The most perplexing aspect of the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament published in February, 1946, is the fact that the revisers have whittled down the sacred text. They have omitted numerous passages found in the Authorized Version of I6II-the English translation commonly used among us. However, in most instances the revisers have called attention to the omissions by reference to them in the footnotes.
The Revised Standard Version of the New Testament is a revision of the American Standard Version published in 1901, which is a variant of the English Revised Version issued in 1881, which is a revision of the Authorized Version brought out by direction of King James I of England in 1611. When the English Revised Version (188r) and the American Standard Version (1901) were published, a Greek text of the New Testament, known as that of Westcott and Hort, was compiled and issued.
Wondering whether a new Greek text of the New Testament would appear with the recent revision, I wrote a letter of inquiry about the matter to Dean Luther A. Weigle, chairman of the American Standard Bible Committee, which produced the Revised Standard Version. In his reply, dated May 25, 1945, Dr. Weigle said:
"It is not the present intention of the committee to publish a Greek text of the New Testament. We are publishing a brochure, which will be issued by Thomas Nelson and Sons and will also be issued by various denominational publishers, in which the procedures followed by the committee are described. One chapter of this brochure deals with the Greek text. It is possible, of course, that the committee may in due time feel it desirable to issue an edition of the Greek text embodying our decisions as we have made the revision of the American Standard Version. But that question lies considerably in the future. Our immediate job is to complete the revision of the American Standard Version of the English Bible itself."
The brochure to which the dean made reference has been published, and is a 72-page work with the title An Introduction to the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament. It contains, on pages 37-43, a chapter, "The Greek Text of the New Testament," prepared by Frederick C. Grant, one of the nine scholars composing the New Testament Section of the American Standard Bible Committee, and listed in the brochure as being the president of the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1937.
Dr. Grant states that in their search for a Greek text, the revisers were led, "to adopt the eclectic principle." That is, they picked out here and. there among the old manuscripts whatever material they thought to be the true contents of the New Testament. "It is this eclectic principle," he says, "that has guided us in the present revision. The Greek text of this revision is not that of Westcott-Hort, or Nestle, or Souter ; though the readings we have adopted will, as a rule, be found either in the text or the margin of the new (17th) edition of Nestle (Stuttgart, 1941)."-Page 41.
While the question as to whether or not the revisers did right in following the eclectic method as they did is one for specialists in that field to deal with, there is one angle of it that we can consider now. It is the attitude of the Spirit of prophecy to those omitted passages.
Take, for example, the last verse of the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:13), which has been omitted by the new revision. In Prophets and Kings, page 69, Mrs. White quotes the last part of the prayer as words that Jesus taught His disciples. And in Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pages 174-176, she devotes a whole chapter to comment on it.
The whole story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8:I-II) is omitted in the new revision. In Ministry of Healing, pages 86-89, this story is presented with extensive comment, as is also done in The Desire of Ages, pages 460, 461. Quotations from the story, as being words spoken by Jesus, are found in the following volumes of the Testimonies: vol. 2, p. o8; vol. 4, p. 326.; vol. 7, p.279; and vol. 9, pp. 164, 165.
The Omission of Mark 16: 9-20
The entire passage of Mark 16:9-20 on the resurrection and ascension of Christ is omitted in the revision. Quotations from, comments on, and allusions to this portion of the Bible as genuine are found in Mrs. White's writings as follows:
The Desire of Ages, pp. 369, 818, 821, 827, refers to verses 15, 17, 18, and 20; The Great Controversy, p. 351, refers to verse 15; Acts of the Apostles, pp. 174, 599, refers to verses 15, 20; Christ's Object Lessons (1923 ed.), PP. 304, 308, 375, refers to verse 15 ; Testimonies on the Sabbath School Work, p. 34, refers to verse 15; Ministry of Healing, pp. ro6, 139, 148, 226, refers to verses 15, 18, zo ; Education, p. 264, refers to verse 15; Testimonies to Ministers, p. 401, refers to verse 15 ; Early Writings, p. 29, mentions verses 17 and 18 as among the fifty passages of Scripture shown written in letters of gold. Counsels to Teachers, p. 466, refers to verses 15, 18.
Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 406, refers to verse /5; vol. 4, PP. 225, 472, refers to verses 15, 18; vol. 5, Pp. 391, refers to verse 15; vol. 6, PP. 391, 447, 480, refers to verses 15, 20; vol. 7, p. 39, refers to verse 15; vol. 8, pp. 15, 16, 119, 215, refers to verses Is, 20 ; vol. 9, PP. 39, 136, 141, 255, refers to verse 15, 20.
It is interesting to note that while the recently revised Roman Catholic Version of the New Testament omits the last part of the Lord's Prayer, it retains as genuine John 8:x-ii (the story of the adulteress) and Mark 16:9-20. The footnote on John 8 :1-11 reads: "This passage is wanting in many Greek Mss.; in some others it is found in chapter 21. It is well supported in both the Old Latin and Vulgate Mss. There is no doubt of its right to be included among the Sacred Writings." Mark 16:9-20 is retained without any comment, showing there was no doubt whatever about its authenticity.
The accompanying table shows where some of the major omissions (whole phrases, clauses, or sentences) occur in the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, and where reference or comment on them is found in current Spirit of prophecy writings. The abbreviations of book titles are the same as those used in the Scriptural and Subject Index to the Writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White. Remember, in this connection, that many of Mrs. White's current writings (such as Counsels on Stewardship, Messages to Young People, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Spiritual Gifts, Counsels on Sabbath School Work, Medical Ministry, The Sanctified Life, Counsels to Editors, etc.), as well as her many out-of-print books, periodical articles, tracts, pamphlets, manuscripts, and letters, frequently quote and comment on the Scriptures, and the Bible references in them are not listed in the Index. It is possible that in them references to, and comments on, some of the omitted passages in the revision can be found.*
In view of the attitude of the Spirit of prophecy toward the omitted passages, Seventh-day Adventist workers would do well not to exalt the Revised Standard Version as a text to be preferred above all other English translations of the New Testament. It can properly hold a secondary place, along with other "modern speech" versions, for use where fitting. It has much merit, and in many passages it presents the meaning of the original text in clearer and more forceful language than does the Authorized Version
(See PDF for Table of major omissions)