Thursday, September 13, 2012

USCCB and the NAB Report

Thanks to reader Rolf for spotting this from the Adoremus Bulletin for August.

I see six important points from this report:
1) They were going to initially just revise the NAB NT notes, but decided to do a revision of the NT text as well.
2) They are going to work for a lectionary text that is the same as the one which the typical American Catholic will be able to use for study.
3) The Revised Grail Psalms will be included in the completed revision
4) There will be a light revision of the NABRE OT, to reflect Liturgiam Authenticam.
5) There is still a question as to how Liturgiam Authenticam will be reflected in this translation, see the comments by Cardinal DiNardo.
6) It is going to take a long time, hence all the "laughter" and jokes about how most of the people commissioning this revision will not being alive when it is completed.

Report on New American Bible and the Lectionary
USCCB Spring General Meeting
Thursday Morning, June 14, 2012
Cardinal Timothy Dolan: (New York, President of the USCCB) And I’m just thinking, Cardinal Wuerl, how appropriate it is that you’re going to bring us up to date with a report on the New American Bible and the Lectionary in the whole context of the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith that we’ve heard about. So please. Thanks for your leadership. Archbishop Aymond is joining you as well.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond: (New Orleans; Chairman, Committee on Divine Worship) Thank you, Cardinal Dolan. My brother bishops, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you briefly in order to share the work of the Committee on Divine Worship regarding the Lectionary for Mass, and the Committee on Doctrine regarding the New American Bible.
A brief history that you will have on the slides:
In 1997 we approved Volume I of the Lectionary, and in 1999 we approved Volumes II, III, and IV. The body of bishops at that time voted to conduct a review of the text after five years in order that we could evaluate the suitability for liturgical proclamation, poetic expression, grammar, vocabulary. In June of 2004, the Committee on Liturgy was given the task to do experimental revision of selected readings. Following that, in November of 2006, the body of bishops approved changes to the selected readings in Advent. In November of 2007 the body of bishops approved changes to the readings of the Sundays of Lent. And further work by the Committee on Divine Worship included the weekdays of Lent, Sundays of Easter, and Sundays in Ordinary Time.
While this work was being done by the Committee on Divine Worship on the Lectionary, there was a separate project that was also taking place on the New American Bible. Specifically the revision of the Old Testament. And that text was published with the imprimatur in 2011. Then a request by the CCD to conduct the revision of the footnotes of the New American Bible New Testament. But when that went to the Admin- istrative Committee there was a suggestion to revise not only the footnotes, but the revision of the New Testament itself.
So, as you can see, there were two projects going on at the same time. After a lot of conversation and ongoing consultation between two standing committees, it is the recommendation and desire of both the Committee on Divine Worship and the Committee on Doctrine, including its Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts, now to work toward a single translation. That is, a single text of the New American Bible that could be used for all pastoral uses: personal prayer and study; secondly, catechesis; and the proclamation of the Scriptures at Sacred Liturgy.
Some preliminary recommendations were made to the Administrative Committee in March of this year in this regard, and now we would like to outline a plan to proceed — the basic goals and the process to be followed — and to receive your support as we move forward. And Cardinal Wuerl will now delineate for us the goals and the process.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl: (Washington, DC; Chairman, Committee on Doctrine) Archbishop Aymond, thank you very much. The goal — it’s a very simple goal — the goal is to produce a single translation, to arrive at a single translation.
The Synod on the Word of God and the Post-synodal exhortation Verbum Domini clearly articulated the central place of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church. The goal of this project is to see that there would be one translation that would be used for devotional use, catechetical use, liturgical use. It would have all of the qualities that we would hope to find in a translation that would provide us one source of language when we speak of the Word of God. The process is a somewhat simple process; it’s just that it’s going to take a long time. That’s just the nature, and you’re going to hear in a moment why.
The authorization from the Board of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine: with that authorization the CCD, in consultation with the Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts, will undertake a revision of the New American Bible New Testament. What this will mean is, it 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 principles of translation that guided the recent revision of the New American Bible Old Testament, and will follow the norms of translation contained in the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam for the translation of Sacred Scripture that’s to be used in Sacred Liturgy.
So, before the work commences, the Committee on Divine Liturgy [sic] will turn over all of the work it’s already done on gathering all of the information on the Lectionary, with the recommendation that the principles that were used in the production of the most recent translations for liturgical use be used. The revised Old Testament will be revised only in light of the Committee on Divine Worship’s principles regarding suitability for liturgical practice.
I know this sounds as if it’s going to be an enormous amount of redoing, but it really will not be. The Old Testament — we just approved that recently — it will just be revisited now to see: those texts that are used liturgically, do they correspond to principles for liturgical proclamation?
The biblical scholars responsible for the revision will be sensitive, then, to the pastoral, the doctrinal, the liturgical considerations as they produce a draft to be presented for review and preliminary approval by the Subcommittee for the Translation of Sacred Scripture. Both committees, the Committee on Divine Worship and the Committee on Doctrine, will then have an opportunity to review these texts. Ultimately it’s all of us, it’s the body of bishops, who’ll be asked to approve the completed biblical text for liturgical use so that we can then submit this to the Holy See for the recognitio. Once we receive the recognitio, then the president of our conference can grant the imprimatur to the New American Bible, and then it 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, and hearing the same words when we refer to specific texts. And that translation will be used in the liturgy, it’ll be used in study, it’ll be used in personal devotion, it’ll be used when we’re simply reading the text.
Now, as I began, obviously this isn’t going to be done overnight. But we’re asking simply to begin this process so that we will have all of this eventually to bring back. This isn’t being said facetiously, I don’t expect that I will … be presenting this. [laughter] But it’s the time to start, and we have all the pieces in place, and all of the principles in place. So we get started. The sooner we get started, the sooner some of you will live to see it. [laughter]
And if, Your Eminence, there are any questions I would try to answer them, or leave it to my younger colleague here.
Cardinal Dolan: When that happy day comes you will be part of a newsreel on how this all came about. [laughter] Thanks, Cardinal Wuerl. Thanks, Archbishop Aymond and your excellent staff. There may be some… I see Bishop Boyea, I see Bishop Trautman, I see Cardinal DiNardo, I see… I can’t see… in the back there… Bishop Byrnes. Who else? Four of them. Go ahead.
Bishop Earl Boyea: (Lansing) Briefly, what’s going to be the role of the Grail Psalms that we’ve just approved for liturgical use?
Archbishop Aymond: The Grail Psalms will be in this Bible that we’re talking about. They will also be used in the revised Liturgy of the Hours, which we will be talking about in November.
Cardinal Dolan: Excellent. Bishop Trautman, and then Bishop Byrnes.
Bishop Donald Trautman: (Erie) Thank you very much. Could you identify some of the scholars that will be involved in this project?
Cardinal Wuerl: At this point we are not able to do that because we haven’t even begun the process of surfacing the names. We’ve come here… We already have the committee that does the work of translation. We also have our own CCD committee. But we haven’t reached the point yet where we’ve even begun to assemble them.
Cardinal Dolan: Bishop Byrnes, then Cardinal DiNardo.
Bishop Michael Byrnes: (Auxiliary, Detroit) This announcement is very welcome to me, having taught Scripture in the seminary for the last number of years. [In 2003, he earned his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Returning to Detroit, he joined the faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and was named vice rector in January 2004. He was named auxiliary bishop in March 2011. - Ed.] Dealing with the New American Bible for study is very difficult, and so I’m grateful that study is an important priority here. I’m fully supportive of this. I hope in our working with the liturgical use of the text, that we’re willing to leave the difficult passages, the difficult translations, the difficult constructions present. Our people, in order to increase their biblical literacy, need to learn how to wrestle with the Scripture. One of my big complaints about the NAB in teaching has been: It tries to remove the difficulties with some of the hard passages. And I hope we leave them in, because it forces us to exercise ourselves spiritually and intellectually in order to penetrate the Scripture. Thank you.
Cardinal Dolan: Thank you. Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Rosazza.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo: (Galveston-Houston) Cardinal Wuerl, first my condolences that you anticipate your demise before the completion of the project. Flowers and prayers are on the way! [laughter]
The second thing I wanted to mention is exactly in light of that. I’m very favorable that there be one translation. It’s something devoutly to be hoped for. The question I raise — someone already answered about the Grail Psalter — but Liturgiam authenticam also asks that we do translations — I presume this is from the Greek, when it comes to the New Testament. And yet, apparently, according to Liturgiam authenticam, some eye has to be held toward the New Vulgate as well. Is that going to be part and parcel — and that’s what’s going to cause the complexity that goes on, in a translation that is both personal study, catechetical and also liturgical?
Cardinal Wuerl: Your Eminence, you highlighted exactly part of the problem why it will take so long. Also you highlighted why we do need a communications person. I was really referring to not being here. I hope still on the planet! [laughter]
Cardinal Dolan: Bishop Rosazza, and then we gotta go to regional meetings. Bishop Rosazza, you were going to bring that [same question] up? Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop Aymond, good work. Thank you. And you’ll keep us posted, right?


Biblical Catholic said...

Wuerl must think it will take a very long time.....because he is not that old....he'll probably be retired by the time it is done but there is no reason for him to think he'll be dead...

Jonny said...

Looks like the whole NABRE revision concept is still in its infancy, but I wonder if there has been any discussion regarding the content of the revised notes? If prayer, devotion, and catechesis were factors to be considered, then I would assume that at least some the notes would have apologetics and doctrinal content. But how is this going to be integrated, and to what extent? Are the Bishops going to request specific guidelines?

Also, I find it interesting Archbishop Aymond stated the revision would be for "personal prayer and study; secondly, catechesis; and the proclamation of the Scriptures at Sacred Liturgy," but Cardinal Wuerl only mentioned "devotional use, catechetical use, liturgical use." Does "prayer and study" refer to devotional study or to academic study as well? I would assume only the former, and that more literal translations (like the RSV) would continue to be used in seminaries. I understand the aggravation of Bishop Byrnes, who complained about the interpretive freedom of the translators of the NAB(RE).

Ultimately, I think this could be a step in the right direction, and could be very beneficial for english speaking American Catholics. But I don't expect see Bishop Byrnes desire for greater accuracy realized in this next revision. The inclusion of the Revised Grail Psalms makes that seem like a moot point. But even aside from the Psalter, I think we need to break the NAB revision spiral and START OVER with a new, formally equivalent english translation of both Testaments. As it is being prepared, the translators can formulate notes that help the reader interpret the idioms and difficult passages, or perhaps give alternate translations as well. Include additional italicized English words, if necessary, to make it more palatable, but yet still be faithful to the original languages!

Seriously, this is my best hope for the NABRE: the revised NT, (especially the notes) will be a huge improvement and will me more effective for catechetical and devotional purposes. Then shortly thereafter, it will be decided that the Old Testament NABRE and its notes are inadequate and that it will again have to be revised! Then after that, it will be decided that the whole thing isn't accurate enough and needs completely redone! Maybe the Bishops should take some time with this instead of jumping in head first, so that the next 20 years of work doesn't end up on the shredder pile the day after it is published!