Revised Standard Version vs. King James Bible; What’s the Difference?


This is part of Lord’s Library’s Bible Comparison Series. Our editors explore the Revised Standard Version vs. King James Bible so you can understand the major differences between each translation.

Bible Comparison Series BadgeWhen looking for a new Bible for yourself or as a gift, comparing the different Bible versions is an ideal first step. It’s also important that one considers the various Christian Church denominations when Bible shopping so the reader can be comfortable with their translation’s version of English. Some churches mandate a precise edition as well, while others may be curious about which version of the manuscript their favorite Bible translation comes from.

.If you’ve ever asked the question “What’s the difference between the Revised Standard Version vs. King James Bible?” you’ve come to the right place. It’s in that spirit that our editors compiled this short resource by first offering a simple description of each Bible version, and then a comparison that highlights key contrasts. For each of the two Bible versions compared, Lord’s Library editors included links to our directories of the best editions, as well as the most popular products.

The Gospel

Revised Standard Version vs. King James Bible

What is the Revised Standard Version (RSV)?

First published in 1952 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the Revised Standard Version Bible was created to be a readable yet literal modern English translation. Interesting to note is that the Revised Standard Version was the first Bible to make use of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. A 1989 revision of the Revised Standard Version was created, called the New Revised Standard Version, or NRSV. Modern criticism of this Bible states that liberal ideologies and theology are prominent in the text.

What is the King James Bible (KJV)?

The King James Version has stood the test of time and proven itself by becoming the best-selling English Bible translation of all time. This is because it boasts incredible accuracy to the manuscripts from which it was translated and a rich, vibrant language. The complete King James Bible was originally published in 1611 after being commissioned by King James VI.

The historical significance of this Bible translation is astounding, so much so that it has been credited with shaping much of the culture of the English-speaking world. Today, the King James Version still proves to be an effective and reliable translation, with its only caveat being that the language it’s written in is not friendly to the average reader.

Revised Standard Version vs. King James Bible; What’s the Difference?

The Revised Stand Version is closely linked to two other Bible translations which are actually later revisions of the original RSV; The New Revised Standard Version and the English Standard Version. All of these translations strive to produce a biblically accurate and straightforward reading of the Bible that is in line with the Tyndale-King James tradition.

The RSV ends up being quite similar to the King James in aim and philosophy yet more modern. Also, the translators of the RSV used a wider breadth of ancient manuscripts to translate their Bible. Actually, they were the first to make use of the famous Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. The language is much more modern than the King James version, being published more than 300 years later.

The Revised Standard Version used Biblica Stuttgartensia with influence from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint for its Old Testament. For its New Testament, it used Novum Testamentum Graece. The King James Bible used the Masoretic Text, Septuagint, and the Vulgate for its Old Testament and the Textus Receptus for its New Testament.

If one was looking for a modern version of the King James Version that upheld similar stylings and principles, the RSV would be a great place to start. The New Revised Standard Version, a later revision, is so renowned and trusted in biblical studies that it is often the choice amongst biblical studies and universities. This version is highly praised as one of the most accurate and biblically sound translations available today.

For some readers, the RSV will be the easy choice between these two Bibles as it builds on the goals the King James Bible sought to achieve so long ago. But for many, the history and original meaning of the King James Bible are too much to overcome.

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Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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