Thursday, September 9, 2010

Live Youth Bible: Catholic Edition Review

Now that I work full time in high school ministry to youth, the desire to have a solidly Catholic youth Bible continues to be an important need. Most of you are familiar with St. Mary's Press Catholic Youth Bible, which comes in both the NAB and NRSV. In addition, there are some others out there on the market, however many of them tend to simply be a standard edition of the NAB with various "youth" inserts. I always thought that was kind of lazy and uninspiring. On the other hand, one can easily go to their local Christian or secular book store and find many more options for Protestant youth. Many of them are very attractive in both their content and overall layout. So, for many Catholic youth looking for a personal youth Bible that is accessible and engaging, the Catholic Youth Bible has been the only real option. But, happily, that is beginning to change.

HarperOne, in cooperation with Our Sunday Visitor, has released this week the Live Youth Bible: Catholic Edition which comes in the NRSV translation. If this name and format look similar, Tyndale happens to publish a Protestant youth edition using the NLT. (I haven't had a chance to thumb through it yet to compare the two.) Either way, I am happy to say that, so far, I really like what I see. But first, here are some of the features:

LIVE includes art, photos, and other creative forms of self-expression by people their age who looked for God in their neighborhoods, schools, families, parishes, the world.

Challenging sidebars to help teens discover how the Bible can be a map for their lifelong faith journey and how it’s connected to every part of their lives.

Creative space to respond to what they’re reading—to doodle, journal, or paste pictures.

An invitation to join the online community at, where they can post their art, writing, and insights with others on the same journey.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Catholic Edition text that is fully approved for study by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In addition to what was stated above, the Live Youth Bible also contains new introductions to each Biblical book, a few Bible reading plans, features index, a list of helpful scriptural passages for various needs, and a concordance. The challenging sidebars include both inspirational quotes, as well as profiles of Catholic saints, questions/challenges, and forty "It's Tradition" which examines and explains various Catholic beliefs. There are probably over a hundred quotes scattered throughout this Bible from a broad range of people. One page you might find a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Ambrose, while on another you might read something from Jim Caviezel or Bono. Many of the quotes that I have read so far have been quite good, and they help to break up the text on each page. The "It's Tradition" treats areas such as Lectio Divina, the Deuterocanonical Books, Intercessory Prayer, the Litany of the Saints, and much more. Each is typically placed at a point in Scripture that is directly relevant to the topic.

The most unique element of this Bible is the desire by the publishers to have Catholic youth truly engage with the text. They really want the youth to write in their Bibles! Personally, I like this since I often encourage my students to do the same, even though many of them are hesitant to do so. The Live Youth Bible attempts to do this through the various sidebars that ask and challenge the youth to respond to a host of issues that relate either directly to the Biblical text or a particular youth issue. However, this is also accomplished through the "creative spaces" that are left blank at many places throughout the Bible. These "creative spaces" are of various sizes, some even taking up half a page or more. Tied into this Bible is a website, which intends to be a forum for youth to share their thoughts and creativity.

As I said above, I really like this youth Bible. I appreciate the desire of the publishers to encourage the youth to physically engage with the sacred text. The added online content will hopefully be updated regularly and be interesting to youth. I also like the size of this youth Bible, which is considerably smaller than the St. Mary's Press Catholic Youth Bible. I know that some of my students who used the CYB last year felt it was a bit too bulky. This is not the case with the Live Youth Bible. The addition of a concordance is also helpful, which is now missing on the latest revision of the CYB. I also like the fact that the Live Youth Bible does not contain any laminated page inserts. Again, the CYB has done this for their most recent edition, which I think just makes the book more awkward and the binding less secure.

Some things that I would like to see added to any future editions of the Live Youth Bible:

* Biblical Maps

* Sunday Lectionary Readings

* Additional "It's Tradition" sidebars

* Cross-References (That is an NRSV thing I know!)


Diakonos said...

Last word I heard (LONG ago) was the Vatican and/or USCCB nixed the NRSV for catechesis as well as liturgy. Do you know when/if this has been OFFICIALLY reversed? I have no problems with using it but would like to abide by Church stance. Thanks.

Timothy said...


I have never heard that to be the case. It is approved by the USCCB and it, along with the RSV, is quoted in the Catechism.

Dwight said...

I received my Common English Bible translation NT in the mail last week, and I'm loving it! Timothy, have you received one, and if so, what are your thoughts?

Diakonos said...

Hi Tim

Yes it happened back in Oct 1994. Here is a except from the Feb 1995 online issue of AD2000.

"Late last year a Catholic News Service report revealed that on October 25 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had announced a ban on use of the 'inclusive' New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation of the Bible in Catholic liturgical and catechetical texts. This decision underlined the Holy See's apparently increased awareness of the theological implications inherent in revised vernacular translations."

Archbishop Agnelo of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments stated that the decision had been made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which reversed what the Worship Congregation had earlier approved in April 1992, in confirming a 1991 decision of the U.S. Bishops' Conference.

Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained that problems with the NRSV text were partly inclusive language and partly the need for consistency in the Church's liturgical and catechetical language: "We can have these new translations, but at the same time the Church's official language in liturgy and catechetics has to preserve some continuity."

That's the quote but I have never been able to find an online (or other) citation to this ban being lifted.

Donald H. said...

I don't like the NRSV. I think both the NJB and NAB are much better, but really, for liturgy, I'm speechless the bishops outside the US are not going to use the RSV:2CE. It's shocking, really.

Timothy said...


Yes, I did receive my copy a few days back. I hope to blog on it in the coming days or so. I love the single column format!

Timothy said...


That is an interesting text, which intact never seen or heard before. Liturgical issues not withstanding, how is that reconciled with the various uses of the NRSV in the CCC and other catechetical documents that have been published since 1995? And to be honest, most scriptural resources that I use either are keyed into the RSV or NRSV. All the major Catholic Youth Bibles, yes all 2 of them, use the NRSV.

Timothy said...


There are various reasons for this, many probably being political and financial. However, while there is a lot to like about the RSV-2CE, it remains a fifty year old translation, even with the recent 'update' by Ignatius.

Diakonos said...


Perhaps it was revoked somewhere along the way. I know that's why St Marys Press came out with their CYB in NAB. Originally it was only NRSV the first years. I personally contacted them and asked them how they got permisison to use NRSV for scipture/catechesis. Next thing I knew (few months later) the CYB NAB came out. And now if you look at the lastest editions of the CYB onyl the NAB comes in its fanciest binding. Who knows?
Maybe the selections from the NRSV in the CCC are "non-problematic" ones? I have nothing against the NRSV (except some of its choices in inclusive language that realyl go overboard in linguistic smoothness).

Re: The Common English Bible. Got my freebie few days ago. Totally forgot I had signe dup for it. I really do not like it at all and MOST especially for its choice of "the Human One" to replace "son of Man". Grating and offensive to Cahtolic vocabulary tradition to read Jesus saying, "The Human One has power on earth to forgivr sins..." Oi vey. Overall I think the CEB is a product (casuality) of our era's tendency to water-down and dumb-down texts. I have read many passages and they all leave me feeling it was produced by the ICEL who gave us the 1970 English Novus Ordo. Flat. Banal. Uninspiring.

Anonymous said...

Tim. I am considering registering for the online Catholic Biblical School Course offered by the University of Dallas. Four bibles are listed as acceptable to use in their study program and the NRSV is one of them. I have used this translation more and more over the past year and find I love the easy flow of it. Sharon in Waxahachie, Texas

Diakonos said...

Here is a link that is more substabtial about the NRSV in catechesis and liturgy. It is not from a pro side of the issue at all.

Personally I am neutral on the topic and my question about it is simply that: a question. I can find citations to it prohibition but no citation to the lifting of this ban by the Vatican though I am still searching.

As someone involved on a parochial and deanery level of leadership in catechesis this is an important question to me. Interestingly as I go thru the many rel ed texts approved by the USCCB Office of the Catechism as being in conformity with the CCC I am not finding that they use the NRSV, but mostly trhe NAB.

As far as a university or any entity using the NRSV that wouldnt have any bearing on this Vatican decision. It would simply mean they either do not know or do not care about the ban. My moen would be on most of them not knowing. If I find the vatican statement of lifting the ban I will post a link.

Diakonos said...

Sorry for the typos. The next to last sentence should read "My money would be on..."

Timothy said...


Thank you for that link, which I find quite fascinating. It definitely comes from a more pro-inclusive language camp, one can see that in the various sources cited. While I do I some sympathy with article, I can't agree that the 91 Psalms are all that good. But that is just me. The article also gives a nice history of how the NAB has languished around for so many years.

As for the NRSV element, I still do not know what to think. Everything is different then back then, particularly with adapted forms of the NRSV being produced in the UK an already in use in Canada. The fact that OSV, which is not a liberal Catholic publishing group, would publish an NRSV Catholic youth bible with HarperOne leads me to believe that any ban on it's use is lifted. But who knows?

Timothy said...

Another thing I forgot to mention. The Didache series text book which I am teaching from this semester has copyright notices in the front for both the RSV and NRSV. The Midwest Theological Forum, which developed this series with Dr Scott Hahn are certainly not on the liberal end if things.

Diakonos said...


THANKS so much for that information about OSV and MTF (which I know has connection at least by its members affiliation with Opus Dei). While I cannot find an official "revoking" thats almost good enough for me. Neither of those 2 groups would go against a known Vatican directive.

I guess its more a matter for me inhaving a source to cite. When in leadership roles one is sometimes asked by some factions for "proof" and that was what I was searching for.

Just FYI...I have the NOAB4 & 3, as well as a NRSV Cross Reference and Catholic editions. So as you can see personally I am not an anti-NRSV guy.

Timothy said...


Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am sympathetic to the NRSV. Of all the translations for Catholics, I simply enjoy reading from it. The addition of the many textual notes makes it great for study and makes it clear whenever they use inclusive language. If only we could get some more practical editions with cross-references.

Theophrastus said...

You know, I think that this "fact" (about the NRSV not being approved for catechism) has been widely misquoted -- and it all comes down to a missing capital. A few passages in the NRSV were rejected for the English translation of the Catechism (of the Catholic Church).

In fact, the NRSV was never rejected for catechetics in general (what would that even mean?) -- rather in the preliminary (1993) translation of the CCC, some inclusive NRSV verses were rejected. For those passages, the CCC uses the RSV instead.

You can read an account of this on EWTN's Web site:

The publication of the in 1992 was a momentous event, eagerly awaited by faithful Catholics throughout the world who were disheartened and confused by the turmoil in the Church following the Second Vatican Council. Since the original version of the Catechism was written in French, it had to be translated into many other languages and it was the English translation, as we have seen, that caused the most controversy...

A meeting between a group of English-speaking bishops and Vatican officials was held in Rome on Feb. 3-4, 1993 to determine the procedures to be followed in making final revisions to and publishing the English translation of the . Although the proceedings of that meeting have not been made public, statements made by some of the participants indicate that the subject of inclusive English had come up....

According to c. 825, #1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, translations of the Bible into English or any other modern language cannot be published without the approval of the conference of bishops or the Apostolic See and must be "annotated with necessary and sufficient explanations." This means that the RSV and NRSV translations could be approved by the conference of bishops alone; but translations of Scripture to be published as liturgical books (i.e., lectionaries) are subject to the prior review of the Holy See (c. 838, #3). In the case of the NRSV, approval of this translation for use in the liturgy was given by the NCCB IN 1991 and reviewed favorably by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments the following year, so many parishes, assuming that the publication of an NRSV lectionary was a certainty, began substituting the NRSV translations for the readings at Mass....

The abounds with quotations from Scripture and the proposed translation, discussed in that meeting in Rome on February 3-4, 1993, took these quotations from the NRSV translation. Since the Catechism is a teaching book instead of a lectionary, the final approval of the English translation rested not with the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments but with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which found the inclusive English of the NRSV translations to be inadequate from a doctrinal standpoint. If the NRSV translation was inadequate for the Catechism it could hardly be considered suitable for use in the liturgy and the result was the withdrawal of the earlier approval of the NRSV lectionary.

And, indeed, if you look at your CCC today, you'll see that although most of the quotations are from the NRSV, in places where the NRSV uses inclusive language, the RSV is used instead.

In fact, the most widely used Catholic teaching Bible in the US today -- the NAB -- contains inclusive passages (and thus has to be altered in the lectionary). That hardly means that one cannot use the NAB in Catholic teaching -- no one is saying that students in catechism classes need to burn their editions of The Catholic Study Bible. Thus, for example, even the most recent edition of the Oxford Catholic Study Bible -- which has a 2005 Imprimatur -- has the 1991 Psalter. I am not even aware that the general public can buy an edition of the NAB without the 1991 psalter.

Timothy said...


1) Currently, the only NAB one can purchase, unless used, is the one that contains the 91 Psalms.

2) I tend to agree with what you have outlined above. Having worked in Catholic ministry for almost 8 years now, often in catechetical and scripture study areas, I have never heard that the NRSV was not allowed for catechetical instruction. Ultimately, as you pointed out, the CCC quotes from it often and it has a imprimatur from the USCCB. Good enough for me.

Hans said...

Hello Tim,

I am a late comer to this discussion. But thank you for your wonderful blog. I noticed that you compare both the Live Youth Bible and the St. Mary's Press youth bibles to the "lesser quality" (my paraphrasing) youth bibles out there. But how do these two newer youth bibles compare? Other than the fact that Live is not available in NAB and that it has quotes from the Church fathers, are there any meaningful differences that would help to decide among these?

Also, can you recommend some adult "equivalents" to these more recent youth bibles, other than the Family Connections Bible? I have an older (late 30s) single adult friend for whom I'd like to gift a Catholic bible, and this person is accustomed to Protestant bibles and their more visually appealing and side-bar type elements.

Timothy said...


Thanks for the kind words!

As for the youth Bibles, I just like the feel of the Live NRSV edition more so than the CYB. The main thing for me is that it encourages teens to actually interact with the text, through specifically designed creative space and good questions. Also, there are some essays in the CYB which I think are not as helpful as they could be.

As for an adult Bible, I would certainly recommend the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament for starts. It has lost of additional material and is very attractive to read. There is also a fine NRSV HarperCollins Catholic Gift Bible, which contains lots of info as well. It will be coming out in an all black edition in January. Its nice because it is not too big, and very portable. Also, if the person you are talking about is a woman, then there is the Catholic Women's Devotional Bible NRSV published by Zondervan.

Hope that helps! Have a blessed Christmas!

Hans said...


Thank you very much for your recommendations. I have not reviewed the Youth Bible yet, but I actually found the women's devotional Bible you recommended at my local B&N store in time to give for Christmas! It was a great hit!