Friday, November 28, 2008

Another Year, Another Bible

So, last year, around New Years, I decided to give the NRSV-CE a good read through by using it as my primary Bible. I was faithful to this commitment, using the NRSV for personal devotions, work in ministry, as well as class work at the seminary. This lasted for more than six months, almost into August. For devotional reading, I utilized the NRSV-CE edition published by Oxford, while using the HarperCollins Study Bible for study.

I found the overall quality of the NRSV translation to be pretty high. In particular, I appreciated the nice mix between literal and dynamic renderings, certainly leaning more towards the literal end. And while the NRSV is not as literal as the original RSV, I found that to be a positive. In particular, I found reading through the OT to be very enjoyable. I think the text flows quite well, in both Testaments. Also, I appreciate the textual notes at the bottom of each page. They were very helpful. However, some of the excesses in inclusive language use bothered me at times. I am one who believes that it is appropriate to use some inclusive language, but I feel the NRSV is too much. (I think the NJB does a nice job overall.) In particular, the "Son of Man" renderings in the OT, by rendering them "mortals", obscures the messianic meanings behind them. Sure, I know that there may be some legitimate linguistic reasons for an inclusive rendering, but the fact that Jesus referred to himself as the "Son of Man" indicates that he read those OT inferences in that way. In addition, I am not sure changing a passage to the plural is always a good idea.

Also, while I mentioned above that I like the fact the NRSV provides many textual notes, the one thing I noticed is that many of them are simply the more literal Greek rendering. Oftentimes, those notes are the actual text in the RSV or even the NAB. There are a few other things that nag me, but I don't want to harp on the NRSV too much. Like I said, overall I think the NRSV is pretty good, but there are just some things about it that make me uncomfortable with it.

So, since on Sunday we begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent, I have decided to do the same thing I did with the NRSV earlier in the year. But, what translation should I go with? Right now, I am seriously considering going with the new Emergent New Testament: The Voice! Actually no, I am just kidding. Truthfully, I am considering the NAB, which in all honesty, I have rarely used. (Of course I hear it every time I go to Holy Mass). I certainly own a few copies of the NAB, including the nicely made Fireside Librosario NAB and a leather 1990 edition of the Catholic Study Bible by Oxford. But, I am still considering which translation to go with. I am open for any of your thoughts! RSV-2CE?

In any case, I hope to blog about my experiences with whatever translation I decide to use. I would like to show, possibly on a weekly basis, how I have used it in study and ministry, along with insights from my daily devotional reading.

Update: I think I shall make the REB a candidate as well.

Update 2: Five additional translations I am considering are the RSV-2CE, NJB, NLT (Catholic Edition), Good News Translation, and the Christian Community Bible.

Update 3: Leaning towards the RSV-2CE.

Update 4: Now leaning nowhere!


ElShaddai Edwards said...

Perhaps the REB?

rolf said...

Yeah, I think that the REB would be a good choice, like the NRSV it is an ecumenical Bible. It would be a good change from the KJV/RSV/NRSV style translation.

Timothy said...

REB huh? That is an intesting idea. Slightly tempting as well!

Do you know where I could get one with cross-references? Perhaps the Oxford Study Bible?

ElShaddai Edwards said...

As far as I know, there was never a true cross-referenced REB produced. The OSB of course has study notes, which include annotations when scripture quotes itself, as well as thematic connections and historical parallels, but I wouldn't call it a true cross reference edition. I tend to use my NASB Reference edition for word studies, or at least to point me in the right direction in the REB.

rolf said...

Hi Tim, I bought my copy of the Oxford Study Bible (REB - Hardback) here: And if you decide against this Bible there is always the Christian Community Bible.

Timothy said...


That is what I suspected. Hmm....


Wow. $35 dollars is much cheaper than what I found on Amazon.

Biblical Catholic said...

I own far more translations that any sane human being ought to, 17, 18, maybe more, hard to remember, basically I own all of the major ones currently in print and some no longer in print, as well as several partial translations.

What I do is alternate between them, every year I read the Bible from cover to cover from a different translation.

I do this because absent direct knowledge of the Biblical languages the best way to learn about the meaning of scripture is to read many different renderings of it, to help you see the full meaning which cannot be captured in any one translation.

None of them is my 'main' one.

Kevin A. Sam said...

Why not the NJB? I've been reading through the Psalms and Isaiah with it in the last 2 months and I have been loving it. Honestly, I don't know why more Catholics in North America are not reading from it?

Timothy said...


You are right, the NJB is not used by many American Catholics at all. There are a few, although I only know of one person who does full time ministry and uses the NJB. To be honest, I am more likely to see a Catholic bring an NIV to a Bible study than a NJB.

Biblical Catholic said...

American Catholics tend not to use the NJB because they aren't familiar with it, since the NAB is (more or less) used in Mass. Moreover, the NJB is more expensive than other translations, it is available primarily in the hardcover edition, and paperback or pocket editions are rare. Honestly, the publisher could do a much better job of packaging it in an appealing format.

Timothy said...


Yeah, I agree with you about the NJB. I like the format of the main NJB with all the notes and crossreferences, but man it is way too big. And there really aren't many options in regards to various NJB editions.

I also know quite a few people who like the original JB over the NJB anyways.

There is word that another edition the NJB is being worked on right now, so perhaps they will do a better job in promoting it when it is released.

ElShaddai Edwards said...

There is word that another edition the NJB is being worked on right now, so perhaps they will do a better job in promoting it when it is released.

Here's more on the new version of the NJB:

Link 1
Link 2

Looking forward to it!

Timothy said...


Man you are fast! I was looking for that link, but could not find it. Thanks!