The references in the Christian Science Quarterly followed the Revised Version during that periodical’s first year, 1890. This translation continued to be used for both the Golden Text and Responsive Reading from time to time during and shortly after Eddy’s lifetime, up until 1914.
Irving Tomlinson wrote that the change from the continuous use of the Revised Version in the Quarterly to the King James Version was “undoubtedly at Mrs. Eddy’s direction” and mistakenly reported that the King James Version was “permanently substituted.”1 It should be noted that at the time the change was made in 1890, Tomlinson was not a member of the Bible Lesson Committee, and when Eddy later appointed Tomlinson to the Committee, he oversaw many instances in which the Revised Version was used in the Quarterly.
A number of supporters of the exclusive use of the King James Version of the Bible in Christian Science church services have quoted a single sentence from an editorial by Annie Knott in the April 12, 1913 Christian Science Sentinel. The sentence reads: “Many years ago Mrs. Eddy decided that the Authorized Version of the Bible, known as the King James Version, should be used at all our services because it expressed the truth with sufficient clarity to enable every earnest student to demonstrate its power.”2
Our collections give no evidence that Eddy made any such decision. However, we’ve also found that a reading of Knott’s editorial in its entirety does not support the contention that Knott believed other translations should never be used in English church services. In fact, it shows that to some extent she supported the use of other translations.
In the paragraph from which the above quote is taken, Knott goes on to say that the Revised Version, because of advancing scholarship, gives a clearer sense of the meaning of certain passages than does the King James, but that it agrees with the King James “in the majority of cases.” She sums up by saying that versions which differ from the King James and Revised Versions are “of very uncertain value, even for private study” unless they are among the “few which adhere very closely to the original text.”
A reading of Knott’s editorial in its entirety explains why she, as a member of the Bible Lesson Committee, decided to make use of the Revised Version for the Golden Text in the Lesson-Sermon of February 1, 1914 (the last time a non-King James Version translation was used in an English Bible Lesson before 2008). It’s also interesting to note that in the second paragraph of the editorial, Knott supports a point she is making by quoting from the Revised Version instead of the King James.
- Rem. Irving Tomlinson, 203b.
- Annie Knott, “Bible Study,” Christian Science Sentinel, April 12, 1913, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/2945vufj096?s=t.