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Revised Version in church

24 January 2020

January 23rd, 1920.

THE practice of reading in church the Revised Version of the Sacred Scriptures is spreading. Those who are thinking of following the fashion will do well to read an article, “The Bible in Church”, which appeared in the Times of January 17. The argument in favour of the new version is that it is more accurate, that it reproduces more exactly the originals. It may, of course, be granted that, with the advance of scholarship, it became possible to correct the errors of seventeenth-century translators; but the continuance of advance has tended to the undermining of some of the Revisers’ theories. New Testament Greek is much better understood to-day than it was in the ’eighties, and the Revisers’ meticulous substitution of the aorist for the English perfect is in the way of becoming discredited. In public reading, however, the appeal, as the writer of the Times article affirms, should be more to the heart than to the head. . . The hearing and use of the old familiar English Bible “bring into action at once all the associations which have power to act” on an Englishman, and recall his memories of childhood and his mother’s voice. These, as the writer justly observes, are great allies whose help no clergyman would refuse who really understands the work he has been set to do. Our own feeling, when we hear the New Testament especially read from the Revised Version, is one of irritation. Its niggling alterations of the familiar text annoy like so many pinpricks. And, if the passage being read is, as we have known it, one of great beauty in form and rhythm and diction, it is almost certain to be spoilt for us by some intrusion of pedantry that destroys its charm

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