Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bible Study Series: Judah 17-25

(Sorry for the lapse of time between entries on this, November just seemed to fly by!)

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.” (RSV)

“But you, dear friends, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the end time scoffers will come living according to their own ungodly desires.” These people create divisions. Since they don’t have the Spirit, they are worldly. A strategy for the faithful But you, dear friends: build each other up on the foundation of your most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, keep each other in the love of God, wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will give you eternal life. Have mercy on those who doubt. Save some by snatching them from the fire. Fearing God, have mercy on some, hating even the clothing contaminated by their sinful urges. Blessing To the one who is able to protect you from falling, and to present you blameless and rejoicing before his glorious presence, to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, belong glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, now and forever. Amen.” (CEB)

After spending the main body of his epistle denouncing the false teachers, Judah now turns to his final exhortation which serves as a beautiful sending off for those beloved and “rescued by God’s power.” As the Navarre commentary points out, this final section serves as a call to “guard the faith, to practice virtue and to set good example (651).” There are a few different ways to “divide” this section and perhaps the easiest would be to break it into two: 1) Warning and Exhortations (17-23) and 2) Closing Benediction (24-25).

Verses 17-19 begin by reminding the community that the Apostles predicted that there would be disruptions and ungodly people who would arise at various points. (See also Acts 20:29-30; 1 Tim 4:1-3; 2 Pet 3:3 for more on this.) Of course, this also harkens back to our Lord’s statement in Matthew 24 that “False Christs and false prophets” would come. These scoffers, who “create division”, do not have the Spirit, and as Wright suggests, simply “are living at the merely human level (203).” Therefore, without the Spirit, they can’t truly be Christians as they claim to be (Perkins 155). As most of us know, this problem persists to this day in and outside the Church. In some ways, it is a sign of the messianic age, which was initiated by Christ and will last until his Second Advent. The question for all Christians, then, is how we respond to this reality. This is what Judah is concerned with in the verses that follow.

Judah charges these young Christians to be built up in their “most holy faith (20)” which they received. This brings us back to the point Judah made in verse 3, where he called them to “contend for the faith”. Thus being filled with holy faith, the Christian is urged to prayer. We see what he means beginning at the end of verse 20, where Judah exhorts them to “pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” This is truly a remarkable call for the believer, wrapped within a deep and rich Trinitarian theology. As the Navarre commentary points out, this invocation is tied to the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (651). Citing from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1812, we see that the “theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.”

Verses 22-23 are rendered differently depending on which version of the Bible you own. The Greek text is uncertain at several points due to the existence of variants. (Perhaps one of my astute readers would like to comment with greater detail on this?) In any case, they follow closely to the preceding verses. Here, Judah calls for greater communal action and mercy to those who need to be snatched “out of the fire”. Wright is helpful by summarizing this as if Judah is saying to them: “Make sure you look carefully to see what condition people are in, and apply the mercy of God appropriately in each case (205).” While it is true that as Christians we need to be mindful where sin exists, it is equally important that we seek to heal through mercy, just as our Lord did for us.

This short, but wonderful, epistle ends with a beautiful benediction/doxology. These final words remind us that all glory is due to our heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are reminded here how the Church has always addressed her prayers at Mass, to the Father through the Son (and in the Spirit). Through these trials, we are called to remain fixed on Jesus, who will present us “without blemish” to the throne of his Father. And as Perkins explains: “God’s eternal power and majesty makes it clear that he can bring the faithful to that glorious destiny (158).” Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your Thoughts

As we have now entered a new liturgical year, with a new Roman Missal, and soon will be entering a new calendar year, it is perhaps as good a time as any to consider how this blog is doing. I have been operating this blog for over three years now, and it has certainly been a blast. I truly mean that. The interaction with all of you has been both enlightening and incredibly enjoyable. I have also been blessed with a number of key contacts from various Church positions and publishers, who have provided me with information and materials that I have been able to share with you. Many thanks to them for answering my questions over the past few years.

So where does that leave the Catholic Bibles Blog heading into 2012? That is where you come in. What would you like to see more of in 2012? What would you like to see less of? For example, I was contacted by a reader who was interested in having a regular series utilizing Lectio Divina. Is that something that would be of interest? One thing that I did more of this past year was to include 'guest posts/reviews', thus it may be time to consider having one or two permanent contributors to this blog. Please feel free to be a honest and open with your thoughts.

And of course, a thousand sincere thanks to all of you have been involved in some way with this site, either through posting, comments, or just reading. May God bless you during this Advent season.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The proclamation of the word of God and migrants

The word of God makes us attentive to history and to emerging realities. In considering the Church’s mission of evangelization, the Synod thus decided to address as well the complex phenomenon of movements of migration, which in recent years have taken on unprecedented proportions. This issue is fraught with extremely delicate questions about the security of nations and the welcome to be given to those seeking refuge or improved conditions of living, health and work. Large numbers of people who know nothing of Christ, or who have an inadequate understanding of him, are settling in countries of Christian tradition. At the same time, persons from nations deeply marked by Christian faith are emigrating to countries where Christ needs to be proclaimed and a new evangelization is demanded. These situations offer new possibilities for the spread of God’s word. In this regard the Synod Fathers stated that migrants are entitled to hear the kerygma, which is to be proposed, not imposed. If they are Christians, they require forms of pastoral care which can enable them to grow in the faith and to become in turn messengers of the Gospel. Taking into account the complexity of the phenomenon, a mobilization of all dioceses involved is essential, so that movements of migration will also be seen as an opportunity to discover new forms of presence and proclamation. It is also necessary that they ensure, to the extent possible, that these our brothers and sisters receive adequate welcome and attention, so that, touched by the Good News, they will be able to be heralds of God’s word and witnesses to the Risen Jesus, the hope of the world. -Verbum Domini 105

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent Reflections

So, how was your experience with the new Third Edition of the Roman Missal? My parish did a great job adapting to the new wording and the people were quite eager for the changes. Our pastor reminded us in the homily that the prayers are now more clearly related to their scriptural foundations. He also used the Gospel reading from Mark "to keep watch" as being analogous to our need to be more alert and engaged as we pray this new Missal. All and all a truly wonderful morning Mass. Probably the biggest place of stumbling will remain saying "And with your Spirit" in all instances. Most did well for the first few instances, but reverted back, somewhat unconsciously, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I particularly enjoyed hearing the more accurate wording for the collect and prayer after communion. Our pastor also used Eucharistic Prayer 3 which seemed to be a bit more reverent and majestic than then prior translation.

Enough with my experiences, how about you?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Blessed Thanksgiving to You All!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the God of gods;
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the Lord of lords;
for his mercy endures forever."
-Psalm 136:1-3

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DIY Bookbinding + Leather Bibles

J. Mark Bertrand's blog Bible Design and Binding is a site I check each week, due to its high quality photos and discussion on the best of the best in Bible design. Recently, he posted on how to do your own bookbinding, which you can read here. If I had any skill at all, I might attempt to do this with a couple of my Bibles, but alas I do not.

One topic that is brought up here on this blog quite frequently is the general lack of premium leather Catholic Bibles. This becomes all the more frustrating when you see how many editions the new NIV2011 comes in. However, with the release of the NABRE, there may be a possibility of a premium leather edition of it in the near future depending on any future publishers. As for the other main Catholic translations, most notably the RSV and NRSV, I wonder what the future holds. Any time I have contacted Ignatius Press, they routinely tell me that they have no plans of releasing the RSV-2CE in any new editions. Well, that is too bad if you ask me. As for the NRSV, HarperOne has indicated additional future releases of the NRSV-CE are likely, but who knows what they will actually do. So, we shall see. Do you have any hopes or desires for premium editions of Catholic Bible translations?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The New Evangelization and the Bible Part 4

In some Protestant circles, this week is National Bible Week. I am not too sure, but I think this is the first that I have heard of this celebration. Is anybody else familiar with this? Either way, this does bring up an interesting set of questions which will serve as a conclusion to this series of posts on the New Evangelization and the Bible in the Church. So far, we have looked at what some recent Popes and biblical scholars have had to say about the role of the Bible in evangelization, along with a brief discussion on which translations would be the best to use. So, in light of National Bible Week, I would like to ask you these questions:

1) What scriptural materials or programs do you think work well in evangelizing people, particularly lapsed or inactive Catholics? (BTW, I hate the word "programs" in relation to ministry, but that is for another time.)

2) How does the New Media, particularly the internet, fit into this discussion? (I have in mind Brandon Vogt's book The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet and how that can relate to our topic of the Bible.)

3) What would you like to see the Church do to promote greater scriptural literacy?

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The proclamation of the word of God and young people

The Synod paid particular attention to the proclamation of God’s word to the younger generation. Young people are already active members of the Church and they represent its future. Often we encounter in them a spontaneous openness to hearing the word of God and a sincere desire to know Jesus. Youth is a time when genuine and irrepressible questions arise about the meaning of life and the direction our own lives should take. Only God can give the true answer to these questions. Concern for young people calls for courage and clarity in the message we proclaim; we need to help young people to gain confidence and familiarity with sacred Scripture so it can become a compass pointing out the path to follow. Young people need witnesses and teachers who can walk with them, teaching them to love the Gospel and to share it, especially with their peers, and thus to become authentic and credible messengers.

God’s word needs to be presented in a way that brings out its implications for each person’s vocation and assists young people in choosing the direction they will give to their lives, including that of total consecration to God. Authentic vocations to the consecrated life and to the priesthood find fertile ground in a faith-filled contact with the word of God. I repeat once again the appeal I made at the beginning of my pontificate to open wide the doors to Christ: “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. … Dear young people: do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life”

-Verbum Domini 104

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NRSV Catholic E-Bible Available

We have been discussing E-books a lot lately, so it is somewhat ironic that the NRSV has now been made available in a new E-book format. According to HarperOne: "This unique one-column setting allows people to read the Bible as a work of literature. Each book is introduced with an original wood-cut. Overall, this special easy-to-read setting makes the Bible a wonderful reading experience. It also includes a concordance index to help people find key passages."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Exodus in the NABRE

On Thursday nights, I have the wonderful privilege of teaching an Old Testament narrative class to adults, through the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan. In many ways, it is the highlight of my week since the students are very receptive and show a great desire to engage the Holy Scriptures. Having just spent a number of weeks in the book of Genesis, we have now turned to Exodus. The course primarily relies on the RSV-CE as its teaching text, but I have been using the NABRE quite closely as well. I have found that, when comparing translations, there can be a tendency to just choose those famous passages, like Is. 7:14, to see how one translation stacks up against another. However, it really does take a willingness to sit down with a translation, and read large portions of it, before one can really grasp its worth.

That brings me back to my reading of Exodus, using both the NABRE and RSV-CE. What I have found is that there are some interesting decisions that the NABRE makes which, in general, I find to be quite helpful. One may ask whether the NABRE is as literal as the RSV? Overall, no. But it is certainly a lot closer than the original NAB and in many ways is more readable. Below I am going to provide some examples of what I have found during my reading:

1) There is a verse numbering difference between the NABRE and the RSV in regards to the second, third, and fourth plagues. The NABRE appears to follow the Hebrew numbering, while the RSV does not. Those of you who are familiar with the NAB(RE) know that it will often do this, see the book of the prophet Joel for another instance of this.

2) The NABRE will at times translate some of the more confusing (perhaps?) Hebrew metaphors and idioms into more readable English. For example, Moses refers to himself as having "uncircumcised lips" in Exodus 6:12, which the RSV translated literally into English. In the NABRE, Moses refers to himself as being a "poor speaker". (The NRSV is identical to the NABRE in this case.) Is this a good change? It certainly does clear up any possible confusion that the typical reader may have in understanding the Hebrew idiom. In any case, the NABRE translators do include a helpful note explaining what is the literal rendering of the Hebrew.

3) Snakes and Serpents! In Genesis 3:1, the NABRE went with snake over the more traditional serpent. In Exodus, we find the return of snakes as well as serpents. Is there a difference? Apparently so. Even though most translations, like the RSV, use the same word "serpent" for Moses' rod (4:3) and Aaron's rod (7:9), they are technically two different Hebrew words: nahash and tannin, respectively (Larsson Bound for Freedom 54). Nahash was the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 3, which the NABRE translated consistently in this case. The word tannin though may indicate a more ferocious reptile than a serpent, perhaps a large sea monster or dragon (Ezek 29:3) or crocodile. While one could debate which English terms would be best in translating these two Hebrew words, at least the NABRE made the distinction.

4) One of the most famous idioms of Exodus is the "hardening of Pharoah's heart" which is found some 20 times in Exodus 5-11. Sometimes it is clear that the LORD does the hardening, while on other occasions Pharoah is the one who does so. It is interesting to note that there are three different Hebrew words used in these instances, the most notably being hazaq and kaved. In most cases, however, the RSV simply translates "Pharoah's heart was hardened". The NABRE translates each term differently, kaved as Pharoah was "obstinate", while hazaq as Pharoah's "heart was hardened". (Again, there is also some helpful translator notes which assist the reader in recognizing the difference.) Now, one could argue that this is either not a big deal ultimately or that another word instead of "obstinate" should be used, but the main point is that the NABRE does make the distinction, much like it did with the snake/serpent issue addressed above.

More to come....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SBP NABRE on Kindle Too!

Below is the press release for the Kindle version for the Saint Benedict Press NABRE:



Charlotte, NC (November 16, 2011) — Saint Benedict Press announced today its publication of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) in e-book form, at a special discounted price of $3.95.

Saint Benedict Press is a proud publisher of the NABRE, the first major update to the New American Bible (NAB) in twenty years. Saint Benedict Press released three print editions of the NABRE on March 9th of this year. The new e-Bible is the Press’ first offering of the NABRE in digital form. It is available for the Kindle from and for the Nook from

The e-book version of the NABRE is discounted from its original price of $5.95 to $3.95 from now until the end of National Bible Week (Nov. 20-26).

Over the past three years, Saint Benedict Press has increased its line of Catholic Bibles beginning with the publication of several Douay Rheims and Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Bibles in 2008.

With the addition of the NABRE in March of 2011, Saint Benedict Press became the only publisher to simultaneously sell all three major English translations of the Catholic Bible. Today the Press publishes 28 Bibles between the three translations, with a wide variety of sizes, features and formats.

“The e-book version of the NABRE contains the full text of the Bible, plus supplemental features including a cycle of daily and Sunday Mass readings, a listing of Popes, and a manual of favorite Catholic prayers,” said Conor Gallagher, Vice President of Publishing, Saint Benedict Press. “Our customers will welcome the cross-referencing available in our NABRE e-book, its search-ability, and of course its unbeatable price.”

Reflecting the work of nearly 100 scholars and extensively reviewed and approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the NABRE takes into account the best current scholarship as well as the new discovery of ancient manuscripts to improve understanding of the Biblical text."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pope Benedict on Psalm 110

From today's audience:

Psalm 110 (109)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to Psalm 110, one of the famous “royal psalms”, originally linked to the enthronement of a Davidic monarch. The Church reads this Psalm as a prophecy of Christ, the messianic king and eternal priest, risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father. Saint Peter, in his speech on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:32-36), applies its words to the Lord’s victory over death and his exaltation in glory. From ancient times, the mysterious third verse of the Psalm has been interpreted as a reference to the king’s divine sonship, while the fourth verse speaks of him as “a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek”. The Letter to the Hebrews specifically applies this imagery to Christ, the Son of God and our perfect high priest, who lives eternally to make intercession for all those who, through him, approach the Father (cf. Heb 7:25). The final verses of the Psalm present the triumphant King as executing judgment over the nations. As we pray this Psalm, we acclaim the victory of our risen Lord and King, while striving to live ever more fully the royal and priestly dignity which is ours as members of his Body through Baptism.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The New Evangelization and the Bible Part 3

As we continue our look at the relationship between the New Evangelization and the Bible, I would like to turn to an article from Frank J. Matera, the Andrews Kelly Ryan Professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America. The article is found on the USCCB's Doctrine site, under the Intellectual Tasks section. You can read the whole article here. Below are two selections from this paper. The first assesses the current situation in the West where the Christian narrative is competing against others, both religious and secular. The second section comes from the end of the paper, where Matera makes three points about how Scripture can contribute to the New Evangelization:

"Consider for a moment why movies, literature, art, and pop culture are so important. On the one hand, they entertain us. But on the other, they are always telling us stories that capture our imagination. These stories are important because they help us to understand the story of our lives. And so, when we read novels, listen to music, look at art, or watch movies, we insert ourselves into the story world they create to understand something of the story of our life. Christianity has a compelling narrative inscribed into its architecture, music, and especially its Scriptures. But today we live in a world of competing narratives: secular stories as well as religious ones, narratives that de-construct meaning as well as narratives that create meaning. Whereas formerly Christianity could present its holy men and women as models to be imitated, today we live in a world that models itself after entertainers and sport figures; we live in a world of competing narratives, and all of them are vying for our allegiance."


"First, it reminds us that we must provide people with a narrative that will help them understand the story of their lives. We must provide them with a narrative that explains who they are, what God has done, and what God is doing. We must provide them with Scripture’s story that gives them a profound and abiding sense of hope. Second, the outline of this narrative is already found in the sacred texts we proclaim every week. But the narrative will only come alive if we understand and present it in a credible way. Our task, then, is to understand the narrative anew in light of our time and our place. Third, if we hope to proclaim the gospel in a world of competing narratives, we must proclaim a narrative that enables people to understand the full dimension of salvation: the salvation of the body as well as of the soul, the salvation of the community as well as of the individual, the salvation of creation as well as of humanity. In a word, we must proclaim a vision of salvation that includes the whole of God’s good creation."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Additional Helpful Comments from Fr. Barron on the Third Roman Missal

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The word of God and practical charity

Commitment to justice, reconciliation and peace finds its ultimate foundation and fulfilment in the love revealed to us in Christ. By listening to the testimonies offered during the Synod, we saw more clearly the bond between a love-filled hearing of God’s word and selfless service of our brothers and sisters; all believers should see the need to “translate the word that we have heard into gestures of love, because this is the only way to make the Gospel proclamation credible, despite the human weakness that marks individuals”. Jesus passed through this world doing good (cf. Acts 10:38). Listening with docility to the word of God in the Church awakens “charity and justice towards all, especially towards the poor”. We should never forget that “love – caritas – will always prove necessary, even in the most just society … whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such”. I therefore encourage the faithful to meditate often on the Apostle Paul’s hymn to charity and to draw inspiration from it: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but delights in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor 13:4-8).

Love of neighbour, rooted in the love of God, ought to see us constantly committed as individuals and as an ecclesial community, both local and universal. As Saint Augustine says: “It is essential to realize that love is the fullness of the Law, as it is of all the divine Scriptures … Whoever claims to have understood the Scriptures, or any part of them, without striving as a result to grow in this twofold love of God and neighbour, makes it clear that he has not yet understood them”.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Revised 'Gloria' in the New Roman Missal

The older version:

'Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.'

The version in the Third Edition:

'Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.'

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The New Evangelization and the Bible Part 2

So, clearly, the Scriptures have an essential role in the New Evangelization. Here, in the United States, we Catholics have an ever increasing abundance of Bible editions and related materials to choose from that can be utilized for this task. I am not sure that has always been the case, but this has certainly changed in the last 10-15 years. That fact that a blog like this exists "where Catholics and other Christians can discuss Catholic Bible editions, study tools, and other issues concerning the Catholic faith" is a testament to the growth in Biblical awareness for Catholic Americans.

Now knowing that the call to a New Evangelization has as one of its main goals the reaching out to those who are either former Catholics or non-practicing ones, I ask you this question: What English Bible translation do you think best meets the need for this task? As we examine this question, we need to recognize that many of these people, though not all, have little or no regular encounter with the Holy Scriptures. What Bible translation do we evanglize with and which one do we encourage others to read? Why?

Monday, November 7, 2011

How's Your Parish Doing with the New Roman Missal?

So, what is going on in your parishes as we are now less than three weeks from the full implementation of the new Roman Missal (3rd Edition)? My parish has already distributed new Order of Mass cards, by Magnificat, and yesterday was the first time we used the new Gloria in Mass. Although I need to find out the composer of the new Gloria setting, I found it to be quite beautiful.

At the high school where I teach, all of the theology teachers have devoted three days to discussing the new Missal. All in all, the kids have been very receptive to it. We will have our first school Mass, with the new Missal, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The proclamation of God’s word, reconciliation and peace between peoples

Among the many areas where commitment is needed, the Synod earnestly called for the promotion of reconciliation and peace. In the present context it is more necessary than ever to rediscover the word of God as a source of reconciliation and peace, since in that word God is reconciling to himself all things (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 1:10): Christ “is our peace” (Eph 2:14), the one who breaks down the walls of division. A number of interventions at the Synod documented the grave and violent conflicts and tensions present on our planet. At times these hostilities seem to take on the appearance of interreligious conflict. Here I wish to affirm once more that religion can never justify intolerance or war. We cannot kill in God’s name! Each religion must encourage the right use of reason and promote ethical values that consolidate civil coexistence.

In fidelity to the work of reconciliation accomplished by God in Jesus Christ crucified and risen, Catholics and men and women of goodwill must commit themselves to being an example of reconciliation for the building of a just and peaceful society. We should never forget that “where human words become powerless because the tragic clash of violence and arms prevails, the prophetic power of God’s word does not waver, reminding us that peace is possible and that we ourselves must be instruments of reconciliation and peace”.
-Verbum Domini 102

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A New NABRE on Kindle

Michael Pierce, who recently contacted me through this blog, wanted me to alert you to a new Kindle edition of the NABRE. While it is not the first version of the NABRE to be available for the Kindle, it does have a number of unique features according to the product description:

We are proud to release an electronic edition of the New American Bible: Revised Edition (NABRE), which features an excellent formatting true to the paper edition and multiple navigation aids, which allow opening any verse in the Bible in seconds (as explained in detail in the book itself). All material, including footnotes, is preserved and cross referenced within the text. This is the one electronic Bible that every believer must have because it is more convenient and faster to use than the paper edition.

Michael provided a little background information about the production of this edition:

We asked USCCB/CCD for a permission to release a Kindle version of NAB in early 2010. We promised them that our Kindle conversion would be superior because it would go beyond just great formatting of the Bible on the Kindle and hyperlinked TOC; our approach is to make a Kindle Bible the most navigable and convenient to use out of electronic Bibles. At that time, the USCCB indicated that NABRE was still not approved for publication. Once NABRE was released, we worked for months to make the perfect conversion to the Kindle and then CCD had to review and approve our work (it is a long process in itself because they did review the entire work and we had to sign some contracts with them).

NABRE has similar features and navigation as the following publications:

Kindle Catholic English-Latin Diglot Bible (D-R and Vulgate)
Kindle Catholic Bible (D-R)

Also, Michael is willing to field any questions from you about this new product. Please do so by submitting questions in the comment box.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New NABRE Responses

Thanks again to Mary Sperry for taking the time to respond to these questions:

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?
At present, nothing has been firmly determined. I would expect that a plan for the future will be developed in 2012.

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?
While these updates seem minor, they would require complete reprinting (and likely some resetting) by the publishers. As such, they are unlikely to take place in the near future.

3. When will the revised edition of the Textual Notes on the New American Bible (promised in the NABRE introduction) appear?
We are hoping to post them on the USCCB website soon. There are two reasons for the delay: 1) We are still working out major bugs in the principal elements of the site. 2) The files of the textual notes are in a somewhat outdated computer program which we need to convert to make sure that the symbols and diacritical markings are retained. Obviously, that’s not a task we can hand off to a temp. Realistically, I’m hoping for early 2012. In addition, the Catholic Biblical Association will be offering a print edition for people who want a copy for their bookshelves.

4. Were the cross-references in the NABRE substantially revised from the NAB OT cross-references?
Yes, they are far more extensive.

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?
Usually, the complaint I hear is the opposite: that the NAB helps are far too extensive! That being said, publishers may, if they wish, add to these materials as long as they are distinguished rom what comes as part of the “official” NABRE.

6. 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?
It is unlikely that either of these will change soon as they are accurate renderings of the underlying Greek and Hebrew, respectively. Though I am aware of debates about translating the Greek of Luke 1, I am far more knowledgeable about Isaiah 7:14 as I was in the office for most of the translation process on the OT. (During the NT translation, I was in high school and college and blissfully unaware of how heated translation debates can become!) In the case of Isaiah 7:14, the Hebrew word “almah” is accurately translated as “young woman.” Hebrew has a different word for “virgin” (“bethulah”) which Isaiah uses in 62:5. The NABRE uses different renderings following different Hebrew words in the original.

Are there any plans for an update of the New Testament?
Not at present.

8. 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.
If the NT is updated (a multi-year process at best), I would expect (and this is just my informed opinion based on the OT translation experience) that “full of grace” would likely appear (at least) in a note as an alternative reading. Any revised translation will strive to preserve the distinctions made in the original between gender-specific group nouns and gender-inclusive group nouns to the extent possible given modern English’s lack of a human yet gender-neutral third person singular pronoun.

9. Along these lines, is there any chance the Bible will be brought in to conformity with the liturgy?
Translations of Scripture follow different rules than do liturgical translations. Bible translators are called upon to translate the best available critical editions of the original texts. Liturgiam authenticam sets out different standards that are, in some cases (most sepcifically the reliance on the Nova Vulgata), in conflict with the Bible translation directions established by Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflate Spiritu in 1942.

10. Is there a set schedule for review and revision of the text and notes?
No. The bishops of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine consult with a board of scholars to determine when a review and/or revision is needed.

11. 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?
I would have to disagree with the underlying assumption of this question. Among other things, the NABRE introduction to the Gospel of Matthew clearly identifies the Two-Source theory as “The one now favored by the majority of scholars.” In addition, the notes are part of the canonical review.

12. 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.
No. The NABRE notes are a constitutive part of the text and cannot be eliminated apart from very special circumstances (most notably parallel Bibles and audio Bibles). The notes are part of the text as reviewed for the approval to publish.

13. 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.
Permission to move to end notes is granted rarely and will become even more rare in the future as it tends, effectively, to eliminate the notes.

14. 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.
I would recommend a good commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.

15. Will the NT be revised to reflect the Lectionary, i.e., "hail full of grace", "Christ" rather than "Messiah", etc.
Answered above, #9.

16. 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.
Preparing a second set of notes is certainly a possibility. While any notes will, of course, reflect the best available biblical scholarship, there are reasonable concerns that the present notes presume a theological sophistication that may not be widely present. The language used in many of the notes is hard for many NABRE readers to understand, limiting the utility of these resources.

17. 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.
I can’t speak to the process of the new Mass translation beyond the requirements of liturgical law. The canons require separate paths for approval for Bible translations and liturgical translations. Liturgical translations must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the bishops of an episcopal conference and confirmed by the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship. A Bible translation must be approved by either the Holy See or the conference of bishops. In practice, the Holy See tends to refer such approvals to the local conference. The USCCB established a process for such approval in the late 1980s. This process was applied to the OT revision. In accord with that policy, any revision of the NAB is reviewed by the Subcommittee on Scripture Translations and proposed to the Administrative Committee which is asked to recommend that the Conference President approve its publication. Other Bible translations need not be presented to the Administrative Committee.

Now, as to the more specific question of the introductions and notes: These materials are developed in the same way as the rest of the translation. The editorial board identifies possible translators who are approved by at least the chairman of the bishops’ subcommittee. Those translators who agree to undertake the task create the translation and accompanying materials using the best available critical edition (noting any especially significant alternative readings). When submitted, the translator’s work includes the text plus an introduction, notes, and textual notes. That work is reviewed by an editor who engages in dialogue with the translator as necessary. The editor then presents the book to a group of editors who make comments and changes. Ultimately, each book is presented to the full editorial board for final review and comment. Then the text is submitted to the Subcommittee on Scripture Translations. The subcommittee assigns one or two censors to each book. Each censor submits comments, queries, and recommended changes to the subcommittee. The subcommittee reviews these recommendations and passes some of them on to the editorial board for further consideration. To clarify, the censors and the subcommittee review the notes and and the introductions as well as the text. The subcommittee and the editorial board then discuss the suggested changes until all parties are in agreement. Only then does the full text move to the Administrative Committee for a vote. (And yes, that takes as long as it sounds!)

18. Also, is a Catholic required to believe in the verbal inerrancy of Sacred Scripture?
Catholics are not required to believe in plenary verbal inerrancy. I would refer you to the excellent resources from the Pontifical Biblical Commision: On the Historicity of the Gospels and The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church

19. Why is there no Imprimatur or Nihil Obstat for the NABRE OT? Is this forthcoming?
According to the canonists, the canonical rescript replaces the imprimatur. As I am not a canonist, I cannot explain this in any further detail.

20. Why is the Imprimatur for the 1991 Psalms listed at the beginning of the NABRE?
That’s actually an error caused by a contractual inconsistency. Hopefully, it will be corrected on reprints.

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

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

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?)
I put all these questions together because they have the same answer. That decision rests with the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship. Of course, the Confraternity will ensure that they have access to the text files if they would find them helpful.

22. 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?
Answered above, see #9.

23. 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?
If you can explain exactly what you want to do, I’ll pass that on to the developers and see what’s possible. (I know even less about web design than I do about canon law.)

24. 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 Masoretic text, which most people do not.
See the response to #16 above.

25. Now that the NABRE is complete what is going to happen to all the translators/editors? What are they currently working on?
Some of the translators and editors have passed from this life. (In this month of All Souls, prayers would be most appreciated.) Some have retired. (Keep in mind that this revision project began in 1992.) The majority continue teaching and writing at universities and seminaries in the US and around the world. If you Google their names, you can catch up with most of them.

26. 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".

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!

Since this whole comment deals with Song of Songs, I thought I’d handle it in a single response. First, the marginal notes identifying the speakers are not part of the Hebrew text. They were added in a later Greek recension. The revised text follows the Hebrew very closely. The Hebrew text most commonly describes the speakers as lovers or beloveds. (Some translations use “darling” which I personally find a bit cloying in modern English.)

I must, however, strongly object to the statement that the Song of Songs is pornographic. Pornography is typically defined as work that has no meaning or value apart from its ability to arouse. To characterize a book of the Bible as pornographic would seem to cast aspersions on the Church’s decision to include this book in the canon of Scripture by saying is has no theological import.

Without question, the language of Song of Songs is graphic and erotic. (In some places, the Hebrew is even more graphic than the English rendering. The revisers were careful to avoid vulgarity here and in other places.) However, the language does speak to the fact that human sexuality is a gift of God which has great value and, as such, deserves appropriate expression. The text can be read metaphorically. You may wish to read Bernard of Clairvaux’s commentary which is probably the landmark metaphorical reading of the text.

I would dispute that the revised text downplays marriage. The marital imagery is mentioned frequently in the introduction and the text includes many references to the faithful, committed, and fruitful union that is marriage.

27. 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".
Any future revision of the NABRE will reflect the best available scholarship on the text.

28. 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?
As a matter of course, the Confraternity does not propose, though we stand ready to respond to any queries or requests from episcopal conferences.

29. An Anglicianised version would be nice.
Such an edition is being prepared by Pauline Publications Africa for distribution in Africa. This edition will be accompanied by introductions and notes commissioned by the Kenyan Episcopal Conference to situate the scriptural text in the African context.

30. I did find much of the American country-bumpkin vernacular in the original NAB to be terrible (such as "dilly-dally" in the Binding of Isaac), but it seems most has been removed in the NABRE (of which the OT still has a lion's share of problems, but at least not that one, which made the Bible read like it took place in Tennessee instead of the Near East).
I’m not sure what text you are reading, but the NAB translation of Genesis 22 does not use the word “dilly-dally.” You may be thinking of the word “yonder” which is a viable English word, though no longer in frequent usage. Just another sign of how language changes over time.

I want to thank Tim for the opportunity to respond to these question and thank you all for your excellent questions and for your obvious love of God’s Holy Word.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The New Evangelization and the Bible Part 1

Blessed Pope John Paul II, following the lead of Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi, called on the whole Church to be involved in a New Evangelization leading up to the Millennium year of 2000. In his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, JPII declared that "the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples(2-3)." This is quite a charge, and one that needs to be heeded, particularly in the West.

Following the lead of his venerable predecessors, Pope Benedict has recently declared that October 11, 2012 will begin a "Year of Faith". It will mark not only the fifty year anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, but also the Synod of Bishops meeting on the New Evangelization.

So, my question to you is what role do the Holy Scriptures have in the New Evangelization?

Here is what Blessed John Paul II said in this regard, in paragraph 39 of his wonderful apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte:

"There is no doubt that this primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God. Ever since the Second Vatican Council underlined the pre-eminent role of the word of God in the life of the Church, great progress has certainly been made in devout listening to Sacred Scripture and attentive study of it. Scripture has its rightful place of honour in the public prayer of the Church. Individuals and communities now make extensive use of the Bible, and among lay people there are many who devote themselves to Scripture with the valuable help of theological and biblical studies. But it is above all the work of evangelization and catechesis which is drawing new life from attentiveness to the word of God. Dear brothers and sisters, this development needs to be consolidated and deepened, also by making sure that every family has a Bible. It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives."

More recently, Pope Benedict XVI in his recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini (96) remarked:

"Pope John Paul II, taking up the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, had in a variety of ways reminded the faithful of the need for a new missionary season for the entire people of God. At the dawn of the third millennium not only are there still many peoples who have not come to know the Good News, but also a great many Christians who need to have the word of God once more persuasively proclaimed to them, so that they can concretely experience the power of the Gospel. Many of our brothers and sisters are “baptized, but insufficiently evangelized”. In a number of cases, nations once rich in faith and in vocations are losing their identity under the influence of a secularized culture. The need for a new evangelization, so deeply felt by my venerable Predecessor, must be valiantly reaffirmed, in the certainty that God’s word is effective. The Church, sure of her Lord’s fidelity, never tires of proclaiming the good news of the Gospel and invites all Christians to discover anew the attraction of following Christ."

The use of Scripture in our daily prayer is essential, but how are we to use Scripture in the active evangelization of our culture?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Blessed All Saints Day!

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
"Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb."

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

"Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
"Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"
I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows."
He said to me, "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
-Revelation 7 (NABRE)