The E. G. White Counsel on Versions of the Bible

Chapter 6—Mrs. White’s Use of the Revised Versions

As noted earlier, Mrs. White occasionally used the Revised Version renderings, also the marginal reading of texts, in nearly all of her books published after 1885, the year of the appearance of the complete English Revised Version. EGWCVB 6.1

In The Great Controversy, published in 1888, seven texts from the newly issued revision were employed, and she also used the marginal rendering of eight other texts. The proportion of Revised Version and marginal rendering of texts is very small when we consider that there are more than 850 scriptures quoted in The Great Controversy, or an average of a little more than one scripture text to a page, whereas there is approximately one Revised Version rendering and one marginal rendering for each one hundred pages. EGWCVB 6.2

In 1901 the American Revised Version came from the press, and from that time forward we find that Mrs. White occasionally employed both the English Revised and the American Revised versions. EGWCVB 6.3

In 1911, when The Great Controversy was reset, Mrs. White retained six of the seven texts previously quoted from the English Revised Version. For the other text she substituted the American Revised rendering. The eight marginal renderings were used as in the earlier edition. EGWCVB 6.4

In the publication of The Ministry of Healing (1905) Mrs. White employed eight texts from the English Revised Version, 55 from the American Revised Version, two from Leeser, and four from Noyes, in addition to seven marginal renderings. EGWCVB 6.5

Other volumes in which Revised Version texts frequently appear are Patriarchs and Prophets (1890); Steps to Christ (1892); Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing (1896); The Desire of Ages (1898); Education (1903); and Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 (1904). EGWCVB 6.6

The E. G. White books using a few Revised Version or marginal renderings are Christ’s Object Lessons (1900); Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 (1902); Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9 (1909); The Acts of the Apostles (1911); Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students (1913); Gospel Workers (1915); and Prophets and Kings (1917). EGWCVB 6.7

Patriarchs and Prophets (1890) also contains two renderings from the Bernard translation, and at least one from the Boothroyd Version. Education (1903) contains at least one rendering from the Rotherham translation. EGWCVB 6.8

In the five volumes of the Conflict of the Ages Series, we find the revised versions quoted. As might be expected, those volumes that enter into an exposition of Bible truth dealing with points of doctrine or the teachings of Christ, contain more texts quoted from the revised versions than do volumes of counsel to the church and those presenting largely historical description. In the three-volume Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White use of revised versions is indicated in the Scripture Index. EGWCVB 6.9

As to Mrs. White’s attitude toward the revisions of 1885 and 1901, and as to her own use of these in preaching and writing, her son, W. C. White, who was closely associated with her in her public ministry and in the preparation and publication of her books, wrote in 1931: EGWCVB 6.10

“I do not know of anything in the E. G. White writings, nor can I remember of anything in Sister White’s conversations, that would intimate that she felt that there was any evil in the use of the Revised Version....

“When the first revision was published, I purchased a good copy and gave it to Mother. She referred to it occasionally, but never used it in her preaching. Later on, as manuscripts were prepared for her new books and for revised editions of books already in print, Sister White’s attention was called from time to time by myself and Sister Marian Davis, to the fact that she was using texts which were much more clearly translated in the Revised Version. Sister White studied each one carefully, and in some cases she instructed us to use the Revised Version. In other cases she instructed us to adhere to the Authorized Version.

“When Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, was printed and it seemed desirable to make some lengthy quotations from the Psalms, it was pointed out to Sister White that the Revised Version of these Psalms was preferable, and that by using the form of blank verse the passages were more readable. Sister White gave the matter deliberate consideration, and instructed us to use the Revised Version. When you study these passages you will find that in a number of places where the Revised Version is largely used, the Authorized Version is used where translation seems to be better.

“We cannot find in any of Sister White’s writings, nor do I find in my memory, any condemnation of the American Revised Version of the Holy Scriptures. Sister White’s reasons for not using the A.R.V. in the pulpit are as follows:

“‘There are many persons in the congregation who remember the words of the texts we might use as they are presented in the Authorized Version, and to read from the Revised Version would introduce perplexing questions in their minds as to why the wording of the text had been changed by the revisers and as to why it was being used by the speaker.’

“She did not advise me in a positive way not to use the A.R.V., but she intimated to me quite clearly that it would be better not to do so, as the use of the different wording brought perplexity to the older members of the congregation.”—White Estate DF 579; Ministry, April, 1947, pp. 17, 18.

The extracts quoted above reveal the position of Ellen White on such questions as the transmission of the Sacred Text, the union of the divine and the human in the written record of God’s revelation to man, and also as to her relation to the various translations of the Holy Scriptures. EGWCVB 7.1

December 9, 1953
Ellen G. White Estate
Washington, D. C.
Revised February 2010