Monday, November 25, 2013

Gideons Revised Berkeley Version in Modern English

One more post about the Bibles distributed by the Gideons: This time it is the oldest of the modern English versions they have distributed. It is The Revised Berkeley Version in Modern English. I believe that the Gideons started using this version in 1974. However, I have had difficulty verifying that date. It was discontinued in 1983 in favor of the the New International Version. I have found three different types of changes:

  1. Footnotes were removed throughout the text.
  2. Brackets around text were removed.
  3. Verses, at least in the New Testament, were changed to conform to the Textus Receptus.

An example of the changed verses can be found in John 3:16. In the original Berekeley version of 1969 it had "His only Son." In the Gideons edition it reads "His only-begotten Son."

While these differences are interesting for those of us that study Bible versions, they should not draw attention away from what God is doing through Gideons International. The organization is drawing closer to two billion Bibles and testaments distributed! These are not just in English. There are Gideons in 190 countries across the globe. More than two Bibles or testaments are being distributed every second. Every time I hear a Gideon speak, I hear a new testimony of someone whose life was forever changed because they had a Bible to read. Please support the Gideons in prayer and donations!


  1. I was told today that the Gideons distributed the ASV after it was introduced in 1901. While it may not be considered a modern English version, it is older than the Berkeley version.

  2. I have a copy of a Gideon New Testament which is the Berkley Version. It is dated 1972, I think. I found it at a Good Will store for 50 cents. This bible eventually became the "Modern Language Bible." Editor of the Berkley Version is Gerrit Verkuyl.

  3. Thank you! Is there any way you could post a scan of the title and copyright pages?

  4. I was given a Berkley New Testament in 1975 when I started high school in Rhodesia. The Gideons did this country-wide. The colonialists kept God in the schools!

  5. A 1979 edition of the Revised Berkeley NT was distributed by The Gideons International in Canberra City, Australia. The impressum gives the following ⓒ dates: NT 1969 and Psalms & Proverbs 1959. On request I send the presentation page, the title page, and impressum details. Just drop me a line!

  6. During the year 1986 we had a visit of a group representing the Gideonites. As was the custom, they handed out their New Testament and the Psalms to the students of Nongoma Technical College. They handed me a copy of the complete Bible of the Berkeley Version on request in addition to the one given for use by the principal of the College. My copy--which the Gideonites refused to add anything more than that it was a gift. (period)--now is stored somewhere in a box with most of my collection of books.
    Why the secretive nature of this version or translation? It has a small print, but as far as I was able to read, I was rather impressed with this. Is there any other way to regain access to the Berkeley Version of the Holy Scriptures?

  7. I have had several Berkeley Versions. I first came across the whole Bible. This had a hard green cover. When it wore down after years of use, I found another available on line and purchased it. Over the years I also found a New Testament produced by the Billy Graham Association that was labeled as an "Inductive Bible Study" New Testament. I loaned it to a young man from who came from Ghana. He was a new convert. I lost touch with him and never recovered the NT. I had another New Testament produced and distributed by the Gideons which looked like so many other Testaments given out by the Gideons. I gave that one to my World Missions director B.E. Underwood who was quite a Bible scholar. He accepted it gladly after telling me that he had never heard of the Berkeley Version. Brother Underwood became our Bishop (top leader of the denomination) and I had communication with him several times before his death, but he never mentioned the version to me again. Also, I searched and found the owners of the copyright to the Berkeley Version in Massachussets and received permission to use the out-of-print text as legally allowed for preaching, teaching, limited use in publications and vocal recordings. I strongly encouraged them to begin printing it again, but told them in a telephone conversation that it needed revisional work. I offered to participate in a reworking of the Berkeley Version (or Modern Language as it was revised more than once before going out of print) should they decide to publish it again, and was promised that they would contact me should they decide to reprint. I have not heard from them.

    Larry Bolling, PhD, University of Georgia
    Telephone: (706) 286-5007