Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Catholic Comparative New Testament

The Catholic Comparative New Testament, edited by Jean Marie Hiesberger and published by Oxford University Press, should be a standard Bible study tool that all Catholics own and use. While there have been other parallel Bibles published recently that included Catholic translations, like The Complete Parallel Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books or The Precise Parallel New Testament, this remains one of the only ones still in print.
The Catholic Comparative New Testament provides the reader with eight different Catholic, or Catholic approved, translations. The list includes the Douay-Rheims, RSV-CE, NAB, NRSV, Jerusalem Bible, NJB, Good News Bible, and Christian Community Bible. The translations are organized according to where they fit on the formal equivalence/dynamic equivalence spectrum. Thus, when you open up the book, the left page contains the DR, RSV-CE, NAB, and NRSV, while the right page has the JB, NJB, GN, and CCB. Also included are the original translators preface/foreword to each particular translation. I periodically like to compare the various translation philosophies for the different translations, so, at least for me, its nice to have them all compiled into one book.
The Catholic Comparative New Testament includes a short introduction by Hiesberger, which briefly covers topics ranging from the differences in translation philosophy to the ways of bringing the Scriptures into one's daily life. One of the best features of this parallel Bible is the design and typesetting. The type resembles the typical Oxford University Press style that one sees used in many Oxford NRSV editions. I find the overall layout of each page to be pretty good for a parallel Bible. While any such Bible edition of this design is going to be forced to use smaller text size to fit all eight translations, I think Oxford does an admirable job. This edition also succeeds in that it is not a massive book which takes up half of your backpack. While not compact, it is 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.8 inches, which makes it very portable.
Overall, The Catholic Comparative New Testament is a fine study tool for Catholics. If I had one minor complaint, it would be that I would rather have the latest Greek text and the Nova Vulgata included. Although having said that, I am not sure which two translations I would have liked to have seen removed. My guess would probably be the Good News and Christian Community Bible, which I rarely see any Catholic American reading.


Theophrastus said...

An excellent review of an excellent work. I agree with you on every single point. (I wish to point out that at least some of the Christian Community Bible translations have been troubled by charges of anti-Semitism -- the imprimatur was pulled on the French edition.)

I understand that the CCB translations -- including the English translation -- are more popular in the Philippines.

One final thing to note -- watching the progress of other Oxford parallel Bibles -- such as those you mentioned or the Parallel Apocrypha -- they stay in print for about 2-4 years -- and then they are not reprinted. So if a reader thinks this is something he might want, he should buy it sooner rather than later.

Timothy said...


Very good advice. It is amazing that those two important reference works that I mentioned are already out of print. So, yeah, get them now while you can!

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