The Word Made Fresh

Next month we begin a new season of neighborhood Bible studies and Sunday-school classes—time to check the fall fashions from publishers and see how they have repackaged Holy Writ for this year. There are some good resources available. The prices quoted are for hardcover, but most are available in flexible covers and leather editions at other prices.

Revised For A New Generation

Both the Revised Standard Version (1952) and the New English Bible (1970) have experienced a generation of use and evaluation. Now both have been updated. The results are the New Revised Standard Version (Oxford/Zondervan/Nelson/Holman/World, various prices; available with Apocrypha) and the Revised English Bible (Oxford/Cambridge, $19.95; $21.95 with Apocrypha). Both now have a more natural sound. They were tested for clarity and expression in public reading as well as private use.

The new translations manifest similar goals in the revising process: using modern standard English more consistently (archaic words have been changed to their modern equivalents; for instance, thou has become you throughout), changing terms that sound racist (in Song of Songs 1:5 the RSV reads, “dark, but comely,” which has become “black and beautiful” in the NRSV; “dark but lovely” in the NEB is “dark and lovely” in the REB), and using inclusive pronouns where the original text speaks of humans generally (Gen. 1:27 reads “So God created humankind in his image” in the NRSV and “God created human beings in his own image” in the REB); masculine pronouns for God were not changed.

Bruce Metzger, who chaired the NRSV committee, notes that the changes in pronouns were confined to “places where the original Greek and Hebrew do not necessarily imply masculine orientation, ...

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