Sunday, February 15, 2009

Catholic Bible Poll at 200

Well, my non-scientific Catholic Bible poll has now reported 200 responses. I had written a post when the poll had reached 100 a few months ago. Here are the results at 100:

Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition: 27%
New American Bible: 22%
New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition: 19%
Douay Rheims: 13%
New Jerusalem Bible: 10%
Jerusalem Bible: 6%
Good News Bible: 2%
Christian Community Bible:1%

And now here are the results at 200:

Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition: 32% (64)
New American Bible: 21% (41)
New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition: 20% (40)
Douay-Rheims: 10% (19)

Jerusalem Bible: 8% (16)
New Jerusalem Bible: 8% (15)
Good News Bible: 2% (3)
Christian Community Bible: 1% (2)

As you can see, the results remain largely the same from 100 to 200 responses. The only real difference is that the Jerusalem Bible has taken over the 5th spot. This is somewhat surprising, since the NJB is in many ways a much better translation than the original. But, like I have mentioned before, the original Jerusalem Bible has a strong following to this day.

There are three clearly definable groups. The first consists of the RSV, NAB, and NRSV, which tend to be formal equivalence translations. This has remained virtually the same since the poll began, and I don't see this changing in the future. The second group includes the DR, JB, and NJB. The JB and NJB are considered to be more dynamic equivalence, while the old DR is actually more formal than the RSV. The third and final group is consists of the GNB and CCB. In total, only 5 votes have been cast for these two translations. They are clearly the least known and available.


Anonymous said...

Hi Timothy

Interesting results. I find it a little disengenuous of Doubleday that they market the JB as a traditional translation. In fact, it's quite a bit freerer than the NJB.

Over 3 years ago, I emailed Fr Henry Wansbrough asking him whether the third edition of the La Bible de Jérusalem (1998) would have its counterpart in English. Dom. Wansbrough could not answer my question, but he did say that the scholarship underlying the extensive apparatus of annotations, even in the 1998 edition, was in need of updating, as a lot of it hasn't changed from the early 1960s.

I'm going to put my head on the block here and say that I wish Catholics would use the JB a lot less than they do. It would be fair to say that the
JB is characterized by wholesale corrections of the Massoretic Text and also by a readiness to engage in questionable conjectural emendations. The NJB pulls back a lot here (I can't say anything about the 1998 La Bible de Jérusalem), and doesn't go for paraphrasistic renderings as much as the JB.

Dom Wansbrough has trecently produced a new Catholic study Bible for the Catholic Truth Society in the UK called the New Catholic Bible. He has gone through the NJB annotations, simplified them (without loosing scholarly substance) and updated them to reflect more current biblical scholarship.

The base translation is the JB and the Grail translation for the Psalms. Interestingly, the New Catholic Bible has got rid of the JB's transliteration of the Tetragrammaton. I don't know how Fr Wansbrough felt about the constraint of the JB as a base translation. But it seems to me that many Catholics now favour it because they consider it a more traditional, literal and conservative translation. This is odd when you compare the two extensively: because the NJB wins out consistently on these points.

Timothy said...


Thanks for stopping by. I tend to agree with you about the JB. The NJB is far superior to the original in every way. To be honest, I tried using the JB a number of years back after I was able to get an old leather edition that contained all the notes. However, it was just too free/paraphrastic in its translation style for me, particularly in St. Paul.

However, I do understand why a lot of people like it. In my experiences, many of those who like the original JB were around during the 60's when it was first published. It is understandable why they immediately became attached to it, since it was so different from the Douay-Rheims/Confraternity editions. I am sure for many of them, this was the first time they really started to love reading the Bible. All of that is a great thing! However, I think use of the NJB would further their love of the scriptures!

Also to your point about Dom. Wansbrough. I was really surprised that he was involved in the CTS project. From what I have read concerning his work on the NJB, it is clear that he felt the orginal JB was deficient in many ways. I don't know exactly why, then, he would regress to working on the JB. Perhaps simply because he sees the CTS Bible as a liturgical book, not so much for Bible study. Who knows?

It would, however, be great to see a 3rd edition La Bible de Jerusalem in English.

Kevin A. Sam said...

I'm not surprised by the top three results, but I am surprised the NJB is not higher than the Douay Rheims.

Timothy said...


The Douay-Rheims has a pretty strong following, not unlike the KJV-only folks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Timothy

I surmise that Dom. Wansbrough was involved in the CTS project, inspite of the fact it used the JB as a base translation, because of the opportunity to overhaul the apparatus of book intros, annotations etc in the NJB and revise them in the light of what he sees as better, more up-to-date scholarship.