Monday, January 10, 2011

NABRE Answers (from Facebook Site)

(Answers from NABRE Facebook site.)

Questions on the NABRE and the Liturgy:

1) Why won't the NABRE be used for readings in churches? Will this somehow lead to a revision of the Lectionary?

 Preparing a Scripture translation for use in the liturgy is a complicated, multi-step process.  First, the text must be formatted for liturgical use.  That means that each reading in the Ordo Lectionum Missae (OLM) must be looked up in the Nova Vulgata (the Latin edition of the Bible) and the verses matched to the same passage in the English.  (Versions sometimes vary in the chapter and verse divisions which were added to the sacred text quite late in their development and sometimes the liturgical reading will omit certain verses.)  Once that is done, brief introductory phrases (called incipits) may be added.  These incipits are provided in the OLM and are used to “set the scene” for the reading.  Then, the text needs to be reviewed to make sure that there are no pronouns missing antecedents.  After all, it wouldn’t help if a reading began “He said to them” and we didn’t know if it was “Jesus said to the crowds” or “Peter said to the other disciples.”

Once that work is completed, the text is presented to the Latin Church bishops of a Conference.  At least two-thirds of the bishops must approve the text.  Only then can the text be sent to the Holy See for confirmation.  The Holy See undertakes its own thorough review of the text and may make certain changes for liturgical use.  Only after that review is completed (a process which typically takes more than a year), can the new Lectionary be published and used.

Short answer:  Even if the bishops decide they want to use the NABRE in the liturgy, it won’t happen any time soon. 

2) How did Liturgiam Authenticam factor into this translation?

The work on the vast majority of the NABRE was completed and submitted to the Subcommittee for the Translation of Scripture Text (previously, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations) before Liturgiam authenticam was released in 2001.  In addition, the norms outlined in Liturgiam authenticam apply only to texts intended for liturgical use.  Different norms must apply for a scholarly biblical translation, a fact that Liturgiam authenticam notes (cf. nos. 37ff).  Since the work on the NABRE Psalter began in 2009, the norms in Liturgiam authenticam were taken into consideration in developing that translation, particularly the use of concrete vocabulary.

That being said, many of the norms given in Liturgiam authenticam are simply principles of good formal equivalent translations.  As such, the NABRE will “follow” them, even though it predates them.

Questions on Publishing Formats:

3) Are there any plans for an enhanced NAB website?

Yes!  We will be adding resources to the NAB website over the next few months.  There will be an entirely new look later this year.

4) Will publishers be allowed to print the text without the commentary and footnotes?

No.  Permission is almost never granted to print the NABRE without the introductions and explanatory notes.  (The few exceptions are for audio products or certain works intended for scholarly use, such as parallel Bibles.)  The reason is two-fold.  First, canon law (specifically canon 825) requires that Scripture be “provided with necessary and sufficient annotations.”  Second, in undertaking their review of the text, the bishops who recommended the NABRE for approval reviewed the notes and introductions in great detail, often requiring additions to ensure that the note was as helpful as possible.

Also, see the response to question 15, below.

5) Will it be immediately available in electronic forms as, for example, an app for iPhone or audio versions that can be downloaded as an mp3?

The NABRE has been licensed in a variety of audio, electronic, and digital formats.  The availability of those products depends on the individual publishers and how quickly the products make it through beta-testing.

6) Will there be editions with the newly Revised Grail Psalms like the "Catholic Bible" NRSV being published in the UK?

No.  The NABRE will not be licensed to include any Psalter apart from its own.  It is important to maintain a consistency of translation principles.
7) Will it include the apocryphal works that are found in the new Vulgate (but not presently in the NAB) like Psalm 151?

No.  The NABRE includes only the canon of Scripture as delineated by the Councils of the Church.

8) Will there be multiple publishers releasing editions on March 9th?

Yes! We will be releasing the list of publishers toward the end of the month.  But some publishers have already begun advertising their NABRE line.  If you have a favorite Bible publisher, check its website.

 9) Will there be a comparison issue basically showing us the changes, like in red ink or something like that?

While we will be posting some “before and after” text examples, showing the changes for the entire Old Testament would be very confusing.  Since we don’t have such a comparison text prepared, it would also take a very long time to produce.

10) Are you going to provide an E-book style bible so we can have a Catholic version now?

We have licensed such editions and will continue to do so.  How quickly editions will move from print to E-book is up to the publishers.

11) Is there a publication that guides you through reading the entire Bible from cover to cover?

Some publishers will be bringing out Bibles that help readers read through the entire Bible in one year.  In addition, several one year reading plans for the Bible are available on the Internet.

Specific Questions on the Translation:

12) What revisions were needed and why were they needed?

Revisions were made for three major reasons:

First, to get closer to the original text.  Portions of the Old Testament are over three thousand years old.  Trying to find the manuscripts with the most reliable versions of these texts is no easy endeavor.  Some scholars spend their entire careers working to reconstruct a critical edition that is as close as possible to the original text.  Fidelity to that original text is always the standard by which a translation must be judged.  Since the original edition of the NAB was published in 1970, new and better manuscripts have been discovered and we have made significant achievements in our understanding of biblical languages.  The NABRE takes advantage of all these discoveries.

Second, to more closely express the meaning of the original.  In some places, the translation provided in the 1970 NAB may not be as clear as it might be.  In such cases, the translation was revised to clarify the meaning of the original.  For example, much of the concrete poetic language of the Psalms has been restored and more care was taken to ensure that Hebrew and Greek words are rendered consistently.

Third, the changes reflect modern English usage.  The most notable change in this regard is the consistent substitution of “burnt offering” for “holocaust,” a word now reserved for the sacrilegious attempt to destroy the Jewish people by the Third Reich.  The Holy See required a similar change in volumes II-IV of the Lectionary for Mass.

13) Will theological terms like “Son of Man” and “Netherworld” used in the NAB New Testament be translated in the same way in the NABRE Old Testament?

The term “son of man” is used in the Psalms, Ezekiel, and Daniel as appropriate.  “Netherworld” is used when the original text calls for it.  More commonly, the Hebrew original uses the proper name, Sheol.

14) Why have the editors chosen to go with “holy” Spirit instead of “Holy” Spirit?"

This usage appears only in the New Testament which remains in its 1986 edition.  The editors chose this capitalization pattern to avoid reading later theological developments into the Scriptural text.

15) Will the commentary and notes be new for the Old Testament? How about the New Testament?

All introductions and notes for the Old Testament have been revised or at least re-examined.  Some remain unchanged because the underlying material remains unchanged, e.g., a note that explains a play on words in the original Hebrew.  The note s in the NABRE Old Testament are far more extensive than those in the 1970 edition and will provide a very helpful resource to those seeking to undertake the canonical exegesis recommended by Pope Benedict XVI.  Many of the notes provide very helpful information about how a specific verse is interpreted in other parts of the Old Testament and in the New Testament.  Combined with the extensive cross references, readers will be able to interpret the text in light of the unity of Scripture.

The New Testament notes remain unchanged.

16) Concerning John 18:37, when Jesus says "You Say I am a king", will the new translation correspond more closely to the original Aramaic? I know a priest from the Syro-Malabar Rite, which still uses Aramaic liturgically, who says a better translation is "As you say it," which would be a stronger affirmative response to Pilate's question.

The NABRE New Testament is translated from the third edition of The Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo Martini, Bruce Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, and published by the United Bible Societies in 1975.  The Greek text uses the word for “king” in both Pilate’s question and Jesus’ response.

17) In the book of Ezekiel chapter 1, 10-22 of the NAB, "there is the changed order of the verses, and the omission of the textually uncertain verses of 14 and 21. Such changes also occur elsewhere in this book." Will this also be the case in the New American Bible Revised Edition?

There is no reordering of Ezekiel 1:10-22 in the NABRE. There is some reordering of verses in the NABRE to better reflect the original text.  Keep in mind that the chapter and verse notations were added long after the original books were written.
18) Is Jeremiah 15:12-14 going to be included in NABRE?

Yes.  Here it is:

12Can one break iron,

iron from the north, and bronze?

13* Your wealth and your treasures

I give as plunder, demanding no payment,

because of all your sins, throughout all your territory.

14And I shall enslave you to your enemies

in a land you do not know,

For fire has broken out from my anger,

it is kindled against you.




Diakonos said...

Well I knew that the NT notes would most liekly be untouched but was holding out hope anyway. I read Scripture daily but apart from the litrugy (Mass, Office) I read the NT almost exclusively (except if referred to an OT in reading) so this news is rather disappointing. So for me...I already have a NAB NT with study guide by Kathryn Sullivan, RSCJ (excellent BTW), so unless I really am into the OT for studies there would be no rush to get the latest edition. Thanks for posting these Q&As.

Timothy said...

One thing that intrigues me is the effort made in the OT notes to promote canonical exegesis. It will be interesting to see how successful they will be in this.

Diakonos said...


First ad I have seen from a major publishing house. special additions look pretty good including a concordance & readings for daily and Sunday Mass:

- Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum )
- Placement of the NABRE notes at the end of each book to enhance the readability of the biblical text
- A select NABRE Concordance
-Essay on using the Lectionary
-Table of Weekday and Sunday -Lectionary readings
-Table of weights and measures in the Bible

Dan K. said...

Big surprise. They didn't give a reason why the revisions to the NT made for the Lectionary were not added to the NABRE, i.e., "Hail full of grace". If they went through the trouble to re-do the Psalms, they certainly could have revised the NT to match the Lectionary. So sad and a terrible missed opportunity.

Timothy said...

It looks the Catholic Study Bible will be release in July. That's pretty quick.

Timothy said...


Actually, the edition you references is a more portable edition of the NABRE.. That looks very similar to the edition that they previously offered. And with the fact that the notes are at the back of each book, this might appeal to some people like Matt who don't want the notes to look at. It comes out in March, while a new edition of the Catholic Study Bible comes out in the summer.

Anonymous said...

I am super stoked about the notes-at-the-back edition. What a relief! I might even let my children have one - after I take a sharpie and a razor to it. Whew!


rolf said...

I'll will probably purchase the large print edition from Oxford in genuine leather when it comes out in March. This edition does have the notes in the back for those who don't want to look at them, they don't bother me.

Timothy said...


In addition, Oxford typically makes quality Bibles, so it will be an edition that will last a long time.

Also, thanks for the comment! That last part made me laugh.

Mark in Spokane said...

The answer to question #14 is troubling. Is she asserting that the translators do not believe that the later theological development regarding the Holy Spirit is not directly warranted by the text? While there is no question that some theological development occurred, the personhood, deity and work of the Holy Spirit are accurate reflections of what is contained in the Bible, in both the Old & New Testaments. Benedict XVI has taught that the phrase "Holy Spirit" should be rendered with a capital "H" and capital "S" in the Bible. The new translation should reflect that. In addition, other key texts should be translated in a way that reflects Catholic teaching ("hail full of grace,"), much in the way the 1986 Revised NT translates "elders" as "presbyters" when referring to early Church leaders.

Not revising the NT to conform to what is found in the lectionary is a disastrous decision. Likewise, while the OT was being revised, why couldn't the portions of the NAB lectionary OT be used? If that had happened, we would have had a Bible translation that reflected what was used in the liturgy. As it is now, we won't even have a proper "base text" for the entire lectionary anymore -- we will have a new OT that may or may not reflect the core of what is found in the lectionary.

All of this means, unfortunately, that the NABRE will not be able to be a stand-alone translation for the Catholic reader. In order to get a fully Catholic understanding of scripture, one will have to have one of the older Catholic translations (Douay-Rheims, Confraternity-Rheims, RSVCE) to use alongside the new NAB revision. And even then, one won't have a copy of the text used in the lectionary. What a disappointment.

I am still looking forward to the release of the NABRE and plan on getting a copy and using it for devotions and study. Unfortunately, it won't be able to be the only Bible on my bookshelf.

Mike said...

Well, I am very grateful for the time being taken to answer the questions that were posted (and I also thank Timothy for the answers being posted on this blog!). I won't pretend that I am exactly a big fan of the NAB (especially the notes), but it is nevertheless nice to be able to have a better idea of what to expect, and I do wish to thank whoever answered the questions!

I also like that there is an edition of the NAB being released with the notes at the back of each book. I'll be honest that I would prefer to have an edition without the notes (i.e., the ones that are presently included, that is), but at least this is something. :-)

Diakonos said...

A few things:

1. Taking a razor to the notes in back. I THINK (if memory serves)that the notes are in the back of EACH book, not in the back of the Bible so I don't think the razor idea (nice as it is) will be doable. :)

2. As an outspoken critic of the notes I must be honest and say that I do not hate ALL the notes nor think ALL are weak or poor or whatever adjective fits. But it's frustrating for a non-scholar like me to try and figure out which to accept, which to modify and which to reject...and I know from learned others that all of the above categories for the notes exist in the NAB and now the NABRE.

3. I know this is useless whining BUT its also frustrating that the NABRE NT will not correspond exactly to the lectionary because this means parish classes or study groups need to have a missal in addition to the NABRE. Tough enough to get some parishoners to fork over the bucks for a decent they need additional bucks for a missal as well.

4. Has anyone with parish Bible study experience (using the Sunday readings) found this lack of uniformity to be an issue in the past? I it terrible difficult for "rookie level" students to have varying translations when doing such a study?

Timothy said...


You "whining" points are valid. :)

Having done parish Bible studies before, I tend to like having multiple translations used by those who attend. I have found that it actually enhances discussion, particularly when the rendering I may use is different than someone else. It usually ends up being a good discussion point. Perhaps the only down side is that, as a leader, you need to be aware of some of the major differences. However, I have not found that to be the case all that often when using either the NAB, RSV, or NRSV, which are reasonably close to one another in translation philosophy. It gets a little different if people are using the JB or NJB, or less formal translations like the Good News Bible.

Colleague said...

As the next couple of months proceed, I do look forward to seeing the variety of publishers and styles that the new text will be offered in. The unattractive formats of the previous NAB is what kept me away from it despite my appreciation for the text and the notes. I'm already slightly disappointed in the binding options for the compact Oxford. Oxford's cloth hardback RSV-CE is among my favorites. I hate zippers as much as I hate this pacific duvelle craze. I wonder if Ignatius Press plans on offering anything? Or do they have too much of a marketing investment in the RSV-2CE yet to think about broadening their options? Regardless, I do look forward to picking up a copy on 03/09/11 and using it throughout all of Lent.

Diakonos said...

I think Ignatius Press publishing ANY edition of the NABRE would be a sure sign of the coming of the Great Abomindation and the Parousia. :)

Carlos Marroquin, Corpus Christi, TX said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but even though I like the idea that our Bibles and the Lectionary readings would match exactly, there is no rule or law that says they have to, is there?

I mean is not our Liturgy a translation from the Latin? It's a text of a worship ceremony, no? The Bible is a totally different thing, I thought.

Is it not a kindness that instead of translating those parts of the Lectionary that read from the Bible directly from Latin that a translation in English is chosen that is easily available to me or already in my home? The readings are merely BASED on the version in my language, but only as long as they represent what is in the "worship script," so to speak, right? This way we can have a translation from the original texts that closely resembles what we hear in the Liturgy (since, again, this is a translation of a public worship ceremony). They could translate even the Bible readings exactly as found in the Latin into English just as they appear in the Liturgy, but then I wouldn't have anything in common available to me on my book shelf or when I read and discuss the Bible with others.

Besides, a Lectionary will never read exactly like any Bible version. As mentioned in this blog and in catechesis, incipits and other changes often appear due to the fact that it is written to be understood by listeners and NOT readers. These interpolated additions have never been a part of the inspired text, so in that sense alone I shouldn't expect any Bible translation, even the Latin, to read exactly like what I hear from the Lectionary, correct? (Not even the CTS or RSV-CE 2nd Edition has incipits included, so they don't exactly match any lectionary reading at any time either.)

Maybe I'm a total idiot, but I've been reading this blog and others for a while and I'm left scratching my head. What's the reason for fussing over two different things being different due to the fact that by they're very nature they just also happen to be different?

The Liturgy is a translation from the Latin, including the Bible readings found within, which when rendering into English BORROWS the language of an already published translation--be it the RSV or NAB--and only changes things where the Latin liturgical text differs from the English Biblical text. Any English rendering is adjusted to match the Latin, not the other way around, right?

And in the end if I want to read exactly what is found in the Lectionary, can't I just buy an annual Missal or even a Lectionary itself if I have the money? And while I know our Liturgy comes from our Latin tradition, shouldn't I be thankful that my religion supplies me with translations of the Scriptures directly from the originally penned tongues as well?

One's a translation of a very long prayer (the Mass in Latin--which includes readings FROM the Bible) and the other is a translation of the Bible--the inspired Word of God--from the original languages itself.

It's just a fact of life that the Liturgy is in Latin and gets translated from one language and the Bible from three different others. The Liturgy, though quoting the Bible, never quotes an English translation as if an English translation is the basis for the Liturgy. Should I be expecting it to?

Am I missing something in all this, or are we just lamenting the fact that our apples aren't oranges?

Diakonos said...

I never heard before that the lectionary readings are translated from the Latin apart from any other Scripture source. I thought every nation or language group selected a translation of the Scriptures used in their country/language group for use in the liturgy.

Francesco said...

Hi Diakonos,

I think the issue is this:
Liturgiam Authenticam says that there should only be one lectionary for a single language inside an episcopal conference. Additionally, the single translation should follow the Nova Vulgata as closely as possible.

Divino Afflante Spiritu said that scholarly study of scripture should be based on the original languages and not on Latin translations such as the vulgate.

Somehow Ignatius Press was able to square this circle, as their RSV seems to match the lectionary in the Antilles very closely.

For those of us in the United States, I guess the only way we're going to get something like that is if someone uses the NABRE as a base text to translate the NV, similar to how the NRSV was used to translate the LXX.

Robert said...

7) Will it include the apocryphal works that are found in the new Vulgate (but not presently in the NAB) like Psalm 151?

No. The NABRE includes only the canon of Scripture as delineated by the Councils of the Church.

Bummer for Eastern Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, since Psalm 151 is considered canonical according to our Byzantine tradition.

Timothy said...


Thanks for stopping by the blog and for your contribution to this post. I think you bring up some very good and valid points. For me at least, I just want a good translation which I can use for both study and prayer. I always enjoy using a Missal at Mass, so if the readings are a little different than so be it. Ultimately, the NABRE is a revision, so while there will be some differences bewteen the older and newer edition of the Old Testament, it won't be so radically different.