Preface to
the Standard Version

Note: This article is included in the “End Matter” of the printed edition of the Standard Version. While it is actually a Preface, we refer to it there as an “Addendum,” because we have placed it at the back, to minimize distractions for the reader.

This version of the New Testament has been produced out of my concern that so few believers today are reading or studying the Bible as we should; no doubt, this is a major reason why the church in America is currently so weak. Moreover, as anyone can see, the Bible is also losing its influence in this country as a whole.

As I considered this, I came to feel that a major factor for this situation is that there simply isn’t a truly first-rate translation of the Scriptures currently available in the English language. Some are fairly good, but none maintains the highest standard in terms of literalness and accuracy, nor in terms of how the text is rendered in English.

But it is not only a matter of the translation itself; there is also the question of how the Scriptures are presented to the reader. As the believers in Christ, our main Bible should present the text of the Scripture in as simple a format as possible. There is a place for study Bibles, but our main Bible should be one without notes or general cross-references, so that nothing comes between us and the text itself; this gives the Lord the greatest opportunity to speak to us in His holy word. And while there are some Bibles out there like this today, it seems the selection is fairly limited.

Eventually, I felt that, to meet these needs, I should attempt my own translation of the Scriptures, beginning with the New Testament; hence, the Standard Version.

However, as one who does not know any of the Biblical languages, I had to take a different approach than most do for their translation work. Others like to emphasize that their version is translated from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and no doubt, that is very good. Yet, that has now been done dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times already, and so it is no longer where the stress should be in producing a new English version of the Bible

Of necessity, then, but also as a matter of efficacy, my approach was instead to use the best, most accurate translations available as my starting point, comparing them with each other to see what they felt was the best way to translate each verse of the New Testament. (I say more about this in the following article, “About the Standard Version.”) In this way I had the benefit of so much good, hard work that has already been done in regards to Bible translation, and also in regards to manuscript readings, so that this version builds upon that work.

And this meant that, rather than starting over from the beginning to reconsider the meaning of the Greek, my efforts were focused where they need to be focused today: on considering how best to render the meaning of the Scriptures in the English language.

Of course, I still did need to spend a good deal of time to look at the meaning of individual words, and just as important, to study how those words are used in the New Testament. In this I was very much helped by using the excellent Bible language study tools that are available online; in particular, I made very heavy use of the Blue Letter Bible, both the online version and app.

As I did that, I was surprised to find a good many instances, beyond what I had been aware of before, where other English translations fail to convey the meaning of the Greek text as they should. Sometimes, it was a matter of not using the literal reading when it seems there was no reason not to do so; in other instances, the renderings simply failed to convey what was actually being said.

I hope in the coming days to post some videos that will provide a fuller introduction to the Standard Version, including an explanation of how I feel it improves over other versions; you will be able to watch those on our website:

TheStandardVersion.org.

No translation will ever be perfect, but I hope this version will prove its value to the Lord’s children today as being highly literal and accurate, with a high standard for rendering the text of Scripture in the English language, and with a very clear presentation of the text.

Having said that, this is a first edition, and I am sure that as such, it contains mistakes. These may be as simple as proofreading or layout errors, or may be matters of substance, so that the rendering itself needs to be corrected. If you find anything along these lines, I encourage you to send us a brief note to point it out. You can do so via our online form on this page:

TheStandardVersion.org/Contact

In this way, we can together produce an English version of the New Testament that indeed meets the need of our time.

Finally, we do ask for the prayers of all the saints, that the Lord would bless this translation so that it conveys as fully as possible the word of God to this generation, and in doing so would be a blessing to His children and to this nation as a whole, for the sake of His purpose and unto His glory alone.

In Christ,

David Canfield
Chicago, Illinois
6 June 2024