A February 16, 2007
obituary by Mary Rourke in the Los Angeles Times
vividly illustrates the updated language in the RSV/NRSV:
The (NRSV) translation, published in 1990, eliminated such
archaic words as "thee" and "thou" and adjusted references
to "man" where both men and women were indicated.
The result was closer to
current English usage than the older Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, published in 1952.
The updated translation was sponsored by the National
Council of Churches, an ecumenical group of 35 Christian
denominations. The organization was in need of a
translation that would be acceptable to a wide range of
Soon after Metzger and his colleagues completed their work
in 1989, he pointed out some of the changes in an
interview with The Times.
The phrase, "Man shall not live by bread alone," from the
Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy and the New Testament
Gospels of Matthew and Luke, was adjusted to read, "One
shall not live by bread alone."
"O men of little faith," in the Gospels of Matthew and
Luke, became "O you of little faith."
The original Greek text did
not use the word for man in that phrase, Metzger said. To
insert it was "an unnecessary, restrictive" addition, he
told The Times.
Masculine references to God in the New Revised Standard
Version were preserved only if they came from early Hebrew
or Greek biblical manuscripts.
Some of the adjustments aimed at preventing confusion with
A line in Psalm 50 was changed from "I will accept no bull
from your house" to "I will not accept a bull from your
Another line, in the second letter of Paul to the
Corinthians, previously read, "Once I was stoned."
Metzger's committee changed it to "Once I received a
generations to come of seminarians and pastors will rely on his
careful work," said the Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner, NCC's deputy
general secretary for planning and research. "His enthusiasm
for the Bible as an ever-present guide for Christians is second
only to his scholarship about the Bible," Lindner said.
The RSV and
NRSV translations, initially controversial because they broke
from the tradition-bound language of the 1611 Authorized Version
(King James), became the most widely used Bible translations in
colleges, schools of theology and seminaries around the world.
"I don't think
it is an exaggeration to say the RSV would not have happened had
it not been for Bruce Metzger," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, NCC
general secretary. "His leadership and scholarship were the
reasons there is a translation of the Bible we call the New
Revised Standard Version."
Presbyterian, was the George L. Collord Professor Emeritus of
New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Seminary.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Lebanon Valley College in
1935, a bachelor of theology degree from Princeton Seminary in
1938 and a doctorate in classics from Princeton University in
1942. Metzger began his teaching career at Princeton in 1938,
where he stayed in the New Testament department for 46 years.
He became an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church in
was a renowned biblical scholar," said Dr. Lindner. "He may
have been small in stature but he was a towering leader in the
Bible translation work of the Council," she said.
On hearing the
news of his former professor's passing, NCC President Livingston
said: "I imagine Jesus greeting Dr. Metzger on the scholars
bench in heaven and thanking him for making the gospel so clear
and accessible to generations of faith seekers in our time and
beyond, through his inspired work on Revised Standard and the
New Revised Standard Versions of the Bible."
The NCC is the
ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican,
historic African American and traditional peace churches. These
35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000
congregations in all 50 states.