Saturday, September 11, 2010

A New Arrival

I had been wanting to order this book for a while, but only recently found a used copy for under five dollars. Although it is only 92 pages long, this 1991 publication is still a very informative book with articles by Bruce Metzger, Robert Denan, and Walter Harrelson, all translators on the Standard Bible Committee. So far, I have enjoyed "getting into the mind" of these translators, who discuss all sorts of issues that went into the NRSV, including it's use of inclusive language and the DSS. The Making of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible has four main sections, focusing on: 1) The history of the NRSV, 2) Recent discoveries and Bible translation, 3) Problems confronting translators of the Bible, 4) Inclusive language and the Bible.
While I don't agree with every decision the NRSV translators went with, it is clear from my reading thus far that many hours of serious discussion and debate went into the production of the NRSV. One of the themes that seems to regularly come up in my reading of this book is that the translators have a clear understanding that the NRSV is not perfect, and even "has it's flaws (84)." I appreciate their honesty. I also appreciate the access that the translators give us into how and why they made certain decisions. A book styled like this, which again is only 92 pages, would be a great benefit to those who read other Catholic Bibles, like the NAB and RSV-2CE. Don't you think?


john said...

This sounds like something I would be interested in reading. BTW I am not RC so I do not "have" to use a Bibler with the Deutero-Canonical books nonetheless I still feel that a Bible without them is somehow "incomplete" So I stick to translations that have them, but NOT the NAB (awful) Jerusalem Bible too paraphrasey and the New Jerusalem Bible, better than JB but still not that great which basically means that for me the choices are: RSV-CE, RSV-CE2, NRSV, and the English Standard Version with Apocrypha. As far as the RSV goes only two publishers print it (as far as I know) Ignatius Press and Oxford Uni Press with the older RSV "Oxford Annotated Bible", how much longer Oxford will be printing it is up in the air, the same for the RSV-CE and RSV-CE2. But even if Ignatius and Oxford keeo the older RSV in print the world has moved on. Mainline Protestants use the NRSV and Evangelicals use the ESV, New King James Version, and New American Standard Version 1995 Update. Evangelicals won't go near the NRSV with a ten foot pole, so it would seem that Catholics should be putting preasure on Crossway Publishing for an English Standard Version-Catholic Edition. I am na Evangelical myself but I actually do use the NRSV in its Oxford Annotated Bible NOAB 4, BUT I also use the ESV with Apocrypha published by Oxford and the ESV Study Bible which is excellent,if it had the Deuterocanons/Apocrypha then that would be my "main use Bible" but instead my main Bible is the NOAB 4 (BTW I just ordered the leather edition of the NOAB 4). Tim I would appreciate any comments you have on my ramblings, but I would like to know what you think about the ESV as a translation as compared to the NRSV

Timothy said...


Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog. I have posted a few things about the ESV in the past, so for a more extensive commentary on the ESV on my part you can search those out. I will say a few things here:

1) the fact that Crossway appears unwilling to publish an ESV w/ Apocrypha/Deutercanonicals doesn't leave me expecting one anytime soon. As you know, it was Oxford University Press that was given permission to do so. I could see, at some point, an Oxford Annotated Bible utilizing the ESV with Apocrypha. That would be interesting and probably more palatable for a Catholic reader. I think the ESV Study Bible is easily the most innovative and beautiful on the market, but the commentary is clearly of a Reformed tradition.

2) As for the ESV translation in general, I like what they have done with the inclusive language issue. Probably equal, in my mind, with the NJB. Certainly revising the old RSV updates the language a bit, but from a Catholic perspective why not just use the RSV-2CE? There are also a few other decisions in the text, like at 1 Timothy 3:15 and the way they translate episcopos.

3) I still think it is a good translation, but there were no Catholic scholars on the translation team, unlike the NRSV.

Esteban Vázquez said...

Tim> That is an excellent little book indeed, and I'm glad you found a cheap copy!

Have you seen Dom Henry Wansbrough's darling little book, The Story of the Bible? He's long on St Jerome, which I love, but he also speaks of the JB and about his work editing the NJB in the section on contemporary translations.

Tim B. said...

Hey Timothy, You would probably like a similar book that describes the translation process of the Revised English Bible.

More Light and Truth: About the Revised English Bible

I can't find one for under $5 though.

Timothy said...


Yes, I do have Wansbrough's book. I enjoyed reading his insights into the JB and NJB. It's too bad that he isn't more widely published this side if the Atlantic.

The NRSV book is truly excellent for it's size. Again, I really appreciate the translators honestly and humility more than anything. It actually makes the NRSV even more attractive as an everyday, multipurpose Bible. (This has been the case for much of the last 2 years.)


Hmmm..... I might have to check it out! Thanks for the link.

Paolo said...

I am hoping for the ENRSV - the Even Newer Revised Standard Version - now with exclusive language! Cause if it ain't broke...

Timothy said...


You're too much man! ;)

Anonymous said...

Timothy, just a pet peeve. Study the proper use of "its" vs "it's" :-)

Anonymous said...

2 things:

Henry Wansbrough's booklet on how the Bible was formed is available for download from his website (google his name)

There is a book called "new light and truth" which is about the making of the Revised English Bible.

john said...

BTW Tim which NRSV edition do you mainly use, your Cambridge Uni Press one or the NOAB 4.

Shazamaholic said...

Here's something you may want to add to your online Bibles section. The 1582-1610 Douay Rheims Bible.

What I find very interesting about this version is that it uses the name Christ in the Old Testament.

1 Samuel 12:3- Speak of me before our Lord and before his Christ

psalm 131:10- For David thy servants sake, turn not away the face of thy Christ

psalm 131:17- thither will I bring forth a horn to David, I have prepared a lamp to my Christ

Timothy said...


I keep both of them out to be honest. I would prefer an edition that was more like a thinline, which is what will be coming out very soon from HarperOne. So, I am likely to make that edition the one I take around with me during the day.

The NOAB and Cambridge editions are both great editions, but boy would it be great if there was a specifically Catholic edition.

Tim B. said...

Looks like I am not the only one who recommends the New Light and Truth book.


Have you considered trying out the Oxford Study Bible? It is similar to the NOAB, but uses the REB translation instead of the NRSV.

I tend to use it more then I use my NOAB since I prefer the REB translation. They are both great bibles though.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Timothy said...

Tim B,

I do own the REB with Apocrypha, however I never did pick up the OSB edition. What do you most like about it?

Diakonos said...

Just a note about an email I received from HarperOne back in May of this year (and I quote):

"Thanks for your email and interest in the NRSV. We are actually in the development stages of a cross-reference NRSV - with and without Apocrypha. It will not release until 2011."

Hope springs eternal.

Timothy said...


Thanks for the reminder. In the back of my mind I thought someone mentioned that, now I know who did!

Tim B. said...


I have to admit that I like the relative obscurity of the REB text. But I also like how the sentences flow and how easy it is to read.

I like the Oxford Study Bible because the typface and notes remind me more of my RSV NOAB then the newer 3rd and 4th edition NOABs. The notes are very succinct and not distracting. It is very easy to read yet it has enough notes and references to be useful.

Unforuntatly, the Oxford Study Bible is only available in paperback now. Used hardcover versions are easy to find. There are a few leather bound copies around if you look hard enough.

Timothy said...


You might appreciate the review on this blog:

Theophrastus said...

The high-point of NRSV cross-reference editions was undoubtedly this edition -- primarily because the cross-references include the Deuterocanon (that is, references in the NT and Hebrew Bible reference to the Deuterocanon, and there are also references in the Deuterocanon). It also is effectively a wide-marign NRSV (because it has such wide margins for cross references).

Sounds perfect, eh? Unfortunately, it is out of print! I don't know why Oxford is letting so many of its Bibles simply go out of print.

Tim B. said...

Timothy, That link appears to be incomplete.

Theophrastus, The only thing I can think of is that they are not selling? Also many Oxford bibles are no longer available in genuine leather. This trend is frustrating.

Tim B. said...


Here are 2 reviews of the Oxford Study Bible. They are much more eloquent then I could be. You can get a good idea of what the typeface an page layout looks like.

Back on topic, thanks for the review of this NRSV book Timothy. I will definitely pick it up.

Timothy said...


The link should work. Just need to go all the way to the right of the page.


Yes, that edition is quite good! A friend of mine purchased that a few years back and used it often.