Webster's Revision

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English Bible Versions

Noah Webster's 1833 limited revision of the King James Bible focused mainly on replacing archaic words and making simple grammatical changes. For example: "why" instead of "wherefore", "its" instead of "his" when referring to nonliving things, "male child" instead of "manchild", etc. He also introduced euphemisms to remove words he found offensive: "whore" becomes "lewd woman". Overall, very few changes were made, and the result is a book which is almost indistinguishable from the King James Bible. It has sometimes been called the "Common Version" (which is not to be confused with the Common Bible of 1973, an ecumencial edition of the Revised Standard Version).

Modern critics are surprised by just how little Webster changed the King James Bible. His revision was very light, as he did not want to make the language wholly contemporary, but rather wanted to correct flaws he disagreed with as an educator. Other, less orthodox Americans were bringing out their own versions of the New Testament, but he had no interest in theologically motivated changes.

The problem with the older books was confusion on the part of readers as the language styles had been evolving over the years and a lot of meaning of the text in this Bible were being lost on the average reader. Some passages were misunderstood. Grammar had evolved as well and the above changes made an easier read while purifying the language and making it more delicate.

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