Bible Under Fire

For more than three hundred years, the King James Version of the Bible had been dominant. Then, in 1952, a Revised Standard Version (RSV) was published to a firestorm of controversy. Some dubbed it the "Red Bible" and called it a Communist plot to undermine American society. At the same time, the RSV broke sales records.

This film tells the story of the RSV against the backdrop of American history, both secular and sacred. It was the first to incorporate the discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the first distinctly American Bible to be a success and the first to be successfully promoted by an advertising agency. The goal of the translators, the newly-formed National Council of Churches, was to create a standard Bible for modern times that would unify Christians, be easier to read, and be more faithful to the original texts. The most controversial passage in the RSV -- the description of Mary as "a young woman" (true to the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls) in Isaiah 7:14, replacing the King James Version of Mary as "a virgin," led many in the evangelical Christian community to interpret that change as a denial of the divinity of Christ.

The RSV opened the floodgates for the many competing translations that have followed as American culture demanded that issues of gender, race and language be addressed. Appearing in the film are such biblical scholars and members of the translation team as Paul Minnear, Bruce Metzger and Katherine Sakenfeld. Ambassador Andrew Young, Prof. George Lindbeck, Yale University and Peter Thuesen, author and historian also appear.

Narrated by Mary Alice Williams.

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Bible Under Fire


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