Thursday, November 9, 2017

Show Me the Money: NAB(RE)

If you have been a regular to Catholic online forums (or even this blog at times) and the topic comes up about the NAB, someone will eventually bring up the issue of the royalities that are collected for licensing the NAB.  Usually the person who brings up this issue does so with an axe to grind against the NAB, CCD, or USCCB. 

Well, I was happy that our friend, Mary Sperry, passed along a recent USCCB Press Release that shows were some of this money goes.  (There are others not listed here.)  I thought I would share it with you so you could see for yourself:

WASHINGTON—This Fall 2017, for the first time, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded grants in the amount of $85,900 for four projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.
Funding for these grants comes from the royalties received from the publication of the New American Bible and its derivative works which the CCD develops, publishes, promotes, and distributes.
The four projects sponsored by the CCD are as follows:
  • $11,750 to Dr. Todd Hibbard (Associate Professor, University of Detroit Mercy) for field research in Jerusalem related to his project on the rhetoric of urban destruction in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. This research will inform the forthcoming monograph, Prophets and Prophecy in Ancient Israel and Judah: A Phenomenological Approach.
  • $11,800 to Father Robert Lapko (Moderator for the Centre for Biblical and Near Eastern Studies of the Archdiocese of KoŇ°ice, Slovakia) to provide partial financial support for continuing biblical education and formation of Slovak clergy through seminars, and intensive summer school for biblical languages, and a study trip to the Holy Land.
  • $17,350 to Dr. Patrick Russell (Chief Academic Officer and Professor of Scripture Studies, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, Hales Corners, WI) for a project to ascertain the most effective preaching strategies employed by priests that lead parishioners to more profound encounters, focusing on the Gospel parables in the Sunday Lectionary for Mass.
  • $45,000 to Dr. Nathan Eubank and Dr. Markus Bockmuehl (Keble College, University of Oxford) for 12-month research project designed to contribute to renewed understanding of the relationship between Scripture and the early Christian creeds, particularly, the Apostles' Creed.
The CCD works with the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) to offer these grants accepting applications only from the CBA, including the organization itself, its designees, and its active and associate members. In fidelity to Dei Verbum, the CBA's purpose is to promote scholarly study in Scripture and related fields by meetings of the association, publications, and support to those engaged in such studies.


JDH said...

This is great information. The complaints you cite are some of the most annoying on Catholic online forums. The charge seems to be that it is wrong for the bishops to own the rights to a translation because they will be incentivized to do bad things because of the royalties. But, of course, the only alternative is to PAY royalties to another copyright holder anytime Scripture is used for liturgy or any other purpose. And, that publisher can always say no to any changes to their text. So, unless you want to give the National Council of Churches or Crossway, or even Ignatius, veto power over liturgical texts, owning the text is the only way to go.

Matthew Doe said...

The alternative is hardly between making oodles of cash from a bible translation (pushed with all might as the only one) and losing ownership of it entirely. The owner can choose how much to charge as license fee, and yes, charging nothing or a nominal fee is of course an option. Furthermore, even if the bishops adopted an open license system, this would not affect their fundamental copyrights. Here is for example how Creative Commons describes their license system:

"All Creative Commons licenses have many important features in common. Every license helps creators — we call them licensors if they use our tools — retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work — at least non-commercially. Every Creative Commons license also ensures licensors get the credit for their work they deserve. Every Creative Commons license works around the world and lasts as long as applicable copyright lasts (because they are built on copyright). These common features serve as the baseline, on top of which licensors can choose to grant additional permissions when deciding how they want their work to be used."

I suspect that if we knew how much the USCCB is making on the NABRE rights, the grants listed would appear as, well, peanuts. So I don't see the point of posting this, to be honest. That they spend a percent or two of earnings on academic research is eminently shrug-worthy.

Francesco said...

Is this above and beyond the 15% share the CBA gets from NAB(RE) royalties?

Michael: You don't need to speculate. The USCCB issues annual reports of its finances and the report for last year states the USCCB earned $2.7M in royalties out of $247M in total revenue (about 1% of revenue). $85,900 is about 3% of that figure.

Check it out if you're interested:

Payments for intellectual property are pretty low on my list of ways the USCCB could fund itself. Certainly better than having a "Taco Bell Cathedral" somewhere. As far as "the point" of posting about these grants... Timothy probably has something on what he sees as the mission of the blog but news regarding the Catholic Biblical Association has shown up regularly.

Jeff S. said...

Is there any possibility that the USCCB, CCD, CBA would allow
a publisher to print the very FINAL version of the Confraternity Bible
of 1969. I've managed to procure THREE of the FOUR individual volumes
but it seems impossible to find a copy of the fourth volume, which is
actually "Volume 2" and it came out in 1969. And I've heard that there
may have been an extremely limited printing of the complete Confraternity whichwould have had the contents of all four volumes.
That "Volume 2" contained the books from Samuel through Maccabees.
But I've also heard that the four volumes were separately printed
and never combined into one final Bible.
I've actually had a conversation with a Catholic university which does have that fourth volume of 1969 - "Volume 2" - in the stacks, but they said they have no plans to sell it!

Biblical Catholic said...

The four volume CCD Bible is identical to the 1970 NAB OT with the sole exception of the book of Genesis, which was re-translated before the publication of the single volume for stylistic purposes.

Unknown said...

The people with an axe to grind probably won't pay many attention to facts and numbers, or they'll find something else to complain about. Thankfully I no longer visit any Catholic forums to read their nonsense.

Biblical Catholic said...

I honestly don't see what is offensive about the USCCB making money off licensing the NAB....yes, the NAB is a source of revenue, what is wrong with that? It's certainly better than paying some third party to use the RSV or NRSV or Jerusalem Bible.

I think the fact that they own their own Bible translation instead of paying to use someone else's translation is a sign that the bishops are responsible stewards of the money that Catholics donate to the Church every year, they are doing what they can to reduce unnecessary expenses, as someone who has probably donated thousands of dollars to the Church in my lifetime, I can appreciate that they aren't wasting it.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I agree with Biblical Catholic, they is nothing wrong with charging to use a translation. I own 2 bible, one a recent NABRE. It didn't cost all that much and the book was well made so the license fee is probably not huge.

Biblical Catholic said...

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Catholic Church in the United States is far from being the only church that owns its own translation.

The largest Protestant denomination in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention, and since 2004, they have owned their own translation, namely the Christian Standard Bible, formerly the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the SBC commissioned it for largely the same reasons the USCCB commissioned the NAB: to have a modern translation that they own and therefore don't have to pay a fee to use. And the CSB is not a terrible translation by any means, it could easily be biased in favor of Baptist theology, for example, by using the word 'immerse' in place of 'baptize', but they avoid the temptation to do that, in general I don't think that the CSB is more biased than any other evangelical translation which is not directly owned by a denomination. The SBC did a decent job with it, which I appreciate. T

But it's not just the Southern Baptist Convention and the Catholic Church. The RSV and NRSV are owned by the National Council of Churches, which means that they are owned by all the denominations that belong to that body, including the United Methodists, the Episcopal Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and many others. This is why the NRSV tends to be used in these churches, because they can use it free. Many people point out, in response to criticisms of the NRSV, that it is the most commonly used English translation in the United States, but the main reason for that is because it is owned by the churches that belong to the NCC and they can use it free.

Jason MSpyridonP said...

The reason you can't find it is because it doesn't exist.

Volume II was completed in 1969 - but they were releasing the NAB in 1970, so they waited.

The 1970 NAB took the 1969 Confraternity, utilized a new translation of Genesis, a fresh New Testament, updated the names from Latinate to Judaic (Paralipomenon became Chronicles, Ezechiel became Ezekiel, etc) and the verse numbering changed to reflect Hebrew instead of Latin, tweaked the commentary, and voila - the 1970 NAB.

The closest you'll find to a "complete" Confraternity Bible would be any version released between 1961 - 1969.

It will contain the 1941 Confraternity New Testament, and all the books of the Old Testament in the Confraternity/NAB translation.

The Books of Samuel/Kings (1-4 Kings), Chronicles (1-2 Paralipomenon), Ezra-Nehemiah (1-2 Esdraa), Tobit (Tobias), Judith, Esther, and 1-2 Maccabees (1-2 Machabees) will be the old Douay-Challoner versions.

Jason MSpyridonP said...

There are other minor differences between the Confraternity OT and the 1970 NAB OT - though in substance they remained essentially the same.

As you noted, Genesis is a different, new, less traditional and IMO inferior translation.

Also, book names now reflect the Hebrew instead of Latin (Paralipomenon becomes Chronicles, Esdras becomes Ezra, etc.)

The commentary (introductions, footnotes, and cross references) was updated and tweaked.

Lastly names in the text have been changed from Latin-English to Hebrew-English; Isaias became Isaiah, Noe became Noah, Sem became Shem, etc.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of surprising there's any complaints about this. It could be like other Bibles, where it goes directly to a publisher and more than likely, secular efforts (especially now the case with HarperCollins owning the rights of the NRSV and no longer the National Council of Churches). Who better to donate to than to the church, if you're a Catholic?