RSV, n. Revised Standard Version. In the first edition, a dangerous
mistranslation heretically discordant with the authority of popular
From the reactions it received one might be tempted to think that they
gave an accurate rendition of a comment Paul made in Phillippians.
Paul listed many reasons he had to be confident on his own, without
need of grace: born into the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the
eighth day, perfect in maintaining ceremonial law, flawless in
Pharisaic legalism, ad nauseum. A couple of verses later, he commented
on their real value: "Furthermore, I consider everything a loss next
to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose
sake I have lost all things. I consider them all shit, that I may gain
Christ." He was perhaps contemplating the rebuke of the Divine through
the prophet Malachi:
And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not
listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name,
says Yahweh Sabaoth, then I will send the curse on you; truly, I
have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. I
will wither your offspring, and spread shit on your faces, the shit
of your solemn feasts, and drive you out of my presence.
or perhaps the words of the prophet Isaiah, who compared righteous
acts to a used tampon.
A like reaction might be be generated by rendering the crowd's words
about Jesus "Crucify him!" in words the same hate took over a
millenium later: "He is a faggot. Burn him at the stake!" Perhaps
there were footnotes explaining that the word stauros (in its various
forms) was not merely a pejorative term, but an obscenity.
Or perhaps a dynamic equivalent of the Song of Songs, rendering the
sexual metaphors and double entendres in fresh English. Perhaps they
might have rendered "His banner over me is love." in a less literal
manner, more understandable to the modern reader, so that Sunday
School teachers would be less sorely tempted to set it to an annoying
tune and teach it as a song to young children. Perhaps they departed
from the Victorian classic describing that which is described between
the legs and belly and likened to a rounded goblet flowing with wine:
the woman's navel.
But they did none of these, choosing an error far worse.
In Hebrew, the word meaning 'young woman' was spoken with the implicit
understanding that the young woman is a virgin. The prophet Isaiah
recorded the word of Yahweh, "Behold, the young woman shall be
pregnant and shall give birth to a son, and call his name Emmanuel..."
RSV in its first edition not only rendered the word as 'young woman'
(with a footnote saying 'or virgin'), but placed in footnotes (rather
than the main text) various verses which are not found in the most
ancient and reliable manuscripts, preceding the editing work of
Erasmus in creating the Textus Receptus.
As a result, the RSV became a banned book. It was held up and waved
around as the latest Communist-Marxist-trying to subvert the doctrine
of the virgin birth-heretical-Catholic-infiltration. En masse.
This prompted the creation of RSV Second Edition, a work less
offensive to such staunch Christians.
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary