Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guest Review: Sinag-Tala Confraternity Bible

Thanks to reader Jonny for another fine guest review:

This is a uniquely interesting copy of the Confraternity version of the Holy Bible that is currently being published by Sinag-Tala Publishers in the Philippines. It is an attractive but boxy little hardcover book (6 ¼ x 4 ½ x 2 ½) with quality binding and two ribbon markers. It also includes the cut-out thumb tabs which is kind of cool. The dimensions of this Bible remind me of the squat pre-NAB hardbacks from CBPC and others. It includes an index, a glossary, and 8 maps in the back that feature the traditional Catholic form of the proper names (e.g. “Chanaan” and “Juda.”) This Bible, like the blue pocket Confraternity NT Tim mentioned in his recent post, is reprinted with the special permission of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood.

The Old Testament in this edition is for the most part what could be called the “Confraternity Old Testament.” This is basically the translation that became the 1970 version of the New American Bible OT, with a few exceptions. The OT books of this version included are: Genesis - Ruth, Job - Sirach, and Isaia – Malachia. The remaining books (1 Kings to Esther, and 1 & 2 Machabees) are in the Challoner version. There is no reason given as to why certain books were included in the Challoner version, although I wonder if the desire was to keep some of the unique book names and textual peculiarities of the Vulgate. The difference between the OT Confraternity books and the NAB 1970 is threefold. First, the Book of Genesis was completely redone for NAB 1970. The Confraternity Version was a bit more traditional… “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; the earth was waste and void; darkness covered the abyss, and the spirit of God was stirring above the waters.” Also in Genesis, God creates the “firmament,” instead of the “dome” between the waters, and calls the serpent “cursed” instead of “banned,” just to name a couple more. But in general, it is unlike the Douay version in many places where the Douay is especially unique (such as God forming man from the “slime” of the earth.) The second major difference is the translation of proper names. The Confraternity OT is translated from the Hebrew but yet the proper names are not quite the same as the commonly accepted Protestant versions. Some examples are “Noe” instead of “Noah,” Aaron’s sister “Miriam” in the RSV is “Mariam” here (and Mary in the Douay), “Zion” is “Sion,” and also the prophets “Jeremia,” “Osee,” “Abdia,” “Jona,” “Michea,” “Habacuc,” “Sophonia,” “Aggai,” “Zacharia,” and “Malachia” are good examples of the uniqueness of this version. The third main difference in this version from the NAB 1970 is the format and notes. The NAB 1970 has more extensive notes and outlined column headings, including the stanza division in the Psalms. The Confraternity Psalms also have the dual numbering system like the RSV-CE.

All in all, I think this Holy Bible from Sinag-Tala makes a great addition to any Catholic Bible collectors bookshelf. It is kind of the “missing link” between the Douay Rheims and the NAB. By the way, the front cover art is taken from the Ramsay Psalter: Creation, Creation of Eve, Fall of Man, and Expulsion from Paradise. The back cover art is taken from Book of Hours: Betrayal and Arrest of Christ, Suicide of Judas, Pilate Washing His Hands.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Catholic Study Bible NABRE is Available

Thanks to my fine readers who have let me know that the Catholic Study Bible NABRE is now available. You can purchase it in hardcover, paperback, or bonded leather. (My hardbound is on the way!)

A Fun Little Poll for a Monday

Which will come first?
The Complete Ignatius Catholic Study Bible
A Bible that matches the lectionary at Mass
An English translation of the Nova Vulgata
A True Catholic Reference Bible

Faith and Family Bible (NRSV) for a Good Price

Thanks to reader Michael P for alerting me to this great deal for HarperOne's Catholic Faith and Family Bible in the NRSV-CE. You can purchase the hardcover edition through Hamilton Book for only $10.95.

Mondays with Verbum Domini

We begin part III of this document, which focuses on the Church's mission to proclaim the Word of God to the World, with a look at the relationship between the Word and the Father:

The Word from the Father and to the Father

"Saint John powerfully expresses the fundamental paradox of the Christian faith. On the one hand, he says that “no one has ever seen God” (Jn 1:18; cf. 1 Jn 4:12). In no way can our imaginations, our concepts or our words ever define or embrace the infinite reality of the Most High. He remains Deus semper maior. Yet Saint John also tells us that the Word truly “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). The only-begotten Son, who is ever with the Father, has made known the God whom “no one has ever seen” (Jn 1:18). Jesus Christ comes to us, “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14), to give us these gifts (cf. Jn 1:17); and “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16). In the Prologue of his Gospel, John thus contemplates the Word from his being with God to his becoming flesh and his return to the Father with our humanity, which he has assumed for ever. In this coming forth from God and returning to him (cf. Jn 13:3; 16:28; 17:8,10), Christ is presented as the one who “tells us” about God (cf. Jn 1:18). Indeed, as Saint Irenaeus of Lyons says, the Son “is the revealer of the Father”. Jesus of Nazareth is, so to speak, the “exegete” of the God whom “no one has ever seen”. “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). Here we see fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah about the effectiveness of the Lord’s word: as the rain and snow come down from heaven to water and to make the earth fruitful, so too the word of God “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (cf. Is 55:10f.). Jesus Christ is this definitive and effective word which came forth from the Father and returned to him, perfectly accomplishing his will in the world."
-Verbum Domini 90

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Confraternity New Testament

The under-appreciated Confraternity New Testament is still available today through Scepter Publishers, who publish a delightful compact edition. Whenever I go to a used bookstore, I often find old textbook editions of the Confraternity Bible. Some of them contain the complete Douay Old Testament, while others have a combination of the Douay and the Confraternity revisions. Those revisions, which were translated from the Hebrew/Greek (and Latin for the Psalms I think?) ultimately became the basis for the original NAB Old Testament. (Genesis, however, was re-translated before the NAB came out.)

I know a number of people who remain very fond of the Confraternity New Testament. I wouldn't mind, at some point, doing a comparison of it with the Rheims NT. (If anyone is interested in this task, send me an email!) Whenever I have read verses from the Confraternity NT, I do find myself liking it quite a bit! If does a nice job of updating some of the older renderings in the Rheims NT, without losing its elegance.

I bring up the Confraternity Bible now because I recently read a fine review of a single-column Confraternity NT at J. Mark Bertrand's Bible Design Blog. I actually have that exact New Testament somewhere, so I may have to search through some boxes for it. Its worth checking out, at the very least for the great photos. Also check out Matt's review of the Scepter edition here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Catholic Biblical School of Michigan

Just wanted to briefly mention this promotional video for the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan. I was recently hired to teach one of the first year courses, which looks at the narrative/historical section of the Old Testament. If you live in southeast Michigan, there are multiple locations in the metro Detroit area where classes are being offered. You can find more info here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Top 5 Catholic Bibles #2

The New American Bible Revised Edition: A Great Upgrade and a Better NABRE

"The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me." – Psalm 23 (NABRE)

Of all the Catholic Bibles, in English, that are available, the NAB(RE) is easily the most controversial. One does not have to look much further than any Catholic online forum, or even this blog, to see the NAB(RE) referred to as heretical, a paraphrase, inaccurate, or even the vehicle of some masonic take-over of the Church. Yes, I have heard or seen it described as all of those things, but thankfully, none of them are true. The revised NAB was published this year, and I think it is a considerable improvement over the previous edition. That is why it has jumped from #4 to #2 in my top 5 Bible rankings. So let's take a look at the NABRE. Please note that from now on, I will refer to this edition simply as the NABRE.

Translation Philosophy 4/5
When the original NAB was published 1970, it was the culmination of over 20 years of work by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. In many ways, the original NAB tended to follow a more dynamic-equivalence translation philosophy. This was certainly a philosophy that was current in the Church at the time, most notably in other translations like the Jerusalem Bible, but also in the way the Liturgy was translated. (On a side note, it is interesting how both the new Roman Missal and the NABRE have adopted a more formal approach to translation....which is a very good thing.) However, already in 1978, it was decided that the NAB NT needed to be redone. The Preface to the Revised NAB NT reads:

"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."

The revised NAB NT was published in 1986 and was certainly more literal than the original. (While I don't have room to give examples, see if you can compare the two versions of Mary's Magnificat in Luke 1.) It also included moderate uses of inclusive language. Work also began on a revised Psalter, which was published in 1991. This version was notable for its use of both horizontal and vertical inclusive language. While the revised NAB NT was included in the new Lectionary, the '91 Psalms were rejected due to its extensive use of inclusive language. Finally, the NABRE was published in March of this year, which completely updated the NAB OT, including the Psalms. The revised NAB OT is a more literal translation than its predecessor. Moderate inclusive language is used throughout, much like the revised NAB NT, but not as pervasive as the NRSV. The NABRE has rightly maintained the traditional "Son of Man" in Daniel 7 and Psalm 8, unlike a number of newer translations. The NABRE Psalms, likely due to a stricter adherence to Liturgiam Authenticam, are dramatically different than the '91 NAB Psalms. One only has to compare Psalms 1 in both versions to get a feel of the difference.

The NABRE made the news back in March for following the Hebrew "young woman" instead of the LXX "virgin" for Isaiah 7:14. I never felt that this should have been as newsworthy as it was, particularly since the RSV-CE, Jerusalem Bible, and New Jerusalem Bible did not follow the LXX either.

Overall, the NABRE is superior to the original NAB because it is a more formal-equivalence translation. One of my complaints about the previous edition was that it seemed like different portions of the NAB were translated with different translation philosophies. The revised NAB NT was formal, while the OT was dynamic and the '91 Psalms was all-over-the-place. For the most part, this has been largely corrected in the NABRE. My one main issue with the NABRE is that I think it could have gone a little further. Most notably in the book of Genesis, where some unique rendering persist. (See Genesis 1:1-2, 2:24, 3:1, 3:15, 4:1, and 12:3) For instance, the rendering of the Hebrew word basar as "one body" in Genesis 2:24 rather than "flesh" tends to "obscure the reference of Matthew (19:14) to that text." The previous quote is actually found in the NABRE notes which makes me wonder why a change was not made.

Readability 4/5
The NABRE is more consistently literal throughout, although probably a little less so than either the RSV or NRSV. This, of course, has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what you are looking for. For me, the biggest improvement, as mentioned above, is the NABRE Psalter. While I feel comfortable using that Psalter for study, I find that it is also a joy to read for longer periods of time. It flows much better than the previous two editions.

Available Formats 4/5
In the past, most NAB's looked the same. However, with this new translation comes hope for newer, more attractive formats and page layouts. The NABRE is being published by more publishers than before, with the likelihood of additional publishers to be announced in the near future. (Stay tuned for news regarding that.) The NABRE is now available in a Kindle version, online at the USCCB site, as well as in the much desired single-column format thanks to the folks at Little Rock. There also promises to be additional information available at the USCCB site, including the NABRE textual notes. Also, Oxford University Press will be publishing their Catholic study Bible with the NABRE shortly, and I shouldn't forget to mention the on-going Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture which is keyed to the NABRE. Time will tell whether or not the NABRE will be as available as the NRSV or RSV in different scholarly and devotional formats, but the future does look bright.

Miscellaneous 3.5/5
There are always two issues that come up when discussion is on the NAB(RE): 1) The Lectionary and 2) The NABRE notes/commentary. Probably one of the most frequent questions I get from people is why we cannot have a Bible that matches the readings heard at Mass. Well, the reality is that for the foreseeable future the Mass readings in the USA will include the original NAB OT and the revised NAB NT in an adapted form. Also, at some point, the Revised Grail Psalms will replace the current ones. That is just the reality of the situation, which I am sure can be confusing to the average Catholic in America.

Then, we come to the NABRE notes, which I am not going to discuss here. That discussion took place a few months ago, and generated over 70 comments. If you want to read that conversation, go here. Suffice to say, some people are happy with them, while some are vocally against them. I will just echo the comments I made at the end of that post: What should be the tone and content of the NAB(RE) commentary? Should those who have worked on the commentary assume that the typical Catholic reader would have some basic knowledge of the various theories in current Biblical scholarship?

Conclusion 15.5/20
The NABRE is a great improvement over the original NAB. I think many of the complaints against it have been answered and improved. It will be interesting to see how the NABRE does in the coming years. In the United States, the average Catholic is going to have a copy of the NAB(RE). It will continue to be the most available and most recognizably Catholic Bible in most bookstores.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The word of God and the Holy Land

As we call to mind the Word of God who became flesh in the womb of Mary of Nazareth, our heart now turns to the land where the mystery of our salvation was accomplished, and from which the word of God spread to the ends of the earth. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word became flesh in a specific time and place, in a strip of land on the edges of the Roman Empire. The more we appreciate the universality and the uniqueness of Christ’s person, the more we look with gratitude to that land where Jesus was born, where he lived and where he gave his life for us. The stones on which our Redeemer walked are still charged with his memory and continue to “cry out” the Good News. For this reason, the Synod Fathers recalled the felicitous phrase which speaks of the Holy Land as “the Fifth Gospel”. How important it is that in those places there be Christian communities, notwithstanding any number of hardships! The Synod of Bishops expressed profound closeness to all those Christians who dwell in the land of Jesus and bear witness to their faith in the Risen One. Christians there are called to serve not only as “a beacon of faith for the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom, and equilibrium in the life of a society which traditionally has been, and continues to be, pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious”.

The Holy Land today remains a goal of pilgrimage for the Christian people, a place of prayer and penance, as was testified to in antiquity by authors like Saint Jerome. The more we turn our eyes and our hearts to the earthly Jerusalem, the more will our yearning be kindled for the heavenly Jerusalem, the true goal of every pilgrimage, along with our eager desire that the name of Jesus, the one name which brings salvation, may be acknowledged by all (cf. Acts 4:12).
--Verbum Domini 89

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Few Updates

So, this past week has been quite busy, with school starting up at the high school. I apologize for not getting my Top 5 posted yet, but I hope those entries will come in the next week or so. To be honest, I am still working through the top 2. It is very close. Most of you can guess which are my top 2, so stay tuned to see where they rank.

On another note, both of the announced winners for the NABRE contest have failed to contact me, so I am going to open this up to all of those who had originally entered the contest. So, the first person to email me will win the NABRE prize pack. Again, this is only for those who had previously entered the contest.

Update: Michael P is the winner....thanks to all who entered.

Finally, I saw this episode of The Choices We Face recently, which dealt with understanding the Bible. I figured I would post it here, for those who may be interested in watching.

Biblical Study & Understanding - Dr. Mary Healy from Renewal Ministries on Vimeo.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Guest Review: Fireside Librosario NABRE

Many thanks to reader, Jonny, for the following guest review:

I was looking at the NABREs on Amazon and noticed that Fireside has a “Church and School” hardback edition out now, in regular and large print. I looked on the Fireside website and saw that they also had a Companion Edition out as well (which is a medium sized edition, about 8 ½ by 5 ½ by 1 ½), and I decided to order it. It was listed under the “Librosario” section (the kind with the embossed crucifix on the front and pray along Rosary on the back.) When I received it UPS two days later I saw that it actually says “Holy Bible” on the front with embossed letters filled with gold, and the back is plain. It has a super-soft Endurahide cover that is a very nice looking dark burgundy with subtle black shades. I will list some of the other details in comparison with other NABREs:

1. Typeface and spacing: A very traditional looking Times New Roman-ish font typical of many modern Bibles is used for the Biblical Text. The chapter headings are in a slightly narrower and plainer bold font and slightly smaller and closer spaced than the previous Fireside Companion Bible. The spacing of the text and notes are about the same size as the Saint Benedict Press edition of the NABRE.

2. Other details about the text: This version has the chapter-colon-verse system of reference (e.g. Ben Sira 19:20), like the SBP version. The SBP version uses a series of symbols to locate the references, but the Fireside version uses an asterisk every time, and you simply look for the verse number. The cross-references are less cluttered and therefore easier to read in the Fireside version, but the SBP version has the advantage that the source of the reference location is listed (chapter/verse) rather than just the letter. Both Bibles have a unique symbol to indicate a textual notation.

3. Other details (the extras): The Fireside Bible has the “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation”, “Origin, Inspiration, and History of the Bible”, and “The Bible: A Catholic Perspective” at the front of the book. It also has the complete lectionary reading list for all Masses throughout the year, a 156 page Catholic Encyclopedic Dictionary, and 8 maps with a grid index in the back. I know that some study Bibles like Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible have more information as far as the maps and essays go, but the Fireside has the advantage of having what Fireside calls the “Perfect Binding”, which is a lot of little sewn together signatures. My hardback Catholic Study Bible, for example, is falling apart page by page in the map section because each page was glued in individually. (I hope the NABRE edition has a sewn binding like my genuine leather Oxford NOAB RSV, or I won’t be getting that one at all.) The Endurahyde cover of the Fireside Bible I hear is supposed to outlast leather, but does not stay open as well as a hardback at the beginning and end of the book (but I am hoping that I can break it in more.) It also has indexed pages to find each book easily and one burgundy ribbon marker.

All in all, I think that the Fireside Bible is the best medium sized Bible available now. I personally prefer a smaller Bible, especially for devotions, and this one has a lot to offer, especially now with the improved Old Testament and Psalms.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New NABRE Contest winner

Marcy K, you are the new winner of the NABRE contest, since I have yet to hear back from the person I announced on Sunday. Just send your address to my email, which you can find along the right side bar. Congrats!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The word of God and Marian prayer

Mindful of the inseparable bond between the word of God and Mary of Nazareth, along with the Synod Fathers I urge that Marian prayer be encouraged among the faithful, above all in life of families, since it is an aid to meditating on the holy mysteries found in the Scriptures. A most helpful aid, for example, is the individual or communal recitation of the Holy Rosary, which ponders the mysteries of Christ’s life in union with Mary, and which Pope John Paul II wished to enrich with the mysteries of light. It is fitting that the announcement of each mystery be accompanied by a brief biblical text pertinent to that mystery, so as to encourage the memorization of brief biblical passages relevant to the mysteries of Christ’s life.

The Synod also recommended that the faithful be encouraged to pray the Angelus. This prayer, simple yet profound, allows us “to commemorate daily the mystery of the Incarnate Word”. It is only right that the People of God, families and communities of consecrated persons, be faithful to this Marian prayer traditionally recited at sunrise, midday and sunset. In the Angelus we ask God to grant that, through Mary’s intercession, we may imitate her in doing his will and in welcoming his word into our lives. This practice can help us to grow in an authentic love for the mystery of the incarnation.

The ancient prayers of the Christian East which contemplate the entire history of salvation in the light of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, are likewise worthy of being known, appreciated and widely used. Here particular mention can be made of the Akathist and Paraklesis prayers. These hymns of praise, chanted in the form of a litany and steeped in the faith of the Church and in references to the Bible, help the faithful to meditate on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary. In particular, the venerable Akathist hymn to the Mother of God – so-called because it is sung while standing – represents one of the highest expressions of the Marian piety of the Byzantine tradition. Praying with these words opens wide the heart and disposes it to the peace that is from above, from God, to that peace which is Christ himself, born of Mary for our salvation.

--Verbum Domini 88

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NABRE Contest Winner

For this contest, I did not judge one response against another, but rather picked one of the entries at random. The winner of the NABRE prize pack is 1 Thess. 5:16 by Gabriel M. Just send me an email with your address, and I will get your prize sent out to you this week. My email can be found along the right side-bar. Thanks to all who submitted entries.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

ICSB OT Update

According to Mark Brumley of Ignatius Press, the next volume (Exodus?) in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible won't be released until next Spring. (See comments for ICSB question/response). So, then, will it be one OT book per year? If that is the case, I will be around 79 years old when the complete ICSB is published. Wow! Can't wait!

Seriously though, while I am sure this study Bible will be completed far sooner than the days when I will be collecting Social Security, I wish Ignatius would provide a timeline for the completion of this project. This is getting a little ridiculous.

Friday, August 12, 2011

NABRE contest

Just a friendly reminder that the NABRE contest ends tomorrow at 11:59 PM. If you are interested in entering the contest, make sure to read the rules and submit your entry in the comment section of the post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Top 5 Catholic Bibles #3

The New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition: A Translation in Transition

"Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." -Philippians 2: 5-11

I often mention on this blog how much I appreciate the NRSV. Though I have ranked the NRSV #3, I still feel it is a fantastic Bible. In many ways, there isn't much separating the top 3 in this subjective ranking of mine. The NRSV is easily the most ecumenical and scholarly translation in a Catholic edition. Yet, from my own experiences, its use among most Catholics falls far behind the top 2. Therefore, where does the NRSV fit among the main Catholic Bible translations in English?

Translation Philosophy 4/5
I have devoted a number of posts on this blog over the past few years looking at the translation philosophy of the NRSV, most notably here and here. (Please consult those posts for further details.) The NRSV, like the RSV, remains a literal/formal translation. That is why it is still the basis for a number of scholarly study Bibles on the market and is used in many scholarly works. The stated goal of the NRSV translators was to be "as literal as possible, as free as necessary." It certainly achieves that goal. The NRSV, not surprisingly, follows in the heritage of the RSV and KJV. This means that there is a familiarity for the reader who was brought up on either the RSV and KJV. While this often means that the NRSV follows a more literal/formal translation philosophy, there are places, specifically with its use of inclusive language, where the NRSV is "as free as necessary."

The NRSV is truly the first translation to be thorough and consistent in its use of inclusive language. While this is not an issue for the majority of instances, since the textual notes are clear when inclusive language is used for the most part, there are places where this can be distracting. For example, Matthew 10:38 says, "and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Which cross? Christ's or our own? The Greek behind it refers to our own. One other major issue with the NRSV's use of inclusive language is that, even with the textual note, translating "one like a son of man" in Daniel 7 as "one like a human being" does not help the average Christian reader who is trying to understand this significant Christological title. The use of inclusive language in Bible translations is still a hot topic for both Protestants and Catholics. For Catholics, on one end of the spectrum is the NRSV, which thoroughly employs inclusive language, while on the other end is the RSV-CE, which even goes beyond the original RSV in avoiding inclusive language (see here) and is proud to advertise as such.

Readability 4/5
The NRSV is a very smooth read due to it being a modern translation which was published as a single unit, unlike the NAB. Also, since it follows in the heritage of the KJV, there is a sense of familiarity for the most part when one reads through it. Henry Hansbrough, editor of the NJB and author of the book The Story of the Bible states that in the NRSV, "The story-telling of the Old Testament is often scintillating." I find that to be quite true. In addition, archaic language has been eliminated from this revision of the old RSV.

Available Formats 3.5/5
This was somewhat hard to rate, simply because the NRSV is all over the place. While it is true that the NRSV comes in some unique editions, most notably from HarperOne, there are no Catholic editions that contain cross-references. This is something that HarperOne has said they will be addressing at some point in the near future, but we will see. Many of their formats are very unique, in particular the quasi-single column NRSV Catholic Standard Edition which is very attractive and innovative. They also publish a true thinline in the NRSV, which may be a first for any Catholic edition. Of course, the NRSV has also been published by Oxford and Cambridge, along with a few others in a study Bible format.

Miscellaneous 3.5/5
There clearly is a future for the NRSV, though it may be for those outside the USA. The Canadian bishops within the past few years received approval, finally, from Rome over an adapted form of the NRSV for the Lectionary. Rumors are that other English-speaking bishops conferences, like the UK and Wales, are doing the same. One could see in ten years or so the majority of English-speaking dioceses using some adapted form of the NRSV for Mass, while the USA (and a few others) using the NAB(RE) in some form. That being said, trying to predict what translation is going to be used in the liturgy in ten years may be a foolish endeavor.

As mentioned earlier, the NRSV is still going to remain popular in the scholarly world, most notably in its inclusion in study Bibles. Oxford recently published its fourth edition of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, and there are a number of others that utilize the NRSV. It would be interesting to see if in the future there would be a Catholic study Bible that utilized the NRSV. At this point, the only true Catholic study Bibles use either the RSV-2CE or NAB(RE) Bibles. There are also a plethora of study aids, like concordances, commentaries, interlinears, and dictionaries, that are keyed to the NRSV. That will probably not change for the near term.

Conclusion 15/20
There is a lot to like about the NRSV. I did not use the NRSV, at all, up until about four years ago due to the "problems" people told me about it. However, four years ago, I stopped by a local bookstore during the Christmas season and decided to purchase the NRSV Go-Anywhere Bible from HarperOne. I really enjoyed reading many of the renderings in that NRSV edition that I purchased, particularly in the Old Testament. Fast forward to today, I am now quite comfortable with the NRSV and refer to it often. While it is not my #1 Bible, it is still a solid translation, and one that may continue to grow in popularity among Catholics. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Truth & Life Apps

The wonderful Truth and Life RSV-CE audio Bible is now available as an app for your favorite Apple product. The whole version costs $19.99, while you can also get a free sample which includes the Gospel according to Mark. I downloaded the free sample and it seems to work very smoothly. More info can be read about this here.

(Thanks to reader Tim for the heads-up on this!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

NABRE Contest

In celebration of the launch of the new NABRE site, I will be offering my final contest for the summer. The winner of this contest will receive this NABRE-inspired prize pack:

Saint Benedict Press NABRE Ultrasoft

Catholic Doctrine in Scripture (which is keyed to the NAB)

In the Beginning--: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall by Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger

So here are the contest rules:
1) If you have a blog, please advertise this contest on your site. (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 is your favorite Bible verse, using the NABRE translation?

4) The contest ends on Saturday August 13 11:59PM EST.

5) One entry per person. You must leave a name at the end of your comment.

I will announce the winner some time on Sunday.

**If you are wondering, my Top 5 Catholic Bible series will continue shortly. My top 3 are surprisingly very close, so I am spending a little more time with each before I announce where they will rank.**

Monday, August 8, 2011

The NABRE site is updated

Since we are talking site updates today, the USCCB site has been overhauled, including the NABRE portion. The complete NABRE is now online. There are some additional materials and essays there as well.

New CBA Site

The Catholic Biblical Association has launched a brand new website, which you can view here. Go take a look around!

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The prayerful reading of sacred Scripture and “lectio divina”

The Synod frequently insisted on the need for a prayerful approach to the sacred text as a fundamental element in the spiritual life of every believer, in the various ministries and states in life, with particular reference to lectio divina. The word of God is at the basis of all authentic Christian spirituality. The Synod Fathers thus took up the words of the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum: “Let the faithful go gladly to the sacred text itself, whether in the sacred liturgy, which is full of the divine words, or in devout reading, or in such suitable exercises and various other helps which, with the approval and guidance of the pastors of the Church, are happily spreading everywhere in our day. Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred Scripture”. The Council thus sought to reappropriate the great patristic tradition which had always recommended approaching the Scripture in dialogue with God. As Saint Augustine puts it: “Your prayer is the word you speak to God. When you read the Bible, God speaks to you; when you pray, you speak to God”. Origen, one of the great masters of this way of reading the Bible, maintains that understanding Scripture demands, even more than study, closeness to Christ and prayer. Origen was convinced, in fact, that the best way to know God is through love, and that there can be no authentic scientia Christi apart from growth in his love. In his Letter to Gregory, the great Alexandrian theologian gave this advice: “Devote yourself to the lectio of the divine Scriptures; apply yourself to this with perseverance. Do your reading with the intent of believing in and pleasing God. If during the lectio you encounter a closed door, knock and it will be opened to you by that guardian of whom Jesus said, ‘The gatekeeper will open it for him’. By applying yourself in this way to lectio divina, search diligently and with unshakable trust in God for the meaning of the divine Scriptures, which is hidden in great fullness within. You ought not, however, to be satisfied merely with knocking and seeking: to understand the things of God, what is absolutely necessary is oratio. For this reason, the Saviour told us not only: ‘Seek and you will find’, and ‘Knock and it shall be opened to you’, but also added, ‘Ask and you shall receive’”.

In this regard, however, one must avoid the risk of an individualistic approach, and remember that God’s word is given to us precisely to build communion, to unite us in the Truth along our path to God. While it is a word addressed to each of us personally, it is also a word which builds community, which builds the Church. Consequently, the sacred text must always be approached in the communion of the Church. In effect, “a communal reading of Scripture is extremely important, because the living subject in the sacred Scriptures is the People of God, it is the Church… Scripture does not belong to the past, because its subject, the People of God inspired by God himself, is always the same, and therefore the word is always alive in the living subject. As such, it is important to read and experience sacred Scripture in communion with the Church, that is, with all the great witnesses to this word, beginning with the earliest Fathers up to the saints of our own day, up to the present-day magisterium”.

For this reason, the privileged place for the prayerful reading of sacred Scripture is the liturgy, and particularly the Eucharist, in which, as we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament, the word itself is present and at work in our midst. In some sense the prayerful reading of the Bible, personal and communal, must always be related to the Eucharistic celebration. Just as the adoration of the Eucharist prepares for, accompanies and follows the liturgy of the Eucharist, so too prayerful reading, personal and communal, prepares for, accompanies and deepens what the Church celebrates when she proclaims the word in a liturgical setting. By so closely relating lectio and liturgy, we can better grasp the criteria which should guide this practice in the area of pastoral care and in the spiritual life of the People of God.

The documents produced before and during the Synod mentioned a number of methods for a faith-filled and fruitful approach to sacred Scripture. Yet the greatest attention was paid to lectio divina, which is truly “capable of opening up to the faithful the treasures of God’s word, but also of bringing about an encounter with Christ, the living word of God”. I would like here to review the basic steps of this procedure. It opens with the reading (lectio) of a text, which leads to a desire to understand its true content: what does the biblical text say in itself? Without this, there is always a risk that the text will become a pretext for never moving beyond our own ideas. Next comes meditation (meditatio), which asks: what does the biblical text say to us? Here, each person, individually but also as a member of the community, must let himself or herself be moved and challenged. Following this comes prayer (oratio), which asks the question: what do we say to the Lord in response to his word? Prayer, as petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise, is the primary way by which the word transforms us. Finally, lectio divina concludes with contemplation (contemplatio), during which we take up, as a gift from God, his own way of seeing and judging reality, and ask ourselves what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us? In the Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul tells us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (12:2). Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). We do well also to remember that the process of lectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action (actio), which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity.

We find the supreme synthesis and fulfilment of this process in the Mother of God. For every member of the faithful Mary is the model of docile acceptance of God’s word, for she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51); she discovered the profound bond which unites, in God’s great plan, apparently disparate events, actions and things.

I would also like to echo what the Synod proposed about the importance of the personal reading of Scripture, also as a practice allowing for the possibility, in accordance with the Church’s usual conditions, of gaining an indulgence either for oneself or for the faithful departed. The practice of indulgences implies the doctrine of the infinite merits of Christ – which the Church, as the minister of the redemption, dispenses and applies, but it also implies that of the communion of saints, and it teaches us that “to whatever degree we are united in Christ, we are united to one another, and the supernatural life of each one can be useful for the others”. From this standpoint, the reading of the word of God sustains us on our journey of penance and conversion, enables us to deepen our sense of belonging to the Church, and helps us to grow in familiarity with God. As Saint Ambrose puts it, “When we take up the sacred Scriptures in faith and read them with the Church, we walk once more with God in the Garden”.

-Verbum Domini 86-87

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pope takes the Bible on Vacation

Benedict XVI advises: 'This seems to be a good thing to do on the holidays — take a book of the Bible — so you have some relaxation and, at the same time, enter into the great expanse of the word of God and deepen your contact with the Eternal.' Continue reading here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Blog and the NABRE

There is a great post at the blog Ancient Hebrew Poetry on the NABRE and inclusive language. You can read it here. His main point on the NABRE and inclusive language is this: "The result: NABRE OT (2011) comes down in the middle, not necessarily a bad thing."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Question (or three) for NABRE Readers

As we await the release of the CSB NABRE, I just wanted to check-in with those of you who have spent some time with the NABRE. How has your reading of the NABRE been? Any thing, besides the obvious, that you like or dislike? Any particular edition of the NABRE you like? There is going to be some news shortly about a new NABRE publisher, which hopefully I can share with you in the coming days.

The Catholic Study Bible NABRE Update

Those of you who are awaiting the publication of the CSB NABRE, I contacted Oxford University Press and they told me that it should be available in about two weeks. So stay tuned.

My Top 5 Catholic Bibles #4

The New Jerusalem Bible: A Great Place to Start

"Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life." -Ephesians 2:8-10 (NJB)

If someone was new to the Bible and asked me for a recommendation, in most cases I would point them to the New Jerusalem Bible. I would also suggest that they get the full hardbound edition, with the single column layout and the copious notes. This dynamic, more literary translation, combined with some solid study tools, make the NJB a wonderful all-around Bible.

Translation Philosophy 3/5
The NJB, as a successor to the original Jerusalem Bible, is known for its more dynamic, yet literary quality. As Henry Wansbrough points out in his book The Story of the Bible: "The English Jerusalem Bible, having no basis in traditional English versions, has the freshness of freedom from traditional biblical language." In many ways, the NJB retains that same quality. While the original Jerusalem Bible closely followed the French Bible de Jérusalem, the NJB was translated directly from the original languages. The NJB is slightly more literal than the original. In particular, as the intro to the NJB states: "Key terms in the originals, especially those theological key concepts on which there is a majot theological note, have been rendered throughout (with very few exceptions) by the same English word, instead of by a variety of words used in the first edition (v)." One other unique quality to the NJB, like its predecessor, is the use of Yahweh instead of the LORD. The use of the Divine Name does give reading the Bible, particularly in the Psalms, a different tone, but one has to measure this with the recent request from the Vatican in 2008.

Another important note about the NJB translation is its use of inclusive language. It is the first major Bible translation to consistently use inclusive language throughout. In many ways, I find that the NJB has done the best out of all the recent translations. Henry Wansbrough notes: "It was the first complete Bible to make consistent use of inclusive language wherever possible, though without the extreme rigour of the later NRSV."

Readability 3/5
The NJB builds on the already, highly readable JB. Translation philosophy, including use of inclusive language, is constant throughout the OT and NT. I find that if I am in the mood to read long passages or an entire book in one sitting, the NJB does the job best. In addition, since it is not held to using traditional Biblical language, new insights can be gained. In many ways, the NJB makes for a great second Bible, along side a more formal one. It is still a fresh translation, twenty five years later.

Available Formats 3/5
While it is true that the NJB is available in only a limited number of formats, most notably the large hardbound study edition and other text only ones, the beauty of the hardbound edition makes up for it. Personally, I am still waiting for a true single-column edition for the more formal Catholic Bible translations that match the NJB. The single column NJB provides plenty of space for personal note taking, and plentiful cross-references, while also being easy on the eyes. If you look around the Internet, particularly on European book seller sites, you will find some additional editions of the NJB, including ones with leather covers.

Miscellaneous 1/5
With all that has been said about the NJB, one wonders if it will remain in use into the future. It is not the basis for any English language Lectionary and the École Biblique is working on a completely new project called The Bible in Its Traditions. It also does not have many scholarly works keyed to it, nor are there any supplemental texts, like a concordance, that uses the NJB.

Conclusion 10/20
When I was studying in Rome in 2000, not for theology but Roman History, I had the beginning of my conversion back to the Church. I was never in another church or anything, but just wasn't a practicing Catholic in many ways. While in Rome, I stopped into a bookstore by the Vatican that sold books in English and purchased a compact NJB. It was in leather too! I still have it today, and it serves as a reminder as to how far I have come since then. All by the grace of God, of course, along with a little help from my pocket NJB.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

Sacred Scripture in large ecclesial gatherings

Among a variety of possible initiatives, the Synod suggested that in meetings, whether at the diocesan, national or international levels, greater emphasis be given to the importance of the word of God, its attentive hearing, and the faith-filled and prayerful reading of the Bible. In Eucharistic Congresses, whether national or international, at World Youth Days and other gatherings, it would be praiseworthy to make greater room for the celebration of the word and for biblically-inspired moments of formation.

-Verbum Domini 76