Thursday, April 26, 2012

State Your Case: Your Ideal Bible

A couple years back I planned on starting a semi-regular series of posts providing a forum for you, my faithful readers, to discuss your various likes and dislikes concerning various issues in the world of Catholic Bibles.  As with some series that I have done on this blog, I never quite got around to making it a permanent monthly or bi-monthly post.  Well, let's give it another try! 

The first "State Your Case" focused on the question: "What translation do you prefer and why?"  I felt that the discussion that followed was quite good.  Most of the responses provided reasoned details as to why the particular responder liked this or that translation.  So, what will be today's topic?

This edition of "State Your Case" asks the following question: "What would your ideal Catholic Bible consist of?"  This is, of course, not a new question to this blog, but one which I think is always fun to ask from time to time.  Your response should address not only issues regarding translation, but primarily focus on the style of the Bible and what features you think should be included in it. 

Some additional ground rules to consider:

1) If the issue of which translation you prefer is important, please keep focused on the one you choose.  Don't let your argument become too obsessed with pointing out every little perceived "fault" or "error" in other translations without recourse to your own translation of choice.

2) Use specific examples! If you need to compare and contrast other Bible editions on the market, please do so.

3) Be independent in your thought! Please do not say "Fr. X says this" or "Mother X said that" about this or that translation.
4) Humor is welcomed and even encouraged!

5) Use real life examples! What I mean by this is how and where do you use your Bible of choice? Bible study? Mass? School? How has it worked in these situations? One could also consider explaining why they like the particular edition of their favorite Bible translation in this section. It's up to you.


Think of this whole exercise as your closing statement in a courtroom trial....but just not as long.

15 comments:

Jonny said...

Here I my suggestions for making an ideal Catholic Bible:

1. Challoner Douay-Rheims translation. In a world where the perception of the most correct Hebrew and Greek text (as well as the understanding of those languages in general) is constantly in a state of flux, I would prefer a translation that has and will stand the test of time. It is hard to take modern translations seriously when they sometimes become obsolete multiple times in the course of one lifetime. Also, the DR retains traditional Catholic words and phrases, many of which were adopted into the KJV, and then the KJV in turn adopted into the Challoner. Therefore I see the Challoner D-R a good blend of traditional rendering familiar to both Catholics and protestants, and also closer to the critical editions of the NT texts than the KJV and NKJV. The one thing that I would add to the "text" of the Challoner Bibles currently available are more language notes that explain the occasional obscure or archaic english words.

2. Notes. I would include the Challoner notes + beef them up with the best that Haydock offered without making the Bible too huge, maybe the size of currently available Protestant study Bibles. By "best" notes I am referring to those closest to the Magesterium, and also including CCC and Catechism of Trent reference numbers. Also notes that explain historical details without offering the current theoretical opinions of scholars would be included here, too. All of this should be evenly spaced with the text, with generous margins for those who like to take notes and not read into the gutter.

3. Cross references. A weak point in some Protestant-based Bibles, especially the RSV's and NRSV's, is that the cross references don't include the Deutrocanonical books (ok, maybe sometimes from the inside out, but not outside in.) It is sad how some Catholics use these translations almost exclusively and are missing that. The one exception here I know of is the Cambridge Cameo KJV that includes the Deutrocanonical Books. I would beef up the current D-R cross-references with some of those, and also some of the NABRE and NJB references as well.

4. Maps. A good set of maps with gazeteer. See the Oxford and Cambridge Bibles, but include the Protestant spelling next to the DR spelling for easy reference between translations.

5. Charts and outlines. Chronologies, timelines, lists. Messianic prophecies, synoptic Gospels, Kings of Israel and Judah, typology, etc, etc, etc. Give me 20 good pages of this all in one place for easy reference, and an intoduction and outline at the beginning of each book.

6. Ribbon bookmarks, gilt gold edges, SEWN BINDING!!! I would like to spend $100+ and get a family heirloom to be cherished for generations! I don't see why book publishers would have a problem with that .

7. Genuine leather cover, either calfskin, or leather wrapped hardback. Color options (black, white, burgundy, green, blue, and even pink!) and the option of words of Christ in red would provide each something they like.

Chrysostom said...

I can't fit my response in even four of these comment boxes (I'm assuming they're still capped at 4096).

Timothy said...

Chrysostom,

Try to keep it to one post. You could always do an expanded version of this as a guest post.

Wes said...

If I could have Crossway's single-column "personal reference" size ESV in a Catholic format and maybe a collection of traditional prayers in the back I would pay an embarrassing amount of money for it. It's not fair that the Protestants have all the nicest Bibles!

Russ said...

I've always wanted a comparative RSV/NRSV with a comprehensive cross-reference system. Oh, with genuine black leather and ribbon markers.

Chrysostom said...

"Genuine leather" isn't worth the pleather cowhide it's stamped on. You want GOATSKIN. (Or, at the very least, full calfskin, not Morocco or calf split.) However, "genuine leather" is just a notch above bonded "leather"; all of the above are superior.

The general ranking is, IMO:

1. Bonded leather
2. Genuine leather
3. TruTone
4. Morocco
5. Calf split
6. Whole calf
7. Goat

There are a few more in there too, that go between Morocco and whole calf, but are more rare. (Some people like "genuine leather" better than TruTone", but IME, the TruTone is better than almost anything except for Goatskin today, except less durable.)

owen swain said...

Keeping it simple, it may have been my comment on the previous post. I repeat the relevant portion here with a few additions.

"[W]hat I pine for (drool, weep, gnash) is an RSVCE or even 2CE, *single column!*, reference edition, leatherish would be nice and with" [non sectarian] "notes would be extra-extra nice."

I'll add the off white/cream pages of the Navarre Expanded NT (but not the glossy & heavy of the RSVCE2E--Ignatius what were you thinking?--type). A Catholic ordering of the O.T. is a given. Finally, WIDE margins so I can add my own notes and cross references collected over time & reflecting a Catholic focus.

"It's not like I'm asking for women's ordination ;-)" Actually it is and as with it it is never going to happen as with, I suspect, most of the above suggestions. So, I will have to make do and Catholics have become expert at that.

Francesco said...

My ideal Bible would have the following features:

1) A translation that followed the lectionary as closely as possible. If that's not in the cards, one that at least identified the differences between the text and the lectionary (for instance, an NAB-91 that had a footnote that said something like "Lect full of grace", at Lk 1:28).

2) A section with all the lectionary readings for the ordinary form (A, B, and C; I and II) and extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. If it’s practicable I’d also include the lectionary readings for major Eastern Catholic churches.

3) A section with the calendar dates of every moving holiday for the next 50-100 years. This would include the start and end dates of the liturgical seasons (again both for the OF and EF). It would have an asterisk by every holiday that currently gets moved to the nearest Sunday in the US, so if we every stop doing that it would still be useable.

4) A section with the four week psalter.

5) A section with traditional Catholic prayers including instructions on the Rosary.

6) Introductory material that had things like:
a. How to read and use scripture,
b. An explanation of what the Church teaches about the Bible,
c. A synopsis of the history of in the Bible and what extra-Biblical sources say about the same time period.

7) More than 1 ribbon. Maybe as many as 4.

8) A “Further Reading” section that covered lots of the questions people have about the Bible or Christianity. I’d put references to the CCC; ecumenical councils; the writings of Saints like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine; publications by the local episcopal conference & from Rome about the Bible; other publications that deal with Christianity in general.

9) A list of the various canons of the Bible.

These are a lot of suggestions, and if I tried to explain each one I’d write more than would be appropriate for a blog comment. I’ll just say that most Catholics (like most Americans) don’t spend much time reading a Bible, and so they won’t touch one without a hook. We are blessed by having an incredibly effective hook toward Bible reading, however: we have the Mass. The Bible I’m proposing would basically say: "remember when you heard the reading about a mother fondling a child on her lap? Why don't you read the whole chapter to find out what that was all about?"
In my proposals I was influenced by the CCB and the St. Benedict Press Kindle NABRE. The CCB for its concise and approachable introductory material and the SBP NABRE for its lectionary and traditional prayers at the end. The Lifeteen Bible also has the full lectionary in the back, which I think is nice.

Chad Meyer said...

This is a very interesting prompt! I would say that, to me, that there are four seperate areas to be addressed to build up the "ideal" Bible.

1) Translation. Of course this is, essentially, the most important, because a translation you don't like and wouldn't read, or is so inaccurate to be wrong is worthless for your spiritual benefit. For me, the ideal translation in English just does not exist. My favorite translations (at the moment) are NABRE and Jerusalem (LORD edition -- CTS New Catholic Bible). But, of course, each has its benefits and faults. I like the Grail Psalms because they are what we use in the Liturgy of the Hours, and I like the idea of uniformality. So, the most important question is the least resolved.

2) Binding. I like well put together books that could still be in good shape on my great-grandchildrens' shelves. A leather cover is a must, as is a soft enough binding to sit open to any desired page. Gilt edges are also very nice, as aesthetics are also important in Bibles. Included in binding, I will say that ribbons are a must. Two is not enough; four or five might be.

3) Layout. Good, thin, but opaque pages. Although I like the layout of the Jerusalem Reader's edition (single column), I think I would prefer two columns. Cross references should be put in the margins, as in the CTS New Catholic Bible, rather in the footer, as in the NAB. I don't like to write in books, so I'm not concerned with there being ample room for personal notes on the pages.

4) "Extras." These are also important, nay essential in any Bible. Footnotes, lots of footnotes, explaining textual questions, literary notes, historical context, etc., etc. The NAB/NABRE does well with the number of footnotes, I would say. Copious cross references are desirable as well. I have a number of Bibles which all have different sets of cross references, but I want them all together and more! Also, all cross references should point back to the verse which pointed to them, which I have found they don't always. There should be introductions to the books, their historical context, what we know of the authorship, and how they fit together with other books. All Catholic Bibles need a table of liturgical readings for Sundays, weekdays and solemnities. Maps are nice, though would be much more useful if they were referred to in the footnotes.

An extra point added to all the above, is that although I want it to be "nice", I don't want it to be so nice or special that I wouldn't want to handle it or carry it in a bag with my other stuff.

rolf said...

Ignatius RSV-2CE, large/giant print, anything else would be frosting on the cake.
***Please Ignatius Press, Hear my Voice*** (I have only been waiting 6 years)!

Anonymous said...

rolf,

Along those lines, I would like Ignatius Press to make their RSV-2CE New Testament and Psalms where the New Testament is single-column. Their current 2-column version is too hard to read - there's only 3-4 words per line, making reading very disjointed.

And their overall lack of various editions is beyond comprehension. Except for the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible NT, for study purposes only, I recommend people look elsewhere for a good bible.

Theophrastus said...

My ideal Catholic Bible would be a single volume original language Catholic Bible, along the lines of this Protestant Bible.

For those who want more ribbons in their Bibles: they are very easy to add. See, for example, this easy guide.

Schlager said...

NAOB RSV. To "catholicise" my bible i've pasted on the white cardboards preceding the actual pages catholic prayers from the Mass, like the Munda cor meum, references for the 7 Penitential Psalms, readings for the Office of the Dead(mostly book of Job) and such other things. I bought this bible because it contains nearly all the books used and quoted by the Fathers and in the Liturgy. Is not gender inclusive and retains some archaisms. For me this is very important. This is why i did not want to miss IV Esdras, the Prayer of Manasses, etc. And where controversial renderings, one can omit and read what tradition has retained and hallowed.

gerald said...

It's my first time to comment in your blog, but I am an avid reader of the blog.

For me I will plead my case for the Ignatius RSV-2CE. I have been a devout Catholic but just decided to do daily Bible reading about a year ago. And in my reading, I felt the deficiencies of some modern versions, as I decided to do so to deepen my faith.

STRENGTHS:
I chose the RSV-2CE, for this is the modern language Bible version that would be closest to Catholic tradition, in line with LA.

[At this point, I would use my comment on the Bible version poll.]

1. I first bought NAB since it is the primary English bible here in the Philippines.

2. Since NAB uses deep words, such as terebinth, i bought the CCB. But I did not even used it even for a week for these criteria:
- Its unusual arrangement of Old Testament books (perhaps the ONLY Catholic Bible that follows the Jewish arrangement)
- Its use of Yahweh (as Vatican prohibit this already)
- Its unconventional renderings perhaps due to dynamic equivalence (Its addition of "Yes" to John 3:16)
-ONE PRO: ALL CATHOLIC IMPORTANT VERSES ARE RENDERED GOOD! "virgin" (Isa 7:14), "full of grace" (Luke 1:28), "Blessed is the one" (Psalm 1:1), "son of man" (Daniel 7:13)
I decided to go back to NAB.

3. Since NAB unpoetical rendering of Psalms (and also inclusive language), and the unreasonable rearrangement and deletion of verses; I transferred to NRSV-CE. But I DO get annoyed of EXTENSIVE INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE. And all the CATHOLIC IMPORTANT VERSES, NONE OF THEM are rendered correctly. This could've been a good translation.

4. In the end, God allowed me to have the RSV-CE. It has NO INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE. All the CATHOLIC IMPORTANT VERSES are rendered correctly except Isaiah 7:14.

5. I have also tried NABRE, though it is a lot better than the 1991 NAB, but going to the side of inclusive language, made it bad, especially with its change to "human beings" from "man" in Gen 1:26. I respect this rendering for this really meant the humankind, but I believe that this opinion must be left on the notes and retain with the "man", since only the word "man" would make its connection with "Adam (Hebrew for "man")" as significant.



And best that the RSV-2CE settles this issue.

Luckily, Ignatius also did some magnificent changes that dove RSV-CE closer to Catholic tradition:

-"steadfast love" to "mercy" (in line with Septuagint's translation of "hesed")
-"John the baptizer" to "John the Baptist"
-"only Son" to "only-begotten Son" (though Greek supports the former)
-removal of archaic language (which I find well, since modern Catholic Bibles are in lag with Bible versions compared to the Protestant ones)
-changes in Psalm 139 (138):14
-restoration of Sirach 1:5, 7

This changes at first is what I have seen as room for improvement for RSV-CE when I first used it. (though there were still some)


ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENTS:
-In my opinion, RSV-2CE should've been more compliant with LA, when it comes to the Hebrew and Aramaic words we are familiar of such as "Amen", "Hallelujah/Alleluia"

This is because I have this hope that RSV-2CE should be the universal English version for all English-speaking Catholics (just like the ICEL Psalm Responses) so that we can be able to be familiar and be able to memorize verses that are precious gems for us believers. But conservative Catholics, I suppose will contest for the Hebrew/Aramaic words.

-more Bible editions, specifically a pocket edition,

Gerald said...

It's my first time to comment in your blog, but I am an avid reader of the blog.

For me I will plead my case for the Ignatius RSV-2CE. I have been a devout Catholic but just decided to do daily Bible reading about a year ago. And in my reading, I felt the deficiencies of some modern versions, as I decided to do so to deepen my faith.

STRENGTHS:
I chose the RSV-2CE, for this is the modern language Bible version that would be closest to Catholic tradition, in line with LA.

[At this point, I would use my comment on the Bible version poll.]

1. I first bought NAB since it is the primary English bible here in the Philippines.

2. Since NAB uses deep words, such as terebinth, i bought the CCB. But I did not even used it even for a week for these criteria:
- Its unusual arrangement of Old Testament books (perhaps the ONLY Catholic Bible that follows the Jewish arrangement)
- Its use of Yahweh (as Vatican prohibit this already)
- Its unconventional renderings perhaps due to dynamic equivalence (Its addition of "Yes" to John 3:16)
-ONE PRO: ALL CATHOLIC IMPORTANT VERSES ARE RENDERED GOOD! "virgin" (Isa 7:14), "full of grace" (Luke 1:28), "Blessed is the one" (Psalm 1:1), "son of man" (Daniel 7:13)
I decided to go back to NAB.

3. Since NAB unpoetical rendering of Psalms (and also inclusive language), and the unreasonable rearrangement and deletion of verses; I transferred to NRSV-CE. But I DO get annoyed of EXTENSIVE INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE. And all the CATHOLIC IMPORTANT VERSES, NONE OF THEM are rendered correctly. This could've been a good translation.

4. In the end, God allowed me to have the RSV-CE. It has NO INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE. All the CATHOLIC IMPORTANT VERSES are rendered correctly except Isaiah 7:14.

5. I have also tried NABRE, though it is a lot better than the 1991 NAB, but going to the side of inclusive language, made it bad, especially with its change to "human beings" from "man" in Gen 1:26. I respect this rendering for this really meant the humankind, but I believe that this opinion must be left on the notes and retain with the "man", since only the word "man" would make its connection with "Adam (Hebrew for "man")" as significant.



And best that the RSV-2CE settles this issue.

Luckily, Ignatius also did some magnificent changes that dove RSV-CE closer to Catholic tradition:

-"steadfast love" to "mercy" (in line with Septuagint's translation of "hesed")
-"John the baptizer" to "John the Baptist"
-"only Son" to "only-begotten Son" (though Greek supports the former)
-removal of archaic language (which I find well, since modern Catholic Bibles are in lag with Bible versions compared to the Protestant ones)
-changes in Psalm 139 (138):14
-restoration of Sirach 1:5, 7

This changes at first is what I have seen as room for improvement for RSV-CE when I first used it. (though there were still some)


ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENTS:
-In my opinion, RSV-2CE should've been more compliant with LA, when it comes to the Hebrew and Aramaic words we are familiar of such as "Amen", "Hallelujah/Alleluia"

This is because I have this hope that RSV-2CE should be the universal English version for all English-speaking Catholics (just like the ICEL Psalm Responses) so that we can be able to be familiar and be able to memorize verses that are precious gems for us believers. But conservative Catholics, I suppose will contest for the Hebrew/Aramaic words.

-more Bible editions, specifically a pocket edition,