A New Version
Since the publication of the new “Revised Standard Version”, I had intended to make a few comments in Beacon Lights about it. This is an interesting subject and warrants a more lengthy consideration than can be given in these few lines.
The version is authorized by the National Council of the Churches of Christ and published by Thomas Nelson & Sons. For this reason it is severely criticized by many who maintain that it is the work of liberal scholars and the promotion scheme of the publishers.
I have not read the version, but have read the criticism of the New Testament revision by Oswald T. Allis entitled “Revision or New Translation?” This is worthwhile for you to read.
It is my opinion that the King James Version remains the best for our public usage. It has preserved the meaning of the original to a remarkable degree but has also a beautiful and majestic style which is so far not surpassed by other translations. The Revised version it is true, is more accurate in certain instances, but it does not have the beauty of style which is also necessary for our grasping of the Word of God. The inaccuracies of word translation do not distort the truth in any way.
We always must remember that there are no infallible translations and any one which is given out as the best because of new discoveries in the language, as this version is, ought to be a warning signal to us. Considered soberly it is not true, that new discoveries of the last years warrant a new translation.
There is a danger in the modern speech translations if they are used as standard versions. They are however, helpful, in studying the Bible along with our King James Version and American Revised version.
A passage which is a good example in this Christmas season to point out a difference in the translations and how other translations help us to gain the meaning is Luke 2:14. In the King James Version we read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” In the other modern speech translations, and the American Revised we read, “And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”
Throughout our country among religious groups there seems to be a growing interest in the rendition of Handel’s “Messiah”. In our circles in the west there has not been the same interest as in Michigan, but also here it is growing. Last year an oratorio society was formed and gave the Messiah in our neighborhood to a large audience. Just as I was preparing to make my comments for the month of December a paper came announcing the preparation for and the dates of the rendition of the Messiah next month.
There is no doubt that the Messiah is great music and that the selections from Scripture serve beautifully to give the Word of God about Christ’s birth. It can and does serve to impress us all with the deep meaning of Christmas. Certain passages of God’s Word are sung and heard in the world, in the church world today, that call attention to God’s sovereign wrath and just judgments in an impressive way, which otherwise would not be heard in certain pulpits. How some can “enjoy” such a rendition as they do is strange. It is only possible to “enjoy” the oratorio without having fear and trembling when one ignores the words of Scripture or relegates them to myths of ancient literature.
It seems to me that there is a certain strange interest in the “Messiah”. There is an overemphasis on its importance. It may be explained by the lack of interest in God’s Word and a desire to escape the truth by an appreciation of the beauty of music.
To enter into the depth of the truth of Christ’s birth and the Word of salvation we need the lively preaching of the Word.
Our Christmas worship must be more than lip and ear and soul service. It must be the true service of the heart. Let us seek for the truth with all our heart in prayer and as pastors and flock earnestly strive to possess the deep significance of the Incarnation by exegetical study and worship.
From the quietness of the meeting of God and His people through the preaching of His Word,—not from the quietness of the music hall—, we shall go forth into the din of the false Christmas spirit, into the noise of the shop and street, into the trouble of the turmoil of sin and sorrow with a peace of God that passeth all understanding.