Amierican Bible Union - Articles

Article by Rev. John Wright - 1894 Plus Recent Additional Comments

The following is from Early Bibles of America by Rev. John Wright, 1894. pages 266-268.

On June 10, 1850, the American Bible Union, also a Baptist organization, was founded in New York City. The object was to promote the translation and printing of a Baptist version of the Bible. This was done by publishing separate books from time to time. The first to appear was the Book of Job, in 1856. The book is a quarto of 165 pages, with the King James translation, the Hebrew text, and the revised Baptist version in parallel columns, "with critical and philological notes" at the bottom of the pages. The translation was made by the Rev. Thomas J. Conant, D.D., professor of sacred literature in Rochester Theological Seminary. Genesis appeared in 1868, the Psalms in 1869, the Book of Proverbs in 1871, and the Books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth in 1878. In 1865 the Union published a revised edition of the New Testament. While there are several hundred emendations, they refer mostly to small words, such as the use of "says" for "saith." The principal and most decided changes in the translation consist in the substitution of "immerse" for "baptize," and "immersing" for "washing." The following quotations will show the nature of the revision:

St. Mark vii. 3. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, unless they wash their hands diligently, do not eat, holding the tradition of the elders;
4. And coming from the market, unless they immerse themselves, they do not eat; and there are many other things which they received to hold, immersions of cups, and pots, and brazen vessels, and couches.

St. John 1. 25. And they asked him, and said to him, Why then dost thou immerse, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elijah, not the Prophet?
26. John answered them, saying, I immerse in water.
28. These things took place in Bethany beyond the jordan, where John was immersing.
32. And John testified, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it abode upon him.
33. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to immerse in water, he said to me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding on him, this is he who immerses in the Holy Spirit.

St. John iii. 22. After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he remained with them, and immersed.
23. And John also was immersing in Anon near Salim, because there was much water there; and they came, and were immerses.

This version of the New Testament is not as a rule read in public services, but is used as a book of reference. There is a difference of opinion among Baptists regarding it, and one edition is printed with the word "immerse," and another with the word "baptize."

Recent Additional Comments (the following comments are not by Rev. John Wright)

In addition to the above comments of Rev. John Wright, contrary to common belief, there are also many changes of greater significance. For example Matthew 18:3 says "if ye do not turn" instead of "except ye be converted". Further in the early editions, there was a footnote pertaining to 1 John 5:7,8. In the "Improved Edition" 1 John 5:7,8 says "For there are three that testify; the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." The "Improved Edition" at John 1:3a says "All things were made through him" instead of "All things were made by him". John 1:9 says "The true light, which lights every man, was coming into the world" instead of "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." The First Revision, "Second Revision", and "Improved Edition" incorporate many Alexandrian Text readings (especially where those agree with the Majority Text readings) in place of many of the corresponding Textus Receptus readings. The New Testament of the "Improved Edition" indents quotes made from the Old Testament. It also has a footnote for Mark 16:9-20 which says those verses are not in the two oldest Greek manuscripts, nor some other documents. The "Improved Edition" has John 7:53-8:11 in brackets and a footnote for those verses say that those words are not included in most of the ancient documents.

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