Thursday, February 25, 2010

State Your Case!

Sorry folks for the lite blogging this past week. Life has been full of exciting adventures on the home front, along with increasing responsibilities at the high school. But, alas, I have a few free days ahead of me, thanks to a nicely placed mid-winter break.

I just received some interesting Bible-related books in the mail over the past few days which I am interested in sharing with you. However, until I can look through some of them, I thought we could mix things up a bit.

As I have been re-reading some of the recent posts and comments surrounding the NABRE, I thought it might be interesting to engage in a little exercise I shall title "State Your Case". Clearly there is a great deal of passion from many people about why they like or dislike a particular Bible translation. So, what I am asking you to do is to clearly, yet concisely explain and defend why you like a particular English translation of the Bible. Just choose one. Think of it as your closing statement in a courtroom trial....but just not as long.

Here are some ground rules:
1) Keep focused on your favorite translation! If your argument is obsessed with pointing out every little perceived "fault" or "error" in other translations without recourse to your own translation of choice, I don't consider that a very good position to take in defense of your choice.

2) Use specific examples! If you need to compare and contrast translations to prove your case please do so.

3) Be independent in your thought! Please do not say "Fr. X says this" or "Mother X said that" about this or that translation.

4) Humor is welcomed and even encouraged!

5) Use real life examples! What I mean by this is how and where do you use your Bible of choice? Bible study? Mass? School? How has it worked in these situations? One could also consider explaining why they like the particular edition of their favorite Bible translation in this section. It's up to you.

So, state your case! Perhaps there will be a prize for the best entry. More on that later. Maybe...

Monday, February 22, 2010 Updates

After many months (or years) of little in the way of updates or any activity, the main NRSV site has now been overhauled. While the design of the site is different, much of the material seems to be the same. With that being said, it looks like they are making an attempt to better promote the different NRSV editions offered by HarperCollins. They also have information about getting a customized NRSV. I wonder what the options are on this, as well as if this is only for large, bulk orders for Churches and groups. I will see what I can find out about this. One thing that still surprises me is the fact that they don't have a search feature, which would allow you to look up passages of the NRSV.

Update: A reader found out that the custom option: "No, it is not available for individual purchases. You would need to order them in bulk as an organization."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Crossing the Goal: Scripture

Crossing the Goal is a popular Catholic TV program shown on EWTN which is designed specifically for men. It has been on the airwaves now for a couple of years, covering such topics as the Cardinal Virtues, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Theological Virtues, the Our Father, and other issues related to mature Catholic manhood and fatherhood.
Here is a little more info about the show's origins, straight from their website: "Danny Abramowicz, former NFL all-pro wide receiver and coach, along with his other team members, has created a television show with EWTN Global Catholic Network called, “Crossing the Goal” which uses a sports show format to encourage men to get into spiritual shape. Coach Abramowicz says, “He and his team consisting of Peter Herbeck, Vice President, Renewal Ministries; Curtis Martin, Founder of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS); and professional broadcaster, Brian Patrick—provide real solutions to the spiritual challenges men face." Segments include “The Kickoff” where the problem of the day is quickly presented; “The Game Plan,” where two team members lay out the facts men need to know; “The Red Zone,” where the team talks about how they’ve dealt with the problem in their own lives, and the “End Zone,” where each team member gives the audience a take-away for the week."
Recently, they aired a program on Scripture, which you might find helpful. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent 2010

Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.

--Joel 2:12-14

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aggie Catholics Mega Lenten Mega-Post

Do you have any questions about the upcoming Lenten season? Well, Aggie Catholics probably has the answer for you, as well as plenty of other fascinating information about this great season. Check it out!

Padded Leather Douay-Rheims for Sale

Reader Aaron is looking to sell an out-of-print 1989 padded leather Tan Douay-Rheims Bible, along with a paperback NAB. If interested, please go here for more information.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Essential Guide to the Holy Bible Offer

Mary Elizabeth Sperry has offered readers of this blog a special discount on an upcoming USCCB Publishing release entitled: Essential Guide to the Holy Bible. This small publication comes from the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. In these 70 pages:

Discover the Bible's extraordinary history, its worldwide scope, and its appeal as the "inspired word" of God in this new offering from the Vatican. Learn more about interpreting, understanding, and using it through selected stories and events. Unique sidebars cover different topics including (1) languages used in the Bible, (2) historical sources, (3) canon of the sacred books (4) related internet sites, (5) and apocryphal books of the Bible that still intrigue and make for great conversation and debate.

All readers of this blog can receive a 10% discount. All you need to do is give the promotion code “BIBLE” when you place your order. Again, you can order this book here.

A special thanks to Mary Elizabeth for extending this offer.

NABRE Answers

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 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 ( 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.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speaking of the NAB.....

Our friends over at Saint Benedict Press, who are quickly becoming the publisher for Catholic Bibles, will soon be releasing a new edition of the current NAB. I am trying to think of what other Catholic publishing house that produces editions of the Douay-Rheims, RSV-CE, or NAB. Hmm...... I don't think one exists besides Saint Benedict Press. So, bravo, for offering Catholics the three most popular Catholic Bibles in three attractive editions.
The Saint Benedict's Press NAB is available in paperback, genuine leather, and premium UltraSoft in both black and burgundy. For those looking for something different in their NAB, these may prove to be just the NAB edition you have been waiting for. As you know, there are very few editions of the NAB in genuine leather out there. However, the NAB can be found in a few UltraSoft/Italian Duo-Tone/synthetic leather editions, most notably the Librosario editions by Fireside. No word yet on page layout, but it will be interesting to take a look once they are published. These editions are currently available for pre-order.
More info from the site:
The New American Bible is the most widely used Catholic Bible version in the U.S. today. The Weekday and Sunday Mass readings are taken from the NAB version, and the U.S. Bishops have endorsed it for use in Catholic church and school religious education programs across the country. It is versatile enough for everyday meditation, personal or group study, or to be given as a beautiful gift. Suitable for everyone from youth to adults, the Saint Benedict Press edition is designed to help the reader better understand and apply scripture readings to daily life and serve as a spiritual guide for many years to come. This edition includes the words of Christ in red, full-color maps of the Holy Land, 3-year cycle of readings for Sunday and weekday masses, classical artwork depicting the life of Christ, and beautiful presentation and family records pages.
Hopefully, Saint Benedict Press will be a future publisher of the revised NAB (NABRE) whenever it is published.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NABRE Update and Your Questions

Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for the Utilization of the NAB at the USCCB, stopped by this blog and made some comments concerning the upcoming revision of the NAB. She revealed that the revised NAB still does not have a publication date and that it is unlikely that it will be this year. However, she did say: "The New American Bible, revised edition (NABRE) will include a revision of the entire Old Testament, including the Book of Psalms. As soon as we have a publication date, there will be a public announcement." Excellent! So that answers the questions about the inclusion of the re-revised Psalms as mentioned in the previous post. In addition, thanks to a question prompted by an anonymous reader, we know that the NABRE's "notes and introductions have been revised."

Mary Elizabeth Sperry also made this request to readers of this blog: "I would also renew my request for assistance from the readers of this blog: We are planning an update of the website when the revised edition is published. We would love to hear your suggestions about what we could do to improve the site: additions, structure, etc. (A better search engine is already #1 on our list.) Readers can send suggestions by email to nab (at) usccb dot org. Please put "website suggestion" as the subject line so that we can keep the ideas together. I can't promise that we'll implement every suggestion, but we will consider them seriously." So I certainly encourage all of my readers to thoughtfully consider any suggestions and send it to the email listed above. She also asked if I could collect any other specific questions here, which I could send along to her. She will do her best to answer them.

So to review, if you have any recommendations for the updated NABRE website, please send them to nab (at) usccb dot org. If you have any specific questions about the NABRE, you can use the comment section of this blog post to ask them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NAB Revision Publication Date

According to the website for the Catholic Biblical Association, the NAB is set to be published later this year. The site states: "January 2010: The revised NAB is set to be published by mid-2010. [Wikipedia.]"

That is great news! I was hoping for the end of the year, but mid-2010 is just fine with me. Although I am curious as to why the CBA website quotes from Wikipedia? After a bit of web surfing, the citation on wikipedia is taken from the USCCB website for the NAB. It states that: "A revision of the translation of the Old Testament, excluding the Psalter, is currently underway and should be published in mid 2010." I am not sure why it says "excluding the Psalter", since the CBA site says that the NAB Psalms were being re-revised. That could simply be an oversight, since early on the revision wasn't going to include the Psalms. But who knows at this point.
More info on the NAB revision from previous posts on this blog can be found here and here.
Update: The USCCB site has been updated, as Mary Elizabeth Sperry said it would, to read: "A revision of the translation of the Old Testament, including the Psalter, is currently underway. No publication date has been set. "

Monday, February 1, 2010

As Lent Approaches

Every year around this time I begin thinking about what book or devotional I would like to pray with during the 40 days of Lent. Coupled with the tradition of "giving up something" for Lent, I have found that adding something to my prayer time to be quite fruitful. I know that there are many devotionals out there that are specifically tied into the daily Mass readings for Lent or contain collections of the writings of the Saints or Popes. I remember a couple years back, I set aside a particular time each day to prayerfully read through the Book of Exodus. I found that reading through Exodus during the Lenten season helped me to come to a greater understanding of the new Exodus (Luke 9:31) of Jesus, particularly during Holy Week.

So, do you have any recommendations? Do you have any traditions which you return to each Lent?