Saturday, August 21, 2010


Many thanks to reader Sharon for alerting me to this article from the National Catholic Reporter. As some of you may know, there is a dispute between the USCCB and the CBA over the royalties from the NAB. The article goes into some detail over the history and depth of the dispute. It is worth taking a read of the article, although I find the viewer comments less than helpful.
Perhaps this is an indication that the NABRE will be delayed even longer?


Francesco said...

Hi Timothy,

The article leaves as many questions unanswered as it answered. What role did the bishops play in coming up with the NAB and its various revised editions? I seem to recall reading that there was an ad hoc committee of bishops that would review translated texts and edit them. I wonder if this is just a budgeting issue or if there is something else going on behind the scenes.

Also, one of the commenters on that articles asked about free Catholic study materials. I don't know and, do you? His name is Jeff LaBenz. He said:

How come I can find all sorts of free protestant bible study materials online and hardly any Catholic ones? Is it because the bishops spent 75% (and now 100%) of the money that should have been used to develop and disseminate quality Catholic bible study materials on their own "administrative expenses"?

Now that I'm a dad, I'd like to read through the whole bible with my own family like I did as a child around the dinner table growing up in the 1970s. (We had to use Lutheran materials back then because there was even less bible study materials out there for lay Catholics than there is now.)

Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places... can anyone point me in the right direction? Ideally, I'd like it already chunked and in some consecutive order for easy nightly reading and quality reflection, so that we could complete the whole bible in a year. Anyone?


This seems like something we could help him out with.

Anonymous said...

National Cathoic Reporter? I wouldn't read anything from that herectical and unorthodox fishwrap.
As far as the NAB, truly bad translation.

Timothy said...


I am not a fan of it by any means, but the article is somewhat news worthy in regards to continued NABRE publication delays.

Dan said...

Mea culpa....sorry for the bad reaction. It's a shame that we have to listen to the NAB at Mass. You did know that before the lecionary w/NAB was introduced in 1970-71(?) that there was a lectionay put out by Collegeville that was the RSVCE. Pity that the USCCB stepped in and said, "No, no, no!" I'm sure it was all about the profits that they would receive with exclusive use of the bad translation. Sorry, but I have no respect for the USCCB. My name is Dan btw, sorry for the "Anon" posting.

Timothy said...


Welcome and thanks for stopping by and commenting. I was aware that the USCCB was a bit more liberal in regards to which translation could be used for the lectionary in the past. I didn't know that Collegeville actually produced a lectionary of the RSV which is pretty cool.

As for the NAB, while I don't use it as my everyday Bible, I think the NAB NT is pretty comparable to the RSV. Both are formal equivalence, with the RSV being a bit more so. Of course the issue with the current edition is the dreadful Psalms and the outdated OT. So, I will be interested in seeing what is ultimately published, whenever that happens!

Francesco said...

Hi Tim,

I think the decision to use the NAB exclusively flowed out of Liturgiam Autheticam, which mandated that all the diocese in an episcopal conference should use the same periscopes in order to help the faithful memorize scripture.

"36. In order that the faithful may be able to commit to memory at least the more important texts of the Sacred Scriptures and be formed by them even in their private prayer, it is of the greatest importance that the translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for liturgical use be characterized by a certain uniformity and stability, such that in every territory there should exist only one approved translation, which will be employed in all parts of the various liturgical books. This stability is especially to be desired in the translation of the Sacred Books of more frequent use, such as the Psalter, which is the fundamental prayer book of the Christian people. The Conferences of Bishops are strongly encouraged to provide for the commissioning and publication in their territories of an integral translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for the private study and reading of the faithful, which corresponds in every part to the text that is used in the Sacred Liturgy."

Litugiam Authenticam Paragraph 36.

Obviously, the USCCB decided to go with the NAB, but this means that the decision was a fairly recent one. I recall Fr. Neuhaus writing in First Things that he used the RSVCE at his parish in NYC throughout the 1990s.

Timothy said...


Good information! That makes a lot of sense. It will be interesting to see if the NABRE meets the LA guidelines. With that being said, there us no push, as of yet, for the revised NAB OT to be incorporated into the lectionary.

Theophrastus said...

The article hardly seems definitive -- the style it was written in is a bit amateurish. So it is a probably a poor idea to form opinions.

But I'll form an opinion away. Based on the information in the article, I don't see what case the CBA has. The copyright is fully owned by the CCD (now part of the Bishops' Conference), and the only evidence that CBA can cite is a notation in the minutes of a 1963 meeting (and of course, the CBA had begun working on it 15 years previously.) There is no evidence that the CCD bound itself by this (for example, there was no contract; neither was their ratification by the full CCD or CBA.) This hardly sounds like a binding agreement to me -- rather it sounds like a gift from the CCD to the CBA. Even if it were, the Conference would be entitled to revoke a unilateral gift such as this when the CCD was absorbed by the Conference. Since the decision to give the gift was made by a single Bishop (without any contract), I don't see why a later Bishop could not change the terms.

Neither does it sound to me like the CBA has much of a moral case. First, doubtlessly the vast majority of the royalty revenue related to the NAB is because it is the liturgical Bible of the Conference. If the Conference were tomorrow to switch to the NRSV, the royalties for the NAB would plummet (as was apparently the case before the NAB was selected for the liturgy.)

Second, while the CBA coordinated the project, individual members actually did the work (and were compensated, as work-for-hire, for their labors.) The translators are not even named in the translation. It is a bit rich for the CBA to assert institutional authorship.

Third, while the expenditures listed in the article seem mostly worthy, is subsidizing a scholarly journal the best use of those funds? I am not aware of any other biblical studies academic journals that are subsidized by royalties; and the number of academic journals has been increasing over time. If academic bible studies can support multiple (unsubsidized) journals on Jewish biblical scholarship, for example -- why can't the much larger Catholic scholarship community manage to support an academic journal? Similarly, is the best use of $150,000 to support four scholarships, or is it to directly support Catholic educational and seminary institutions? Aren't the Bishops in a better position to decide how those funds are used?

If the CBA is not happy with the decision of the Bishops' Conference, it can certainly decline to participate in future revisions -- and the Bishops' Conference can appoint another coordinator for future revisions of the NAB.

Finally, it is fascinating to contrast how the CBA handled this versus Conception Abbey and The Grail, who jointly own the copyright on the new Grail Psalter.

Robert said...

Interesting Article on the NAB from the Cistercian Blog "Sub Tuum".

"Isn't it time to Retire the NAB"

Diakonos said...

Finally had time to read link to USCCB/CBA and then onto the SubT Tuum link. All good reads.

1. Tim - I thought same as you - will this delay the release of the NABRE? I bet it does.

2. Robert - great link to the Cistercian site. Amen, retire the NAB and especially its annotations and notes.

Different topic but need to ask while I am here: ANYONE have experience with the New English Bible, later replaced with the Revised English Bible? I read that Archbishop Sheen promoted the use of the NEB over the NAB and the JB and he was a stickler for both doctrine and the English language. I like to have a good literal translation for study (like NRSV) and a good dynamic equivalence translation for devotions (have been using CCB:CPE up to now). I got a hold of an REB and like it but really want to see NEB due to Sheen's advice.

Timothy said...


Not to sure on the NABRE release date. I know that people who I have talked with at the USCCB have yet to give a firm date for publication in 2011.

As for the NEB, it is one of the few English language Bibles that I do not own. I know that Archbishop Sheen liked it, as you mentioned. From what I have heard, it is a bit more dynamic than the JB or REB.