HomeReviewsThe Apocrypha – English Standard Version


The Apocrypha – English Standard Version — 4 Comments

  1. The RSV and the Deuterocanon. The whole of the Deuterocanonical Library acceptable to the mainstream confessions arrived in stages with the RSV.
    In 1957, at the request of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Deuterocanonical books were added to the RSV. Since there was no American Standard Version of the Apocrypha, the RSV Apocrypha was a revision of the Revised Version Apocrypha of 1894, itself a revision of the King James Bible.
    This then made it possible for the Catholic Church to consider using the RSV and by 1965 permission was given to allow Scholars of the Roman Catholic Church to make changes to the text of the RSV so that the version would become acceptable to Roman Catholics. Such changes as “Brothers” to “Brethren” in reference to the brothers of Jesus, as the Church teaches that Jesus had no brothers – ‘brethren’ can allude to cousins or step-brothers. For example, some have postulated that Joseph had children by a former marriage, also the Latin fathers maintained that they were the Lord’s cousins. It was published in 1966.
    In 1973, an inter-confessional edition was issued, expanded to include 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh of the Orthodox Scripture Deuterocanon. This edition of the RSV included the Apocryphal books in an arrangement that would be acceptable to Protestants and Catholics alike. A compromise was worked out providing for the publication of a Bible that would contain four sections, in this order: the Old Testament, the additional books of the Catholic Church, the three books of the Protestant Apocrypha that are not included in the Roman Catholic canon, and the New Testament. The edition was presented to and approved by Pope Paul VI.
    Worthy as it was the ‘Common’ Bible of 1973 failed to live up to its name, as it lacked the full canon of books recognized as authoritative by Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Armenian, and other Eastern churches accept not only the traditional deuterocanonical books received by the Roman Catholic Church, but also the Third Book of Maccabees. Furthermore, in Greek Bibles, Psalm 151 stands at the close of the Psalter, and the Fourth Book of Maccabees is printed as an appendix to the Old Testament. Since these texts were lacking in the ‘Common’ Bible presented to Pope Paul, on that occasion Archbishop Athenagoras expressed the hope that steps might be taken to produce a truly ecumenical edition of the Holy Scriptures.
    In 1972 a subcommittee of the RSV Bible Committee had already been commissioned to prepare a translation of 3 and 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151. In 1975 the translation of the three additional texts was made available to the five publishers licensed to issue the RSV Bible. The Oxford University Press took steps immediately to produce an expanded form of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocrypha, the edition of the RSV that had earlier received the imprimatur of Cardinal Cushing of Boston.
    This expanded edition was published by the Oxford University Press on 19th May 1977. A special prepublication copy was presented to His All Holiness Dimitrios I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and titular head of the several Orthodox churches. In accepting the gift, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed satisfaction at the availability of an edition of the sacred Scriptures that English readers belonging to all branches of the Christian church could use.

    • There are different versions of some of the apocryphal books. Actually, the Roman Catholic canon does not include the book of 2 Esdras, sometimes called 4, 5, and 6 Ezra – the nomenclature can be confusing! This ESV Apocrypha, like the RSV on which it is based, does have the complete book. 2 Esdras has 16 chapters, and the final chapter has 78 verses. The English Standard Version – Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) that I reviewed here does not have 2 Esdras.

  2. Wow, there is a lot to consider when deciding on a version of the Apocrypha. Despite the variants, one thing is for sure. Modern Christianity is missing out on some major events of their heritage. I am eager to dive into my recent purchase, which is the Literal Standard Version. Perhaps once I read through this copy, I will order the English Standard Version. Or maybe I won’t wait that long and order it now so I can compare the current version.
    This article–although it discussed more information than I could follow completely–was helpful and pointed out a lot of things that should be considered.

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