to see how words occur and function in a variety of contexts.

  3. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  December 19, 2016

    Mid Winter Festival

    Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of deity Saturn

    Have you heard of this Bart ?

  4. Avatar
    mannix  December 21, 2016

    2017 is the 100th anniversary year of Fatima. The RC church is going to observe it in some way. Have you ever addressed the Fatima issue in any depth? If so, give me a reference or summarize your take on it. Thanks.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 22, 2016

      I have not, except as part of my discussion of Mary visions in my book How Jesus Became God.

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