Monday, May 9, 2011

This Year We Celebrate the Publication of.....

....the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition, which was published 45 years ago this year. Edited by Dom Bernard Orchard and Reverend R.C. Fuller of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain, the RSV-CE New Testament was completed in 1965, followed by the Old Testament, which incorporated the Deuterocanonical books. Since 1966, the RSV-CE has become the most popular translation in conservative, as well as many academic circles in the Church. While Ignatius Press, who began publishing the RSV-CE in 1994, continues to be the main supporter of the RSV-CE, it still remains in publication with Oxford University Press, most notably through the New Oxford Annotated Bible Expanded Edition. In recent years, Saint Benedict Press has also published the RSV-CE in various attractive editions. The RSV is clearly alive and doing very well in the English speaking/reading parts of the Catholic Church.

I should also mention that this year we are also celebrating the 5 year anniversary of the publication of the RSV-2CE by Ignatius Press.


Anonymous said...

Tim I am glad you mentioned the Oxford RSV bibles. I find that the bible I use the most now is an Oxford bible. I have the Oxford RSV-CE in large print. It has index tabs, nice maps and the sunday and weekday lectionary. The edition I have is a very well made bible in the duo tone imitation leather. If you have vision limitations I highly recommend this edition. It has a 12 to 13 point type and the print is extremly clear.
Sharon in Waxahachie!

Theophrastus said...

Actually, the New Oxford Annotated Bible - RSV Expanded Edition is based on the 2nd edition of the RSV, which incorporated most of the changes of RSV-CE (although in some places in footnotes.) However the RSV 2nd edition also included other improvements. It remains, in my opinion, the best edition of the RSV. (Its predecessor 1962 edition spontaneously received imprimatur from Cardinal Cushing, though.)

Oxford also prints RSV-CE editions, such as this one, but these also include many improvements from the RSV 2nd edition.

Strictly speaking, most of the RSV editions -- the New Oxford Annotated Bible - RSV Expanded Edition, the Oxford (updated) RSV-CE, and the Ignatius RSV-2CE editions do not hold imprimatur. However, the changes among these versions are relatively minor, and it seems clear that any of these versions would qualify for imprimatur. In any case, the RSV and NRSV remain standard texts used in a wide variety of academic uses (both Catholic and non-Catholic).


In my opinion, the New Oxford Annotated Bible - RSV Expanded Edition is the best reading version of the RSV. It is has a convenient size and is well-laid out. The light annotation includes most of the important cross-references and helps a beginning reader navigate through the text (I am skeptical of those who choose to read the Bible with no commentary whatsoever.) However, the commentary is unobtrusive, so a reader can simply interact with the Biblical text if she wishes. It remains the standard teaching version of the RSV, and is perfectly adequate for self-teaching purposes as well.

Later study Bibles, such as study Bibles based on the NRSV, have considerably more annotations than the New Oxford Annotated Bible - RSV Expanded Edition. That can be useful in some instances, but it also gets in the way of reading the text. There is a lot to be said for the limited but still helpful level of annotations in the New Oxford Annotated Bible - RSV Expanded Edition.

Stephen said...

Several months ago, I purchased the Ignatius Study Bible CE New Testament. It took a little getting used to (mainly because I grew up on the NAB and also because that is what you hear in Mass). I switch back and forth. I do have an Igatius New Testiment CE and Psalms (the small blue one) on order and I'm looking forward to having the portability of it (office, coffee shop, plane, car, etc.). I have read a lot of comments here about the Ignatius RSV CE cover (some like it - some don't). I'm not sure I understand the cover. Obviously Christ is the center icon, and I know that the four incons represent Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I've tried to do some research as to why these emblems represent them... but I'm still not sure how or why they came to be? Symbols from Revelation? I'm sure some people feel uncomfortable with some of the icons/art on the cover - especially those of non-Catholic backgrounds. I have a Catholic background, and I have to confess I feel a little uncomfortable seeing images that I don't fully understand. Would be nice if they insert a page indcating history/rationale regarding the cover.

Mark in Spokane said...

The RSV New Testament is magnificent and its translation of the Hebrew Bible is equally incredible. Where it is weak, though, is in the deutero-canonical/apocryphal books. There, more recent translations like the NAB and the JB/NJB are clearly superior.

Charles E Flynn said...


The iconography of the four evangelists is explained briefly in this Wikipedia article:

Anonymous said...


The RSV made it possible for me to become Catholic. As a former Sola Scriptura type Christian, the Bible was central to my faith. So before I could accept Catholic teaching, it was necessary that I find a Catholic translation of Scripture in which I could have confidence, which would sustain all my years of reading and studying the Scriptures, yet would also lead me into a truly Catholic mindset. After a lengthy search and attempts to come to terms with more prominent Catholic versions, I eventually found the RSV-2CE. It became my Bible for two years before I found the courage to begin conversion. Without the RSV, I am certain I would still be wondering around, unable to trust. Now that I am a Catholic, thanks to failing eyes I have switched to the RSV-CE for the large print. This is the Bible I use as a catechist with the youth confirmation course. So, 40+ years after it was published, the RSV played a significant and essential role in leading me to the Catholic faith. I am truly grateful for this translation - its beauty, its faithfulness to the ancient texts, and its true connection to the Tyndale tradition. I am also grateful to all those who continue to publish and improve this venerable version. And now with the Anglican Ordinariate ramping up, we may well see even more good things coming out of this old Bible.

Happy anniversary and many years to the RSV.


Don B. said...

Slighty off topic, I watched EWTN LIVE last week, and the guest was talking about why the Catholic Bible is larger than the protestant. The gist of it was because Catholics use the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which is the one Jesus used, and the one that is quoted in the New Testament, while protestants use a newer translation, the Masoretic, which the original writers edited books out of it, and changed words (i.e. young woman for virgin in Isiah) to discredit the new Christian sects that were gaining popularity.

So, since the Septuagint seems to be the more reliable and uncorrupted version of the OT, which of the modern Catholic Bibles use the Septuagint exclusively or primarily in thier translation of the OT? (I'm guessing neither the RSV or NABRE use it, going by the missing "virgin" in Isiah)

Timothy said...


All modern Catholic editions translate primarily from the Hebrew. Some will refer to the LXX more often than others, like the NRSV. Most modern translations do not translate exclusively from one or the other, but will follow a more eclectic text, where scholars try to determine which is the most ancient/original text. The NRSV, as well as the NET Bible, have good textual notes which explain where they make choices in determining which text to go with.

Timothy said...


I am not aware of any specifically Catholic Bible in English that has the OT translated directly from the Greek.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Reggie Fuller died on April 21st this year. He was 102 and was a priest for 79 years. The work that he and Dom Orchard did for Catholic Biblical Studies, not only the RSV-CE is under appreciated by many.

Please keep both of these fine priests in your prayers. (Dom Orchard died on 28 November, 2006)

Dom Kilian Fudge, Can.Reg.

Timothy said...

Dom Kilian,

Thank you for your post and your service to the Church.
I know that the RSV-CE remains popular to this day in the US. Even Dom Orchard's one volume commentary is still sought after even though it has been out of print for some time.

I would be interested in finding out more about the contributions of these two men. Would you have any recommendations where I could begin?

Thanks again for your post and God bless.