Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How We Got the American Standard Bible 1907

How We Got the American Standard Bible, article in The Christian Nation (Rev. J.S. Stewart) 1907

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THE Bible is composed of sixty-six (66) different books written by about forty (40) men selected and inspired by God.

These inspired men first wrote the Old Testament scriptures in Hebrew and the New Testament scriptures in Greek, and our English Bible of to-day consists of a series of translations and revisions from the Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Latin and Anglo-Saxon languages, beginning at the tenth century.

It is estimated that there are in existence at the present time nearly 4,000 manuscripts in whole or in part of the Bible. All of the older and more complete sacred manuscripts have become available for study only within recent years; among these a single leaf containing a portion of Matthew's Gospel was unearthed in 1895. This is believed to be a full century older than the most ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts in existence.

It was not until 1384 that the first complete Bible was translated into English by John Wycliffe. A hundred years later this was followed by a translation and revision made by William Tyndale, which was the first printed Bible, all previous editions having been in manuscript only. Tyndale's Bible was followed by the Great Bible; this was followed by Matthew's Bible, which was almost wholly copied from Tyndale's. Still another Bible largely based on Tyndale's was issued called Taverner's Bible. Other translations and revisions following in the next few centuries were the Great Bible of Cranmer, The Geneva Bible which is sometimes called the Breeches Bible, and others.

This brings us down to the time of the translation and revision of the Bible which is called the King James Version, which was completed in 1611, after seven years devout study by the most prominent scholars of that time. The King James revision was the first translation into what may properly be called the English Language.

It is now nearly 300 years since the King James Bible was revised and translated into its present form, since which time the most authentic and accurate manuscripts of the Bible have been discovered, the Alexandrian in 1628, Sinaitic manuscripts in 1859, which contains the New Testament entire and the greater part of the Old Testament. These and a mass of other and later discoveries, including many ancient manuscripts and inscriptions, together with the fact that Philologists have acquired a much more accurate understanding of the ancient languages gave rise to
comparisons which completely changed the meaning of a large number of passages in the King James Bible; besides this, the gradual transformation and change of the English language in the course of 300 years made a re-translation all the more imperative, as in the lapse of time the significance of many words have been completely altered, while others have become obsolete and obscure.

Since the translation and revision of the King James Bible upwards of forty English Dictionaries have been issued. For the reasons above stated, it was deemed necessary that a new translation and revision of the Bible be made. This was begun in England in 1870, and in the United States in 1872. The American Committee was divided into two companies, one for the Old Testament and another for the New Testament. These committees were composed of the foremost scholars of America, representing all the great religious denominations as well as the universities and colleges of the United States, and their work was finished in 1901, thus covering a period of nearly thirty years of consecutive labor and study in the preparation of the American Standard Bible.

The American Standard Bible is a new translation of the Bible in the light of twentieth century scholarship and knowledge, using the marvelous and priceless manuscripts and other material which have been discovered in the last 300 years.

It represents fifteen years of study, consideration and preparation by a company of the most eminent Biblical scholars of all the Evangelical denominations of Great Britain and America, and fifteen years of additional devout study and prayerful consideration by the American Committee who continued their organization after the English company disbanded. The American Standard Bible therefore is the product of thirty years continuous, careful study by the eminent American scholars representing the great Universities, Theological Seminaries and Evangelical denominations of America.

It was a labor of love, reverently undertaken by these scholarly ministers and teachers, for the good of humanity and the glory of God. Their time and the results of their long experience were freely given without pay or compensation.

The American Standard Bible was prepared because in the older versions there are admitted inaccuracies in translation, obscurities due to words and phrases which are no longer in common use and many errors in the ancient text followed by the old translators. All these inharmonies have been found to cause serious misunderstandings and to hide from the devout seeker the real, true and
clear meaning of the passage. Words have changed their significance in the course of years and many words in the older versions give a wrong impression to the reader of today. All the great nations have had new translations of their Bible during comparatively recent years and in no language has this been so necessary as in the English, because the changes in it have been so numerous
and the growth so great.

The revisers who prepared the King James Bible completed their work in about seven years. The American Committee was nearly thirty years in preparing the American Standard Version of the Bible—thus giving nearly five times the length of time to their work. It is the work of the best American scholarship, focussed upon every word and phrase. It has the advantage of all the accumulated wisdom and scholarship of the world since the publication of the King James Version in 1611. In addition to all these added resources, are the authentic and valuable manuscripts
which have been discovered since that time. Bible study has made marvelous progress and the revelations of modern archaeology throw a new light of interpretation, enabling scholars of the present day to reach the real meaning of the sacred writers with an accuracy never before possible in the history of the world.

The American Standard Bible is the most accurate in translation, the most thorough in method, simplest in expression, and gives a clearer conception of the thought, than any other translation yet produced.

The American Standard Bible is in paragraph form, which is the form of the original manuscripts, and preserves the sequence, strength and spirit of the real Bible, as no other translation has ever done.

Its accuracy, clearness and simplicity make it eminently the people's Bible. Every stumbling-block to the perfect understanding of the Word has been removed, so far as lay within the power of the wisest Christian scholarship. The translation into dignified but living English of the present day removes the difficulty from many of the passages that have been puzzling and misleading to thousands. It does not require a scholar to interpret this Bible, though it required many scholars to produce it.

The unqualified approval of the leading ministers of all denominations, presidents of colleges, theological seminaries, of Bible training schools, the leading critical journals, the great religious papers of the world, professors, and scholars, attest that for them, as well as for the general public, the American Standard Bible is the most perfect English Bible in existence. This approval has been won by the American Standard Bible in less than a brief five years. Hundreds of colleges and seminaries throughout the country use it in their regular chapel services and as a text book in Bible study. In fact, there is not an important college that has not indorsed it by word or use. Thousands of clergymen of all denominations give this edition the first place in their studies, in the pulpit, and in the pew, and in countless homes of the nation it is taking its place as the Bible of the household.


Every American lover of the grand old Book of Books should recommend and buy the American Standard Bible because it is the best version of the World's Best Book. They should recommend and buy it because it represents the best thought and study of the best equipped Bible scholars of the age. They should buy it because it represents the concrete scholarship of the past two thousand years. They should buy it because a larger number of competent scholars were engaged on the American Standard Bible than on any former translation. They should have it because these translators spent a much longer time than was ever given to any translation in any language. They should study it because these translators had the use of the latest and best manuscripts, unknown to former revisers. They should buy it because the unanimous verdict of the best scholarship and of the common people of the world, after five years of examination and use, is, that this is the best translation ever made into any language.

In the selection of general literature, the thoughtful reader exercises great care as to authorship, authenticity, beauty of style and other literary qualities. Should we not exercise even greater discrimination and care in a matter of such vital importance as the selection of our Bible?


All living language is progressive and this applies to the language of the Bible, as well as to all literature. Upwards of forty English Dictionaries have appeared since King James Bible saw the light in 1611, each marking a step farther ahead in the transformation of the English language. A Bible is demanded which reproduces as closely as possible the very thought and sense of the ancient writers, clothed in modern form, intelligible to all, and free from the errors of previous translators. These requirements are fulfilled in the American Standard Bible, which corrects some 2,000 inaccuracies, obsolete phrases and misinterpretations that are found in the English Revised Version.

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