The Revised Version, Standard American Edition of the Bible, more commonly known as the American Standard Version (ASV), is a version of the Bible that was released in 1901. It was originally best known by its full name, but soon came to have other names, such as the American Revised Version, the American Standard Revision, the American Standard Revised Bible, and the American Standard Edition. By the time its copyright was renewed in 1929, it had come to be known at last by its present name, the American Standard Version. Because of its prominence in seminaries, however, it was sometimes simply called the "Standard Bible".
The American Standard Version is rooted in the work that was done with the Revised Version (RV). In 1870, an invitation was extended to American religious leaders for scholars to work on the RV project. A year later, 30 scholars were chosen by Philip Schaff. These scholars began work in 1872.
Any suggestion the American team had would be accepted by the British team only if 2/3 of the British team agreed. This principle was backed up by an agreement that if their suggestions were put into the appendix of the RV, the American team would not publish their version for 14 years. The appendix had about 300 suggestions in it.
In 1881, the RV New Testament was released. Four years later, the Old Testament appeared. Around this time, the British team disbanded. Also around this time, unauthorized copied editions of the RV appeared with the suggestions of the American team in the main text. In 1898, publishers for Oxford and Cambridge Universities published their own editions of the RV with the American suggestions included. However, these suggestions were reduced in number (but it did incorporate all of those suggestions which were listed in the Appendixes, as can be verified by comparing the Appendixes with the main text of the 1898 edition). Some of Thomas Nelson's editions of the American Standard Version Holy Bible included the Apocrypha of the Revised Version.
In 1901, the 14 year agreement between the American and British teams expired, and the Revised Version, Standard American Edition, as the ASV Bible was officially called, was published by Thomas Nelson & Sons that same year. It was copyrighted in North America to ensure the purity of the ASV text. In 1928, the International Council of Religious Education (the body that later merged with the Federal Council of Churches to form the National Council of Churches) acquired the copyright from Nelson and renewed it the following year. The copyright was a reaction to tampering with the text of the Revised Version by some U.S. publishers, as noted above, allegedly in the interest of the American reading public, which was legally possible as there was never a U.S. copyright filed for the RV. By the time the ASV's copyright expired, interest in this translation had largely waned in the light of newer and more recent ones, and textual corruption hence never became the issue with the ASV that it had with the RV.
Because the language of the ASV was limited to Elizabethan English, as well as because of what some perceived to be its excessive literalism, it never achieved wide popularity, and the King James Version would remain the primary translation for most American Protestant Christians until the publication of the Revised Standard Version in 1952. However, for many years the ASV was the standard Bible for many seminaries. In fact, this was another nickname it gained, the Standard Bible, and so the translators who produced the RSV called it a revision of the Standard Bible, hence the name, "Revised Standard Version".
Like its British counterpart, the RV, and like other versions that have succeeded it, the ASV drew fire from the slowly-growing King-James-Only Movement for an alleged basis on faulty manuscripts. One such critic refused to call it "Standard", since it never gained wide popularity. He preferred to call it the American Revised Version, saying that the KJV had a better right to be called the "Authorized Version" than the version of 1901 had to be called the "American Standard Version". However the name "American Standard Version" appears to simply be a shortened name of "American Standard Edition of the Revised Version" and thus some people relegate the term "American Revised Version" to the edition of 1898 (published by the American branches of Oxford and Cambridge which included the American suggestions) and to those particular earlier unauthorized copied editions of the RV which also included the suggestions of the American team in the main text (or in footnotes to the main text).
From 1944 to 1963, the Jehovah's Witnesses printed and distributed 884,994 copies of the ASV. The Witnesses' usage of the ASV was supplanted by their current use of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, a translation made by members of their group, and the rights to which are controlled by the Watchtower Society, which is their publishing arm. The ASV, like the New World Translation, is still freely available to nonmembers from Jehovah's Witnesses.