I want to devote this post to talking about the big news yesterday regarding the NABRE. Below are just some random thoughts that have come to mind since yesterday:
First off, it is pretty exciting that we are just over two months away from the publication of a major Catholic Bible revision. When are we likely to see something like this again? I am not aware of any other new Catholic translations in progress, perhaps the only exception being the Bible In Its Traditions project. Of course, there is the NRSV, which Harper UK may publish in its adapted liturgical form at some point. (A version of the current NRSV with Grail Psalms will be published in February from Harper UK.) So, I look forward to analyzing the NABRE in comparison to the original NAB, as well as the RSV and NRSV.
Also, I am encouraged to see that on March 9th the NABRE will be launched in various formats. This includes print, as well as audio and electronic. Having the NABRE on the Kindle will be a definite bonus. In addition, it will be interesting to see what publishers will be producing the NABRE. One of the areas that kept the NAB somewhat stale in the past has been its general uniformity in look no matter the publisher. With all of the attractive formats and designs that publishers like Zondervan, HarperCollins, and Crossway put out for their Bibles, the NABRE certainly needs to be licensed by a major publishing house. I am certain that we will see a new edition of Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible in the near future. Reader Sharon alerted me to the new Little Rock Catholic Study Bible which will be released in June with the NABRE. They had earlier published an edition with just the Gospels.
One of my hopes for this new NABRE is that it will provide a uniform translation philosophy from Genesis to Revelation. As I mentioned in a comment on another post, one of the areas that hurt the NAB in the past was that it was so uneven. If it sticks to the translation philosophy of the revised NAB NT in regards to being fairly formal/literal and using moderate horizontal inclusive language, the revision will be a much needed upgrade. Will it be as accepted by more conservative Catholics who tend to stick with the RSV-CE? My guess is probably not. But if the final product is a better version of the NAB, the Catholic Church in America will benefit. Of course, we will have to wait and see what the translation looks like before jumping to any conclusions.
The last thing I want to mention is the NAB commentary/notes. Oftentimes in the past (and present), one of the chief complaints that I have read against the NAB is the commentary. From my experiences, when people criticize the NAB it is the notes and commentary, more so than the translation itself, which is the issue. In general, while I do think they tend to focus too much on the historical-critical method and spend way too much time on issues like the “Q” hypothesis in the Gospel, overall I think they are OK. Are there some stinkers? Yes, there are a few, most notoriously in Matthew 16:21-23. But as Pope Benedict has said, the historical method is an “indispensable tool” for exegetes, so it is important that issues like that is included. However, I think those who produced the NAB(RE) notes would do better in recognizing the need to provide solid commentary that is both historical, but also faith affirming. It must be remembered that for the vast majority of Catholics, the NAB(RE) will be the only Bible they read.
Either way, it is going to be a lot of fun examining the NABRE.