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|American Standard Version|
Star Bible's facsimile reprint of the American Standard Version
|Full name||Revised Version, Standard American Edition|
|Online as||American Standard Version at Wikisource|
|Derived from||English Revised Version 1881-1885|
|Textual basis||NT: Westcott and Hort 1881 and Tregelles 1857, (Reproduced in a single, continuous, form in Palmer 1881). OT: Masoretic Text with some Septuagint influence).|
|Translation type||Formal equivalence|
|Reading level||High school|
|Version revision||1929 (copyright renewal)|
|Religious affiliation||Protestant inter-denominational|
The Revised Version, Standard American Edition of the Bible, more commonly known as the American Standard Version (ASV), is a Bible translation into English that was completed in 1901, with the publication of the revision of the Old Testament; the revised New Testament had been released in 1900. It was originally best known by its full name, but soon came to have other names, such as the American Revised Version, the American Standard Revision, the American Standard Revised Bible, and the American Standard Edition. By the time its copyright was renewed in 1929, it had come to be known by its present name, the American Standard Version. Because of its prominence in seminaries, it was sometimes simply called the "Standard Bible" in the United States.
The American Standard Version, which was also known as The American Revision of 1901, is rooted in the work begun in 1870 to revise the Authorized Version/King James Bible of 1611. This revision project eventually produced the Revised Version (RV). An invitation was extended to American religious leaders for scholars to work on the RV project. In 1871, thirty scholars were chosen by Philip Schaff. The denominations represented on the American committee were the Baptist, Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, Friends, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, and Unitarian. These scholars began work in 1872. Three of the editors, the youngest in years, became the editors of the American Standard Revised New Testament: Drs. Dwight, Thayer and Matthew Riddle.
Any suggestion of the American Revision Committee would only be accepted if two-thirds of the British Revisers agreed. This principle was backed up by an agreement that if their suggestions were put into the appendix of the RV, the American Committee would not publish their version for 15 years. The appendix had about three hundred suggestions in it.
The Revised Version New Testament was published in 1881, the Old Testament in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894. Around this time, the British team disbanded. Also around this time, unauthorized copied editions of the RV appeared with the suggestions of the American team in the main text. This was possible because while the RV in the UK was the subject of a Crown copyright as a product of the University Presses of Oxford and Cambridge, this protection did not extend to the U.S. and the text was never separately copyrighted there. In 1898, publishers for Oxford and Cambridge Universities published their own editions of the RV with the American suggestions included. However, these suggestions were reduced in number (but it did incorporate all of those suggestions which were listed in the Appendixes, as can be verified by comparing the Appendixes with the main text of the 1898 edition). Some of those Americanized editions by Oxford and Cambridge Universities had the title of "American Revised Version" on the cover of their spines. Some of Thomas Nelson's editions of the American Standard Version Holy Bible included the Apocrypha of the Revised Version. The Revised Version of 1885 and the American Standard Version of 1901 are among the Bible versions authorized to be used in services of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England.
In 1901, after the 15-year deferral agreement between the American and British Revisers expired, and the Revised Version, Standard American Edition, as the ASV Bible was officially called at the time, was published by Thomas Nelson & Sons. It was copyrighted in North America to ensure the purity of the ASV text. In 1928, the International Council of Religious Education (the body that later merged with the Federal Council of Churches to form the National Council of Churches) acquired the copyright from Nelson and renewed it the following year. The copyright was a reaction to tampering with the text of the Revised Version by some U.S. publishers, as noted above. By the time the ASV's copyright expired for the final time in 1957, interest in this translation had largely waned in the light of newer and more recent ones, and textual corruption hence never became the issue with the ASV that it had with the RV.
Because the language of the ASV intentionally retained the King James Version's Elizabethan English, was printed with comparatively lower quality materials, and because of what some perceived to be its excessive literalism, it never achieved wide popularity, and the King James Version would remain the primary translation for most American Protestant Christians until the publication of the Revised Standard Version in 1952.
There were two rationales for the ASV. One reason was to obviate any justification for the unauthorized copied editions of the RV that had been circulating. Another reason was to use more of the suggestions the American team had preferred, since the British team used few of their suggestions in the first place, even in the later version which they had published incorporating some of them. While many of the suggestions of the American scholars were based on the differences between American and British usage, many others were based on differences in scholarship and what the American revisers felt the best translation to be. Consequently, there were several changes to the KJV text in the ASV that were not present in the RV.
The divine name of the Almighty (the Tetragrammaton) is consistently rendered Jehovah in 6,823 places of the ASV Old Testament, rather than LORD as it appears mostly in the King James Bible and Revised Version of 1881-85. However, there are notably seven verses in the King James Bible where the divine name actually appears which are Genesis 22:14, Exodus 6:3, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 plus as its abbreviated form, Jah, once in Psalms 68:4. The English Revised Version (1881-1885, published with the Apocrypha in 1894) renders the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah where it appears in the King James Version, and another eight times in Exodus 6:2,6-8, Psalm 68:20, Isaiah 49:14, Jeremiah 16:21 and Habakkuk 3:19 plus as its abbreviated form, Jah, twice in Psalms 68:4 and Psalms 89:8. The reason for this change, as the Committee explained in the preface, was that "...the American Revisers... were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament..." Other changes from the RV to the ASV included (but were not limited to) substituting "who" and "that" for "which" when referring to people, and Holy Ghost was dropped in favor of Holy Spirit. Page headings were added and footnotes were improved.
The ASV has been the basis of six revisions and one refreshing. They were the Revised Standard Version, 1971 [1946-52] The Revised Standard Version includes two New Testament translation efforts: the 1946 RSV New Testament published alone, with the entire Bible completed in 1952, and then a "second edition of the RSV New Testament, issued in 1971, twenty-five years after its initial publication" not to be confused with the later "New Revised Standard Version" translation effort) , the New Revised Standard Version, 1989, the Amplified Bible, 1965, the New American Standard Bible, 1995 [1963-71], the Recovery Version, 1999, the World English Bible, 2000, and the Refreshed American Standard Version New Testament, 2018. The ASV was also the basis for Kenneth N. Taylor's Bible paraphrase, The Living Bible, 1971.
The ASV has also been used for many years by Jehovah's Witnesses. The reasons for their choosing of the ASV were twofold: its usage of "Jehovah" as the Divine Name, which was a translation of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) into English as some early Bible scholars had done before (i.e. Tyndale at Ps. 83:18). They also derived their name from Isaiah 43:10, 12, both of which contain the phrase, "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah." Also, there was a perception that the ASV had improved the translation of some verses in the King James Version, and in other places it reduced the verses that they found to be erroneously translated in the KJV to mere footnotes, removed from the main text altogether.
Jehovah's Witnesses' publishing organization, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, had printed its own edition of the King James Version since 1926, but did not obtain the rights to print ASV until 1944. From 1944 to 1992, they printed and distributed over a million copies of the ASV. By the 1960s, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, made by members of their group and the rights to which they controlled, had largely replaced ASV as the Bible used most by Witnesses. Though now preferring the NWT, Jehovah's Witnesses' publications frequently quote from other translations, including ASV.