Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catholic Bible Poll at 1000!

Which Catholic Bible Translation Do You Use?

Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition 28% (275)
New American Bible 26% (258)
New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition 16% (159)
Douay-Rheims 13% (134)
New Jerusalem Bible 8% (83)
Jerusalem Bible 7% (67)
Good News Bible 2% (16)
Christian Community Bible 1% (8)

After 1000 votes have been cast, it is clear that the RSV-CE remains the most popular Catholic Bible translation on this blog. What is interesting, since the last time I posted on the Bible Poll, is that the NAB has been growing in popularity. Does this have something to do with the impending revision to the NAB OT and re-revised Psalms? I do not know. Certainly the NAB is the most well-known of all the Catholic Bibles in the US, and I have always felt that the NAB NT is quite good.

In many ways, there are three groupings in this poll. The first group, which accounts for 54% of the overall vote, contains the RSV-CE and the NAB. Next, and somewhat ironic considering their translation philosophies, is a group consisting of the NRSV and the Douay-Rheims. Those two are actually pretty close, together accounting for 29% of the total vote. The final group consists of the NJB, JB, GNB, and the CCB, which only account for 18% of the overall vote.

Although this poll is by no means scientific, I do think it represents, fairly well, which Bible translations Catholics are reading these day, particularly here in North America. What do you think?


Carl Hernz said...

If what is happening with the NAB in the United States is similar to why I chose it as my personal Bible then your numbers make sense as does what you see as a trend.

The Revised New Testament reads very similar to the RSV-CE/NRSV-CE crush used in the CCC (see the CCC’s copyright page and notice that the quotations from Scripture are “adapted” from these two versions, not “quoted” as one usually reads in such instances). While retaining some very Catholic terms that neither uses, i.e., the expressions “Amen, amen,” sitting “at table,” “Magi,” etc., the Revised NT of the NAB has the advantage of sounding even more Catholic than any of the current RSVs on the market.

And, believe it or not, the Revised New Testament of the NAB has far less inclusive language than the NRSV does in its New Testament (even though the Vatican has approved changing NAB’s “brothers” to “brothers and sisters” in Lectionary incipits).

It seems to me that a greater emphasis was placed on an extremely strict “formal equivalence” approach to the Revised New Testament of the NAB this time around. Being familiar with koine Greek, the NAB’s translators have even managed to retain the “flavor,” if I may be so bold to use that term here, of the original tongue in much of the translation since they did not adopt a “free as necessary” philosophy in the way the NRSV did with its New Testament. Yes, this means reading something that sounds a little bit odd or clumsy when you compare it with RSV versions, but that is because the NAB translators saw an advantage in retaining word order and in some instances idiom particular to the ancient expressions that these others did not.

If this is the philosophy that they have adopted in their soon-to-be-released Revised Old Testament (and something tells me they have since even the current rendition we now have is somewhat “formal” and always has been in comparison with the earlier more “dynamic” New Testament), then this new revision will be one of the best translations for study available for any reader who desires an experience as close to the original languages as our idiom will allow. Such a rendition will open up a new dimension in cross reference capabilities alone not to mention new ways of learning Biblical culture through study of idioms now more pronounced in the text itself.

And if this is what we have with an improved NAB Psalter on the way, I think you will see a lot of others take notice and possibly make a switch. The best thing I can see as a yield is that we can start memorizing Scripture easier instead of reading it one way in our Bible, another way in the Lectionary, and still another way in Liturgy of the Hours. Add a copy of the new Revised Grail Psalter and we will have quite an “arsenal” for making God’s people in the US once again a Bible quoting people. (We were once, weren't we?)

Theophrastus said...

I do think it represents, fairly well, which Bible translations Catholics are reading these day, particularly here in North America

I'm impressed that they are reading all of those English translations in Quebec and Mexico.

(Certainly, given the availability of NAB vs. RSV-CE in bookstores, etc., there is something very wrong about your poll even for English-speaking North America.)

Timothy said...


I agree with you 100%. I think the NAB NT does a very good job in being a formal translation, with modest inclusive language. I am also very eager to read the revised NAB OT and Psalms when they are published. If they retain the translation philosophy followed by the NAB NT translators, it will be a major upgrade for Catholics.

Timothy said...


Recognizing that this is not a "scientific poll", and that this poll is specifically focusing on English translations of the Bible, I don't think it is very shocking. Why would I have a poll on Spanish or French Bibles on an English-speaking Bible blog?

And of course, availablity of a particular text means something. But with the internet and places like, virtually ever Bible translation is available for purchase.

And in the end, my "non-scientific poll" seems to match up with my own experience in Bible study, with both young adults and adults in general.

Rolando said...

You can walk into any Barnes & Noble or Borders and almost always find an RSV 2CE and a compact RSV CE.

Granted, you'll find a couple more NAB editions on the shelves but by that measure, the NRSV might be the most-read bible. You can now find 4-5 Catholic NRSV editions in any major bookstore.

Anonymous said...

I must admit that the upcoming NAB revision has influenced my decision to use it more often than before. Everyone I know uses the NAB from our catechism class to the church apologist, can't escape the fact that maybe
RSV users may become a minority if the NAB revision gets it right. Given the current move of the Spirit it may happen.

Francesco said...

I don't understand why the use of the NAB would increase in anticipation of its revision. Won't all those bibles become out of date when the complete RNAB comes out?

Timothy said...

I am still surprised to see so many different editions of the NAB being produced, knowing that the revision will be coming in a year or so. This includes the revised Catholic Youth Bible, Saint Benedict Press, and some new editions of The St. Joseph Bible that I have seen recently in some Catholic bookstores. Again, my hope is that the revision is very close to the NAB NT translating philosophy and that it us released sometime by the end of this year.

Raphael said...

Perhaps those publishers have some inside information that the revised NAB still has some bridges to cross, and won't be released for 3 or more years.
My hope is the revised NAB will use the altered NT that has been approved for Liturgy, and my dream would be for them to make a few more alterations, such as restoring "gates of hell" in Matthew 16 and the use of "soul" rather than "life" in Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36-37. I, also, hope the OT matches the style of the NT, and meets Liturgiam Authenticam's requirements.

Keith said...

I personally find the Revised NAB New Testament to be difficult reading for some books, especially Romans and Hebrews. Some of the punctuation is just dreadful with some sentences having four or five commas which makes the understanding hard to read and especially hard to proclaim at Mass. I always wondered why this was such a problem especially since I've always thought that Jerusalem translation makes those books I mentioned much more readable. But all in all I like the NAB especially the Gospel readings.