Feb 11

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February 11, 1946: Revised Standard Version of New Testament First Published

On this day in 1946, the International Council of Religious Education published the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the New Testament. This was the first stage of the creation of the development of the RSV Bible.

The RSV Bible was created with the intent of drafting a literally accurate but readable version of the Bible in today’s English.  The panel of theology scholars who developed the RSV used the 17th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek text for the creation of the New Testament and the Hebrew Masoretic text for the Old Testament. In addition, for parts of the Book of Isaiah, the scholars used the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were first discovered in 1946.

After thoroughly examining the RSV New Testament, the National Council of Churches (formed through a merger of the International Council and the Federal Council of Churches in 1950) authorized the publication of the full RSV Bible. The first copy was presented to President Harry Truman on September 30, 1952.

There was controversy regarding some of the differences in the text between the RSV and the King James Version. The most famous example comes in Isaiah 7:14, which reads in the King James Version:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

For the RSV, the scholars interpreted the Hebrew word “almah” to mean “young woman” instead of “virgin.” This is one of the many examples with the text that generated a flood of discordance that still exists today.

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