Friday, August 26, 2011

Confraternity New Testament

The under-appreciated Confraternity New Testament is still available today through Scepter Publishers, who publish a delightful compact edition. Whenever I go to a used bookstore, I often find old textbook editions of the Confraternity Bible. Some of them contain the complete Douay Old Testament, while others have a combination of the Douay and the Confraternity revisions. Those revisions, which were translated from the Hebrew/Greek (and Latin for the Psalms I think?) ultimately became the basis for the original NAB Old Testament. (Genesis, however, was re-translated before the NAB came out.)

I know a number of people who remain very fond of the Confraternity New Testament. I wouldn't mind, at some point, doing a comparison of it with the Rheims NT. (If anyone is interested in this task, send me an email!) Whenever I have read verses from the Confraternity NT, I do find myself liking it quite a bit! If does a nice job of updating some of the older renderings in the Rheims NT, without losing its elegance.

I bring up the Confraternity Bible now because I recently read a fine review of a single-column Confraternity NT at J. Mark Bertrand's Bible Design Blog. I actually have that exact New Testament somewhere, so I may have to search through some boxes for it. Its worth checking out, at the very least for the great photos. Also check out Matt's review of the Scepter edition here.


K.R. said...

Comparing the Confraternity and the Rheims NT is a good idea, but you should add the NABRE NT also. It seems when the NAB editors revised the NT in the 1980s, they incorporated many aspects of the Confraternity. Using the word "Magi" instead of "Wise men" (or "Astrologers", as the original NAB NT had) comes to mind. Also, "amen amen I say to you".

I would dare say the current NABRE NT seems like a revision of the Confraternity rather than the original NAB NT.

Theophrastus said...

I am interested in why you think that the Confraternity NT is "under-appreciated." I certainly can understand those who are fond of the Confraternity NT because they grew up with it. And I have a few copies kicking around. But as far as I can tell from contemporary accounts, it was not well loved by most readers during its brief lifetime. Certainly, it did not help that the Confraternity NT was effectively rendered deficient within two years of its publication by Divino Afflante Spiritu's focus on original languages.

The Confraternity NT is less fluid than the Knox NT (and in a way less accurate, since Knox referred heavily to the Greek), and it is less true to the Latin than both the original Rheims NT and the Challoner-Rheims NT. All of these are in print, and there are also a number of Latin-English diglot New Testaments available.

Sure, the Confraternity NT is available some elegant printed editions, but that it is because it is a NT -- since the NT is relatively brief (about a third the size of the Catholic OT), the text that can be conveniently printed in a single volume. Quite a few NT-only volumes are similarly elegant.

With the exception of those who grew up with it, I could not recommend the Confraternity NT as a first or even second NT translation -- even for those who are seeking a translation of the Vulgate NT.

Timothy said...


Perhaps I could have described it rather as 'forgotten'. Many people remember the DR and then skip to the JB or NAB when talking about Catholic Bibles. Present company excluded of course!