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Apologetics Press :: Reason & Revelation
March 2000 - 20[3]:24

Announcing: The Return of the 1901 American Standard Version
by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

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The King James Version of the Bible (KJV) was published in 1611, and for more than two centuries remained the Bible of the common man. During this period, however, many valuable, ancient manuscripts were discovered that had not been available to the KJV translators. Plus, biblical scholarship had made tremendous advances. Hence, there was a wide-spread feeling that a revision of the KJV might be in order. The beginnings of the revision process started with the Convocation of Canterbury of the Church of England in 1870, when a committee of 16 members was appointed—with the power to add to its numbers as the need arose. The committee extended invitations to some of the most renowned Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek scholars in Great Britain, and eventually two Companies were formed (one for the Old Testament and one for the New), consisting of 27 members each.

Later, American religious groups were invited to participate, which they did by forming two Companies that were the equivalent of their British counterparts. Due provision then was made for the mutual comparison of results and suggestions originating from the four Companies. Under the general presidency of Dr. Philip Schaff, an OT Company of 15 members was formed, along with a NT Company of 16 members. By October 1872, the four Companies had been appointed and begun their work. The NT of the English Revised Version (ERV) appeared in May 1881; the OT appeared four years later in 1885. [HISTORICAL NOTE: Upon completion of the NT, Matthew-Romans was telegraphed from New York to Chicago, composing the longest telegraphic message ever sent up to that point in time—more than 118,000 words!]

The two American Companies continued their work, and in 1900 released the NT of the American Revised Version (ARV). The entire Bible was released the following year, and the American Revised Version (ARV, as it originally was designated) soon came to be known as the American Standard Version (ASV). The translators stated in the Preface of the ASV that it was their goal to bring “the plain reader more closely into contact with the exact thought of the sacred writers” than any previous version had accomplished. And this they did. In his book, The English Bible, famed biblical scholar F.F. Bruce wrote: “It has often been called a schoolmaster’s translation, and there is much truth in this.... [T]he almost pedantic accuracy and precision which the revisers aimed at makes their work an admirable version for the student.” In his Review of the New Versions, Foy E. Wallace, Jr. called the ASV “the most accurate, word-for-word translation ever made.” Jacob Mombert, writing in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, remarked that “its translation is a marvel for fidelity, accuracy, elegance, purity of idiom, and harmony of expression.”

All of this, no doubt, explains why the ASV has been a favorite among members of the churches of Christ. Originally published by the Thomas Nelson Company, it eventually went out of print. However, Star Bible of Forth Worth, Texas has republished it in a beautiful, leather binding with gold-trimmed edges, a dictionary, and a concordance. [A leather-bound NT is due out in two months as well.] We are happy to announce the return of the 1901 ASV. Cost is $59.95 ($3.05 s/h). For credit card orders, call us toll free at 800/234-8558.

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