Monday, September 7, 2015

Guest Post: Catholic Bible Taxonomy

A taxonomy of Catholic Bibles in English

The variety of Bible translations in English is staggering, yet only a few may be used by the Catholic faithful for private prayer and study - namely those approved “by the Apostolic See or a local ordinary prior to 1983, or by the Apostolic See or an episcopal conference following 1983.” Ironically, our limited selection can make it harder to find the right Bible for the right occasion. If you’ve tried to find a list of approved full-Bible translations, you know what I mean. Unlike the Episcopal or United Methodist Churches, the Catholic Church finds it challenging to look beyond descriptions of its canonical process to deliver what the average inquirer is actually looking for: a simple list of which translations “are Catholic” and which are not. At best we get unofficial chronological lists that can actually muddy the origins, purpose, audience, or relationship of one translation to another. This can be a problem for all Catholics, but especially for inquirers and the newly confirmed who may already be well-versed in Scripture but want guidance when picking a translation to share, deepen, shift - or even defend - their Catholic faith.

That’s why I’ve started thinking in terms of species: rather than looking at approved Catholic Bibles in English as standalone texts, I’ve started organizing them “genealogically,” along lines of descent that contain discrete textual traditions in successive generations. Though hardly surprising, the results shift my own perspective a bit, revealing some interesting relationships and adjusting some of my preferences and priorities when choosing a translation. This post looks specifically at the approved, full Bible translations in English, not the many fine “partial” translations of Psalms, Gospels, and New Testaments that are available for Catholic use.

An Episcopal mandate
The first differentiator that emerged was the subset of translations that came about because of an Episcopal mandate. That is, while all the translations above received ecclesial approval in the form of an imprimatur, there is a distinct subset which came into being because a Bishop or Bishops’ conference produced them. I am surprised how often this factor goes unremarked in discussions of Catholic Biblical translation since it’s actually a rather important differentiator in light of apostolic tradition and the teaching role of bishops.

Though the venerable Douay-Rheims itself was the academic and pastoral product of exiled Churchmen at the English college at Douai, the revisions made by Bishop Challoner and approved later by Cardinal Gibbons constitute the first English-language full Bible translation produced by a Bishop for Church use. Produced from the Latin Vulgate, Challoner-Rheims was essentially the Bible in English produced by the Church for the Church for more than 200 years.

Despite the popular attention to Vatican II, today’s explosion of modern translations is really the result of Pope Pius XII’s Divino afflante spiritu in 1943, calling Catholic Biblical scholars for the first time to employ textual criticism of the original Biblical languages. Within thirty years, the playing field was full of new contestants: a Catholic edition of the RSV, the Jerusalem Bible, the New American Bible, and many more. Here’s where it gets interesting to look with a genealogical eye, rather than a chronological one.

Arranging the modern translations into family lineages, a slightly revised picture emerges especially when looking for that Episcopal mandate. In other words: if the Rheims-Challoner was the English Bible provided by the Church, which of the subsequent translations are the direct inheritor of its lineage? Yes, we have a variety of new translations, all received into and approved by the Church for Catholic use. Of those, however, only two were specifically sponsored by Church hierarchy as a revision or continuation of the Rheims-Challoner tradition.

In the U.K., that mandate belongs to the Knox Bible:

While the official Protestant efforts to revise the Authorized “King James” Version had begun the century before, resulting in the British “Revised” and American “Standard” versions at the turn of the century, it was the Knox project that represented the Church’s first official steps toward modernizing the language of its own Scripture tradition for liturgy. Though literary and acclaimed in its day, Knox’s translation remains a standalone experiment in greatness. Begun before the 1943 publication of Divino afflante spiritu, its reliance on the Vulgate caused it to fall out of favor among the following generation of scholars who placed a premium upon translations from the best sources of the original texts. As such, Knox is a bit of an evolutionary dead-end, a beautiful one-time experiment that stands on its own but does not continue the Challoner lineage through subsequent living revisions.

Not so across the pond. At precisely the same time, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in the U.S. sponsored its own effort to modernize the Challoner-Rheims text for use in worship and study:

The result was a nearly century-long American experiment, officially sponsored by the Church, to revise the Challoner-Rheims texts for use in liturgy and study. Like Knox, the project started with the Vulgate. Unlike Knox, after Divino afflante spiritu they started over from the original languages even though they had completed a large chunk of the Old Testament. The iterative series of “Confraternity” editions appeared from 1941 to 1969, mashing up the new texts with remnants of Challoner. The first completely refreshed new translation from American Catholic Biblical scholars appeared in 1970, twenty years after Knox, and was called the “New American Bible” (NAB).

Because of its switch away from the Vulgate and toward original languages, the NAB did not become a standalone closed text. The translators revised the New Testament in 1986, refreshed the Psalms in 1991, and a completely overhauled the Old Testament (and its Psalms!) in 2010. The current corpus is now the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), and the project continues today with an NAB NT revision project now under way. The final iteration of Bishop O’Hara’s 1936 initiative is likely to bear fruit in 2025 with a single text finally “suitable for individual study and devotion, catechesis, and proclamation within the Sacred Liturgy.” Hopefully, at that point, the committee will be open to rebranding the final product, in much the same way they did when replacing Challoner with “Confraternity” and later “New American” Bibles. A more universal name might clarify the status of this text as the Church’s own officially sponsored continuation of the original Challoner-Rheims and encourage its use throughout English-speaking liturgy (I propose the “Bible for Catholics in English” or BCE).

Academic cousins
But we already have that, you say. Both the Jerusalem Bible and the Revised Standard Version (RSV-CE) before it have had their day in the liturgy. True, but looking at the texts as a taxonomy, they represent slightly different species in parallel evolution. Both are respected and scholarly English translations, ranging from literal to literary. Yet neither came from the same kind of “Episcopal mandate” as either Knox or the NAB textual families. Both essentially began as the independent work of scholars and were “received into” the Church upon completion and approval.

The Jerusalem Bible began as a collaboration between English translators and a French translation team affiliated with the Dominicans of the École Biblique in Jerusalem. The RSV Catholic Edition was “confirmed” from even farther afield, as the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain reached out to the American Protestant translation team behind the RSV, asking permission to make authorized changes to their existing text that would render it suitable to Church authorities for Catholic readers. I am not saying these translations are any “less Catholic” than Knox or the NAB lineage, just that the Church didn’t directly “produce” them in quite the same way. They are examples of what His Holiness Pope Pius XII meant when he wrote:

It is the honorable, though not always easy, task of students of the Bible to procure by every means that as soon as possible may be duly published by Catholics editions of the Sacred Books and of ancient versions, brought out in accordance with these standards, which, that is to say, unite the greatest reverence for the sacred text with an exact observance of all the rules of criticism. (Divino afflante spiritu 19, emphasis mine)

Especially the RSV Catholic Edition which, in 1966, predated either the Jerusalem Bible or the NAB: a rigorously translated Protestant Bible confirmed Catholic so the Church would have a suitable translation from original languages “as soon as possible” after the Pope’s 1943 encyclical.

In a sense, the RSV-CE and Jerusalem Bible are a pair of academic cousins: the fruit of two branches of British scholarship, one turning West and the other East to fill a gap in the Church’s own Biblical resources of the day. Rather like the original Douay-Rheims in 1582, in fact, both stem first from the work of academic bodies, and are only “brought into the fold” by bishops later. More significantly, both also spawned textual families of their own. Where Knox represents an evolutionary branch that “died out” after one generation because of its reliance on the Vulgate, both the RSV and the Jerusalem Bible continued to “be fruitful and multiply,” each creating its own genus through descent with modification (to borrow a phrase from Darwin). The translation team behind the RSV later produced the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) in a Catholic edition in 1989, receiving an imprimatur though famously denied a place in North American liturgy outside of Canada. After the École Biblique revised the French Bible de Jérusalem, the Jerusalem Bible similarly passed on its mantle to the 1985 New Jerusalem Bible, and didn’t stop there. Now with a third edition in French, it has begun a new working edition in English currently known as “The Bible in its Traditions.” [PDF] (It is interesting, however, that despite its prominence in the English Catholic Biblical tradition, the French Bible de Jérusalem remains an academic project, and does not carry the episcopal mandate for use in the liturgy. Like Knox, and later the NABRE in English, that honor belongs to the French bishops’ own official translation, LA BIBLE: Traduction officielle liturgique, now the official text of French-speaking Catholics around the world. Approved for use in liturgy as well as personal study and devotion, this new French Bible gives us a sense of what the NAB translators are aiming for in English.)

Another interesting parallel, though a subject of a post all its own, is that both translations also spawned publishers’ proprietary house revisions. Ignatius Press issued its own “second” Catholic edition of the RSV when it aligned its lectionary revisions to the specific requirements of Liturgiam authenticam. Similarly, when the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments” (CDWDS) published its “Letter to the Bishops’ Conferences on ‘the name of God,” the Catholic Truth Society issues its own “New Catholic Bible” stripping the 1966 Jerusalem Bible of the word “Yahweh,” and replacing the Psalms with the Grail version used liturgically in England and Wales. That makes this volume unique, as one of the only printed Bibles directly mirroring a working lectionary used in current worship. However, it remains to be seen whether such publisher-led initiatives can maintain ecclesial approval for the changes they make to the text of Scripture and be deemed official “Catholic Bibles” in the fullest sense.

Pastoral stepchildren
Perhaps most intriguing are various scriptural subspecies, each a single member of its own genus. Some like the Catholic Living Bible and the Good News Translation came into the Church from the Protestant and evangelical spheres. Others like the Catholic Community Bible (and perhaps some day a full Bible in the New Catholic Version) were produced within the Church itself. The common denominator among them all is that they were all adopted by the Church for pastoral or missionary purposes, to introduce editions tailored to audiences at different levels of ability reading in English.  

The Catholic Living Bible, also published as “The Way,” represents an interesting offshoot. Published first in 1972 by Kenneth Taylor, it is often dismissed today as one of those early 1970s experiments in street language paraphrases. In other words, not a proper translation, but a Bible for the “Jesus Freaks.” However, most don’t realize that it was the American Standard Version Taylor was paraphrasing, the immediate precursor to the RSV. That makes the Catholic Living Bible an interesting critter: not only a child adopted from the Evangelical Protestant arena, but like the more literal RSV-CE, a direct descendant of the Authorized “King James” Version. Together, the Catholic Living Bible and the RSV-CE family carry the King James tradition across the divide to Catholic readership at different levels of reading ability and formal equivalence. Unfortunately, after the 1988 publication, Tyndale House Publishers began a revision process that ultimately replaced the original Living Bible with its New Living Translation, which has not yet secured an imprimatur. Though a bit dated, and hard to find in print now, the original Catholic Living Bible is still readily available used online. It makes a decent - and officially sanctioned - alternative for those who like the sound and reading level of “The Message” but realize that its so-called “Catholic / Ecumenical” edition lacks proper episcopal approval for Catholic use.

The Good News Translation Catholic Edition is another good alternative, somewhere between the Catholic Living Bible and the RSV-CE. As a United Methodist growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, the original “Good News Bible” (technically “Today’s English Version”) was my Bible all the way until college. When my own son had his first communion, this was the Catholic Bible I bought for him. Written at about a fourth grade reading level, this Bible is best known for its brilliant and cross-cultural line drawings by Annie Valloton, and is sadly overlooked as a first Bible. This is because the original Good News Bible of the 1970s, like the Living Bible, was a freer thought-for-thought paraphrase edition and didn’t receive an imprimatur. Since then, however, a second edition of the Today’s English Version was published in 1992, based more directly on the original Hebrew and Greek texts and rebranded the “Good News Translation” to reflect its improved textual basis. Today, it is significantly improved over the original, while still retaining both the look, feel, and voice of the original. Published by the American Bible Society, the Catholic Edition makes a good “Bible to grow on.” A full Bible, not a “children’s Bible,” it can be read to - and by - young readers but held onto into adulthood. I recommend it as a solid Catholic alternative to more colloquial “all ages” translations like the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

The Christian Community Bible is perhaps the most interesting to me, because it is the hardest to track down. Like the Jerusalem Bible family, it stems from a successful non-English precursor, in this case the Spanish la Biblia Latinoamericana of 1971. The product of Rev. Bernardo Hurault’s translation work in 1960s Chile, the missionary father translated Hebrew and Greek texts himself and combined them with his own homiletics as commentary materials. The Christian Community Bible is the 1986 English translation produced by a Claretian missionary in the Philippines who saw the need for an English version, like Huaralt’s, that could be read and understood by “ordinary poor people.” Approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, this translation has been in print constantly for nearly 30 years, yet seemingly impossible to find in U.S. bookstores!  It is published by the Pastoral Biblical Foundation and Claretian Publications in the Philippines, which issued a new revised edition in 2013, and is available in a number of different formats. It is also the basis of numerous co-branded vernacular editions in non-English languages, that share the same trade dress, illustrations, and commentaries. It has a somewhat unfair reputation of being the “Liberation Theology” Bible, yet when I came across a copy during my own LT phase in the 1990s, I was surprised to find it so dogmatic and pastoral. Similar to what we’ve seen of the New Catholic Version New Testament (also approved by the Bishops of the Philippines), it is a full translation written in English that is non-technical but also non-conversational. It isn’t folksy like The Catholic Living Bible or The Message. It’s more formally equivalent than the Good News Translation, but easier to read than the NABRE or NRSV. In short, it’s a pretty solid Catholic reading Bible, tailored to the language abilities of most English speakers. In that sense, I hold it up as an approved Catholic alternative to the Common English Bible (CEB), a translation focus-tested to make sense to the widest range of English-speakers.

So where do you fall? Rather than looking just at your “favorite translation,” describe where you and your Bible reading fall on this taxonomy of approved Catholic translations?    

Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn.


Anonymous said...

Where does the New Community Bible fit in to your taxonomy? It's based on the Third Revised Edition of the Christian Community Bible, and is a product of the Society of St. Paul. I recall coming upon it in a review posted on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Christopher for this great post on Catholic Bibles. Interestingly, here in Ireland there has an emphases on the RSV and Jerusalem Bibles, both in liturgy (Mass) and literature (Mass leaflets, books).

Considering the CCB I often wondered how some of the footnotes were given an imprimatur e.g. James 5:13.

Thanks again for an informative post,
John Blake.

CWBuckley said...

Fascinating, Anonymous-

I'd never come across the New Community Bible at all. Though described as a "fresh translation," a reader review here on Amazon indicates it is actually a reprint of the text of the Christian Community Bible.

Without seeing one, I'd count it as an "edition" rather than a "translation." For instance, there are many different editions of the NRSV (I.e. Women's Bibles, Student Bibles, Catholic Family Life Bibles), but all are the same translation.

Perhaps more to the point, the RSV-CE is a translation, but Ignatius Press has started to brand it as the "Ignatius Bible," even when published by Oxford. I think this is what St. Paul's is doing with the CCB text when they reprint it for readers in North America.

Great question. I'll want to find one to compare. Thanks for reading!

Timothy said...

Here is a review;

Luke said...

After reading several volumes of the CCSS I have stopped limiting myself to "approved" versions. Mary Healy frequently corrects the NAB translation to be closer to the Greek and when I compared her corrections to other translations they are often very similar to the ESV, NKJV, and NASB. Peter Williamson also frequently sites the "non-approved" ESV in his commentary. I don't find any anti-Catholic bias in these translations and they are often closer to the DR translation. I have several other Catholic Bibles when I need the Deuterocanonicals. My opinion now is that unless someone is fluent in the original languages we should take advantage of all good translation that accurately translate the text.

CWBuckley said...

Interesting. It is a reprint of an older CCB text (sisterly not the current 2013 revised edition). So it is like Ignatius' claiming of the old RSV at its own text to differentiate it from the current NRSV.

Even more interesting, it changes the use of the Divine Name to "LORD" in keeping with the 2008 Vatican directive. So it's like the Catholic Truth Society's "CTS New Catholic Bible" which does the same to the original Jerusalem Bible text.

In that case, this fits under my paragraph about publisher's "house editions" of scripture that make changes to the base text that weren't provided by the translators themselves.

With the NCB, St. Paul's does to the CCB text what Ignatius does to the RSV, and CTS does to the Jerusalem Bible.

CWBuckley said...

Hi Luke,

Yeah, as a former Protestant seminarian myself, I can understand that.

It all depends on your purpose.

Scholarly reading of the text? Sure.

But as a confirmand, Apostolic tradition is also important to me. To become Catholic, I wrestled to understand and accept the notion that the Bishops preserve and pass on the sense of the oral teaching the resurrected Christ left with the apostles when he "opened their eyes and ears" to the true sense of Scripture.

With that in mind, the imprimatur is supremely important, because it indicates which translations have been certified to pass on that sense, and which have not (yet).

Does that mean that only Catholic Bibles can ever fit the bill? Of course not. The RSV-CE is there perfect example: very much the fruit of Protestant academia, the Bishops ultimately recognized the Catholic sense of Scripture within it and granted it an imprimatur. Maybe some day things like the Message or the CEB can be received the same way.

Buy until then, for my use in prayer and devotional study, I'll rely on the various approved translations. That's part of what inspired this post: identifying how the approved translations map to other more prevalent yet unapproved ones.

Sorry of an "eat this, not that" analysis for those to whom it matters. :-)

Thanks for reading.

Unknown said...

I too would live to see the CEB become approved... It's a very unique and alive translation and I feel it would serve the faithful much better than some of the older, drier translations

rolf said...

I picked up a copy of the CCB at my local Catholic store years ago. I like the CCB and its notes (for the most part). The quirky art work and the reduction of the font size for 'non essential' (my words) scripture is a little bit of a turn off for me. However this can be remedied by buying it on kindle! I think the commentary notes would fit nicely with Pope Francis' emphises on a poorer Church and care for the poor! Both are a product of South American Catholicism.

Javier said...

Fantastic entry, Christopher!.
I'd like to expand a bit on the Christian Community Bible. I have here a biography of french Father Bernardo Hurault, by José Agustín Cabré Rufatt, CMF: 'La Palabra de Dios no está encadenada' ('The Word of God is not chained').
In it is clearly stated that the CCB translation was the personal work of Fr. Hurault (and his team). The Claretian missionary you mention is probably argentinian Fr. Alberto Rossa, who helped Fr. Hurault in the translation and canonical approval effort.


CWBuckley said...

Thanks Javier-

My understanding was that the original Spanish Biblia Latinoamericana was Hurault's, which inspired the English translation in the Philippines.

Though I could be way off base there.

Javier said...

having translated the Biblia Latinoamericana, Fr. Bernardo Hurault moved to the Philippines. There, he -and a locally recruited team- translated the Bible to english, to tagalog, to cebuano, and to ilonggo (or hiligaynon). While in the Philippines, he also completed the french version of his Bible, and he began work on a chinese version (though I'm not sure if he was able to complete it before his death).
It is pretty amazing that a man could have achieved so much in so little time. But it seems he did.

CWBuckley said...

Thanks for the great info. Sounds like Timothy might want to consider a co-patron for his blog: Fr. Hurault - the Knox of the Americas.

Can't wait to get my hands on a copy. I had to contact the publisher in Macau to track down a copy of the latest revised edition.

Jason P said...

Two questions:

Do you have any information or input on the 1913 - 1935 Westminster Version of Sacred Scripture? This was the first Catholic Bible made from the original languages, even before DAS of Pius XII came out. Also anything on the 1941 Spencer NT from the Latin Vulgate, or on the 1956 Kleist-Lilly New Testament?

And finally, what do you make of Father Kings translation of the Greek Septuagint, and the unofficial modern translation of the Latin Vulgate called the CPDV - Catholic Public Domain Version - by amateur theologian Ron Conte?

I personally am a huge fan of the CPDV and would love to see it in print. I am not a fan or advocate of Mr Conte or his wingnut theories, but in my opinion he did a lovely job updating the Douay Rheims Challoner.

Thank you and God ble

Javier said...

Fr. Hurault could make a great co-patron. He was certainly a very prolific translator. As I have read none of his bibles, I can't attest to the quality of the finished product.
His close collaborator from the Philippines, Fr. Alberto Rossa, now runs the Claretian bible publishing and distributing operation from Macau. The Claretian publishing house carries several of Fr. Hurault's translations. But not all of them. And I find this quite curious. You see, Fr. Alberto Rossa is an argentinian, and so his native language is spanish. He was familiar with the Biblia Latinoamericana for years before meeting Fr. Hurault. He was his close collaborator and friend. And yet, the Claretians chose not to carry Fr. Hurault spanish translation. They chose the text of 'La Biblia del Peregrino', by Fr. Alonso Schökel (with different notes and introductions, and rebranded as 'La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo'). Admittedly Fr. Schökel's translation is considered by many one of the best in spanish. If not the best. But I still find the fact curious and hard to explain.

Biblical Catholic said...

They aren't going to rename the NAB in 2025, for one thing that will confuse everyone because won't be aware that it is a revision and will think it is a brand new translation. And they certainly aren't going to re-name it to something with the word "Catholic" in the title, because that will immediately leave it as a kind of ghetto Bible read only by Catholics, where they want it to be as ecumenical as possible, used not just by Catholics but by Protestants, Orthodox or any other Christian. The word "Catholic" was specifically avoided to prevent it from being thought of as ONLY fo Catholics.

CWBuckley said...

Jason P,

As I understood it, the Westminster version was never finished.

As I wanted this post to stay focused on full translations in English that have received an imprimatur, I opted to leave it out.

For the same reason, I didn't mention Fr. King's. I've heard it's actually quite good, though and I'm really intrigued by the idea of a modern translation only of the Septuagint. Sorry of a koine parallel to Knox.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested the New Community Bible can be purchased here in the US through Alba House--the US publishing arm of the Paulist Fathers. Their website:

They offer 4 editions: a paperback for $19.95, and three gift editions for $24.95 and a deluxe with zipper for $29.95

This is the 2013 revised/updated edition.


CWBuckley said...

I'm sure you're right. I just encourage us all to widen the horizon of possibilities.

Frankly, the reason for going all ecumenical may be a bit less urgent now than it easy in 1970. We really don't have add much a need to establish an "American" Catholic scholarship in international circles in the way we did then, and the wealth of available translations out there have fragmented any hope of a universal readership for any one translation.

Frankly, I suspect we'd increase circulation by emphasizing the Catholicity of our Bible than by hiding it.

Biblical Catholic said...

You can't just change the name of a Bible translation midstream the way you are suggesting. It can't be done without confusing everyone. No one is going to buy something if they don't know what it is. People will hear that a new edition of the NAB has been published, but not being able to find it, will buy nothing.

And changing the name opens the door to the accusation that it is being intentionally mislabeled in a dishonest attempt to hide what it is.

The publishers will immediately be accused of a bait and switch.

There are actually Bible translations out there that are marketed in dishonest ways.

The "Living Translation" is often accused being nothing more than a modest revision of original 1971 Living Bible with the word "translation" added to deceive people into thinking that it is a wholesale revision when it is not.

And you have the opposite accusation made about the NIV and ESV, that they made major revisions without telling anyone.

There are standard ways of naming Bible translations to indicate that the text is a revision of some previous text.

Sometimes you add the word "New" such as New Revised Standard, New American Standard, or the New Jerusalem. Sometimes they add the word "revised" like Revised English Bible, Revised Standard Version or NAB Revised Edition etc.

But just flat out changing the name completely would not be well received by the market, and would be widely interpreted as dishonest.

CWBuckley said...

Oh I'm sure you're right. In just inviting us to think beyond convention.

After all is the NABRE really a "revised" anything? The OT is a completely new translation. The NT was replaced in 1986, and is being completely retranslated again now. Once complete, it will have no text in common with the original NAB except for the name. At this point it's more of a NAB "replaced" edition. Why not show that it's a new translation, if that will help promote readership?

Arguably, it would be a more honest descriptor that clinging to a name merely for the sake of branding and tradition.

Heck, even the RSV was a significant departure from the RV/ASV. We certainly think of it as a different translation, often seeing more commonality with the King James Version than the other two revisions immediately before it. What if the named had actually reflected that?

Conversely, changing the name of a translation happens a lot.

Was Challoner REALLY a revision of Douay Rheims? By all accounts, it was a fundamentally changed text, not a revision of what was already there.

What was "Confraternity" but the Challoner with a new NT pasted on in bits.

I'm just opening up possibilities here, and suggesting there's nothing holding us to a name but inertia. If we can promote adoption through a careful and studied rebranding, why not?

Steve Molitor said...

Regarding the ecumenical appeal of the NABRE, at this point I think it's close to none. I can't see many Protestants wanting to use a bible that was revised to confirm to the Vatican's Liturgiam Authenticam, and that requires all editions to include the notes approved by the US bishops.

In reality the notes are more historical-critical than Catholic (nothing offensive or anti-Catholic about them either IMHO), and I understand that the translation team included many Protestants. But as they say in politics, the optics are all wrong for it to have much appeal to Protestants.

Removing 'American' from the title might however broaden its appeal to English speaking Catholics in other countries.

Anonymous said...


interestingly enough the Christian Community Bible, which is the English work of Fr. Hurault, Luke 1:28 is translated as "Rejoice, full of grace".

Anonymous said...

"New Confaternity Bible" is a good name if it will get close to the Neo-Vulgate.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As someone from the Philippines, that ironically, the CCB didn't earn any significant attention here for several factors:

* its use of "Yahweh" for the Tetragramatton
* its Jewish or "Torah"-inspired arrangement of the Catholic Old Testament
* its unweildy typography

CWBuckley said...

Thanks Gerald-

Yeah, I just got a copy tonight in the mail. Very interesting critter.

Just as with the New Jerusalem Bible, I am put off by the use of Yahweh, though I REALLY like the introductions and notes. Even the line art strikes a chord in me.

Immediately what I see is a Bible I could give to a teenager at confirmation (where I would give the Good News translation to a younger child at first communion).

I'll need to sit with the text for a while during Morning Prayer to see how it grows over time. The version I received is the 2013 revised edition (59th ed.) which from what I've read is significantly different in many of its textual choices.

Out of curiosity, Gerald, what translation is the basis of your lectionary in the Philippines? Here in the US, it's a modified version of the 1970 NAB, and in Canada it's the NRSV-CE.

What do you use at masses in English? In Tagalog?

Javier said...

I just found this short video of the CCB, that could give an idea of what it looks like:
Christian Community Bible

Biblical Catholic said...

"in reality the notes are more historical-critical than Catholic (nothing offensive or anti-Catholic about them either IMHO)"

There are in fact many places in the NAB notes which call into question and criticize Church teaching, I am reminded especially of the note which says simply "This verse has often been used to support the doctrine of purgatory, however this not what the author had in mind." The verse that this note in question is attached to a verse which was cited in support of the doctrine of Purgatory by the Council of Trent" and ehre you note, without any kind of explanation, just baldy asserting that the Council was Wrong.

CWBuckley said...

A word in follow up to the question about the Westminster version. According to this source, only the NT and Palms were completed in full, with a smattering of OT books by the time the editor passed away.

In 1958, a Douay-Westminster Bible was published, blending the WVSS NT and Psalms with the Douay (Challoner?) texts for the balance of the OT. Apparently, this was the only time it was published as a single-volume Bible.

Charles G said...

I'm not sure why RSV 2CE is not on your chart. I believe it is approved for Lectionary use in the West Indies and Africa.

Anonymous said...


For Tagalog Masses, an adaptation of the Good News Bible in Tagalog is used here for liturgy, and for English, we mirror what the States are using. That is, the 1998-2002 US lectionary based from NAB.

But for older parishes I have a feeling that they use the 1970 lectionaries, perhaps they wouldnt like to purchase new ones.

CWBuckley said...

Thanks Gerald, and Javier to your question-

I love the RSV-2CE so much, and address it in the post itself, alongside the CTS New Catholic Bible which does something similar with the original Jerusalem Bible.

I don't treat them as new "translations" because they aren't. They are just "editions" of existing translations that are already classified in the chart.

Neither the translation team of the RSV/NRSV nor the Jerusalem/New Jerusalem Bible made the changes in either one. In both cases, a publisher simply made alterations to the text and reissued it as a new edition.

As I point out in the post, it remains to be seen whether that kind of publisher-led alteration can maintain its canonical approval. In private correspondence I've had with the USCCB's Secretraiat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs, responsible for approving editions of Sacred Scripture in the U.S., I was told explicitly that the Secretariat never reviewed and approved the 2CE, that the original imprimatur does not still apply, and that they have instructed the publisher their designation is erroneous, and that it will no longer appear in future editions of the Bible.

I haven't been able to get the clarification I would like, so I haven't written more deeply about it. However, I recommend you contact the Secretariat yourself for more information. For my own conscience anyway, it was enough to relegate the text (my favorite edition, I might add) to another publisher experiment, like the Message, that is useful for commentary and side-reading but not (yet?) approved for Catholic devotion and use. If I want something catholic and RSVish, I will be turning to the RSV-CE or the NRSV-CE.

CWBuckley said...

And sorry, I should have addressed the last comment to Charles. :-)

As noted earlier in this comment thread, another "edition" that falls into this "publisher-led alteration" category is the "New Community Bible," in which St. Paul's makes its own changes to the text of the Christian Community Bible and reissues it under its own new branding.

Now that we have three data points, I think it's kind a weird trend, and I hope the Church will issue some clear and authoritative guidance around it. A publisher re-edits an existing edition, and rebrands it as its own: Ignatius with the RSV-CE, CTS with the Jerusalem Bible, and now St. Paul's with the Christian Community Bible.

Interesting in one sense. As each publisher sort of stakes a claim in an older translation, their chosen text sort of shines a light on their perspective as a Catholic publisher. Choosing the RSV sort of brands Ignatius around scholastic rigor, traditional renderings, and formal equivalence. Choosing the Jerusalem Bible, CTS is opting to make the Bible in print match what the people hear in mass (CTS is most active in the UK). The CCB is a decidedly pastoral and missionary stance for St. Paul's.

Meanwhile, Catholic Book Publishing takes another path entirely: producing its own translation (New Catholic Version), and getting it approved piece by piece by a Bishops' conference outside the U.S. (Episcopal Conference of the Philippines). If we see an OT some day and finally a full Bible in one volume, I may have to expand my chart! :-)

Anonymous said...


The CTS Bible, as I have one from Lenny (again my deepest gratitude to her), has no issues with imprimatur.

In the copyright page, they indicated there the individual imprimantur (that's the plural in Latin) of the Jerusalem Bible text and the 1963 Grail Psalms separately, they still indicated a new imprimatur for the whole adapted volume, which I think the Ignatius RSV-2CE must have done to show transparency.

Javier said...

I think now you'll have to write a guest post on your experience with the CCB.