Last week, I mentioned that Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for the Utilization of the NAB at the USCCB, was willing to answer some of your questions regarding the revised NAB (NABRE). She graciously took the time over the past week to answer some of them. If you have any more questions about the translation, please feel free to comment below. If you have any suggestions for the new website, please contact Mary Elizabeth Sperry at nab (at) usccb dot org
Question: Is there any possibility the New Testament will include the changes adapted for the liturgy?
At present, there are no plans to revise the New Testament.
Question: Will it restore the word "charity" in place of "love" when appropriate?
Though this issue does not really appear in the Old Testament, a similar one does, so it merits discussion. The art of translation requires putting text from one language into another. It requires deep knowledge of both the original and the receptor languages. In some cases, the receptor language does not have an exact match. In other cases, the receptor language changes over time so that the meaning of a specific word becomes limited (or changes altogether. See, for example, the translation of Mark 10:14 in the Douay Rheims Version).
The first type of case appears frequently in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word “hesed” does not have an exact match in English. It is translated variously as “mercy,” “faithful love,” “steadfast love,” “loving kindness,” and the like. The second type of case is seen in the use of the words “charity” and “love.” In common English usage, “charity” is often understood to be material assistance given to the poor. Obviously, that is not the meaning intended in Scripture. Of course, “love” does not fully capture the meaning sought either. In such cases, translators must do their best to capture the fullest possible meaning of the original.
Question: And will the Old Testament match the New in style and translation? Will it restore "Tobias" in place of "Tobiah"?
Like the New Testament, the translation of the Old Testament is a formal equivalent translation attempting to reflect the original language as closely as possible. As in the current edition, the spelling of proper names in the New American Bible follows the customary forms found in most English Bibles since the Authorized Version.
Question: How about "Spirit of God" or "Divine wind" vs "Mighty Wind" in Genesis?
I use this as a general example. I can’t comment on any specific wording pending the release of the complete text. I can discuss general principles, but not specific verses.
Question: On more of a format side, I have a 1970 edition of the NAB published by Catholic Press and World Publishing Co. that is a favorite of mine. It's 7 1/2" x 9", has a flexible cover, words of Christ in red, and the most unique thing about it, it has THREE columns on each page. Any chance the revised NAB will be published in an edition like this?
Ultimately, the formats are decided by the individual publishers, not the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Some publishers may be looking at this format (though three columns is quite a challenge for formatting). The best way to ensure that such a format is available is to communicate that desire to the publisher of your choice. If enough people want a specific format, a publisher is more likely to provide it.
Question: Will the NABRE replace the NAB for use in the liturgy? If so, how soon after publication will the switch happen?
Substituting the NABRE for the NAB in the Lectionary would be a time-consuming, multi-step process. First, the text would have to be formatted for the Lectionary. Then two-thirds of the U.S. bishops would have to approve the revised Lectionary, followed by confirmation by the Holy See. That process would take years at the fastest, even given the bishops’ decision to proceed.
Question: Will publishers continue to produce NABs after publication of the NABRE?
Publisher sales of the NAB will cease 18 months after the NABRE is released for publication. It is likely that some stores will have copies of the NAB for a while after that. But if you really want a copy of the current edition, you should purchase it within the next year.
Question: The NAB is such a joke, considering we got the RSV CE and the Douay Rheims. Both superior translations.
There is room for multiple translations. No single translation can ever capture all of the nuances of the original text. Using multiple translations can help a reader delve more deeply into the meaning God intends us to draw from his sacred word. The NABRE makes use of the best available manuscript traditions and archaeological discoveries not available to the translators of the RSV-CE or the Douay-Rheims. Hopefully, use of these materials will help bring us closer to the original text.
Question: A good idea might to put a 'beta' version of the NABRE (or part of) online before final publication.
No portion of the NABRE may be published until the bishops release the text for publication. Once the bishops have granted that release and a public announcement has been made, portions of the text will be made available. The entire text will be posted close to the initial publication date.
Question: The current NAB OT does reconstruct/rearrange verses in some places like in Ezekiel. Will the new edition follow that same practice?
This rearrangement occurs far less often in the NABRE and is more clearly marked.
Question: Will the new Psalms follow the same verse numbering as the original?
I can’t answer this question without reference to my computer files which are snowed in at my office. I’ll answer it as soon as we are able to return to work.
Question: I wonder if this means notes which are now in the NAB that are unfaithful to the Church will be removed or fixed.
The text, introductions, and notes of the NAB have received the imprimatur, signifying that nothing in the text is opposed to Catholic faith or morals. The revised Old Testament is undergoing the same scrutiny and will receive the same assurance of fidelity.
Question: Who will be publishing the NABRE? I know that one of the frustrations in the past was that most NAB editions seemed to look almost identical, even if published by different publishing houses.
Unfortunately, I cannot announce the publishers of the NABRE until the text is released for publication. No contract to publish is finalized until the text receives final approval.
That being said, it is likely that you will see much greater diversity in the settings of the NABRE since modern methods of digital publishing make the creation of multiple formats easier and more cost-effective. Many current editions were published using typesetting files created during the 1970s and 1980s that are far less flexible.
Question: Is the NABRE going to be like the RSVCE and Douay Rheims, and be "Non-Inclusive"?
The revised NABOT does not use “vertical inclusive language.” It attempts to convey, as far as possible, the meaning of the original text. This is not always as easy as it sounds since Hebrew uses the same word for “sons,” “daughters,” and “children.” Translators must rely on the context of the passage to make the translation. In many cases in the OT, this is relatively clear as the text is narrative. For example, you know if the writer is talking about the sons of Isaac or the daughters of Jerusalem or the children of Israel.
Question: Complete sentences with verbs.
While the NAB translators follow standard English grammar, in some cases, the underlying Hebrew may use sentence fragments, particularly in poetic texts. In such cases, the English takes its clue from the original, provided comprehension is possible.
Question: Chapter and verse notation which conforms to recognized norms.
I can’t speak to questions of chapter and verse notation without recourse to my office files. See above comment regarding snow.
Question: Vocabulary that rises to a standard worthy of the Trinity: See NAB Isaiah 9:6ff for just one example of English that desperately needs to be elevated.
A entirely new and more reasoned approach to gender issues. The NRSV, NLT, NJB are not good examples. However, other modern translations exist which do gender inclusion better, attaining such without changing or obscuring the meaning of the text. Gender inclusion may be here to stay, but the NAB needs to go about it in a different manner than it has in the past. These questions are unclear.
I can’t really respond to them.
Question: An Old Testament translation which does not exclude a Christian understanding, especially in the Psalms. Example, the current rendering of Psalm 1 is incompatible with St. Augustine’s commentary on Psalm 1 and the fault lies with the translation theory. The English translation should make the magisterial teaching of the Doctors of the Church more accessible not less.
The NABOT and its notes will be very helpful in pursuing the canonical exegesis which the Holy Father has discussed. (See especially his address to the Swiss bishops on the ad limina visit.) However, it is very important to understand that the Fathers of the Church were far from unanimous in their interpretation of Scripture. Making the text compatible with one commentary may make it incompatible with another.
Question: A thorough and complete Christian revision of the notes and articles included in the text. The introductions and notes of the NAB should be faithful to the magisterial teaching of the Church.
See above response regarding the imprimatur.
Question: Please, pretty please may we have some cool, high quality paper, fonts, binding, covers, design, etc. See bibledesignblog.com for a fun if evangelical discussion of such things. See especially the notes on non-leather bindings—there are many good possibilities that are not leatherette or bonded leather or 1960-ish vinyl.Margins. Readable type-setting. Smyth sewn. Options.
See above for discussion of the role of publishers. All of these decisions are up to publishers though the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine is working closely with the publishers to maximize the formats available. The plans I have seen are very exciting.
Question: A Greek / Hebrew interlinearDevelopment of this resource will depend on a publisher.
Most publishers will want some assurance of a sufficient Catholic market before developing such a publication. However, many electronic editions will offer the ability to view the English translation and the original text side-by-side or interlinearly.
Question: At long last, the text in the Bible I buy must match what is read at mass on Sunday. This is a must. It must happen. The published text and the lectionary text must be the same.
As explained above, this is a time-consuming and complicated process.
Question: Strive for excellence. The AR-NAB has always been a mediocre translation at best - nowhere near the worst and nowhere near the best; just fair-to-middling. Make it excellent and the critics will be silenced.
The NABNT is generally considered one of the highest-quality translations available. I have no doubt that the NABOT is at the same or even higher standard.
Question: Is the revision of the text (both scripture and notes) complete? If so, could you show us a sample?For example the Common English Bible, a translation that is much more than a year away from publication, has posted on its website the Gospel according to Matthew (http://commonenglish.com/forms/home.aspx). Is there any way that the USCCB could do something similar?
With the exception of the Book of Psalms, the revision is complete. However, the text may not be published in any way, in whole or in part, until the bishops authorize publication.
Question: Will the NABRE include a section for daily Liturgical readings according to the 3 year cycles?
The decision on including this chart is up to the individual publishers. However, we could include the chart in downloadable format on the website if that would be helpful.
Question: I know this would be more up to the publisher, but it would be great to take my Bible to Mass with me and be able to follow the readings of the day by simply using multiple ribbons to mark them before I go. This way I can just flip from one to the next using the ribbons. When I was a Protestant I took my Bible to church every Sunday and followed along with the pastor. I know the missals in the pews have all the readings in one spot, but I think it would set an example for some Catholics to be able to use our Bible's as we go through the readings.
This is up to the publishers. However, adding ribbons tends to add substantially to the cost of the Bible because of the extra work involved.
Question: Will the new Psalms follow the same verse numbering as the original?The numbering of the verses follows the Hebrew numbering whichtypically counts the superscription as a verse.
Question: Chapter and verse notation which conforms to recognized norms.
The biggest differences, e,.g. Malachi, are not unusual among Catholictranslations. The Neo-Vulgate follows a similar pattern.