website in their News and Pews section. The title is great and the article is certainly worth your time. I will include some comments within the article, which will be in red, in imitation of Fr. Z:
When HarperOne contracted with the National Council of Churches to manage the licensing of the NRSV in 2006, one of the happy surprises for us was the openness the Catholic market had to new Bibles designed for them. (I have been told by various sources that the NRSV Catholic Editions have sold quite well.) Catholic consumers spoke of “Bible envy” when they saw all the colors, features, bells, and whistles on their evangelical neighbors’ Bibles. Many said they wanted “cool” Bibles as well. (Like Me!)
So we accommodated these requests, offering a variety of colors, bindings, sizes, and styles, including single-column (called the NRSV Standard), large print (XL), thinline (Go-Anywhere) (Yay! Thinlines), compact, and even Bibles for teens (Live) and families (Catholic Faith and Family). While these NRSV Bibles found good homes and did well, we kept getting the same request: please do a beautiful edition of the main translation Catholic parishes and schools use, the New American Bible. (Wow, a publisher who actually listens to consumer requests. Ignatius are you listening?)
Once again we decided it was wise to listen to our audience and say yes to them whenever we can. Last month, we released a new hardcover of the NAB revised edition with a beautiful two-color text setting (subtitles and bottom of the page note references in red) to be followed by a black, imitation leather edition later this month. I have to admit, they are stunning and should assuage any Catholic still suffering from Bible envy. (The hardcover edition is a joy to read, minus the thin Bible paper. I am looking forward to receiving the imitation leather in the coming weeks as well.)
But what was most fun for this Protestant editor was discovering so many delightful surprises in the NAB. The translation was done by an elite group of Bible scholars and overseen by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. If one judged by stereotypes and caricatures, one would think such an approval process would encourage a conservative and narrow rendering of the text, but I found just the opposite to be true. In fact, from the evidence of the translation, it would be easy to make the case that the Catholic community and hierarchy are one of the most open Christian communities to the findings of scholarship and science, producing a wonderfully accurate and pleasing translation with a surplus of extra features to help anyone read and understand their scriptures.
One of the historic charges against the Catholic church was that it discouraged the laity from reading the Bible for themselves (a perception which the church since Vatican II has vigorously reversed—hence our success with Catholic Bibles). One might see this old prejudice at work in the decision to include multitudinous notes and long introductions to each book of the Bible so that it is almost impossible to find an NAB Bible without these trappings of a complete study Bible. (Indeed, it is impossible!) Yet as someone from the evangelical community who has been immersed in the world of study Bibles, I have to say that I think these extrabiblical helps are among the best on the market. They combine mature and wise interaction with scholarly issues with a sensitivity to pastoral and ecclesiological concerns—which is a rare feat.
But what I found the most refreshing, by far, was the mature nondefensiveness about what would constitute controversial issues for most Protestant Bibles. For instance, in the introduction to the Pentateuch (the first five books of Moses), Moses’s authorship is questioned and the document hypothesis for explaining the different sources for these works is described and integrated into the notes and introductions. In the explanations for Genesis 1-11, they explain how the creation and flood stories were borrowed from other Mesopotamian groups and adapted by the “writers” of Genesis and should be considered “neither history nor myth.” They later explain how there were at least three Isaiahs and that Paul may or may not have written the Pastoral letters. All this without any hint that these conclusions undermine the Bible’s authority or teachings or could be described as “liberal” or “skeptical” in any way (remember who owns and manages the translation: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops!). (Fascinating insight coming from someone in the evangelical community. Does this change our view of the NABRE notes? We often spend way too much time, IMHO, debating the notes as opposed to the translation itself.)
So who has Bible envy now? My advice to my Protestant friends, don’t let tribal markers keep you from enjoying a wonderful new biblical resource. Take up and read the NAB.