[Religion News Service] The updated edition of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible includes thousands of language changes, reflecting research by a wide range of scholars who have spent four years reviewing its content as well as taking into account “modern sensibility”.
The verse in the New Testament book of Galatians that previously referred to the sons of Abraham as “one of the slaves and the other of the free woman” will instead read “one of the enslaved woman and the other of the free woman”.
The second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew will talk about the “wise men” and not about the “wise men” who come to Jerusalem after the birth of Jesus.
The reference to the “sacrifice for sin” in the Hebrew Bible book of Leviticus has been updated to a more precise “sacrifice for purification.”
The new revised standard version of the updated edition of the Bible is the result of a commission of the Society of Biblical Literature of the National Council of Churches, which includes dozens of denominations representing 30 million church members. Representatives of both organizations joined the presentation on Tuesday (November 16), while the NCC affiliate Friendship Press released to publishers the latest translation of the translation, which was first published as the New Revised Standard Version in 1989.
“It is both ecumenical and interfaith, appropriate in the Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish contexts,” said John Kutsko, executive director of SBL, to dozens of people who attended the event through Zoom. “In a period of social and political divisions, it is a virtue to be celebrated.”
The 36-page sampler describes relatively few of some 12,000 substantial changes – out of a total of more than 20,000 revisions – made for the new edition, which scientists have made clear is not a new translation. Some of the updated formulations are based on what Kutsko called “new compelling textual evidence”, including findings in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran region of the West Bank.
For example, more than 25 words are added to the reference to David in 1 Kings, which now reads: “Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any tribe of Israel. in which I will build a house, that my name may be there, nor have I chosen anyone to be ruler over my people Israel. But I chose Jerusalem to be my name there, and I chose David to be over my people Israel. “
Other changes reflect the decision to avoid identifying people based on their disabilities.
The verse in Matthew that previously mentioned “demons, epileptics and paralytics” now reads “people possessed by demons or who have epilepsy or paralysis”.
Shively TJ Smith, an assistant professor of New Testament at Boston University’s Theological Seminary, who edited 1-3 John for the project, said she appreciates the range of voices heard and considered how the updated edition was shaped.
“NRSVue is an updated translation into English that has been widely and closely listened to by various faith-based groups, reading the Bible today,” said Smith, who worked with focus groups and discussed the updated edition with Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and students in her classroom.
“It seeks to reverse a historical trend in 19th- and 20th-century translation history in which some Christian communities and Bible scholars have historically been excluded from efforts to translate our English Bible.”
Bob Buller, director of SBL Press, said the new version also reflects a “thorough and professional copy editing” that has removed outdated aspects of the language and made other improvements.
“For example, NRSV wrote in small letters the names of some Jewish holidays and holy days, such as Passover, the Sabbath and the Feast of Unleavened Bread,” he said. “This could be interpreted as a sign of disrespect for these Jewish holy days, so we used them in capital letters as well as other religious communities.”
He noted that the new edition does not use the word “girl” when referring to a young woman. Mark 14:69 now speaks of a “maid” instead of a “maid.”
Over two years, seven general editors and 56 book editors used Dropbox, change tracking, and other tools to organize their rationale for proposed revisions. They held 76 two-hour meetings on the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the apocryphal / deuterocanonical books, often used by Catholic and Orthodox communities, before finalizing their recommendations. The NCC board of directors approved NRSVue in October.
“When we embarked on this journey, our goal was to conduct research for which biblical scholars have a consensus,” Jim Winkler, NCC president, said in a statement. “This update, with its focus on accuracy and clarity, has far exceeded our highest expectations.”
Publishers are expected to release a new version on or after May 1, 2022. Friendship Press, a subsidiary of NCC, plans to make the new version of the e-Bible available in its Word @ Hand app before Christmas 2021.