Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Lectionary in England and Wales?

Thank you to reader Mike for passing along this piece of news from England and Wales:

"The Bishops’ Conference agrees to seek the approval of the Holy See for the use of the Revised Standard Version (2nd Catholic edition 2010) and the Revised Grail Psalter (2010) in the preparation of a Lectionary for use in England and Wales."

Can any of my fine readers in England or Wales confirm this?


Francesco said...

Did I just hear Theophrastus' head explode?

Jeff S. said...

"Revised Standard Version (2nd Catholic edition 2010)"
Every copy I have of the RSV-2CE has a copyright of 2006.
Is there some "newer" RSV-2CE out there?

Jeff S. said...

P.S. to my previous comment
Perhaps the 2010 date could mean the 2006 RSV-2CE
was "Anglicized" in 2010. Just guessing. Hopefully
someone out there reading this blog would know the
facts on this.

CWBuckley said...


Maybe a reference to the original three-year lectionary in two volumes that Ignatius Press published?


Also,interesting timing, given that it's so fast on the heels of the new Divine Worship missal approved for all the Ordinariates and adopted last month. As you can see from this FAQ, it uses the RSV-2CE as the basis for its lectionary for mass.



rolf said...

This makes sense to me if they had been contemplating using the ESV before hand. The RSV-2CE is already a Catholic edition and would not have be converted like the ESV. Plus not having to deal with Crossway for rights and approvals, etc. would be a plus!

rolf said...

Liturgyoffice.org.uk confirms that they are asking for approval to use the RSV-2CE and the Revised Grail Psalter in the new Lectionary for the UK.

Leighton said...

Would that the U.S. would follow suite, and let go of the use of the current text.

Then the readings at Mass would better serve the beauty of the liturgy.

rolf said...

Leighton there is no way, they are well under way to revising the NABRE NT. That finished translation we will have in our Liturgy for many years to come.

If the UK gets approval to use the RSV-2CE in the liturgy, maybe RL Allan could get permission to publish the RSV-2CE and produce the only premium copy of that translation! A greater market would be there in the UK and here in the US.

Leighton said...

Rolf, I know, I know. It is a pipe dream. The NABRE will be around long after I'm gone.

That's the other thing: to be able to purchase a genuine leather edition of the RSVCE 2nd ed. would be wonderful. It is interesting to see how many Catholics use this version, and yet there is, apparently, not enough of a market for a more expensive edition with gen. leather. Good point: if the UK does start using it, perhaps publishers like Cambridge and Oxford will take that up.

Timothy said...

If you are looking for good editions, I'd recommend going to their Facebook pages and expressing your wishes! They do respond.

CWBuckley said...

Not to bring up this old specter again, but if the UK Bishops adopt it for liturgical use, that should put to rest any remaining question over its canonical status.

rolf said...

Timothy, I already left a note with Allan advising them of the UK Catholic Church's request to use the RSV-2CE in it's Liturgy. I know they are going to be working on something for the Catholic or ecumenical market.

Timothy said...


Good. I wonder if they would be willing to do the RSV-2CE in the format that it exists. They kind of have a "look" to their book blocks. One wonders if Ignatius would even be open to it.

rolf said...

They were able to work with Crossway, it would not threaten Ignatius Press' sales because it is a very exclusive market. They let MTF change their format a little for the Didache Bible (though they are associated with that Bible). I hope something could happen on that front!

CWBuckley said...

Just show me an uncontestable imprimatur or proper recscript and I'll be satisfied. You can print it on cardboard for all I care. :-)

Leighton said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Tim.

Oxford and Ignatius cooperated on a genuine leather edition of the NAB (before the revision of the revised OT was released), so I would think Ignatius would be open to working with another publisher (as they did, as pointed out, with MTF for the Didache Bible). I am a big fan of the interior layout of the Didache Bible, incidentally, but would love to see it available in genuine leather (and without the hard boards). The MTF Missal is available in genuine leather, and it is just beautiful, worthy of its contents (it is leather on boards).

Thanks to this blog I lightened my wallet with a purchase of the black standard edition of the NJB from DLT that is on sale in the U.K. I was wondering if any of you can confirm that it is 1) sewn binding, and 2) genuine leather (it doesn't clarify) on board. I am more concerned with question #1. Sewn binding is a must (I believe I read somewhere here that it is sewn).

rolf said...

Christopher, that fact that the RSV-2CE is approved by the Vatican for use in the Catholic Liturgy right now and is being used by the Antilles, the Anglican Ordinate and I believe in Africa in some parts. The fact that the Vatican requested many of the changes that resulted in the RSV-2CE (per Fr. Fessio) and approved it for use in the Liturgy shows that they accept the original imprimatur from 1966. This 'trumps' (not Donald) a simple imprimatur that Bibles like the GNT and the Catholic Living Bible were able to obtain!

CWBuckley said...

Rolf, thanks-

Yes, that's the theory, and I think the one most likely to hold sway.
However, if you look closely at the response from Father Fessio here, there's one problem it doesn't address:


Namely, what Ignatius submitted and amended at the request of the CDW was a lectionary, not a full book of scripture.

In other words, this isn't a case where the publisher amended a translation of Scripture and then grandfathered in approval for the new edition by securing approval for its use in liturgy.

To the contrary, when it was approved, it only existed AS a lectionary. Therefore, it's not clear to me that issues of the imprimatur were ever considered. In the post above, Fr. Fessio explicitly states:

"Since there was a pattern to the changes required by the CDW, IP simply made those same changes to the parts of the Bible not included in the lectionary."

In other words, Ignatius created a new edition of its RSV lectionary, submitted it for approval, and made some changes the CDW requested for greater conformity with the newly published Lirrtugiam autenticam.

All well and good.

THEN it seems to have taken an extra step in good faith and applied those changes to the rest of the RSV text, and published it (again in good faith) under the original imprimatur.

That may pose a problem, and it's enough of one that I wish the Church would clear it up. Everyone, at all levels of the Church, responding to this at all takes it for granted that since the RSV-2CE was approved for use in a lectionary, canon law therefore approves the translation the lectionary came from.

But if what Fr. Fessio seems to say in that blog post is true, then it isn't. There WAS no RSV-2CE, just a revised RSV lectionary that got reverse-engineered into scripture. It's as if I decided to take the current NAB-derived lectionary for mass, apply the text over the current text of the NABRE, and publish it as the NAB-3CE.

So while I HOPE that provision wins the day, another way of reading this whole thing is that there is a validly approved revised RSV Ignatius lectionary that has been validly adopted for some liturgical use in the Antilles, in the Ordinariates, and hopefully soon by the UK/Wales Bishops. BUT, there may be no validly approved RSV-2CE Bible, as a stand-alone book of scripture.

Certainly the USCCB Secretariat refuses to list it on their list of approved translations:


Yes, that's a list of texts approved after 1983, and earlier translations (Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, RSV-CE) don't fall into that classification.

But that's not the claim Ignatius makes. On my copyright page, it states:

Second Catholic Edition approved under the same imprimatur by the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, February 29, 2000

So which is it? Original imprimatur with a valid rescript? New Bishops Conference approval for a new translation? Approved as a book of scripture by the Holy See for liturgical use? I hope it's the last case, but if so, show me where. Right now, all I see is the CDW weighing in on a revised lectionary.

rolf said...

Leighton, if it is the DLT NJB that is on sale for $85, it is a sewn binding and it is leather covered hard cover (for the price I would assume it is genuine leather) and it uses better bible paper (which results in a little more bleed through than the Doubleday version).

CWBuckley said...

Whether or not the RSV-2CE validly exists as a BIBLE, use of the original lectionary from which it sprang isn't an issue where validly adopted.

What's interesting to me is the pastoral / liturgical implication of adopting it in the UK.

If that happens, then whether you attend a diocesan parish or an Ordinariate parish in England or Wales, you'd be hearing the same lectionary. Different missal, but same readings.

rolf said...

Christopher, I see your point. I have compared the RSV-2CE and RSV-CE side by side through the four gospels and Acts and found the changes to be to archaic language only. In the OT the amount of material used for the Lectionary is small compared to the amount in scripture in the Bible. In past comparisons, I have found that they are almost the same except again for archaic language. I really don't see the concern and view it as a revision of the 1966 RSV-CE.

CWBuckley said...

I'd like to as well. Problem is, neither your opinion nor mine counts when it comes to publishing "books of sacred scriptures," only "the Apostolic See or the conference of bishops" that "approved them." (Can. 825 §1)

Seemingly, neither has.
The Holy See only seems to have weighed in on the lectionary, not the Bible.

Hence my original statement that a decision by the UK Bishops MIGHT put this issue to rest, if they extend it to the Bible itself and not just the lectionary.

rolf said...

Well because of this decision by the UK Church, I am going to continue to compare the two texts for difference, I have been logging those differences on my computer. I started again with Romans and after 3 Chapters, the only difference I have noted is 'that thou mayest' (RSV-CE) and 'that you may' (RSV-2CE).

rolf said...

I don't think MTF (which is fairly conservative) would base their Didache Bible off a translation that is not properly approved by the Catholic Church. On one of the title pages on the Didache Bible reads like this:


With ecclesiastical approval

Nihil Obstat: Thomas Hanlon, S.T.L., L.S.S., Ph.L
Imprimatur: Peter W. Bartolome, D.D.
Bishop of Saint Cloud, Minnesota,
May 11, 1966

So it appears to me that MTF understands that the 1966 Imprimatur applies to the text of the RSV-2CE. I wonder if the 'with ecclesiastical approval' at the beginning of the text denotes that?

Anonymous said...

Well that's good news! Especially for me as a RSV-2CE "convert", however, I doubt if the RSV-2CE text would blend well with the Revised Grail Psalms.
It's a bit unwieldy combination.

* Christopher -
In my experience, the Church had never adopted or approved a version for lectionary use without any imprimatur. That seems impossible.

On the other hand, the Church (granting the authority of the Bishops Conference under Canon Law) had versions with imprimatur for non-liturgical use, even we find the translation questionable.

Well, if the imprimatur is what bothers you, the British bishops anyways can grant them if that would be necessary. Just as what they did to the CTS Bible. Even though the Jerusalem Bible and Grail Psalms had individual imprimaturs, the English bishops still granted a separate imprimatur for the whole CTS Bible.

Speaking of the CTS Bible, that would literally kill the market for the JB+1963 Grail.

Leighton said...

Rolf, thanks for the info. Yes, it is the $85 one. I assumed it was sewn for the price. I hope it IS genuine leather, but am not as concerned about that since it is on hard boards. It looks like a beauty. I will share my impressions when it arrives.

Timothy said...

You better!

Biblical Catholic said...

"Just show me an uncontestable imprimatur or proper rescript and I'll be satisfied. You can print it on cardboard for all I care. :-)"

The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition received an imprimatur in 1966. The so-called "second edition" makes changes which are so insignificant that they are barely even discernible. In fact, other than removing all of 'thees', thy's and 'thous' and replacing them with 'you; and 'your', I've never been able to find any differences between the two. Whenever I've tried to compare the two texts, I've actually never found a difference other than removing the archaic language. In fact, whenever I have compared the two, they have appeared to be exactly word for word identical.

The ESV is 94% identical the RSV, and the RSV-CE 2nd edition is at least 99% identical to the 1966 edition.

No new imprimatur is necessary, it is not a new translation, it's not even a new revision of an existing translation, it's a simple replacement of a handful of words, mostly in the Psalms.

Timothy said...


I think it is a bit more than that. See these various posts and the comments made:

One of the main problems, I contend, is that Ignatius has never been transparent about this translation. They have never listed the changes made, the people who were involved in the process, or any background into its formation. Ignatius is the issue.

CWBuckley said...

Thanks for the detail, Timothy and Michael. I know that the -2CE contains more than just updated archaisms, but also changes the CDW requested in Ignatius' Lectionary for compliance with Liturgiam authenticam (like Virgin and chalice).

And I hear you, Biblical Catholic. I agree, these changes should be minor, and it would be nice if the imprimatur clearly did apply.

But canon law doesn't seem to be concerned about that, or even whether it's a translation versus an edition or a revision.

"Can. 825 §1. Books of the sacred scriptures cannot be published unless the Apostolic See or the conference of bishops has approved them. For the publication of their translations into the vernacular, it is also required that they be approved by the same authority and provided with necessary and sufficient annotations."

The letter of the law states you can't "publish" a "book of scripture" unless it is approved by the Holy See or a conference of Bishops.

A strict reading of that, in light of the sequence of events described by Fr. Fessio, would indicate neither happened. Ignatius seems to have gotten its Lectionary approved, yes, and then reverse-engineered a Bible out of those changes after. That second step is what I question.

Again, if so, it was in good faith assuming those changes were minor. But then why publish the Bible with a new approval from the NCCB dated 2000?

As for MTF or Lighthouse Catholic Media or any other publisher licensing it, in this scenario they're acting in good faith too, based on Ignatius' assurance. And the fact that conferences and ordinariates are using the Lectionary only matters a little, since the Lectionary seems to have predated the Bible and been approved independently.

But I'm still waiting for someone to hold up the statement of approval for the RSV-2CE from either the Holy See out Bishops conference specifically as a "book of scripture" (not for the Lectionary that spawnedd it). The USCCB isn't claiming that and won't list it as one of the versions it approved. That leaves the Holy See, and all I can see there is approval of a Lectionary.

I may be entirely off base (and hope I am, as it's one of my favorite editions). But canonically, I don't see how it exists yet as a valid book of scripture. So I'd really like the UK Bishops conference to weigh in here.

rolf said...

In my 2006 copy of the Ignatius RSV-2CE it says:

'With ecclesiastical approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops'

rolf said...

Thank you for these links Michael, they confirm what I have found so far. They will also save me the time of further comparisons!

Anonymous said...

I'll admit right off the bat that I'm not as well versed in the intricacies of Biblical translation as many others here on this blog, which is why I visit it. But isn't a lot of this anxiety over the "validity," of the RSV:2CE really just wrangling over procedure?

I feel like this discussion over the imprimatur comes up every time this translation comes up on the blog, and I have to wonder as somewhat of an outsider what the major concern here is? The criticism seems mostly focused around the way in which Ignatius Press sought, or didn't seek, a proper approval of their revisions to the original RSV:CE text. To which I say,"Ok fair enough."

But can we distinguish between frustrations between Ignatius Press and the byzantine USCCB approval structure and the quality of the text itself? Really, ultimately what is the major worry here? That a publisher didn't seek approval through the appropriate channels? That the process for said approvals in the Catholic Church more widely has been come unnecessarily cumbersome?

Neither of these issues seems to touch on the quality of the translation, which I have yet to hear anyone make a complaint about. I mean it's based of a previously approved Catholic edition of the RSV. I'm skeptical that any major theological errors are going to be discovered hiding somewhere in the RSV:2CE, which seems to be the implication of some of the discussion of it on this blog. Given the very fine toothed combs that many have already run over the translation it seems like someone would have found something by now if that were the case.

For Catholics especially, the issue of proper authorization of a Biblical text are certainly important issues, don't get me wrong. And those do need to be sorted out. But can we please keep some perspective here?

Though, if someone has a theological concern, I would be very interested to see that discussed, as it seems like that should be the primary concern.

rolf said...

Unknown, exactly!

Unknown said...

This is exciting news. I hope it gets the full approval, as this is without a doubt my favorite translation.

Margaret J. Read said...

In regards to the former Catholic Church approval of the RSV-CE 2nd Edition, as someone who worked from my diocese alongside the public relations department I can affirm that both the translation itself and the Lectionary now in use based on the RSV-CE 2nd Edition are approved by ecclesiastical authority.

When some Anglican churches in Brittan became part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy See approved the RSV-CE 2nd edition as the Bible for day-to-day use for all needs in the Anglican tradition. (See http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/03/07/holy-see-approves-bible-for-ordinariate-liturgy/ for more information).

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham sent out a press release that stated:

"The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has published a Decree permitting the use of the Revised Standard Version (Second Catholic Edition) for liturgical use in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

This edition of the Holy Bible allows those Catholics originally from the Anglican tradition, to worship using a version of scripture which is familiar to them. It also promotes the English Bible tradition and recent efforts to renew Catholic liturgy with more accurate translations." (For more information note: https://frstephensmuts.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/holy-see-approves-first-liturgical-resources-for-ordinariate/)

In other words it was the RSV-CE 2nd edition that got the approval for use in the Liturgy. According to Canon Law, if a Bible translation receives approval from any proper Church authority, the same Bible translation is approved for use by Catholics anywhere on the planet.

Even if the RSV-CE 2nd Edition had no approval from the USCCB, this approval from the Holy See itself makes such unnecessary.

Margaret Read
St. Augustine, FL

CWBuckley said...

Can anyone find the text of that Decree from the CDW? Lord knows I've tried. All I keep turning up is Anglicanorum coetibus itself, which merely references Liturgical books appropriate to the Anglican tradition in general (not the translation specifically).

My Googling powers can only find the press release you've mentioned and not the decree itself. What I fear is that the release is referring to Anglicanorum coetibus and has made an overstatement.

Also, just because I'm an amateur at this myself, what provision of cabin law is it that allows universal adoption of a translation once approved? That keeps coming up, but I've never seen source cited.

rolf said...

Thank you for the information Margaret.

Nick Albanese said...

Thank you for your post, Margaret. And it turns out we're in the same diocese!

Steve Molitor said...

Not all of the changes between the RSV-CE and RSV-CE2 are minor. For example, Isaiah 7:14, "young woman" vs "virgin." That's a pretty significant change! It's easy to miss though, since they are the same more than 99% of the time. That's why it would have been helpful it Ignatius could have published a list of changes.

Setting that issue aside, what with this news and the Didache bible, it looks like the RSV-CE2 has gained a new lease on life. This is good news to me, because I like the RSV. I hope this might eventually lead to an RSV-CE3, that would be something like the ESV, but without Crossways! Keep everything mostly the same, but smooth out the roughest bits, correct the minor inaccuracies, and update the language very slightly (ie maybe "coat" instead of "mantle", etc). I think there's a market for a catholic or at least catholic friendly bible that is fairly literal, in the KJ tradition, and conservative in its translation choices yet up to date with the latest scholarship and manuscripts including the Dead Sea scrolls. An updated RSV would fit that bill.

Margaret J. Read said...


While you will have to contact a specialist in Canon Law to either correct or confirm my conclusions here, I will do the best I can from what I learned from my time of working for the Church. One of my best friends, a priest, was a specialist on Canon Law. I myself often did a lot of work in Liturgy.

First off, you may not be able to easily locate every decree made regarding the Personal Ordinariate on the Internet. Whereas just about every decree is likely available on the Holy See website, I can’t image that every single one is yet there. These documents do not begin as website documents and therefore must be cataloged onto a website depending on the need and the proper reason for doing do. If you can’t locate a particular curia document then it may not be there for various reasons.

Second, the Anglican tradition needed an entire Bible translation in English to be used for more than mere Lectionary readings. It is my understanding that their use of the Common Book of Worship continues, similar to the Latin Rite’s use of the Divine Office. They were also in need of just a regular Bible for everyday private use. As the Anglican congregations are from the culture of the UK, the Catholic Church had to offer little more than the Jerusalem Bible for liturgy. Since the change to the vernacular, the Jerusalem Bible has until recently been the standard pretty much for all things Scripture in the Catholic Church in the UK.

The Anglican tradition immediately required guidance on the adoption of a Bible closer to the King James Version which is still the touchstone version of the Church of England. Anglicans have a long history of reading Scripture directly from the Bible as opposed to Catholic use of a missal and the Lectionary. The needs for a Bible translation for all the needs was required.

As a consequence, the Holy See itself made the decision to approve the Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition as an approved Bible for use by those Anglican congregations which became part of the Catholic Church near the turn of the current century. The decision had to cover all the various needs of these English-speaking Catholics, including those needs involving the Lectionary and not merely for purposes matching Catholic Latin Rites. To my knowledge, as I understand it, several decrees were made in reference to this situation.

The parts of Canon Law governing the production of Bible translations is that of sections 822-832. The code itself is not merely what is read but how it is interpreted. The USCCB interprets the code, especially section 325 in the following manner (as stated on its website under the section “Approved Translations”): “Any translation of the Sacred Scriptures that has received proper ecclesiastical approval ‒ namely, by the Apostolic See or a local ordinary prior to 1983, or by the Apostolic See or an episcopal conference following 1983 ‒ may be used by the Catholic faithful for private prayer and study.”

This is not directly expressed in the code. However, the code does state that a Bible translation is approved for Catholic use after it has received proper ecclesiastical approval according to the same code. That being the case, the USCCB interpretation is correct because the code does not prohibit a Catholic from using any Bible translation that has received proper canonical approval. Therefore a Catholic may make use of any approved Catholic Bible, regardless of the authorized body that makes the approval, for private use in accord with Canon Law.

Margaret J. Read

Steve Molitor said...

This just occurred to me: how well will the change from JB to RSV go over among British mass goers? The RSV is my daily reading bible, but I do own and appreciate the JB.

I wonder though if many will find the RSV-CE2 too hard to understand and too archaic sounding. Even though the RSV-CE2 removes the 'thees' and 'thous', it still has a lot of old fashioned words and the phrasing is sometimes a bit hard to understand at first hearing. None of this bothers me in my personal reading, but it would be quite a departure from the JB.

For the personal ordinates the RSV makes perfect sense, since I assume they're coming from the KJ.

Anonymous said...


I am not from the UK, but from what I know, the most common cited versions in the UK are both the JB (especially for Catholic use) and the RSV (for Anglican use, and some older folks too).


This article complaining about the banality of JB for Mass readings, and otherwise citing RSV as an alternative, though not representative of the entire British populace, at least it is an indication that switching from JB to RSV is not a trivial thought, but rather a much-considered option.

So if I am right with my assumption, switching to RSV is a little adjustment for British people, since for modern ears, RSV resonates the classic phrasing of the KJV.

NRSV never really went deep into the British folks due to its much departure from the classic KJV phrasing (or Authorised Version, as they call it there).

Going back from history, ASV never really made its name to the British since it is largely an American craft. And its British counterpart Revised Version, never really made waves during the end of 19th century, so the RSV can be considered as the modern KJV.

The ESV may have been also a second choice, as it was originally planned, but knowing Crossway, it never went into reality. And knowing the ecumenical nature of the RSV and the recent developments to the Anglican ordinariates, RSV-2CE will better serve the purpose than a modified ESV.

Looking now at the eventual situation, Latin Rite and Anglican "Rite" Catholics would now read the same version. Very nice, isn't it?

And a beneficial end-product of this is, the entire Commonwealth nations might follow suit, leaving the US and Canada again in the corners.

Using the RSV-2CE for lectionary would hit three documents in one stone:
* Divino Afflante Spiritu (for being closer to Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek)
* Dei Verbum #22 (using an ecumenical version)
* Liturgiam Authenticam (using a formal translation with necessary emendations from the Nova Vulgata)

And another point, should the Commonwealth nations adopt the RSV-2CE, Canada might follow suit. Reading from the lectionary preface of the 1992 NRSV Canadian lectionary (I have an offline copy, but have no access to the 2007 approved lectionary), the Canadian bishops said that at that time, they were looking for a "modern" RSV, and also an ecumenical one, and of course that time, NRSV was the only option. So should the RSV-2CE gets adopted, it would be a possibility for Canada to follow, perhaps a little late than the others previously using the JB, after much discussion.

CWBuckley said...

Thanks Margaret,

Probably the best explanation I've seen in one place. I appreciate you taking the time to put it down.

I'd very much like to see the decree whereby the Holy See directly approved the RSV-2CE as a reading Bible for the ordinariates. That's the key to unraveling this whole dilemma. Without it, the conditions of canon 325 aren't clearly met. The new edition didn't exist prior to 1983, and I can't find direct evidence from either the Holy See or a Bishops' conference that they've reviewed and approved it's publication.

In response to my personal correspondence with the USCCB Secretariat asking why they won't list it among their approved Bible translations, I was told the USCCB never reviewed it, that because the changes were not just superficial the original imprimatur should not apply, that a proper rescript is needed, and that they've asked the publisher to stop saying it carries the US Bishops approval in future editions. Needless to say, no one seemed more surprised than Ignatius when I wrote to them asking for clarification. As neither will respond to me to clarify any further, I can only assume that someone, somewhere is wrangling it out.

But the point is, it's left me personally uncomfortable using the translation for prayer and study. The Bishops represent the teaching authority, preserving the sense of Scripture opened to the apostles handed down from Christ himself. A valid imprimatur is more than just a technicality. It's a statement that this translation does indeed bear the light of that revelation where others may not. So as much as I love the beauty of this edition, as long as that approval is in question, I can't in good faith use it.

But if, as you say, the Bible itself (and not the Lectionary) was approved for use directly by the Holy See, then it's fine. Or, if the UK Bishops finally grant their approval of this edition, that would also meet the 325 criteria.

In either case, what's needed is just for Ignatius to correct the basis of its claim to approval and to restate what it is. If the Holy See approved it, then please just print that in the proper format and cited the source. Enough with this "original imprimatur" and "NCCB" business.

As for the ordinariates, no they no longer use the Book of Common Prayer. The original Anglican Use parishes, created in the US by Pope John Paul II's Pastoral provision, created a "Book of Divine Worship," which was the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer adapted for Catholic considerations. The Ordinariates inherited that for a while after their formation. But as more and more of it fell away (I.e. the contemporary language texts were superseded by the new Third Roman Missal), the ordinariates worked with the CDW to create an entirely new Liturgical use within the Roman Rite silent for use of the ordinariates.

This new Missal was finally put into use last month in all three ordinariates. It's called the "Divine Worship Missal," and yes, it uses the RSV-2CE Lectionary for its mass readings.


If you live anywhere near an Ordinariate parish in US/Canada, UK, Australia (and one congregation in Japan), you should visit and attend mass. It's not a separate Rite (like Eastern Rite Catholics), but an adapted "use" of the Roman Rite reserved only for Ordinariate clergy and parishes. Any Catholic can attend mass at one, though you can only transfer membership from your diocese to an Ordinariate if you originally come from an Anglican tradition (including Episcopal, Methodist, or AME Churches). It's essentially a CofE service, in "King James" church English, using -2CE for all its Readings. Quite lovely on paper.

Hopefully, the UK Lectionary decision will dinner more light on this and out the matter to rest and I can use my favorite translation again as a Catholic in good conscience.

rolf said...

Christopher, your right we will probably have to wait untill the UK Church moves forward in it's process of adapting the RSV-2CE Lectionary before some of your legal questions are answered.
I sleep well at night after reading and praying with the RSV-2CE despite some of the snags in the legalism. Here is how I justify it:
Ignatius Press submits to the Vatican its RSV-CE translation (which is approved in 1966), the Vatican proposes changes. Those changes include changing archaic language (thees and thous, etc.) and to bring the translation into compliance with Liturgium Authenticam. These changes made at the request of the Vatican are not simply made to the portion of the RSC-CE that is being considered for use in the Liturgy but are made throughout the whole Bible translation, which changes the RSV-CE into the RSV-2CE translation. So the RSV-CE (which is Approved) is modifyed by changes that were made at the request of the Vatican (which are approved by the Vatcan - resulting in an approved Lectionary for Mass) and the result is the RSV-2CE (a combination of an approved RSV-CE and approved Vatican changes) to me would allow Ignatius Press to place in the title pages of the RSV-2CE: 'with ecclesiastical approval' (1966 impimatur) and in compliance with Liturgicam Authenticam (per the Vatican).
So the Approved RSV-2CE Lectionary was not created as a stand alone translation for the liturgy but resulted into an approved revision of the the aproved RSV-CE. Now could Ignatius Press done a better job in explaining this approval and or applied for a new imprimatur? Obvously yes, then we would not be spending all this time typing on a tiny keypad on a iPhone!
So I have no problem using the RSV-2CE!

CWBuckley said...

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. What you've described, though, is what I have a problem with.

They didn't submit a revised Bible for Vatican additional. They submitted a Lectionary, which the Vatican approved if certain changes were made.

I don't question any of that.

What I question is Ignatius seemingly taking an extra step and applying the changes the Vatican retired to the rest of the Bible then seemingly publishing it "under the original imprimatur." That is arguably overstepping the authority under Canon 825.

If what Margaret says is true, then the reason it's approved if because the Vatican later approved the whole Bible when the Ordinariates were created.

If so that solves the problem, but then I wish Ignatius would simply change their copyright page to say that.

rolf said...

It would be nice if someone from Ignatius Press were reading this blog and would jump in with an explanation for us!?! And if you are, where is the large print RSV-2CE that I have been asking for over the last 9+ years? :-)

CWBuckley said...

As an Episcopalian and a United Methodist before that, we used the NRSV (and before that the RSV) in worship. Occasionally, especially in services with children, the United Methodists used the Good News Bible, growing up. That seems to have been supplanted got the UMC note by the Common English Bible. My grandmother's generation, though, certainly did hear the KJV as "the" Bible, in church and at home.

Timothy said...

I do find it interesting that Baronius sought and received a brand new nihil obstat and imprimatur for their new edition of the Knox, although there are no changes from the final version Knox published in the early 50's.

Margaret J. Read said...

Apologies for this very, very long comment, but I felt moved to say something since it appears Christopher is dealing with an issue of conscience and could use some assistance with clarifying matters.

The Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version received its approval under the previous Canon Law in 1966 from His Eminence John Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, London. The New Testament alone received approval about a year prior to this, but the 1966 approval is the one that stands for the RSV-CE as a whole.

Therefore you will never see the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition on the list of approved Bibles on the USCCB website. That list only covers Bible translations that have received formal approval directly from the US Bishops and only after the 1983 changes to Canon Law. Whatever approval it may have received by the Catholic Bishops for certain uses in the United States was following that original 1966 approval from a bishop in Britain.

As the Canon Law now stands, minor changes to the text of a Bible translation do not rescind approval and the current “second” edition really isn’t a “second” edition, not by international copyright law standards anyway. The changes in the text are so minor that the RSV-CE 2nd edition is not considered to be a new intellectual property. In fact it is still covered by the same 1965/1966 copyright. The changes made to the text to make this edition do not affect anything that procured the original approval from Cardinal Heenan. It is technically the same work.

What changes were made were declared “editorial” not only by the USCCB but by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the Roman Curia (CDW) as well. Both received a full-list of changes to the new edition prior to publication.

It is true that the USCCB has not given formal approval to the “second” edition. According to both the USCCB and the CDW (not to mention all governments which recognize copyright law) this is not a true new edition of the original RSV-CE. As such Ignatius has made a minor technical error in stating that this edition is published with approval by the USCCB, but it is just a technical error. According to Canon and Copyright law, the RSV-CE 2nd edition is actually the same edition as the original of 1965/66.

The use of “second” edition is merely a marketing name, as it is the second edition published by Ignatius Press, but it is the same RSV-CE. That the text was “revised” according to “Liturgiam Authenticum” is also a marketing ploy. Liturgiam Authenticum (LA) does not govern the revision of Bible translations for general Catholic use (such a private study and prayer). LA is an instruction on preparing and rendering Biblical texts for Liturgy. Catholic Bibles are not translated according to the principles of LA, though they should be considered.

As for the Knox Bible, it too originally held approval from the Catholic Church in England until Baronius Press secured the rights from the Diocese of Westminster in 2009. With the publishing of its new 2012 edition, a new imprimatur was given from the Archbishop of Westminster. This might have something to do with the rights to printing switching hands. Copyright laws in England do not expire as they do in the United States, and technically according to copyright law the Baronius edition was new intellectual property (you can't really "switch hands" concerning rights in the UK). This technicality obviously called for a new imprimatur as the Baronius edition is considered a new work under British law even though the text did not change.

I hope this helps. I did all I can in asking questions and finding answers. Heading out for Christmas vacation. God bless.


Margaret J. Read said...

One very last note I forgot.

The "revisions" based on "LA" are really representative of some of the minor editorial changes in the RSV-CE text. But it isn't as if the entire RSV was revised to read like "LA." The changes found in the main text are those readings in the RSV footnotes (such as Isaiah 7:14 in the RSV) and other editorial decisions that match what LA requires for the Lectionary. (In most cases the main text readings and footnotes merely switched places.)

What the "revision" note means is that you will find what you would hear from the Lectionary based on LA in the main text. Due to the fact that the Culture Wars in the United States are dividing Catholics on issues such as "inclusive language," it is polite way of saying "no inclusive language found here." This note is a selling point appealing to Catholics who want such a Bible--accurate in some sense of the word, but little more than a way of explaining where on the spectrum of the culture wars the "second" edition stands.


CWBuckley said...

Thanks for the added detail.
Have a blessed Christmas, all.

Steve Molitor said...

So I wasn't even aware of Canon 825 until reading this discussion. Canon 825 states that sacred scripture cannot be published without proper approval. It doesn't say anything about reading un-approved translations however. Obviously non-catholics are not bound by canon law. Is it OK for me to read a translation published by protestants?

In point of fact, the RSV I read is the NOAB with apocrypha, based on recommendations from this blog. Am I in violation of canon law?

I watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special the other night, and Linus read from the King James. Should I have plugged my ears? ;)

I appreciate Christopher's concern, but being in accord with Canon 825 is not something I've ever worried about frankly. It does bother me a bit though that Ignatius may be mis-representing things slightly.

CWBuckley said...


That made me laugh. :-)

You're right: Canon 825 governs the creation of books of scripture, not the consumption of them.

But to honor your point: it's not entirely irrelevant to the reader.

Of course you're not obliged to stop your ears when unapproved translations of scripture are read. Especially when it appears in entertainment. Whether seeing A Charlie Brown Christmas, or even listening to Handel's Messiah, my intent is enjoyment and entertainment, not prayerful lectio divina.

On the other hand, if I'm specifically picking (or giving) a book of scripture to read for personal study, reflection, and prayerful illumination, I do have a responsibility as a Catholic to make sure it is a licit translation approved as such by the Church.

I can prayerfully sing the Hallelujah chorus at a sing-along Messiah.
But if I'm studying the Bible during morning prayer, I should make a good effort to use a Bible approved by the Church for Catholic prayer and study. Whether it's also approved for liturgical use in the mass is a nice extra, but only that: a bonus.

Which is why Margaret's right when she says it is (silly as it may seem) an issue of conscience for me. IF canon 825 means that Ignatius (even on a technicality) has published a book of scripture without proper canonical approval, that's a problem for my ability to use it.

Margaret J. Read said...


This was my fear from my long comment, that I would fail miserably to get my point across.

What I stated was that Ignatius did NOT publish an unapproved edition of Scripture. Becuase the changes were so minor, the RSV-CE 2nd edition is still considered by both Canon Law and copyright law as the original RSV-CE of 1966.

Remember how I mentioned that the "2nd edition" has the original 1966 copyright? As such it also has the original imprimatur that I mentioned. You are mistaking the expression "2nd edition" to mean a new "revision" of the RSV, but it isn't. It is only a "2nd edition" of the RSV published by Ignatius.

It is not a true revision either. The NCCC, which holds the copyright to the text of the RSV, has produced the only new revision of the RSV text, known today as the NRSV. That revision was released in the late 1980s.

What I was pointing out was that you seem to be over scrupulous about this issue. The RSV-CE "2nd Edition" is NOT a revision of the Church-approved RSV-CE of 1966. It is only the second edition published by Ignatius. In reality, it is still the same RSV-CE of 1966. If it wasn't, it would have a new copyright date.

An "edition" refers to books released from a single publisher, such as one publisher releasing a hardback edition and also a paperback edition. Both editions are still the same book. Sometimes small editorial changes creep into the paperback edition that were not in the first, but it is still the same book nevertheless.

A revision refers to an entirely new intellectual property. The RSV does have a revision, notably the NRSV. The second Ignatius edition was not really "revised" according to LA. It merely made slight editorial changes to the main text, mainly from what already exited in the original footnotes, to match the Lectionary readings. Those slight changes may match LA, but it was not an actual revision of the entire text or introduction of significant changes to produce what would amount to new material.

The minor editorial changes in the second Ignatius edition required no new copyright. As such the original 1966 authorization stands. Being approved by Church authority in the UK in 1966, this second edition will never qualify to appear in the list of Bibles approved of US bishops since 1983.

The second Ignatius edition is still considered by both secular and Church authority as the original 1966 release, As such, one who claims that the new edition is unapproved is stating that original release was unapproved, and that is not true.

I think I have said everything I can and want to about this.

Maragaret J. Read

CWBuckley said...

Thanks Margaret-

No, you were clear, and I understood you.

It's just that I've been told explicitly in writing from the USCCB's Secretariat that they don't see it the same way: that the revisions are NOT minor enough to be deemed merely editorial, that the original imprimatur should NOT apply, and that they've asked the publisher to stop printing that it's been printed with ecclesial approval of the NCCB in future editions.

Unfortunately, it's an individual communication, so it's not publicly available and both they and the publisher refuse to comment further when I've written asking clarification. This leaves me deeply torn, enough so that I'm writing my bishop for guidance.

If what they told me was an oversight and error, then good. If not, and their communication is valid, then it's valid for all Catholics.

Have a Merry Christmas, and thanks for the persistence-

hoshie said...

Margaret: In a previous post you stated the RSV-2CE is "covered by the same 1965/1966 copyright". However my paperback RSV-2CE has this printed on the copyright page:

Revised Standard Version Bible, Ignatius Edition, Copyright © 2006, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America

The list of copyrights goes back to the RSV NT of 1946. I have scanned it here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eparses/23985317121/

I also the eBook edition of the RSV-2CE. These copyrights do not appear nor does the imprimatur (which is from 1966). In fact the paperback states the translation was "revised according to Liturgiam authenticam" in 2001; the eBook has a 2002 date.

I hope this process spurs Ignatius into being more transparent about this version. Hopefully this decision by the bishops can make it happen.

rolf said...

Hoshie, we all agree that Ignatius Press could have spelled it out better. The Didache Bible (RSV-2CE) lays it out on the second page of credits:

The Text of the Holy Bible

With ecclesiastical approval
Nihil Obstst: Thomas Hanlon, S.T.L., L.S.S., Ph.L
Imprimatur: Peter W. Bartholome, D.D.
Bishop of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, May 11, 1966

So at least in this Bible using the RSV-2CE, it is showing the approval used in the original Ignatius Bible which uses the RSV-CE.

Steve Molitor said...

Thanks Christopher for your thoughtful and good humored replies! You've given me something to think about.

Maybe I'm being Jesuitical, but the RSV that I read is very close to the approved RSV-CE, and since the RSV was not published by a Catholic organization it can't really be described as 'illicit' I don't think. Plus I have all my notes in it, so I'll probably keep reading it. ;)

I also have a copy of the the first NOAB NRSV, co-edited by Roland Murphy, a catholic priest. It comes in versions with and without the apocrypha. Was Fr. Murphy in violation of canon law in participating in this publication? The NRSV-CE is approved, and AFAIK is the same text as the NRSV with apocrypha though, just with the books in different order.

The good sister in charge of RCIA at our parish recommends and uses Catholic bibles, but says it's OK to read protestant bibles "as long as they have all the books" (i.e. include the deuterocanonical books).

Steve Molitor said...

Hi Gerald. I finally saw your reply to my comment after my Christmas break. Thanks! I too prefer the RSV over the JB, hope that the RSV-CE2 is used in the new missal in Great Britain, and hope it is well received.

I do hope that this guy is not representative of most British catholics though:


He says that: "most of the text to be found in the new Missal is simply illiterate and banal if you are lucky, and from time to time offensive to the point of apoplexy (well, mine anyway)".

The JB is never illiterate. Does he realize that Tolkien helped on the translation of Jonah? Does he think Tolkien's bits are illiterate? As for being banal, well it is written in contemporary English that most common people can understand. Does that make it banal? Does he realize that the language of Jerome's Vulgate was originally criticized for being vulgar and banal compared to the old Latin versions preceding it?

I have problems with the JB being a little too free and quirky about it's translation choices, but I think it is very well written. Elsewhere in the article the author says he prefers the Latin mass and rails against the "spirit of Vatican II", which indicates where he's coming from. I'm guessing he associates the JB with what he sees as the general banality of the Norvus Ordo.

In any case, his criticisms of the missal and the JB are so over the top that I can't really take them seriously. Again, I much prefer the RSV, but his attacks against the JB are laughable. I find these translations wars distasteful.

wxmarc said...

I also appreciate Chris's persistence on this front. I would like to see an official statement that clarifies the approval status of the RSV-2CE.

That being said, I'm not too concerned about it in my own personal usage. I've become convinced that the approval process for scripture translations is too often influenced by extraneous factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the translation. That's the only way I can explain the fact that the USCCB apparently had no interest in reviewing the CEB or the NLT for approval, but they've approved an obscure translation like the Alba House Gospels. I had never heard of the Alba House translations until I saw them listed on the USCCB approved translation list. I suspect the market for them is very small. On the other hand, approved Catholic editions of the CEB and NLT would open up significant common ground between Catholics and Protestants.

I suspect the problem has become worse with the 1983 Code of Canon Law, because every approval request must now be submitted to the bishops' conference, creating a bottleneck. The USCCB is focused on the NABRE, and it would take significant resources to review other scripture translations.

The situation is further complicated by an interesting proviso in the Vatican directive: Guidelines for Interconfessional Cooperation in Translating the Bible from 1987. In paragraph 2.8, the document says: "In some circumstances it may be wise to consider a preface including a joint recommendation by ecclesiastical authorities instead of a formal nihil obstat and imprimatur."

Someone pointed me to this provision during one of my multiple inquiries trying to understand why the NEB and REB were never granted an imprimatur by the Church, in spite of the fact that some readings in the UK Divine Office are taken from the NEB, and an auxiliary bishop of Westminster sat on the committee for the REB.

So, it seems like the the approval process is complicated, and in some cases, it doesn't even consider translations that have a good deal of merit, much to my dismay.

Anonymous said...


I have to agree with you on the translation quality of JB, if I had to choose one dynamic equivalent version, that would be the JB (the CTS edition specifically). I had used JB as my daily one before I made the switch to RSV-CE. And I must say that it was a struggle between the two. Reading through the JB really invites you to read the Scriptures.

But with recent developments in liturgy, specifically the Liturgiam Authenticam, whether the JB has been deificient for the British people (which I believe it was not, in fact the British had loved the JB), it's about time for a more formal translation for Liturgy, as LA mandates.

The New Missal just matches the precision of the RSV. For all its worth, it's about time anyway.

CWBuckley said...

Any updates on this front? I know the ESV lectionary effort ground to a halt. Is this one still going?