Thursday, February 25, 2010

State Your Case!

Sorry folks for the lite blogging this past week. Life has been full of exciting adventures on the home front, along with increasing responsibilities at the high school. But, alas, I have a few free days ahead of me, thanks to a nicely placed mid-winter break.

I just received some interesting Bible-related books in the mail over the past few days which I am interested in sharing with you. However, until I can look through some of them, I thought we could mix things up a bit.

As I have been re-reading some of the recent posts and comments surrounding the NABRE, I thought it might be interesting to engage in a little exercise I shall title "State Your Case". Clearly there is a great deal of passion from many people about why they like or dislike a particular Bible translation. So, what I am asking you to do is to clearly, yet concisely explain and defend why you like a particular English translation of the Bible. Just choose one. Think of it as your closing statement in a courtroom trial....but just not as long.

Here are some ground rules:
1) Keep focused on your favorite translation! If your argument is obsessed with pointing out every little perceived "fault" or "error" in other translations without recourse to your own translation of choice, I don't consider that a very good position to take in defense of your choice.

2) Use specific examples! If you need to compare and contrast translations to prove your case please do so.

3) Be independent in your thought! Please do not say "Fr. X says this" or "Mother X said that" about this or that translation.

4) Humor is welcomed and even encouraged!

5) Use real life examples! What I mean by this is how and where do you use your Bible of choice? Bible study? Mass? School? How has it worked in these situations? One could also consider explaining why they like the particular edition of their favorite Bible translation in this section. It's up to you.

So, state your case! Perhaps there will be a prize for the best entry. More on that later. Maybe...


Terri L. Coons said...

The NRSV is my favorite bible translation -- when utilized in a good study bible format such as the NOAB -- because:

1. No identity crisis here. The translation team set out to do a job; did it; and we all have had a well researched, footnoted, and reliable translation ever since!

2. I'm a woman and I like to be included in references to the people of God. Horizontally inclusive language suits me well.

3. If I want to know how other translations have chosen to render a certain verse, all I have to do is read the extensive footnotes. Much like Prego, it's in there! Thus, I never feel shortchanged but feel like I have the blueprint for the trans team's reasoning at hand.

4. In the case of a good study edition such as the NOAB, I have a solidly ecumenical tool for reasoning with all Christendom... especially with anti-Catholics who cannot claim that I am reading from a "deceptive Catholic edition".

5. I use the NRSV (NOAB ed.) for personal study, public bible study, presentation building, and for personal pastoral counsel and inspiration. And in the case of presentation building, the NRSV is readily available for copying and pasting digital text without pesky and inconvenient copyright restrictions.

Anonymous said...


I too have been re-reading the comments on the NAB- Revised Edition. I am cautiously optimistic. I believe that
the bishops want to get a translation that is faithful
to the Church. I don't think
they want the problems people have
with the NAB dangling in the wind forever. If they address the issues that some have with the
NAB (inclusive language, notes, stilted sentence composition, etc.)
while remaining faithful to the Church, I think many will be happier,even if this is not the
Bible they (or I) use everday.
Would I prefer that some version
of the RSV be used in the MASS? YES, but I am not in charge.
(Although there may be some wisdom in owning the copyright of the edition the Church uses in the Masses. -- Sovereignty/Freedom
is a good thing if not misused.)

-- Now, some posters have complained about the readings in the liturgy not matching what is in the Bible. This really used to bother me. The mind seks symmetry. One feels comforted when seeing how the liurgy directly springs from Sacred Scripture (even though I believe some ancient liturgies
may include renderings of Sacred Scripture that predates Scripture found elsewhere--not sure).

Liturgy in a sense is the Word of God also. There are places in communal worship that won't work well if one directly cuts and paste from a particular
Bible translation.

Furthermore, being that for hundreds of years the liturgy was the only place one heard the Word of God, we should understand the need (learned by experience) for
liturgical renderings which are fit for communal worship , but not fit for private reading/study.

That being said, liturgical renderings should almost always agree with with the Bible edition it claims its origins from, while
at the same time we acknowledge that liturgical renderings are indeed the Word of God.

---While being faithful to the Church, Bibles should be faithful to ancient texts, but organic to modern cultures by hopefully stemming from appropriate versions
comfortable to generations since passed. I could easily publicly
proclaim any RSV without having
read the passage beforehand. The
Douay and even the King James flow off my tongue. But the NAB?- Nope!

-When reading the NAB, I find myself wanting to rearrange the text while I am inserting commas in my mind and second guessing what is written. Maybe it's me, but the wording seems alien to me.

Hopefully, the NAB will be greatly
improved. Especially the PSALMS!!

Anonymous said...

Timothy & Visitors:

I will vist the USCCB site shortly,
but offhand, does anyone know what
Bible editions are acceptable for
circumstances outside of Mass.

Like the following:

Visits to Graves/Final Commendations
Blessings for the Sick, etc.

To be cautious, one can always use
the NAB. But as a layperson, I find myself around the sick, elderly and the non-Catholic
where the use of the Douay or other Bible editions might be more efficacious. When ministering,
when can a lay Catholic use a non-NAB Bible. What Bibles
are acceptable and under what circumstances?

I thank everyone who can help me with these questions.

Dwight said...

Here's the list of USCCB-approved translations:

As a former Evangelical, I still pine for my ESV, but alas, no Catholic edition to be had...

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dwight,
Wouldnt the rsc ce2 or the esv w apocrypha suffice for the time being? Once I compared the book of James in the esv and rsv ce2, almost identical.

Timothy said...


Excellent start! Did you know that the NOAB has just been released in it's fourth edition? Mine is on the way.

So, anybody else want to defend their translation?

Anonymous said...

As a general rule, I use the RSV-CE, the RSV-2CE, and the ESV with Apocrypha; however, I will review the -2CE.

1.Fully Catholic: The RSV-2CE is a fully Catholic translation, “published with the approval of the USCCB” and revised “according to Liturgiam Authenticam” and has been reviewed and approved for liturgical use by the Vatican (according to the internet, it is currently used in the Antilles).

2.Scholarship: As a mild revision of the RSV-CE, the -2CE retains its predecessor’s excellence of scholarship while enhancing the overall reliability by correcting a few of the less excellent snafus of the RSV. There might be a translation equal to the RSV in scholarship, but I doubt any exceed it. The -2CE stands on strong shoulders.

3. Beautiful English: while some sincerely prefer a more colloquial form of English, I appreciate the stylistically beautiful and exalted language of the RSV as retained in the -2CE, which, nevertheless, renders a more fluid and contemporary English. One example of the beautiful English of the -2CE can be seen in Isaiah 9:6

RSV-2CE - For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Compared with
NAB - For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

4. Good resources: Commentaries, study Bibles, and other resources are available from three different sources, providing a true diversity of options and opinions. (1.) The original RSV was so well respected that it has many resources keyed to it and, because the -2CE is so similar, it is very easy to use the old RSV materials with the -2CE text. (2.) The -2CE is popular with some of the newer crowd of scholars so several good tools are now emerging tied directly to the -2CE (3.) The ESV is another light revision of the RSV which is extraordinarily similar to the -2CE so that the many resources made for the ESV are compatible with the RSV-2CE.

5. The Psalms: The- 2CE Psalter is a pleasure to read and to memorize. My wife and several children love them and find them easy to memorize, in part because of the “high” style, and in part because they are still contemporary.

6. Evangelization: Since the RSV-2CE is so similar to the ESV, if a non-Catholic happens to be offended by my Catholic Bible I can pull out my ESV with Apocrypha and keep right on rolling along. (Note: I have learned from experience that the NOAB and the NRSV are just as offensive to my Bible Belt Evangelical friends as is my Catholic edition Bible. Bonus: when Evangelicals see that their beloved ESV has an Apocrypha they are sometimes more open to what it says.)

7. Cavalier Cons: There is only one printed -2CE format; some minor spelling issues in the headings; no web presence (an obvious blunder in today’s market); translation of cup as chalice in the New Testament; failure to transliterate Hallelujah in the Old Testament and Amen in the New; and so on.

8. Compelling Pro’s: Corrects Isaiah 7 and other OT passages to accord with New Testament renderings; translates hesed more correctly and consistently; renders the Psalms well; provides footnotes in the text; translates Psalms such that Christological connections are obvious just as in the original languages; subjects, verbs / tenses, and genders are transparent to the original language; and so forth.

9. A Note To Dwight: It’s good to be Rome, eh? The ESV is really good, no wonder you miss it. I recently asked my bishop about using the RSV-2CE at RCIA / PRE / study classes. His enthusiastic response was, “Oh, any reasonable translation will do. The Canon law about the NAB applies to the Mass.” At my Wednesday Catholic men’s Bible study several cradle Catholics use the NIV! I’d argue the ESV with Apocrypha should be an improvement over the NIV with only 66 books. As for myself, I’m not going to give up my ESV!

Terri L. Coons said...

Yes on the 4th ed. NOAB! I will be ordering mine in the next couple of days.

I also forgot to mention how much I appreciate the 'economy of language' of the NRSV. I find it concise, efficient, and still lovely in its language.

Keith said...

A few comments from a bible novice. I have a number of different translations in the house. I was always hoping that I would be able to find "the" translation that would allow me to really read and study the bible. I've come a long way with God's grace in this matter, but here are my thoughts.

1. Generally, I like the NAB. I went through the 14 historical books of the bible that Jeff Cavins talks about in his Great Adventure. I find Romans or some of Paul's other letters a bit problematic in this translation. If I can find a specific I'll post it later. As a lector I often times read some of these selections and find parenthetical thoughts enclosed within parenthetical thoughts which is a fundamental grammatical issue. Using other translations allows me to actually get through these confusing passages.

2. My favorite translation to read is the Jerusalem Bible. When I just want to read I find the text really approachable. My issue is in finding one presented in a way I like. I have the older, thick paperback versions which is nice. The size of the recent CTS is really good but it's really too thick for my tastes.

3. I used to start away from the NRSV because of all the talk of inclusive language. But I picked up the Harper Collins gift sized NRSV and it really is one of my favorites to read and the size is perfect for carrying with me. It's extremely readable...right up there with the Jerusalem Bible in my opinion.

4. I like the RSV-2CE a lot. The removal of some of the "thou" and "thee" type language from the regular RSV makes it much more readable. I like this translation especially for the Psalms. More "conversational" translations don't transmit the beauty of the Psalms in my opinion.

In my opinion, I think the NRSV is a great translations for Catholics from an apologetic/evangelistic standpoint. To some people pulling out the NAB is akin to a Jehovah's Witness pulling out their version of the Bible. A good cross-denominational version gives Protestants and Catholics some common ground.

I actually wouldn't mind a good NIV without the notes. Just the text would be good to have from a evangelistic standpoint especially if one might plan on some apologetic work with Protestant brothers and sisters.

Kevin Sam said...

Though I'm late I’ll chime in here. My clear favourite is now the NRSV. It was head to head with TNIV but that's dropped to a distant 2nd or 3rd. Here are my personal reasons for the NRSV as my #1:

1. Accuracy. It’s scholarship is second to none making it the most reliable.

2. Formal. A favourite formal translation is needed, and this is the best one available.

3. Ecumenical. It is read in many churches and denominations. It’s read in most mainline denominations and is also preferred by many evangelical seminary biblical scholars as one of the best.

4. Gender-accurate. I’m for gender-inclusive translations because it makes it more accurate but I do have limitations to this.

Francesco said...

As it seems that I'm the only one here who reads the CCB, I should probably chime in.

I appreciate the CCB for the following reasons:

The abundance of helpful footnotes and essays. The footnotes bring a modern perspective to the scripture, explaining how the text relates to issues like poverty, war, and how common society despises faithful Christians. Every book is briefly introduced and the notes give a welcome running commentary on the text. The introductory essays place each book in context, explaining when it was likely written and who it was written for. Essays also introduce each testament as well as smaller groups (there is one for the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, for instance).

There are copious cross-references. You want ‘em, it’s got ‘em! In the edition I’ve got they are at the bottom of each page and can easily take two or three lines to list out.

Important passages are bigger than other passages. This lets the reader look at a page and see what the translators thought were relevant passages. While this is a matter of judgment and I sometimes disagree with the selections the CCB makes, I think this is very helpful.

Additional materials added to the text. In addition to material related to scripture, there are color photos relating to other topics Catholics might be interested in, like the nuns martyred in El Salvador (recent events at the time when the CCB was published) or the stories of saints and famous icons. Lastly, every book has an illustration or picture that captures the books theme. For Genesis it’s a man and a woman in a jungle, for Job it’s a homeless man on the street, etc. While not particularly important in the grand scheme of things, they add some `color’ that other translation lack.


Timothy said...


How do you like the CCB translation? I own a copy, which I agree has some pretty good notes and lots of cross-references. I also like, like you, the one-column format and the highlighing of important texts. But how does the translation, itself, compare to the NAB, RSV, and NRSV?

Francesco said...

Hi Timothy,

I get the impression that the CCB is more dynamic than the RSV, NRSV, and the Revised NAB. I think it might be on the same level as the 1970 NAB, but I've never had a chance to read it outside of mass, so I would just be guessing. I've heard from Wikipedia (though I can't confirm it) that the CCB is based on the GNB.

I don't think there is any conscious effort to add inclusive language, though there are some minor exceptions (for example: The book of Daniel has a footnote for "son of man" that suggests that it could also be interpreted as "the Human One").

I like the translation a lot. Part of it is personal history: my parish gave me my copy at my first communion, and I've been reading it since. I have some minor stylistic issues with some word choices, but I have to defer to people who actually know Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew for those things.

One thing I definitely don't like is how the editors reorganized the books of the Old Testament. When I help lead my parish's high school youth group I have to do some extra digging to find the OT books we're discussing.

Have you read your edition of the CCB? What do you think?

Dwight said...

Hi Anonymous; thanks for the comments! :)
Yes, I've seen the ESV/Apocrypha, and I agree that it would be good to use with the Evangelicals. I don't have ready access to the RSV-CE (are there any online editions?), so I haven't compared texts. It was my impression from posts I've read here (I think) and elsewhere that some texts in the ESV are interpreted in such a way (seemingly by design) as to water down Catholic interpretations, but I don't have any examples to give.

Timothy said...


The one example that comes up alot is 1 Timothy 3:15, which almost all English translations say the Church is "the" pillar and foundation of the truth while the ESV goes with "a" pillar and foundation/bulwark.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me if there is any difference between the NRSV with Apocrypha and the NRSV-Catholic Edition?

I know the book order is different, but were any changes made to the text as was the case between the RSV and the RSV-CE?


Timothy said...


The text is exactly the same. The deuterocanonical books are placed between the OT and NT. Of course, this includes the Catholic and Orthodox deutercanonical books.

Francesco said...

I've heard from Wikipedia (though I can't confirm it) that the CCB is based on the GNB.

Correction: the GNB was the basis for the "Basic Ecclesial Community Bible", which is not the same thing as the CCB.

Anonymous said...

Is the ESV 1 Timothy 3:15 a real problem?  Probably not.  Even the ESV version establishes the fact that the Church has authority in matters of truth. This revelation is enough to shatter "sola Scriptura" and to establish Catholic doctrine. This is especially true when the Timothy passage is paired with Matthew 18, etc.

Altogether I'd suggest the ESV fault is less problematic for Catholic apologetics than the Luke 1 and Isaiah 7 blunders of the NRSV and even the AR-NAB. 

IMO that is.

Timothy said...


I haven't used it very much, primarily since I rarely see anyone with it at Bible studies. I might take another look at it though!

One thing that is interesting, when I was at a number of religious book stores in Rome in September, the two English Bible translations that I saw the most were the CCB and NJB.

Francesco said...

Hi Timothy,

I didn't know that! I would assume that your observation is due to the many Filipinos in Rome.

On a completely different note: have you ever run across the “Catholic Comparative New Testament”? It seems to have multiple translations (DR, RSV-CE, NRSV, NAB, etc.) printed in parallel. I’m thinking of purchasing it, and was wondering if anyone here recommends it.


Timothy said...


Yes, I do own the Catholic Comparative NT. It is a real nice resource to have. I definitely recommend it!

Qohelet said...


Here's an online copy of the RSV-CE. Enjoy!

citizen DAK said...

(slightly off topic)
Because you're linking to online Bible editions, a second NAB source is at


CD-Host said...

This is an old post that I saw linked from another blog. I did a survey like this 2 years back 10 really good bibles you may not know about.