Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some Bible-related Christmas Gifts

Merry Christmas to you all! Hope all is well wherever you are. Know that my prayers are with all of you during this Christmas season. I just thought I would check in to let you know of a few Bible-related goodies I received from my family over Christmas. First off is the Amazon Kindle (wifi version). I was on the fence about whether to get this product, but thought about how useful it would be in leading Bible studies. Needless to say, it is a pretty neat product, particularly because of its portability and long-lasting battery. The first things I downloaded onto the Kindle were the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth, and some popular works from Chesterton and Lewis. A good start I think. Secondly, I received NT Wright's Small Faith, Great God which is a reprint of an earlier publication dating back to the late 70's. I have already begun to read some of the chapters and perhaps will make some comments on it in the future. Finally, I also received Gary Burge's Encounters with Jesus. I had read his previous two entries in the series, Jesus the Middle-Eastern Storyteller and The Bible and the Land, which provided some interesting insights which I had not considered. Even though this series of books comes from a Protestant perspective, I think there is much to be considered for a Catholic reader. These books are not all that long, but are lavishly illustrated in order to set the context and environment of the Biblical narrative.
Again, have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Top 5 for 2010

Since Christmas is fast approaching, and I am not sure how much blogging I will get done over the next week or two, I want to take the time right now to list my top 5 favorite publications relating to Catholic Bibles during this past year. Overall, I think it was a pretty good year. Looking a bit forward, 2011 should also be very interesting, in particular with the release of the NABRE, the Revised Grail Psalms, more editions of the NRSV, and who knows what else. So, even though there are still three days until Christmas, I would like to wish all of you a blessed Christmas and happy New Year.

Now my top 5:

1) The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament: While for the most part it is simply a collection of the already released single volume editions, the ICSBNT the best single volume New Testament study Bible for Catholics on the market. The commentary utilizes both the historical method, as well as following the principles of Dei Verbum. The additional essays, maps, and concordance make this a must have for all Catholic Bible readers. Now if they can only complete the Old Testament in a reasonable amount of time, perhaps by 2015?

2) Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible RSV-CE: This one kind of snuck up on me, since I only knew about it a month before it was released. I believe this is the only dramatized audio Bible that uses a Catholic translation. The quality of the presentation is high, and the voice acting is both convincing yet not distracting. Bravo!

3) NRSV Go-Anywhere Thinline: Praise for this is a little bit anticipated, since the official Catholic edition of this thinline will be coming out in February. However, the version with the full Apocrypha/Deutercanonicals was released in October. Overall, it is finally nice to have a true thinline edition of a Catholic Bible. While the same old issue remains with the NRSV, lack of cross-references, this thinline is very readable and contains a concordance and maps. It will be interesting to see if the full Catholic edition will contain anything anything not in the current releases.

4) New Oxford Annotated Bible 4th Edition: Overall, I was very pleased with this release. I think the commentary is better than in the 3rd edition, and they updated the maps section, introductions to each book, and essays. The leather cover on my edition is soft and very flexible. The only issue that some people had with this is the new type-setting, which was smaller than older editions. It wasn't too big a deal to me, but again that just depends on personal preferences.

5) Live Catholic Youth Bible NRSV: Since I work at a high school, I am always on the lookout for solid Catholic youth materials. This edition came out in August and provides a nice alternative to the St. Mary's Press Catholic Youth Bible. There are no inserts into this Bible, with all the material integrated into the actual Bible page. This edition is smaller than the CYB, and the focus is more on the teens interaction with the Sacred Text. The Live Catholic Youth Bible encourages teens to write, highlight, and draw in their Bible, which I think is a good way to bring the Bible alive.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Longevity of the RSV-2CE?

Over this past weekend, I spent some time reading and thinking about the RSV-2CE a bit. The question that kept coming up in my mind was whether or not the RSV-2CE would ever become a standard Catholic Bible for most English speaking Catholics. Part of this questioning on my part comes from a number of emails I have received from readers over the past couple years asking me which is better, the original RSV-CE or the new RSV-2CE. For me, it is a tough question to answer and not as clean cut as I would expect. When looking on choosing between the two RSV’s, I tend to focus on three general areas: Translation, Resources, and Marketing/Promotion/Outreach.

As pointed out in numerous posts on this blog, the RSV-CE and REV-2CE, while being very close, do contain some subtle differences. While certainly the most obvious difference is that the RSV-2CE has eliminated all archaic language, it still maintains the exact style and sentence structure as the original. Sometimes the comparison is made between the RSV-2CE and the ESV. I am not sure that comparison, however, is valid, since for the most part the RSV-2CE is not a true revision of the RSV, but rather a selective update of it. You can go back to some previous posts here to look at some of my reflections on this.

Another issue that surrounds the production of the RSV-2CE is how it is in conformity with Liturgiam Authenticam. On recent post, an anonymous comment stated: “I also think the RSV-2CE is a tad bit deceptive when it claims to be translated in conformity with Liturgiam Authenticam. As most people who've read LA know, one of the recommendations from LA was that Hebrew and Aramaic words like "Amen," "Raca," "Maranatha," and "Alleluia" not be translated like they are in the RSV. Given all the ridiculous changes made by Ignatius Press (e.g., "ass" to "donkey," "babe" to "baby," etc.), surely they could have make these other changes too. Hopefully, the next printing will include these changes.”

I think he (or she) makes some valid points. We do have some insight into the mind of Ignatius Press, with the comments left by Ignatius Press Editor Fr. Fessio almost two years ago. It might be worth checking those out again and evaluating them. I think a little more clarity on this issue from Ignatius Press would go a long way. Perhaps in a future edition of the RSV-2CE, they could add a new preface, not simply the old 1966 one.

The last thing to point out in regards to translation is that they both have the same textual basis. Quoting from an earlier post of mine: “The RSV-2CE's textual basis is still the one used by translators of the original RSV OT and NT. According to Philip Comfort's Essential Guide to Bible Translations: "The Old Testament translators generally followed the Masoretic Text. At the same time, they introduced a few different renderings bases on the famous Dead Seas Scroll of Isaiah." Thus, only the initial findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls were used for the OT. The Deuterocanonical/Apocrypha books were not changed from the original RSV. As for the New Testament, the RSV-2CE retains the textual basis behind the original RSV NT, which used primarily the seventeenth edition of the Nestle text (1941). None of the modifications done in the 1971 edition of the RSV NT are found in the RSV-2CE.” Thus, the textual basis for both RSV's is well over fifty years old.

Basically, both translations can be used with such Bible study tools like Emmaus Road’s RSV Concordance (which includes the RSV-2CE changes in an appendix), the Navarre series, or even the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. Since they are so similar, there is really no issue. However, will there be future study tools that utilize the RSV-2CE over the RSV-CE? I am not sure. Certainly the slow-to-finish Ignatius Catholic Study Bible utilizes the RSV-2CE, but I can also point out that the Navarre Bibles as well as the recently released Catholic Scripture Study International Study Bible from St. Benedict Press went with the RSV-CE. So, I guess only time will tell on this issue. If I were to guess right now, I would think there would be more use of the original RSV.

The original RSV-CE is over forty years old, but maintains a strong following in Catholic academic, apologetic, as well as Bible study circles. Certainly the influx of converts to the Catholic Church, many with high views of Scripture like Scott Hahn, has helped make the RSV-CE more mainstream. Oxford University Press continues to print the New Oxford Annotated Bible-RSV as well as individual readers editions of the RSV-CE. The original RSV-CE continues to be published by Ignatius Press and St. Benedict Press. St Benedict Press, in particular, has produced some very attractive editions over the past year or so, and I would think that there would be some more in the future, hopefully including cross-references.

The RSV-2CE should be promoted more than it is currently. The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, which is a fantastic resource that utilizes the RSV-2CE, is under promoted and unless the average Catholic sees it at a local bookstore, he or she probably doesn’t know it even exists.

This is of course my opinion, but I think the RSV-2CE will remain a niche translation. The RSV-CE is well established and published by more than one publishing house. It continues to live on in many different study tools, as well as devotional books. While there is much to like about the RSV-2CE, the fact that it is not promoted more broadly by Ignatius and does not come in various editions and style will keep its “popularity” fairly low in the overall Catholic Bible market.

Ultimately, the question is this: If you were a regular Catholic, who did not know the differences between the various Catholic translations, and wandered into a Barnes and Noble or Borders to buy a Catholic Bible, which one would you likely purchase? Most likely an NAB or NRSV, simply because there are more of them available, in many more attractive editions.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Contest 2

As promised, there will be one more contest here on this blog for 2010, as we journey through this Advent season. This contest will be tied to a new series of posts, that I have already started and will continue into 2011, examining the NAB Revised New Testament, which will be a part of the upcoming NABRE. I have decided to use the NAB New Testament for my daily reading, Bible study, and even class work for the foreseeable future. I am hoping this will allow me to be better acquainted with the positive and negative features of the NAB NT in preparation for a thorough analysis of it in conjunction with the presumed publication of the complete NABRE in 2011. (Of course, if the NABRE will not be released in 2011, I have the right to immediately scrap this project and move on to something else.) With that being said, onto the contest.
The winner of this contest will receive:

1) ESV Thinline Bible (without Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha)
Here are the rules:

1) If you have a blog, please advertise this contest on your blog. (If you don't, you can still enter the contest.)

2) This contest is only for people who are in the United States or Canada. (Again, overseas shipping costs are a bit too high for me right now. Sorry.)

3) The question you need to answer in the comment box:
What should I name the upcoming series of posts focusing on my reading of the NAB Revised New Testament?

4) The contest ends on Saturday at 11:59PM EST.

5) One entry per person.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Revised Grail Psalms Pre-Order

Yes, you can now pre-order the Revised Grail Psalms. These will be the new Psalms used in the Mass in the United States, and conceivably in the future revision of the Liturgy of the Hours. I pre-ordered mine last night and look forward to sharing my thoughts about it with you sometime in January. Thank you to reader Sharon for the link!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NAB NT Series

The year 2011 will likely mark the publication of the NABRE. For those who are just joining this blog, that is the New American Bible Revised Edition, which will include a revised Old Testament and re-revised Psalms. For some additional information on the NABRE go here for a helpful question/answer post with Mary Sperry from the USCCB, which was done earlier this year. Hopefully there will be some additional information, like an actual publication date, early in 2011.

I am planning to spend some time over the next month, through various posts and guest reviews, analyzing the NAB NT. The current NAB NT will be the New Testament in the NABRE, so perhaps it is time to give it a fresh look.

To kick things off, I want to paste some portions of the revised edition of the NAB NT preface. I am hoping to begin the discussion with the basics, so I ask that any comments focus primarily on the preface. There will be plenty of time to discuss this or that translation choice. To read the entire preface, you can go here. So here are some selections I have picked out:

1) The primary aim of the revision is to produce a version as accurate and faithful to the meaning of the Greek original as is possible for a translation. The editors have consequently moved in the direction of a formal-equivalence approach to translation, matching the vocabulary, structure, and even word order of the original as closely as possible in the receptor language. Some other contemporary biblical versions have adopted, in varying degrees, a dynamic-equivalence approach, which attempts to respect the individuality of each language by expressing the meaning of the original in a linguistic structure suited to English, even though this may be very different from the corresponding Greek structure. While this approach often results in fresh and brilliant renderings, it has the disadvantages of more or less radically abandoning traditional biblical and liturgical terminology and phraseology, of expanding the text to include what more properly belongs in notes, commentaries, or preaching, and of tending toward paraphrase. A more formal approach seems better suited to the specific purposes intended for this translation.

2) A particular effort has been made to insure consistency of vocabulary. Always to translate a given Greek word by the same English equivalent would lead to ludicrous results and to infidelity to the meaning of the text. But in passages where a particular Greek term retains the same meaning, it has been rendered in the same way insofar as this has been feasible; this is particularly significant in the case of terms that have a specific theological meaning. The synoptic gospels have been carefully translated so as to reveal both the similarities and the differences of the Greek.

3) An especially sensitive problem today is the question of discrimination in language. In recent years there has been much discussion about allegations of anti-Jewish expressions in the New Testament and of language that discriminates against various minorities. Above all, however, the question of discrimination against women affects the largest number of people and arouses the greatest degree of interest and concern. At present there is little agreement about these problems or about the best way to deal with them. In all these areas the present translation attempts to display a sensitivity appropriate to the present state of the questions under discussion, which are not yet resolved and in regard to which it is impossible to please everyone, since intelligent and sincere participants in the debate hold mutually contradictory views.The primary concern in this revision is fidelity to what the text says. When the meaning of the Greek is inclusive of both sexes, the translation seeks to reproduce such inclusivity insofar as this is possible in normal English usage, without resort to inelegant circumlocutions or neologisms that would offend against the dignity of the language. Although the generic sense of man is traditional in English, many today reject it; its use has therefore generally been avoided, though it is retained in cases where no fully satisfactory equivalent could be found. English does not possess a gender-inclusive third personal pronoun in the singular, and this translation continues to use the masculine resumptive pronoun after everyone or anyone, in the traditional way, where this cannot be avoided without infidelity to the meaning. The translation of the Greek word adelphos, particularly in the plural form adelphoi, poses an especially delicate problem. While the term literally means brothers or other male blood relatives, even in profane Greek the plural can designate two persons, one of either sex, who were born of the same parents. It was adopted by the early Christians to designate, in a figurative sense, the members of the Christian community, who were conscious of a new familial relationship to one another by reason of their adoption as children of God. They are consequently addressed as adelphoi. This has traditionally been rendered into English by brothers or, more archaically, brethren. There has never been any doubt that this designation includes all the members of the Christian community, both male and female. Given the absence in English of a corresponding term that explicitly includes both sexes, this translation retains the usage of brothers, with the inclusive meaning that has been traditionally attached to it in this biblical context. Since the New Testament is the product of a particular time and culture, the views expressed in it and the language in which they are expressed reflect a particular cultural conditioning, which sometimes makes them quite different from contemporary ideas and concerns. Discriminatory language should be eliminated insofar as possible whenever it is unfaithful to the meaning of the New Testament, but the text should not be altered in order to adjust it to contemporary concerns. This translation does not introduce any changes, expansions, additions to, or subtractions from the text of scripture. It further retains the traditional biblical ways of speaking about God and about Christ, including the use of masculine nouns and pronouns.

Ok, what do you think of these first three selections? The selections are focused on issues of translation philosophy, consistant vocabulary, and inclusive language.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Sales on Bibles

Just an FYI for those who are looking to purchase any one of these Bibles:

Ignatius Press is having a 25% off all their merchandise, including RSV-CE, RSV-2CE, and Ignatius Catholic Study Bible materials. Sale ends on Sunday.

Also, our friends at Scepter Publishers have selected discounts of up to 15% of books, including the Navarre Bible series.

Don't forget to support your local and online Catholic bookstores!

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Interesting Perspective on the NAB

Follow this link for an interesting post about the NAB translation. It was posted on the Political Jesus blog, but it is written by Jeremy Thompson. It makes some really interesting points, particularly in regards to using a translation even though one knows its not the best one out there. What do you think of his argument? Is there a case for using the NAB? (I think there is, but I know some of you really dislike it!.) ;)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Contest Winner

Great entries again for this contest. Thank you to all who entered. In the end,
I went with the entry with the most vivid and creative imagination, which came from Diakonos. Congrats on winning the Luke commentary and the NRSV Lectio Divina Bible, which doesn't even come close to your dreams of a future NRSV edition! ;)

Just drop me an email at mccorm45 (at) yahoo (dot) com to claim your prize.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another Giveaway, a Different Blog

You can go to Brandon's The Thin Veil blog, where he is having a giveaway this week with the winner getting some very fine books, including Pope Benedict's The Joy of Knowing Christ and two very important Scriptural documents Dei Verbum and Divino Afflante Spiritu. So, go check it out! Thanks Brandon!