Monday, October 17, 2011

New NABRE Questions

Back in early 2010 Mary Sperry, Associate Director for the Utilization of the NAB at the USCCB, answered questions from readers of this blog regarding the upcoming publication of the NABRE. It turned out to be a great opportunity to gain some insight into what could be expected with the NABRE. Recently, Mary has agreed to field some additional questions from you, my wonderful readers. This is in many ways an opportune time, since we have been able to read and assess the NABRE for a little over 6 months now.

So, over the next couple of days, please use the comment box to ask any question you would like in regards to the NABRE. Please do not address any questions in regards to NABRE editions, since the USCCB does not publish the NABRE. And, of course, please make sure that all questions are charitable in tone. (If charity is lacking in your comment, I will not be charitable in moderating it.)

The deadline for submitting questions is Friday.


Theophrastus said...

(1) I know that the process of Bible translation is often an ongoing process. Are there any plans for either minor revisions or major revisions of the NAB/NABRE or its notes in the coming few years?

(2) A number of readers have noted that since the NAB NT notes quote the older NAB OT, they no longer are in harmony with the NABRE OT. (For example, the note to Matthew 24:15 now misquotes Daniel 12:11). Are there any plans to make at least minor updates to the NAB NT notes so they refer to the NABRE text?

(3) When will the revised edition of the Textual Notes on the New American Bible (promised in the NABRE introduction) appear?

Theophrastus said...

(4) Were the cross-references in the NABRE substantially revised from the NAB OT cross-references?

(5) Some readers have concerns that the cross-references in the NAB are not very extensive. Are licensed publishers permitted to integrate more extensive cross-references in an edition, or are they contractually limited to only use the existing NAB/NABRE cross-references?

Chrysostom said...

I was going to quote our conversation about (2) in another thread, but I ask the same question as Theophrastus in (2) since he's already stated it, (adding, "Why can't the changes be made?), (1) (3) and (5).

I would also ask a modified version, or a more specific version, of (1):

(1)(a) The decision was made to not use traditional Catholic phrasing in places such as Luke 1:28 and Isaiah 7:14. Is there a chance of an update rectifying these problems?

(1)(b) Are there any plans for an update of the New Testament? If so, try to add "full of grace" somewhere, and please, please don't go the way of many other translations and add more "inclusive" language.

(1)(c)Along these lines, is there any chance the Bible will be brought in to conformity with the liturgy?

(1)(d) Is there a set schedule for review and revision of the text and notes?

(1)(e) If there is an update of the notes, is there any chance the tone will be substantially altered, rejecting at least the wholesale preaching as a foregone assumption the debated two-source Q-theory in the gospels? Or even a move to bring the notes back in to (greater) continuity with the sacred Tradition of the Church?

That leads to:

(6)Many people do not like the NAB notes, finding them far too critical/skeptical and in discontinuity with sacred tradition (cf. the Holy Father's comments on the proper use of the historical-critical method, esp. those found in the prologue of "Jesus of Nazareth"), but can't find an edition of the NAB with different ones.*

Is there any way that different notes could be included, as long as they received imprimatur and were licensed, as the myriad commentaries and annotations that can be found in many different versions of the RSV? The "New Catholic Answer Bible" already has inserts that amount to essentially additional theological annotation, granted a separate imprimatur from the Bible itself.

(Some publishers have gone half-way to having end-notes, but this is not a satisfactory solution to the "note problem", as one ends up with what amounts to a text edition.)

I think this would increase the market for the printed NABRE dramatically, as I have met several people who refuse to use it because of the annotation, and still more who will only read end-note editions, so they don't have to see them; all but one of these people is comfortable with a Jerusalem Bible or an RSV-CE (i.e. they're not DRC fanatics).

Leonardo said...


My question is this: The note of Matthew 19:13-15 comment of an understanding of some scholars who think of that passage of the Bible as a justification for the practice of infant baptism.

I would be important to me to know more about that, and I want to know where I can find more information.


Dan Z. said...

As some of the other questions already mentioned, I add my voice: Will the NT be revised to reflect the Lectionary, i.e., "hail full of grace", "Christ" rather than "Messiah", etc.

It would also be nice if the footnotes and commentary could be revised to show less of a critical stance, and more of a faith based POV. Perhaps develope two sets of footnotes: one for editions marketed to history buffs, and one for editions for the average Catholic that inspire faith rather than put cracks in it.

Pomeranian Catholic said...

How were the footnotes and commentaries in the NABRE formulated? I'm just curious as to the whole process all the annotations had to go through. I'm wondering whether there are any parallels with the story of the new Mass translation.

Also, is a Catholic required to believe in the verbal inerrancy of Sacred Scripture? I have a really hard time with that and I hope I'm fretting over nothing. It seems to me that the Bible contains some mistakes, historical and otherwise, and I find some of the Old Testament passages fishy, as in, they look like they were composed by land-hungry kings, not a benevolent and loving God.

Jonny said...

1. Why is there no Imprimatur or Nihil Obstat for the NABRE OT? Is this forthcoming?

2. Why is the Imprimatur for the 1991 Psalms listed at the beginning of the NABRE?

3. How many years can we expect to see the modified 1991 NAB Psalms in the liturgy instead of the Revised Grail Psalter?

4. Has the format and approval process to integrate the NABRE OT into the Lectionary began yet (or is this on a tentative back-burner?)

5. Has the format and approval process to integrate the NABRE OT and NT into the Breviary began yet (or is this on a tentative back-burner?)

6. Are there any future plans at this time for a more literal and/or traditional english Bible translation that meets the requirements for Liturgiam Authenticam or is it the general concensus of the USCCB that the NABRE can stand indefinitly?

Francesco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Francesco said...

I'd like to thank Mary for giving us an opportunity to ask her questions again! I myself have a few:

1) The NABRE website is a big improvement over the old NAB website! It's really nice! The only issue I've run into is that it isn't as easy to hyperlink directly to a notes as it was with the old website. Do you have any advice about how to do that?

2) Who is the intended audience of the NABRE notes? Several commenters on this blog have noticed that the notes are sometimes pretty academic and might be unclear to anyone without a college-level understanding of Biblical scholarship. For instance the note at Job 13:15 says, "Many translations adopt the Ketib reading, “I have no hope.”" The term "Ketib" doesn't appear anywhere else in the NABRE and is left unexplained. It seems that the note assumes that the reader knows Hebrew spelling and the quirks of the Masorteic text, which most people do not.

3) Was there an effort to de-emphasize marriage in the revised Song of Songs? For instance the introductory essay now reads: "It represents an inspired portray of ideal human love, a resounding affirmation of the goodness of human sexuality that is applicable to the sacredness and the depth of marriage." In the original NAB this was two sentences that read: "While the Song is thus commonly understood by most Catholic scholars, it is also possible to see in it an inspired portrayal of ideal human love. Here we would have from God a description of the sacredness and the depth of married union." Also, the speakers are identified as "W", "M", and "D" (Woman, Man, and Daughters of Jerusalem) in the NABRE, but they were "B", "G", and "D" (Bride, Groom, and Daughters of Jerusalem) in the NAB. Another example of this is the way that the note to Song 4:12 was revised, where "Lover" was "Bridegroom" and "fruitful, committed relationship" was "fidelity".

4) Now that the NABRE is complete what is going to happen to all the translators/editors? What are they currently working on?

[Edited slightly for grammar and clarity.]

Chrysostom said...

\\Also, the speakers are identified as "W", "M", and "D" (Woman, Man, and Daughters of Jerusalem) in the NABRE, but they were "B", "G", and "D" (Bride, Groom, and Daughters of Jerusalem) in the NAB. Another example of this is the way that the note to Song 4:12 was revised, where "Lover" was "Bridegroom" and "fruitful, committed relationship" was "fidelity".\\

I don't read the Song of Solomon, but this is ridiculous. It's already too pornographic as is: the only thing that saves it is a very strong metaphorical interpretation, and it looks like it's getting less metaphorical by the minute.

I wonder if it has anything to do with the newish train in Catholic thought that says, "Celibacy is not inherently better than the alternative, just a different vocation", compared to the older, traditional, Patristic, "celibacy is a higher calling than marriage".

And even the marital overtones are being lost! The above poster certainly seems justified after a glance at the Song of Solomon in my NABRE - it's starting to sound a lot more "significant other"-ish instead of Bride of Christ-ish or even the Sacrament of Matrimony-al.

What's next, the Catholic Church saying, "the spread of fornication is inevitable, we must justify it" like other denominations (when they said, "birth control is on the rise, so we better accommodate it or lose parishioners").

I love the Catholic Church as a bastion against such relativism, as a staunch defender of the natural law morality!

Chrysostom said...

\\Also, is a Catholic required to believe in the verbal inerrancy of Sacred Scripture?\\

As far as verbal plenary inspiration as a theory, no, I don't believe so. Insofar as the belief that all Scripture with all its parts as the Church is accustomed to read is equally inspired, yes, I do believe so (Canons of Trent).

However, I'm not certain. Correct me if I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious if the notes on St. Paul's letters, especially Romans, will reflect any development in that area given all the recent focus on what Paul meant by "law" and "works".

Len. said...

hope I'm not too late with this one:

Has the Confraternity given thought to proposing to the Canadian bishops to take the NABRE for their Lectionary instead of the NRSV? Or the UK bishops?