Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spot Check: NAB or RSV

The Gospel reading for Mass today comes from Mark 3:7-12. Below, I have placed two different translations of it, one from the NAB(RE) and the other from the RSV. Without cheating, which one is which? Which one do you prefer and why?

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him; for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.


Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him
because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down
before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.


Esteban Vázquez said...

1) RSV
2) NAB

Keyword: "beheld."

Funny thing, though -- I just looked this up in the RSV-2CE, and it's closer to the NAB!

Anonymous said...


I am a layman who gets really into Scripture study, having said that ...

I would have thought as an RSVCE reader I would have found a distinct preference, but alas it is a toss up for me. I like elements from both translations and nothing in this particular passage "felt" out of sorts. Of course when I do "study" I am more particular with the choice of words and I like looking at the Greek (as my software helps me to do).

I range across multiple translational often and this will be another I add to my library.


Shazamaholic said...

I preferred the second one because it was a little clearer. I understood it perfectly the first time I read it. The first one is kind of muddled. I had to reread it a couple times, and was a little thrown off in the way it lists all the regions the multitudes came from (but I do prefer the word "multitude" to "a large number of people"). I also looked up that passage in the Douay Rheims, and found it to be clearer than the first one too.

rolf said...

1) RSV, 2)NAB, I also prefer the second reading, it flows better (especially if read in a liturgical situation). I like the RSV-2CE very much but there are many times that the NAB readings (like this one) are much smoother. I think this is why there is a fine balance between being too formal and too dynamic. When in doubt, I prefer a translation to lean toward the formal end.

Diakonos said...

1 = RSV

First - not a smooth read and use of words like "lest" and "pressed upon".

Second - readily recognizable for its smooth read and more contemporary syntax.

P.S. I didn't or even read the previous posts before replying. :)

Timothy said...

I am hoping to do this from time to time, perhaps once a week. It will be interesting to compare both of the translations in terms of both accuracy and readability.

(Estaban: The use of "lest" is also a bit of a giveaway.)

Abraham said...

Hmm.. I guess, I'm in the minority. I actually liked the first one better. It seemed to flow better for me. The second one seemed a bit choppy for me and I had to give it another look.

It might have been the way the two's sections were structured though.

Alejandro said...

@Esteban: Curiously, the RSV’s ‘beheld’ revises the KJV’s ‘saw.’

@Diakonos: Both translations used the term ‘press upon.’ In the first, ‘all who had diseases pressed upon him’; in the second, ‘those who had diseases were pressing upon him.’

@Timothy: Any reason why the two are formatted differently? The RSV text runs together, whereas the NAB text has a large number (multitude?) of line breaks. The latter’s less tiring formatting may contribute to its legibility.

A big difference in the feel of the texts is the NAB’s omission of conjunctions, and its preference for shorter, simpler sentences. I understand why such a style might be preferred for liturgical reading.

I prefer the RSV’s ‘healed’ and ‘cried out’ to the NAB’s ‘cured’ and ‘shouted.’

Anonymous said...



Just like what most already said, the NAB's English flows much more naturally. I also like its more relaxed, loosely spaced text formatting. Both these reasons I think help explain why the NAB is very ideal for public reading- easy on the reader and easy on the audience.

Mike Roesch said...

1) RSV
2) NAB

I have to say that I prefer the second in this case, though not by much. I wasn't a big fan of either rendering, though, and in particular in the second, the lack of the definite article in front of "unclean spirits" could make it seem non sequitur, especially in a liturgical context.

I like the Jerusalem Bible here, actually:
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lakeside, and great crowds from Galilee followed him. From Judaea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, Transjordania and the region of Tyre and Sidon, great numbers who had heard of all he was doing came to him. And he asked his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, to keep him from being crushed. For he had cured so many that all who were afflicted in any way were crowding forward to touch him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw him, would fall down before him and shout, 'You are the Son of God!' But he warned them strongly not to make him known.

Matt said...

In the NAB version, the word "neighborhood" bugs me. I don't know what the underlying Greek is, but the Latin is

qui circa Tyrum et Sidonem

What if Mark's concept of "neighborhood" was different? I think its better to just translate the words, especially for the Liturgy. If you want a dynamic equivalence reading then it should be for personal study. Just my thoughts.