Fine Tuning For The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible
I am just one of certainly many who deeply appreciate the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. As a convert from Protestantism, the ICSB provided me with detailed, faithfully Catholic notes to help me understand the Scriptures that had been interpreted to me incorrectly in various ways by many people. The ICSB and study questions also provided the resource for a group of Catholic men at my parish to have an excellent Catholic Bible study (as the priests are much to busy to lead every small group.) The RSV-2CE was the most universally acceptable translation for this diverse group. Cradle Catholics of various ages, Protestant converts, and Traditionalists could find common ground in acceptance of this translation. Also, the ICSB notes and study questions complemented and enhanced my RCIA experience, the homilies, and many other things included in my search for a deep understanding of what the Catholic Church believes. I would later find the Haydock Bible, the older Catechisms, writings of Saints, and other resources, but the ICSB remains for me in regular use as an excellent modern commentary on Sacred Scripture. I look forward to the release of the entire Bible.
Despite my appreciation of the ICSB, and my excitement about the forthcoming edition containing the entire Bible, I do have some qualms with the RSV-2CE translation that I would like to see changed before the entire Bible is released in the next couple of years. These range from simple stylistic details that are pet peeves, to things that conflict with the dictates of Liturgiam Authenticam and things that are detrimental to the Christolgical continuity of the Bible as a whole. I will list them below in order of appearance.
1. Gen 12:3. Go with the alternate reading “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” That is the interpretation quoted by St. Paul in Gal 3:8, used in the CCC #59 & 2676, and also in the D-R, KJV, ESV, and NRSV.
2. Gen 12:7, 13:15 & 16, 17:19, etc. “Descendants” is not a bad translation… until you get to Galatians 3:16 in the NT and find out the word was meant to remain ambiguous as being singular or plural as in the Hebrew and Greek words for “seed.” I personally like the traditional, literal translation “seed,” and it shows continuity from Gen. 3:15 which also has “seed,” but the NRSV and the ESV’s use of the word “offspring” is acceptable as well. Why purposely translate a Christological reference out of the OT? One is especially referred to the Genesis/Galatians passages in the NABRE to see an even worse example of preserving the continuity of the Testaments.
3. Gen 22:1, 7, 11, 46:2, Ex 3:4, Is 6:8, 52:6, 65:1, Heb 2:13. “Here am I?!” How about “Here I am!” This also is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and one should note the more natural English was used in most instances in the D-R and KJV, and was brought back in the NRSV and ESV 2011.
4. Genesis 37:3, 23, 32. Joseph’s “Long robe with sleeves.” Take a cue from the ESV and go with the traditional rendering everyone wants to hear: “a coat of many colors.” When the Hebrew is obscure, the traditional rendering is a good choice, especially when supported by the Vulgate and the Greek.
5. Ps. 16:10. “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your godly one see the Pit.” Ignatius Press, thank you for Is. 7:14, but can we see the NT quotation harmonized here as well? For “You will not let your Holy One see corruption,” see Acts 13:35 and also Ps. 16 in the Revised Grail that will be eventually incorporated into the NAB, LOTH, and Mass.
6. Ps. 109:8. “May another seize his goods” would be better translated to conform to its quotation in the NT, Acts 1:20. See the D-R, KJV, Revised Grail Psalms, NABRE, ESV, etc.
7. Micah 5:2. Prophecy of the Son of God coming in the flesh, “whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” The reality of the Son’s eternity is better rendered in the D-R, KJV, and the ESV. The RSV revisers would have better left alone the Revised Version’s “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
8. Unless I am reading “Liturgiam Authenitcam” #23 incorrectly, I think we should seeing “Amen” instead of “Truly,” and “Alleluia” instead of “Hallelujah” throughout the NT. Other than this, the RSV-2CE seems to follow LA fairly well, although I think a hyper-literal translation with a rich Catholic flavor (based on the “classics” like the D-R and KJV) is really what LA is calling for. I think that if Ignatius followed the suggestions in this post the RSV-2CE would be closer to the mark.
9. Matt. 5:32. “Except on the ground of unchastity…” I have heard this, like the NIV’s “marital unfaithfulness,” misinterpreted to mean that divorce is permissible if one of the spouses cheats. The traditional and more literal “fornication” would be better here to convey the meaning of the situation (that is quite different from adultery.) The note in the RSV-CE helps explain the text, but ultimately the Biblical text itself is most crucial in apologetics.
10. Luke 1:34. Mary’s “How can this be, since I have no husband?” The first part, “How can this be” contradicts many major translations including D-R, KJV, RSV 1971, NAB, NRSV, ESV that include the traditional rendering “How shall this be.” It also suggests a contradiction to Catholic doctrine that states that the miraculous conception happened later at Mary’s acceptance (“be it done to me according to thy word.” See CCC 494.) The last part in the RSV’s “since I have no husband” is even more erroneous. It even states in the ICSB notes that Mary’s “betrothal to Joseph was already a legally binding marriage.” Newer interpretations, such as the ESV and NRSV’s “How will this be, since I am a virgin” also fall short in meaning, because the last thing a virgin maiden engaged to be married would wonder about is how she might be getting pregnant! It is a firm Catholic dogma that Mary was a perpetual virgin (CCC 499), so she was not, obviously, intending to consummate her marriage to Joseph. Only the traditional, literal translation “since I don’t know man” really captures the meaning. This is traditionally a widely used verse for apologetics and catechesis regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary and the miraculous conception of Jesus. Don’t include a note that explains why this is a poor translation… change the translation!
11. 1 Cor. 7:25, 28, 36, 37, 38. The Greek actually has “virgin,” not “unmarried,” “girl,” or “betrothed.” I think especially in the last 3 instances listed the interpretation is detrimental to the meaning of the text and encourages someone to interfere with a couple who are already engaged to married.
To Ignatius Press: I get the impression from what I have read from Ignatius Press about the RSV-2CE that the intention was to do as light of a revision as possible, primarily removing archaic language, to make it liturgically acceptable. Therefore, the RSV-CE 1 & 2 would still be relatively compatible. Given the extent of the changes at this point, I personally don’t see that to be the case. My advice is to go through the entire Bible again without worrying about changing the RSV-CE so much, and make any additional minor improvements, especially in the sour spots mentioned above. Some of these readings are reasons that Protestants and Catholics turned their noses up to the RSV long ago. You have done so much good to the RSV-CE so far, why not go the rest of the way, and dispense, for the most part, with the RSV-CE 1 & 2 and focus on getting the ICSB released in various editions? The ICSB would make an excellent Family Bible to read from as the rest of the family followed along in their own smaller ICSB personal editions in various colors (including pink….) I would also strongly recommend a fresh imprimatur and an at least an introduction by Scott Hahn, but lo, these are subjects due their own post altogether.