“But why should I get a new Bible, when the words of my Bible speak so sweetly to my heart?” an elderly lady said, as it was suggested to her that perhaps she would like to obtain one of the more modern translations. On the other hand, another person, who had recently purchased a modern-language translation of the New Testament, declared, “Why, in the few months since I’ve had this new version, I’ve read the Bible more than for ten years. Now, it makes sense.”

These two responses are typical of the differences which have always existed between the old and the new—the continuing conflict between loyalty to the past and concern for the present and the future. It would be quite wrong to imagine that these diverse attitudes concerning different translations of the Bible came into being only after the recent publication of the Revised Standard Version. The accompanying publicity, both pro and con, no doubt threw the spotlight upon certain underlying tensions between “traditionalists” and “contemporaries” (if we may apply such names), but conflicts over new and old translations of the Scriptures in English preceded even the King James Version. In fact, the strong adherents to the Geneva Version, published approximately fifty years before the King James, first opposed the Bishops Bible, published some ten years after their Geneva Version, but when the King James Version appeared, they spared no words of bitter criticism in denouncing the scholars whom they contended had distorted the Word of God.

500 English “Translations”

Between the time of the King James Version, published first in 1611, and the present time, those opposing new English translations and revisions have had plenty of opportunity to denounce the work of persons attempting ...

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