Friday, June 5, 2009

NAB Revised OT News

I decided to do a little search for information about the NAB OT revision. Like most things associated with the NAB, information is scarce. However, I was able to find a page on the Catholic Biblical Association site, which chronicles the history of the NAB OT revision. Below is the chronology which they provide, the last section being the most pertinent:

August 1990: at the Business Session of the 1990 meeting of the CBA, the membership passed a resolution urging the leadership to take steps toward initiating the revision of the New American Bible Old Testament (except the Psalter, which had already being revised) (see minutes of the meeting CBQ 52 [1990] 703).

July 1993: Based on the resolution passed in 1990, the CBA Executive Secretary requested that the CBA’s NAB Board of Control take the necessary steps to initiate this revision process.

April 1994: With the agreement of the Administrative Board of the National Council of Catholic Bishops to proceed with the revision, a new Steering Committee/Editorial Board (whose members were suggested by the Board of Control) was established. It eventually consisted of Deirdre A. Dempsey, Robert A. Di Vito, Joseph Jensen, O.S.B. (chair), Dale Launderville, Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm., Kathleen Nash, Irene Nowell, O.S.B., and James P. Walsh, S.J. This first meeting was to establish guidelines for the revision and to arrange for thirty-eight CBA members, chosen for their specialization in the Old Testament books they would revise, to begin work.

Late 1994 through May 2002: Revised texts began to be received before the end of 1994, and the committee began meeting one whole weekend every month going over the texts received to improve and complete the revision process.

May 2002: The completed revision of the Old Testament text was sent to the CCD office of the USCCB. This was then transmitted to the Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Scripture Translations Proposed for the Liturgy, chaired by Bishop Arthur Serratelli. This committee sent the texts to individual "censors," whose job it was to assure that the revision would be suitable as a Catholic translation. They returned their findings to the Ad Hoc Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee reviewed the work of the censors and then sent the texts back to the revision committee with any suggestions from the censors for changes.

June 2005 through September 2008: These texts began to be received from the Ad Hoc Committee. These were then reviewed by the revision committee and responses to suggestions returned to the Ad Hoc Committee.

September 2008: The last book (Jeremiah) was received from the Ad Hoc Committee, which the revision committee (necessarily) dealt with very promptly (in view of CCD plans to present the completed revision to the USCCB for approval at their November meeting).

Concomitantly, the CBA was attempting a revision of the NAB Psalter of 1991 to a form that would be acceptable for the liturgy; this meant conforming it to the requirements of Liturgiam authenticam. In June 2003 a revision of the NAB Psalter, revised in this manner, was sent to Bishop Serratelli's Ad Hoc Committee with the hope it would be used in the liturgy. In March 2006 Bishop Donald Trautman, then Chair of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, invited a presentation of this revised Psalter, which presentation would be to demonstrate its conformity to Liturgiam authenticam and its "singability" (the latter demonstrated with the help of a CD which included pieces by St. Anselm's Abbey schola, the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL, Jean Olexy, Normand Gouin, and the Oregon Catholic Press Singers). Bishop Trautman sent letters of thanks to all those involved individually in its production, but the Ad Hoc Committee had not reported on the vetting process so no action was taken.
May 2008: The Ad Hoc Committee finished the vetting process and sent suggestions for the re-revised Psalter.
June 2008: The CBA was again invited to make a presentation similar to that of June 2006 of the re-revised Psalter, now before the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship (a reconstitution of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy), now under Bishop Serratelli as Chair, during the USCCB meeting in Orlando. A few days later the CBA was informed that that committee had chosen instead a revised version of the Grail Psalter for use in the liturgy.

November 2008: The completed revised NAB OT was presented to the USCCB at their
November 2008 meeting, at which time it was approved. However, at the same meeting it was decided that this newly revised NAB would not be published using the 1991 Psalter. Since the re-revised Psalter was not available for use, the revised NAB will be published when a new revision of the Psalter is finished.

So, what does this all mean.

1) The revised NAB OT is complete and it has also been approved for eventual publication with the revised NAB NT. Good!

2) There will be a re-revised NAB Psalms! Even though the USCCB decided to go with the revised Grail Psalms for Mass, the CBA will only publish the revised OT once the re-revised NAB Psalms are finished. Anyone who has read this blog knows how I really dislike the revised '91 NAB Psalms. I love reading the Psalms, so my use of the NAB has been very limited due to the poor translation, most notably the use of vertical inclusive language. Wow! I am actually excited! This revision certainly can't be worse than the '91 Psalms. There is a God! :) Very good!

3) All revisions are in "conformity" with the Vatican document Liturgiam Authenticam. Of course, this could be interpreted in many ways, and we will just have to see the results whenever the fully revised NAB is published. Hopefully good!

Ultimately, if the revised NAB OT and re-revised Psalms follows the translation philosophy of the revised NAB NT, in reasonable conformity with Liturgiam Authenticam, then I would seriously consider using the NAB full-time. I have never really had a problem with the revised NAB NT, which I think does some things quite well. And while there will always be those who dislike the NAB, for various reasons, I think it would be a wonderful gift to the many Catholic Americans who deserve and desperately need a solid Church sponsored modern translation of the Bible.

St. Jerome Pray for us!


Carl Hernz said...

I love your blog, maybe because you are as obsessed with Bible translation as I am and have had the exact same problem I have had in choosing a suitable Catholic version.

I have read the same information and have been just as happy, but now I am a little confused. Today I read on the USCCB site on the NAB FAQ page: "A revision of the translation of the Old Testament, excluding the Psalter, is currently underway and should be published in mid 2010." So does this mean there will NOT be a new NAB Psalter but they will use the Revised Grail instead, sort of the way the CTS (Catholic Truth Society) Bible does? I would like to see how they handle the licensing in that case!

Hmmm. What say you?

Timothy said...


Thanks for stopping by!

I would still go with what the CBA says. They seem pretty clear about what their game plan is. What you quoted from the USCCB site is, IMHO, outdated. The timeline from the CBA clearly states that they will not publish the revised NAB OT until a re-revised Psalter is completed. Plus, they are the ones who are actually doing the translating! :)
Let's keep praying!

rolf said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the USCCB will use thier own revised translation over the revised Grail Psalms. Using the Grail Psalms would make more sense since they will be used in the Liturgy, and probably in the Liturgy of the Hours. It sure would be nice if all three used the same Psalms, then Catholics would be able to memorize some of them. As it is now, I am reading three differnt versions of the Psalms.

Timothy said...


I certainly agree that it would be a lot easier. One issue would be in how the NAB NT translates a particular quote from the Psalms, which hopefully will be very close to what is actually in the re-revised NAB Psalms. (The revised 91 Psalms were pretty bad at this, see Hebrews 2.) By using the revised Grail Psalms, there could be considerable difference between the two. Who knows! Hopefully the NAB translators will do a good job! We can only pray.

Theophrastus said...

Well, since the Psalms, like other OT passages, are quoted in the NT from Greek translations, there is no reason to assume that the wordings will line up -- indeed, in many cases, they do not. To force them to line up would not be an accurate translation of the original Greek and Hebrew.

A similar problem applies with quotations from the NT in the early Christian writings -- the authors had different manuscripts than we have.

Timothy said...


I definitely agree with you, I think the point I was making was the fact that the 91 NAB Psalms used vertical inclusive language and at times was more dynamic in translation philosophy.