What has been known in Britain since 1611 as the ‘Authorized Version’—though it was never formally authorized (or as the ‘King James Version’) was a revision of earlier Bibles by six companies: three groups worked on the OT, two on the NT, and one on the Apocrypha. Fifty-four scholars were enlisted, recruited and briefed by Archbishop Richard Bancroft, of whom the names of forty-seven are known, and they met in Oxford, Cambridge, and London (Westminster). King James I approved the proposal in 1604 and was always much interested in its progress. It became the most read and most loved Bible in English. Its phrasing was often dependent on Tyndale's version. But by the 19th cent. it was being regarded as unsatisfactory in the light of much new knowledge through the discovery of great MSS like Codex Sinaiticus. This led to a revision, initiated by the Church of England, by a committee of scholars from several Protestant Churches and the publication of the Revised Version—NT in 1881, OT in 1885. Although there was extensive correspondence with an American revision committee, a joint version was not published, but the American variations were printed in an appendix to the English RV, and in 1900–1901 the American committees published their Standard Version, with the English variations in an appendix. The RV was disliked for its pedantic literalism, but it was the Bible used by students until the American Revised Standard Version was published (NT 1946, OT 1952).
A host of new translations appeared throughout the 20th cent. in Britain and America. The RSV was kept under scrutiny and a major revision was published in 1989 and called the New Revised Standard Version; it adopts ‘inclusive language’, avoiding masculine-oriented terms. The NRSV thus stands in a succession which goes back beyond the AV.
A wholly new English translation was the New English Bible (NEB; NT 1961, OT 1970), which was revised in 1989 as the Revised English Bible; it is more dignified and more suitable for liturgical use than NEB, as well as, like NRSV, adopting inclusive terminology except where scholarly integrity would be compromised.
Roman Catholics have shared in the pre-paration of NRSV and REB, but they have also had their own independent translations, notably that of Ronald Knox in 1945–9, and the Jerusalem Bible (1966), which owed much to the French translation (1956) published by the Jerusalem Dominicans; the New Jerusalem Bible appeared in 1985 and achieved considerable acclaim, though its use of ‘Yahweh’ in the OT is controversial. The titles of OT books follow the traditional English usage (e.g. 1 and 2 Samuel). The New American Bible, by Roman Catholic translators, was completed in 1970. It uses the best available Hebrew and Greek texts. A revision of the NT was published in 1989. A number of translations of markedly Protestant-Evangelical flavour have been published: the Living Bible in 1971, the Good News Bible (Today's English Version) in 1966–79. The New International Version (1973–8) was the work of translators ‘committed to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form’. Sometimes in this version a doctrinal consideration seems to be in control, as when Hebrew almah (Isa. 7: 14), which means ‘a young woman’, is rendered ‘virgin’; it does so because it is translated thus by the LXX of Isa. 7: 14 and this verse of Isaiah is quoted in Matt. 1: 23 in connection with the conception of Jesus in Mary: the translation (which follows AV of Isa. 7: 14) is unreliable.
See also bible, english translations of.