When I quote the Bible from memory I always quote the RSV. I became a follower of Jesus in the late 1960's just at the time when the Good News for Modern Man New Testament was published. The non inclusive title showed how un-modern it was. A year or two later it graduated into The Good News Bible. By then I had been reading and studying the Bible for some years in the RSV, and some of its phrases, verses and chapters had become part of my newly furnished mind and increasing store of Bible knowledge and discourse.
Neither the Good News Bible, nor its paraphrased rival The Living Bible ever displaced the RSV as the translation which spoke most convincingly to me with that combination of strangeness and familiarity that always creates the right balance of inner tension and attention when we read a sacred text for daily food. When the NIV came along, and Evangelical christians hailed it as an 'evangelical translation', it took me some years to concede that a preacher's translational preference is not a matter only of personal taste and experience. The text familiar to those amongst whom we live and move and preach our sermons becomes the preferred text for all kinds of practical and pastoral reasons more important than the personal. So for much of my ministry I've preached from the NIV. Then came the New RSV, with its inclusive language, updated vocabulary and widespread adoption as the translation of preference for many Christian communities and denominations - but my sense is that the NRSV has little foothold amongst Evangelical Christians, and the NIV remains the default translation.
Now, for study purposes, I use the NRSV and NIV together and with my leather bound not small RSV to hand - years of continuous reading make it still the most familiar text. Nevertheless. Regularly I dive into my King James Version ordination Bible and immerse myself in a language strange, familiar and beautiful, in those places where it is still unrivalled as the repository of sacred text rendered memorable and mysterious. Psalms, Isaiah, Genesis, John, Romans, the Parables, - how on earth did a committee produce a masterpiece? The question is mainly rhetorical - to try to answer you have to begin with the plagiarism of Tyndale's translation, woven into page after page with never a footnote acknowledgement!
This narrative of Jim and his Bibles is by way of saying I recently bought myself a new RSV New Testament and Psalms. Now be careful. I didn't say a New Revised Standard Version New Testament and Psalms; but a new Revised Standard Version and Psalms. I mean the RSV not the NRSV.The picture at the top is of my new RSV and Psalms. Compact, portable, beautifully made, very clear and readable print, high quality paper, two ribbon markers, gilt edged. Come on - this is a real New Testament, a sacred book that by appearance and handling says - 'I'm not an Argos catalogue; |'m not a PDF; I'm not an airport paperback; I'm not the cheapest in a 3 for 2 offer; I'm not a Kindle; I'm not a niche market ploy; I'm the real thing - strange, potent, holy. Go on. Risk it. Open me!'
Every 4 months I complete a daily reading pattern, working through the four Gospels and the book of Psalms. I'll say more about that soon in another post. This new RSV is now a daily companion for that journey.