Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Question from a Reader

From reader Dominic:

Concerning approved Catholic Bible translations, which would be considered to show the most fidelity to the ancient manuscripts while also falling in line with the teachings and traditions of Holy Mother Church?  I don't want a debate or even rebuts to others posts. Just interested in each persons personal preference using facts concerning the above mentioned guidelines.  


Alejandro Sanchez said...

IMO, it has to be the RSV-Catholic.

mike7up said...

I would say the RSV2CE because it is essentially a literal formal word for word translation that has been updated by the standards put forth in Liturgiam Authenticatum

Tom said...

I would say RSV-Catholic as well, with NABre a close second (although some of the NABRE notes are problematic).

losabio said...

Whichever modern translation you go with -- and here's another vote for the RSVCE -- I'd highly recommend getting a copy of the Douay-Rheims as well. For a thousand years, the Clementine Vulgate was the Bible of Christendom, and the D-R is its English translation.

Timothy said...

I agree that every Catholic home should have either the Douay or Knox. Simply because of its historical connection to the Vulgate. One of my dream editions, would be a parallel Bible that included either the Douay or Knox, preferably the Knox, with the NRSV. Would be a great resource.

Russ said...

IMHO: Even though Knox employs some old english (thees and thous) I think it's much, much better than the old D-R. To be honest, I can't read the D-R. I used to have an old one that had some really great drawings in it but that's all I would use it for, to look at the pictures and meditate. I would never recommend that one. I don't think you can go wrong with the NABRE, NRSV, or NJB.

Dominic1752 said...

Russ, do you have a preference between the three translations you mentioned? Can you give me a brief affirmative explanation that supports your pick? I look forward to your response.

CWBuckley said...

I highly recommend the RSV-2CE revised by Ignatius Press. The direct descendant of the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611, it is a perfect balance of accuracy and literary craft.

Also, because of its common text with the RSV as used for much of the last century by mainline Protestants and academic Biblical scholars, it can be useful in ecumenical and apologetics work.

Because of its historic role in the English Bible tradition, the RSV-2CE is the basis of the lectionary used in masses among the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans (compared to the NAB in US lectionaries, the NRSV in Canada, and the Jerusalem Bible throughout the rest of the English-speaking world).

The only real concern should be that work on the RSV translation began in the 1940s, so modern translations like NABRE are based on more recent editions of the source texts (for instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls had only just become available, so the RSV only relies on them for the Book of Isaiah, where they are a prominent comparative document in newer translations). I see this more as a matter of fine-tuning, however, than of substance. As mentioned, this is one of the few Bibles that has been dirfectly edited to bring the txt more into line with the requirements of Liturgium Autheticam. That makes it really the only translation that directly matches the text as it is used in a lectionary.

The only other translation that will hit that mark will be the newly revised NABRE, when it's new NT is slated to become available around 2021. ;-)

While the RSV-2CE is the basis of the Ignatius Study Bible, that's not available yet in a single volume. For my money, the new Didache Bible from Ignatius Press and the Midwest Theological Forum is the best option: the full text of the RSV-2CE and brand new commentary pegged directly to the Catechism to show how Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture align to form a single Deposit of Faith.

Russ said...

If I had to choose, I would take the NRSV, with a few revisions here and there. I think it's readability and accuracy is probably the best that's out there. It's a shame we don't have it for Mass. I hope someday we'll have a version for the Didache bible.

KT said...

NAB is on the expanded list of Best Sellers of the CBA (Association for Christian Retail),

Timothy said...


Thanks for the link. I will post it.

CarlHernz said...

The RSV-CE and its 2nd edition are good choices for what you are looking for as is the CTS Bible (which contains the Jerusalem Bible and the popular Grail Psalms). So I concur with many of the voices here.

However you are not really missing out if you use the RSV when it comes to the Dead Sea Scroll discoveries. These texts (which are only Old Testament manuscripts and a few pre-Christian works) support the issues regarding the integrity of the Masoretic text (MT). The only additions from these texts into modern versions is mostly found in their footnote apparatus sections. These texts didn’t really change much of anything in the main readings found in most modern Bibles outside of adding variant readings to footnotes and a handful of spellings in the main text. To quote one specialist in the field:

“Every major Bible translation published since 1950 has claimed to have taken into account the textual evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls....Most people will be surprised to learn that there are relatively few passages in modern English translations of the Old Testament that have been affected.”—Harold. P. Scanlin.

And one more thing: The guidelines of Liturgiam authenticam are NOT meant to govern the rules for Catholic Bible translations outside of Liturgy. LA constitutes the guidelines for LITURGICAL TEXTS only. While it does suggest that uniformity between Bible translations used for vernacular renditions would be preferable, it does not demand it.

In fact, the guidelines for modern Bible translations as found in Divino afflante Spiritu (DS) remain in effect. In it we read:

"We ought to explain the original text which was written by the inspired author himself and has more authority and greater weight than any, even the very best, translation whether ancient or modern. This can be done all the more easily and fruitfully if to the knowledge of languages be joined a real skill in literary criticism of the same text."—Divino afflante Spiritu, 16.

LA covers the steps by which texts used in liturgical action are to be produced, using the LATIN translation as the basis, but outside of this LA does not in effect change the demands of DS for Bibles which instruct that versions be made from the original languages.

Even the RSV-CE 2nd edition and the CTS Bible, though they claim conformity with LA, do not actually read as the liturgical texts do due to the fact that the Lectionary consists of pericopes that often require supplementary and introductory remarks (known as “incipits”) that are not found in the inspired text itself. While it appears that even the NABRE will follow the suggestions made by LA regarding uniformity between liturgical texts and translations of the Sacred Scriptures in its 2025 revision, because of the nature of the incipits no translation will ever read exactly as the pericopes appear in the Lectionary since the incipits don't appear in the original texts.

Michael Demers said...

New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE)
New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition,

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