Tuesday, June 19, 2012

News: NABRE New Testament to Be Revised

HT: Reader David

From Catholic News Agency:


The U.S. bishops have announced a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy.

“The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14.

As he addressed his brother bishops at the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference,
Cardinal Wuerl pointed to the central role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church.


He explained that the bishops’ committees on Divine Worship and Doctrine have both expressed a desire for a single translation, suitable for all pastoral applications, including individual prayer, study and devotional use, along with liturgical proclamation.

The new translation would “provide us one source of language when we speak the Word of God,” he said.

The process of creating the new translation will take “a long time” and will consist of numerous lengthy steps, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged.

The New Testament translation was last revised in 1986. By way of comparison, the translation portion of revising the New American Bible’s Old Testament began in 1994 and was finished in 2001.

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine will work with the Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts, to undertake the revision, he said. The group will “look at those texts to see that they are going to be able to be used for proclamation as well as for ordinary use.”

This work will utilize the same principles that guided the recent revision of the Old Testament in the New American Bible, as well as translation norms for Sacred Scripture, he added.

“The Biblical scholars responsible for the revision will be sensitive then to the pastoral, the doctrinal, the liturgical considerations” as they work to produce a draft, which will then be presented “for review and preliminary approval” by the the Scripture translation subcommittee, the cardinal said.


The committees on worship and doctrine will then have an opportunity to review the texts.
Ultimately, the body of bishops “will be asked to approve the completed Biblical text for liturgical use,” so that it can then be submitted to Rome for the Vatican’s “recognitio,” after which the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference can grant it the “imprimatur.”

At that point, Cardinal Wuerl said, the revised translation of the New American Bible “will be able to be used in the lectionary at Mass.”

“So the end product will be one translation that we will all be using,” he explained, and all of the faithful will be “hearing the same words when we refer to specific texts.”

“That translation will be used in the liturgy, it will be used in study, it will be used in personal devotion, it will be used when we’re simply reading the text,” the cardinal said.
He emphasized that although the process will take a long time, it is currently an ideal time to begin, now that “we have all the pieces in place.”

Lots to consider here:
*Of course, this is the death nail to any possibility of the RSV-2CE being used in the American Liturgy.

*"Prophet" Mary Sperry mentioned in one of her question/answer sessions that she thought a decision on revising the NAB NT would be decided this year sometime. 

*I wonder if they will tweak the NABRE OT, particularly with Is. 7:14.

*This seems to answer a lot of peoples wishes to have a Bible that would match the lectionary.  Minus the Revised Grail Psalms I would assume?

*One hopes it won't take too long to do this.  I wonder what "a long time" means. 

*How does this impact publications like the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture and all of the NABRE-keyed study Bibles?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

NAB revisions couldn't take any longer if they were writing on stone tablets and exchanging drafts via Pony Express.

Coupled with the never-ending Ignatius study bible project, it makes me wonder why Catholics can't finish a new translation and accompanying notes in less than 20 years?

rolf said...

I wonder why this wasn't done all at one time, even at the cost of taking longer to publish the NABRE? People have went out and bought new Bibles, publishers have went through all the hoopla to get these new NABRE Bibles out (while still trying to sell their old stock). Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of having a Bible that reflects the lectionary, but the process and planning of the NABRE seems so disorganized!

Timothy said...

Let us hope that this will take only a few years and not a few decades.

Timothy said...

And I am sure they will take into account my 3 recommendations. :)

http://catholicbibles.blogspot.com/2012/05/3-things-i-would-change-in-nabre.html

rolf said...

The problem still remains that a single translation won't reflect the lectionary in the future because the NABRE psalms won't be used in the future mass.

Anonymous said...

Well, there goes any desire to purchase additional editions of the NABRE. I have the New Catholic Answer Bible and the Little Rock Study Bible (both excellent), but with this announcement, I can't see buying other worthwhile editions at this time.

I'm assuming they'll keep the name the same, NABRE, like they did when they revised the NT and still called it the NAB. I bet most people will not "upgrade" to this forthcoming new edition, and may cause some to just adopt a different translation altogether.

If it took 7 years for the OT (plus 10 more before it was released), I can't see us getting a revised NT in less than 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Timothy,

Are the Revised Grail Psalms used in the U.S. lectionary now?

Timothy said...

Anon,

Not yet, although it was approved by the USCCB for future use.

Francesco said...

Those of you who are holding off buying new NABREs, take heart! If the past is a useful predictor of the future then the NABRE as it is will be current for at least decade or two ;-)

And when they're done they'll probably find they need to revise the OT again anyway...

Isn't it the case that the NAB in its various manifestations (the Confraternity Version, the NAB, the RNAB, and now the NABRE) have been in some state of revision since at least the 1940s?

Theophrastus said...

How does this impact publications like the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture and all of the NABRE-keyed study Bibles?

Hopefully not at all. I'm sure that the revised NABRE will take many years to complete. (You will remember that the NABRE effort began in 1994 -- but the revision did not appear until seventeen years later, in 2011. The third edition of the Roman Missal took nine years, from the release of Missale Romanum 3rd edition in 2002 to publication in 2011. The NABRE NT may take even more time, since it will need to be approved in two tracks: as liturgy and as a translation.)

It would be tragic if commentaries including the CCSS or even the Oxford Catholic Study Bible (if only Oxford would revise the commentary to match the new text!) were delayed in the meanwhile. Are we simply going to stop educating people for 20 years (or stop buying Bibles for 20 years -- or stop learning on our own for 20 years) so we can wait yet another translation?

This reminds me of people who won't be a computer or phone because they eagerly await the next release. This may make sense if that release is only a month or two away, but I'm pretty sure that Apple (and other manufacturers) will revise its computers every year (or every few years). There is always something better coming down the development pipeline.

I am sure that when the new translation does come out, it will be relatively straightforward to revise publications such as the CCSS to match the new text, if there is demand. But I'm not sure it will even be necessary.

* The Collegeville Bible OT volumes remain in print even though they are keyed to the previous NAB OT translation.

* Similarly, there are certainly quite a few commentaries keyed to the RSV translation, even though the NRSV is in print.

One more thing to add. As you and I have both noted, the commentary in the CCSS feels free to disagree with the NAB translation. The upshot is that the CCSS is quite useful to anyone using a relatively literal translation -- in fact, I'd be willing to argue that most of the time, it works just as well or better with the NRSV than with the NAB.

Finally, I think this should be a cause for celebration rather than consternation: haven't we all heard numerous complaints about the NAB not matching the lectionary text? If this revision is successful (and there is every reason to suppose it will be) it should perfectly match in the future.

In the meanwhile, we have a wonderful range of translations to study and learn from -- including the 2011 NABRE.

Biblical Catholic said...

I think there are a number of reasons why it takes a very long time for NAB revisions to be made (and why the NAB has basically been in production since 1936)

First, the committee members all have full time jobs of their own and probably have a great deal of time to devote to the task, keep in mind that they are volunteers who are not paid for their work, there is not a single person on the committee for whom the work of translation is their only, or even their main, job, as I always tell people who complain that I am slow in working on a side project that I don't really regard as a high priority 'I'll get to it when I get to it'......and for unpaid volunteers who already have full time jobs, that's an entirely fair attitude for them to take frankly....I seriously doubt they will start working on it right away....the article says that work on the Old Testament revision started in 1994....but it was in fact originally authorized in 1991.....it took them 3 years just to START work on it....

Second, they are no doubt very painstaking and meticulous in their work....and frankly the work of translation is something which does take a lot of time, if you want to do it correctly...to put it into perspective, the Revised Standard Version was authorized in 1937, the New Testament was published in 1946, 9 years later....the full (Protestant) Bible came in 1952....15 years later....the NRSV also took 15 years, authorized in 1974, finished and published in 1989....the Revised English Bible used in the C of E took 19 years (1970-1989)....while the New English Bible, it's predecessor, took 24 years (1946-1970) which included 17 years on the New Testament alone...so frankly the 26 years of work from 1944-1970 that went into producing the first edition is right about right for a brand new translation made from scratch which is not a revision of a previous translation...yes it is longer than most, but it is not extremely longer, it is within one standard deviation of the mean....

The third thing is....and I think this is the likely source of 90% of the delay....the USCCB is very rigid and bureaucratic....there are what, 5,000 or so bishops of the United States? This is a lot of people who want input into the process, trying to come to a consensus with a group that large is difficult.

I find it interesting that the Revised Old Testament was completed in 2001....and then it apparently just sat there for 8 years before the USCCB started editing and revising it inn 2009 and approved the final text a year later....

What was happening between 2001-2009...why did it take 10 years to edit and approve a text that was already completed?

Bottom line is you can have it done correctly or you can have it done quickly, you cannot however, have both....not with something as difficult and time consuming as translation.

Biblical Catholic said...

Also I would add that I don't see the point in not buying a new Bible now if you need it, not only will the New Revised New Testament not going to be published for several years yet, but when it IS published, I doubt the revisions will be all that significant or noticeable without doing a side by side comparison.....

We're not looking at anything dramatic here....it is not like in the next version they'll have a new ending to the gospels where Jesus stays dead in the grave and the disciples decide to disband and start a discotheque or something....the first chapter of John won't read 'In the beginning was Lady Gaga...'

Seriously, the text is more or less done, there aren't going to be any huge changes.....

If you need a new Bible, buy one, there is no point in waiting....


You can waste your whole life waiting for 'the next big thing' that may or may not ever come....I mean, I have a friend who does this with cars, he needs a new car but won't buy one because, every year he says 'next year's model is going to be better'....I keep telling him....if you need a new car, buy a new car, don't use the excuse 'hey in 15 years we'll having flying cars that run on human saliva and get 5000 miles to the microliter...'

If you need a new car, buy a new car, and if you need a new Bible, buy a new Bible...

Timothy said...

Well said Biblical Catholic!

Colleague said...

I'm sorry but the CEB is proof that a whole new translation can be completed by and with a large, disparate group concensus in three years. And it is actually a very good translation rendering the Greek-Hebrew idioms into appropriate modern, common English idioms.

Dan Z. said...

Why should it take so long to revise the NT? It already has been done for the Lectionary... can't they just incorporate those changes into the text ("hail full of grace"... use of "Christ" instead of "Messiah"... use of "mercy" instead of "pity", etc)? That should only take several months, not years --the last minute revision of the Psalms only took a couple months (and I still don't understand why they didn't do such a revision of the NT when they postponed publication to redo the Psalms... wasted opportunity, makes no sense).

Charles G said...

If it is going to be used liturgically, then presumably the whole thing will also have to be reviewed by CDWDS in Rome to be suitable for the Lectionary, at least to the extent the text is different from the current Lectionary, right? I imagine that would add to the timing. I'm not a great fan of NAB, and would have preferred that the entire English speaking Catholic world would work on one standard version for liturgical and all purposes, preferably based on something in the RSV family of versions. Nevertheless, if we must use the NAB liturgically in the US, it would be good to have a standard version usable for all contexts (with the exception of the Revised Grail Psalms in the liturgy, as someone mentioned).

Biblical Catholic said...

First of all....the Common English Bible is atrocious....well nigh unreadable...if it is supposed to be an example of a translation that can be completed quickly then frankly I think it is more an example of why translations should NOT be completed quickly....I downloaded the CEB Psalms onto my Nook Tablet...then I read the translation of Psalm 1...and it is so awful I have no interest in reading the other 149 Psalms...

Second, one thing that needs to be understood is that at the moment, I don't think there is even a New Testament translation committee in place....

The NAB is not like many other translations, there is no 'permanent committee' that is responsible for overseeing the text and considering possible edits....the translation committees for the Old and New Testaments were Ad Hoc committees that disbanded once the translation was approved....

For a translation like the NIV, ESV or the NRSV, there is a permanent body that is always ready to revise the text on a moment's notice....

The NAB is not overseen by such a translation committee, it is overseen by the bishops....

the last revision of the NT was completed in 1986...that's 25 years ago....a quarter century...several of the committee members are now dead....and many others are alive, but retired....and even those that aren't retired, one cannot simply assume that they will be willing to work on this revision....many translators look at a Bible translation as something they want to do... a dream job...but also something that is such a big commitment that they only want to do it once in a lifetime....no doubt many of the committee members feel 'been there, done that, got the t-shirt' and don't want to do it again...


It is not as if the bishops can authorize that revisions be done today, and then tomorrow they start work on it, the NRSV can do that the NIV can do that, the ESV can do that...but the NAB cannot...no, first they have to form the committee that will responsible for making the revisions.

So the first thing the bishops are going to have to do is form a New Translation committee.....and that alone is going to take at least a year or two...

And again, I encourage you not to be impatient....the final text, will not be THAT different from what we have now....it can't be....not without significant changes to the translation philosophy or something...

Timothy said...

I have been told that there will be a proper press release in the coming days which will explain everything in a more organized way. Also, due to all the approvals that will be needed throughout this process, it will be quite a few years until this project is complete.

Anonymous said...

This further revision is a good thing, I think; we ought to have a Bible that matches the lectionary.

Another good thing is that given my age I don't expect to live to see it and am thus free to buy myself one of those beautiful leather bound bibles not intended for us.

Would somebody please remind me what is the current preference?

Chrysostom said...

Comment in the wrong thread:

If it matches the one used for the Mass currently, the NAB NT will be better, although even currently it's not horrible. I mainly dislike two things, one of significance, one less so: Lk 1:28 and the removal of many excellent verses, sometimes without even a footnote. However, the greater - the removal of verses and passages - is common to all modern critical translations, except for the NASB. I imagine the first will be rectified: I am uncertain at best about the second.

The OT is what remains in need of drastic revision. The NT is not that bad even as-is in the 1986 version.

Chrysostom said...

ESV, KJV, RSV-CE, RSV-2CE, TJB, NABLE (Lectionary Edition, not a full Bible), depending on where you live and what rite you attend.