American Standard Version
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American Standard Version
American Standard Version
ASV Star Bible.jpg
Star Bible's facsimile reprint of the American Standard Version
Full nameRevised Version, Standard American Edition
OT published1901
NT published1900
Online asAmerican Standard Version at Wikisource
Derived fromEnglish Revised Version 1881-1885
Textual basisNT: Westcott and Hort 1881 and Tregelles 1857, (Reproduced in a single, continuous, form in Palmer 1881). OT: Masoretic Text with some Septuagint influence).
Translation typeFormal equivalence
Reading levelHigh school
Version revision1929 (copyright renewal)
CopyrightCopyright expired
Religious affiliationProtestant inter-denominational
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Revised Version, Standard American Edition of the Bible, more commonly known as the American Standard Version (ASV), is a Bible translation into English that was completed in 1901 with the publication of the revision of the Old Testament; the revised New Testament had been released in 1900. It was originally best known by its full name, but soon came to have other names, such as the American Revised Version, the American Standard Revision, the American Standard Revised Bible, and the American Standard Edition. By the time its copyright was renewed in 1929, it had come to be known by its present name, the American Standard Version. Because of its prominence in seminaries, it was sometimes simply called the "Standard Bible" in the United States.


Title page to the ASV

The American Standard Version, which was also known as The American Revision of 1901, is rooted in the work begun in 1870 to revise the King James Bible of 1611. This revision project eventually produced the Revised Version (RV). An invitation was extended to American religious leaders for scholars to work on the RV project. In 1871, thirty scholars were chosen by Philip Schaff. The denominations represented on the American committee were the Baptist, Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, Friends, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, and Unitarian. These scholars began work in 1872. Three of the editors, the youngest in years, became the editors of the American Standard Revised New Testament: Drs. Dwight, Thayer and Matthew Riddle.[1][2]

Any suggestion of the American Revision Committee would only be accepted if two-thirds of the British Revisers agreed. This principle was backed up by an agreement that if their suggestions were put into the appendix of the RV, the American Committee would not publish their version for 15 years. The appendix had about three hundred suggestions in it.

The Revised Version New Testament was published in 1881, the Old Testament in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894. Around this time, the British team disbanded. Also around this time, unauthorized copied editions of the RV appeared with the suggestions of the American team in the main text. This was possible because while the RV in the UK was the subject of a Crown copyright as a product of the University Presses of Oxford and Cambridge, this protection did not extend to the U.S. and the text was never separately copyrighted there. In 1898, publishers for Oxford and Cambridge Universities published their own editions of the RV with the American suggestions included. However, these suggestions were reduced in number (but it did incorporate all of those suggestions which were listed in the Appendixes, as can be verified by comparing the Appendixes with the main text of the 1898 edition). Some of those Americanized editions by Oxford and Cambridge Universities had the title of "American Revised Version" on the cover of their spines. Some of Thomas Nelson's editions of the American Standard Version Holy Bible included the Apocrypha of the Revised Version. The Revised Version of 1885 and the American Standard Version of 1901 are among the Bible versions authorized to be used in services of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England.[3][4]

In 1901, after the 15-year deferral agreement between the American and British Revisers expired, and the Revised Version, Standard American Edition, as the ASV Bible was officially called at the time, was published by Thomas Nelson & Sons. It was copyrighted in North America to ensure the purity of the ASV text. In 1928, the International Council of Religious Education (the body that later merged with the Federal Council of Churches to form the National Council of Churches) acquired the copyright from Nelson and renewed it the following year. The copyright was a reaction to tampering with the text of the Revised Version by some U.S. publishers, as noted above. By the time the ASV's copyright expired for the final time in 1957,[5] interest in this translation had largely waned in the light of newer and more recent ones, and textual corruption hence never became the issue with the ASV that it had with the RV.

Because the language of the ASV intentionally retained the King James Version's Elizabethan English, was printed with comparatively lower quality materials, and because of what some perceived to be its excessive literalism, it never achieved wide popularity, and the King James Version would remain the primary translation for most American Protestant Christians until the publication of the Revised Standard Version in 1952.


There were two rationales for the ASV. One reason was to obviate any justification for the unauthorized copied editions of the RV that had been circulating. Another reason was to use more of the suggestions the American team had preferred, since the British team used few of their suggestions in the first place, even in the later version which they had published incorporating some of them.[] While many of the suggestions of the American scholars were based on the differences between American and British usage, many others were based on differences in scholarship and what the American revisers felt the best translation to be. Consequently, there were several changes to the KJV text in the ASV that were not present in the RV.


The divine name of the Almighty (the Tetragrammaton) is consistently rendered Jehovah in 6,823 places of the ASV Old Testament, rather than LORD as it appears mostly in the King James Bible and Revised Version of 1881-85. However, there are notably seven verses in the King James Bible where the divine name actually appears which are Genesis 22:14, Exodus 6:3, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 plus as its abbreviated form, Jah, once in Psalms 68:4. The English Revised Version (1881-1885, published with the Apocrypha in 1894) renders the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah where it appears in the King James Version, and another eight times in Exodus 6:2,6-8, Psalm 68:20, Isaiah 49:14, Jeremiah 16:21 and Habakkuk 3:19 plus as its abbreviated form, Jah, twice in Psalms 68:4 and Psalms 89:8. The reason for this change, as the Committee explained in the preface, was that "...the American Revisers... were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament..."[6] Other changes from the RV to the ASV included (but were not limited to) substituting "who" and "that" for "which" when referring to people, and Holy Ghost was dropped in favor of Holy Spirit. Page headings were added and footnotes were improved.


The ASV has been the basis of six revisions and one refreshing. They were the Revised Standard Version, 1971 [1946-52] -- including two New Testament translation efforts: the 1946 RSV New Testament published alone, with the entire Bible completed in 1952, and then a "second edition of the RSV New Testament, issued in 1971, twenty-five years after its initial publication" not to be confused with the later "New Revised Standard Version"[7] --, the New Revised Standard Version, 1989, the Amplified Bible, 1965, the New American Standard Bible, 1995 [1963-71], the Recovery Version, 1999, the World English Bible, 2000, and the Refreshed American Standard Version New Testament, 2018.[8] The ASV was also the basis for Kenneth N. Taylor's Bible paraphrase, The Living Bible, 1971. A group commissioned by Adam Lewis Greene in 2014 revised the ASV into the American Literary Version and it was released in 2016.

Usage by Jehovah's Witnesses

The ASV has also been used for many years by Jehovah's Witnesses. The reasons for their choosing of the ASV were twofold: its usage of "Jehovah" as the Divine Name, which was a translation of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) into English as some early Bible scholars had done before (i.e. Tyndale at Ps. 83:18[9]). They also derived their name from Isaiah 43:10, 12, both of which contain the phrase, "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah." Also, there was a perception that the ASV had improved the translation of some verses in the King James Version, and in other places it reduced the verses that they found to be erroneously translated in the KJV to mere footnotes, removed from the main text altogether.[10]

Jehovah's Witnesses' publishing organization, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, had printed its own edition of the King James Version since 1926, but did not obtain the rights to print ASV until 1944. From 1944 to 1992, they printed and distributed over a million copies of the ASV. By the 1960s, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, made by members of their group and the rights to which they controlled, had largely replaced ASV as the Bible used most by Witnesses.[11] Though now preferring the NWT, Jehovah's Witnesses' publications frequently quote from other translations, including ASV.

See also


  1. ^ Worth, Roland H. (1992), Bible Translations: A History Through Source Documents, p. 107, In between these two periods, the American translators continued to meet on a yearly basis to lay plans for the eventual publication of their work. Matthew B. Riddle, the last survivor of the original group of Americans, writes of how the group went about their work: Three of these, the youngest in years, became the editors of the American Standard Revised New Testament: Drs. Dwight, Thayer and Riddle. Dr. Thayer lived to see the published volume, but died a few months afterward...
  2. ^ Riddle, Matthew Brown (1908), The Story of the Revised New Testament, American Standard Edition, Philadelphia: Sunday School Times, Dr. Ezra Abbot was the foremost textual critic in America, and his opinions usually prevailed when questions of text were debated.
  3. ^ American Standard Version of the Bible (1901), The Episcopal Church, On July 7, 1870, the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, England, voted to invite some "American divines" to join in the work of revising the Bible. An American Revision Committee was organized on Dec. 7, 1871, and began work on Oct. 4, 1872. In 1901 their work was published as The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated Out of the Original Tongues, Being the Version Set Forth A.D. 1611 Compared with the Most Ancient Authorities and Revised A.D. 1881-1885. Newly Edited by the American Revision Committee A.D. 1901. Standard Edition. This is one of the versions of the Bible authorized by the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion for use in worship.
  4. ^ "Versions of Scripture", A Note by the House of Bishops, The Church of England, retrieved 2015, While the Church of England authorises the Lectionary -- what passages are to be read on which occasion -- it does not authorize particular translations of the Bible. Nevertheless, among the criteria by which versions of Scripture are judged suitable for reading in church during the course of public worship are the following: 3 Versions of Scripture which are translations and appear to satisfy at least four of the criteria set out in paragraph 1 above include: The Authorized Version or King James Bible (AV), published in 1611, of which a Revised Version was published in 1881-5.
  5. ^ Bell, Tom W. "Trend of Maximum U.S. General Copyright Term". Tom W Bell. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ "Preface", ASV (American ed.), Christian Classics Ethereal Library. It is speculated that because of this, the Jehovah Witness name-dogma was created by Joseph Franklin Rutherford around this time.
  7. ^ "To The Reader", New Oxford Annotated Bible (Third ed.), Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. xvii, xviii.
  8. ^ Refreshed American Standard Version (RASV).
  9. ^ "The Tetragrammaton and the Divine Name in the Hebrew Scriptures - NWT". JW.
  10. ^ "Why a new translation was commissioned", New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
  11. ^ "Printing and Distributing God's Own Sacred Word", Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower, 1993, p. 607.

Further reading

External links

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