It is good to see the work of a frankly unrepentant liberal gracing the pages of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, and S. MacLean Gilmour is to be congratulated for his unhyphenated forthrightness (“A New ‘Textus Receptus’?” Sept. 26 issue, pp. 6–10). It was high time that a responsible attack be launched on the Revised Standard Version. And as far as it goes, Professor Gilmour’s attack is a responsible one, but it leaves some problems unsolved.
I take it that two points irritate Professor Gilmour. 1. The National Council of Churches permits the making of exaggerated claims for the success of the RSV. 2. The RSV does not deserve to be what the National Council says it is. On the first point, we may agree. But the second point is hard to sort out of the first in Professor Gilmour’s argument, and it is much the more important point.
Let me comment on Professor Gilmour’s seven objections to “the claim that the RSV is (or ought to be) the English Bible of Protestant Christians.”
1. It is true that in the past new revisions or translations of the Bible have taken time to make their way. Professor Gilmour’s objection, then, seems to say that the RSV is not the Bible of Protestant Christianity because it has not had time to be. This is not an objection; it is a statement of purported fact. Professor Gilmour assumes that new revisions of the Bible ought to be slow to overcome previous versions. But this is something else again. If the RSV is, on the whole, an improvement, should we not rejoice if it makes its way quickly?
2. “The RSV is admittedly a provisional version.” Surely. What version is not? I am disposed to doubt that we will ever have a “definitive translation.” Professor Gilmour seems to think a definitive translation possible if we accomplish ...1
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