Saturday, August 23, 2008

Igantius RSV - Second Catholic Edition

I was very excited when the Ignatius RSV - Second Catholic Edition was published a few years back. It seemed like it would be the perfect Bible for Catholics who love the RSV. However I must say that I found myself not completely satisfied.

The Good Points:

1) The translation has been updated and altered slightly, in particular the removal of the "thees" and "thous". They also made good alterations to such passages in Matthew 16 and Isaiah 7. (Although I must say the use of chalice instead of cup in the institutional narratives doesn't seem warranted.)

2) The cover is beautiful. One immediately knows you are reading the Bible!

3) The inclusion of maps at the back is much needed.

4) They added chapter headings, which is far superior to the crunch together text of the original Ignatius Bible.

The Bad Points:

1) Depending on the lighting of the room, I find the paper and page lay-out to be at times unreadable. (BTW, I am not old nor do I wear glasses) The paper just seems too glossy.

2) There is no information provided to tell the reader which changes were made to the text.

3) I am surprised that there are not any editional study helps, like a concise concordance or Mass Readings or Dei Verbum. Why be so minimal in what you include between the covers?

Ultimately, is this edition better than the older editions of the RSV-CE? Yes, it is certainly a nice upgrade. But it is certainly not ideal in my mind, and seems to have been hastly put together. More importantly, I have emailed Ignatius Press requesting information about all the textual changes that they made, along with asking who was in charge of making these changes. Unfortunately, they wouldn't share that information. That seems just a bit fishy to me, and I am one who buys a lot of books from Ignatius Press. I am uncomfortable using a translation edited or altered by people unknown.

Also, I must say that I am also concerned with the slowness that Ignatius Press has taken in putting together its Ignatius Study Bible. Because they take so long to release each new small edition, I have decided to stop buying them until a complete one-volume edition is produced. When completed, I would be interested in using such a text as my main Bible for study and in ministry work. Yet, when will it be finished? All indications are that it will still be many years. Now I understand the Ignatius has decided to put out 4-5 Pope Benedict books a season, but surely there must be room to complete this project. I reckon that Pope Benedict, himself, would deem this more important that putting out another collection of his works.


Meg said...

Hi Tim,
Just found your blog this week, and I am enjoying it.

Do you have favourite passages that you always check when comparing/evaluating translations/versions?

I'm a Hebrew buff so I always check Proverbs 31:10 in a new Bible to see how the Woman of Valour is described. So far I haven't found a Catholic Bible that treats her quite as well as the Jewish ones do! :)

Keep up the good work.

Timothy said...


Thanks for the post. I think I have a few different passages that I use. The three I often look at are Psalm 23, Galatians 2:20, and 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18. (In all three cases I much prefer the renderings found in the RSV/NRSV than in the NAB.)

As for Proverbs 31:10, is there a translation you like best? I tend to like the NIV translation of it. It is interesting how they translated the term describing the wife: "excellent", "capable", "good" or "worthy".

I saw this footnote for the Amplified Bible, which is pretty helpful I think:
"It is most unfortunate that this description of God's ideal woman is usually confined in readers' minds merely to its literal sense--her ability as a homemaker, as in the picture of Martha of Bethany in Luke 10:38-42. But it is obvious that far more than that is meant. When the summary of what makes her value "far above rubies" is given (in Prov. 31:30), it is her spiritual life only that is mentioned. One can almost hear the voice of Jesus saying, "Mary has chosen the good portion... which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42)."

Meg said...

I like the JPS (Jewish Publication Service) of 1917 which is online.

I like its use of "valour" because it echoes "value". In one of my French Bibles (the TOB) it actually calls her the "femme de valeur" which means BOTH "worth/value" and "valour".

The Hebrew root means "army, strength, wealth". It implies power.

I don't see any of the English translations keeping that powerful meaning. Unfortunately, some things in the Bible just don't translate. A wife of power & skill? A woman of ability and courage? A superior manager of resources & people? I think that's what the text is describing.

Meg said...

Are you familiar with the Revised English Bible? Not as formal a translation as the NRSV, but I like its New Testament for comprehension:

Gal 20: "I have been crucified with Christ: the life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me; and my present mortal life is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me."

1 Thess 5:16-18: "See to it that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always aim at what is best for each other and for all.
Always be joyful;"

I laughed looking these up -- Galatians 3:1 reads "You stupid Galatians!" That's the Paul we know and love. :)

Timothy said...

Absolutely! You gotta love Paul! He has the wonderful skill of being both praising and critical when needed.

Timothy said...


It is also funny that you mention the JPS Bible. It is one of those editions that I keep wanting to get, but just haven't done so yet. They have some really nice, and small, editions at Borders that I keep wanting to get.

As for the REB, I know about it but haven't really used it at all. What are your thoughts on it? I know that the guy at uses it as his primary Bible.

Meg said...

I find the REB very readable. It is known for being good English (as opposed to American).

You do lose most of the beautiful Bible idioms that have filtered down from the KJV to the RSV and NRSV, though.

It is the version we read to our children (and that they read to us) in our family Advent celebrations. No one ever has trouble with the text.