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It is a maxim sanctioned by the best authority that literary productions, in order to their highest effectiveness, should aim to economize the reader's attention by so presenting ideas that they may be apprehended with the least possible mental effort. Language being aptly styled “an apparatus of symbols for the conveyance of thought,” it is insisted that “whatever force is absorbed by the machine is deducted from the result."
The principle here brought into notice strikingly applies to the study of the Revised New Testament as a revision. It may, in that relation, be formulated thus: The more time and attention it takes to learn what the changes made by the Revisers are, the less time and attention can be given to becoming familiar with those changes and forming a judgment respecting them. Before the proper study of the Revision, on its merits, can begin, answers must be had to four leading inquiries. Three of these are the following:
1. What portions of the Authorized Version have the Revisers approved and retained ?
2. What new renderings have they introduced ? 3. What portions of the Authorized Version have they excluded ?
On these points, in view of their manifest importance, intelligent students of the Holy Word will desire accurate information. How, then, in the absence of special helps, is this information to be obtained? Solely by a careful word-for-word Comparison of the Revision with the Common Version. But such a comparison--to be made by each individual for himself—is practically out of the question; for, owing to the amount of labor and perplexity involved, not one person in ten thousand would seriously think of attempting it.
The Revised New Testament contains, in the text, 179,914 words. One comparison, then, of the kind referred to, would require that the reader—with this special object before his mind, and while passing his eye from one Version to the other many more times than there are verses in the New Testament-should fix his attention, separately, upon three hundred and sixty thousand words. And what, it is well to inquire, would such a labor, if carried successfully through, yield in the way of practical advantage? Almost nothing at all. The “machine” would, at every stage of the toilsome process, have absorbed so much of the available mental power as
virtually to have left none for the “result." Nor is this all. The comparison, to be really useful, would, as respects much of the ground gone over, have to be indefinitely repeated.
But utility however great would be accounted dear at such a cost; and the Bible student, perceiving this, would assuredly leave off the labor before it was meddled with.
Happily, the difficulties in question are not insuperable. They were foreseen and carefully weighed nearly two years previous to the publication of the Revised New Testament; and a plan for overcoming them was published in the month of January, 1880. The scheme then put forth and exemplified encountered, it is believed, no adverse criticism from any quarter. On the contrary, it was greeted with hearty approval by a very considerable number of competent judges, among them some of the foremost Biblical scholars of the nation.
The plan referred to is embodied in the present volume. The Revised New Testament, in the text, contains (as stated above, and as appears in detail elsewhere) 179,914 words. Of that number, 154,526 are retained from the text of the Authorized Version ; and in this edition every one of these latter, by the method used, is known in its true character at sight. There occur in many verses transpositions of retained words; which fact is in each case shown by a curve after the verse numeral. In these ways about eighty-six per cent of the text of the Revision is practically removed from the field of comparison, and therefore imposes no tax upon the time and attention required for the examination of the renderings which the Revisers have introduced. Thus far, then, the system employed fully provides for the desired economy of attention, and a mountain load of discouraging and confusing labor is put out of the way. It is proper here to add, that it has not been attempted, by a mark of any kind, to indicate those passages wherein the meaning of the Common Version has been modified by revisional changes in the punctuation.
Somewhat more than fourteen per cent. of the text of the Revision consists of words that the Revisers have introduced. Their number is 25,388. In this volume, every one of these is underlined; by which means its character, as an introduced word, is discerned at a glance. And here again the outlay of time and attention in noting revisional changes is reduced to a minimum.
A comparison of the new matter of the Revision with the cancelled matter of the Authorized Version is possible only when the words
composing the latter class are in sight. Their number is 26,104; and in this volume they appear, as (“ A. V.”) Foot-notes, at the bottom of each page, being separated by a rule from the Marginal readings of the Revision. Chapter and verse are given, and the words retain the order in which they stand in the A. V. text.
Concisely stated, the three fundamental features of the Student's Revised New Testament are the following:
1. Whatever is common to both Versions is unmarked. 2. Whatever is peculiar to the Revision is underlined.
3. Whatever is peculiar to the Authorised Version is given in the “A.V.” Foot-notes.
Each of the two last named classes of matter admits of very helpful diacritical subdivisions.
(1) The introduced matter is made up of added and substituted renderings. To distinguish between these in the marking is, in effect, to complete the only possible comparison of the added renderings with the Authorized Version. The dotted line and the dotted allel serve this useful end, and 5,204 of the underlined words are known, at sight, as not substitutional. It follows that the number of underlined words inviting actual comparison with the A. V. text is 20,184. (2) A similar subdivision is seen in the " A. V." Foot-notes. The parenthesis and brackets inclose a total of 6,858 words, which are thus known, at sight, as not alternated by anything in the Revised text; and the ŋumber of revisionally excluded words to be compared with the underlined text, is reduced to 19,246. The great saving of labor effected by the foregoing discriminations, and the resulting satisfaction, must be apparent to whoever gives the subject a thought.
A fourth inquiry underlying a proper estimate of the labors of the Committee of New Testament Revisers is this: What changes made by them whether of addition, substitution, or exclusion-are due to Critical changes in the Greek text? Here, obviously, no help whatever can be derived from the English versions alone. Recourse must be had to the Text which the Revisers themselves used. That text, carefully edited by Archdeacon PALMER, and verified by Dr. SCRIVENER (who " kept the record for the New Testament Revision Company of the readings which it adopted "), has been published by the Oxford University Press; and, fortunately, it was given to the world in season to become the basis of one of the most valuable features of this edition of the Revised New Testament. The Greek Testament referred to clearly indicates the “ large number of readings” adopted by the Revisers and which deviate " from the text presumed to underlie the Authorized Version.”
The effect of these critical readings upon the Revised Version has been ascertained with very great care, and the volume here offered to the public is on every page enriched with the results of that investigation. In the underlined text, the dotted parallel marks 550 words as renderings of added readings of the Critical Greek text, and the plain parallel marks 1,604 words as renderings of substituted readings of that text. In the “
In the “A. V." foot-notes, upright dashes inclose 1,515 words based on substituted spurious readings of the Received Greek text, and brackets inclose 3,193 words based on added spurious readings of that text. Thus it appears that, on critical grounds, 2,154 words find a place in the Revised text; while 4,708 words of the A. V. text are, on the same grounds, revisionally excluded. It would not comport with the design of these prefatory remarks to set forth what is believed to be the immense value of the Revision as a whole; but it is within their proper scope to suggest that lovers of inspired truth cannot too highly appreciate a Version based on an original which embodies so largely the ripest results of textual criticism. And if this is so, it must be a useful service to place those results intelligibly before Bible students acquainted only with the English tongue.
The Student's Revised New Testament fulfils its mission, as the labor-saving edition, in an important particular not elsewhere mentioned. The marginal verse notation, adopted in the University editions in connection with the paragraph system, is unquestionably right; but it causes what is widely felt to be a great inconvenience, and which has been referred to as such by a leading member of the American New Testament Company. The inconvenience spoken of is that of being unable, in countless instances, to tell readily where the verse begins. In very many cases it can be known only by referring to the Common Version. This serious defect is overcome in the present edition. A shortened upright parallel, caught instantly by the eye, marks the initial word of every verse; and uncertainty or suspense is rendered impossible.
There are no facts or statistics having any relation to the Revision in its published form that will not be of interest to some one. It is in view of this that the “ Numerical Summary” at the end of the volume, and the tabular matter on page 602, have been prepared. They furnish ready answers to a variety of questions which familiarity with the diacritical character of the work will naturally sug