Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Summer Conferences: Little Rock Bible Institute 2013

Today marks officially the first day of Spring, although for those of us in the great state of Michigan it still looks a lot like Winter.  Like many of you, I am eagerly anticipating the warmer months that are assuredly coming.  As many of you know, what often coincides with Summer are a host of different Bible-related conferences, ranging from the beginner to the scholar, that one can attend.  So what I would like to do over the coming months is to alert you to these conferences.  First up, the Little Rock Bible Institute 2013:

The Dates and Location:

June 21–23, 2013
St. John Center
Little Rock, Arkansas

The Speaker:

Dr. Michael Patella, OSB — is director of Study Abroad Programs and associate professor of theology at St. John’s University, Collegeville. He is chair of the Committee on Illumination and Text for The Saint John’s Bible. He is also the author of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary Luke, which is the companion commentary to the Little Rock Scripture Study The Gospel According to

The Lectures:
Session 1: History of the Lukan Text within
the Gospel Tradition
Session 2: Infancy Narratives: An Oratorio?
Session 3: Material Proper to Luke: Snapshots
with a Theme?
Session 4: Reception of Luke through Time
and Place
Session 5: Luke in The Saint John’s Bible

Registration Fee:

$95, paid in advance (includes breakfast,
lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast
on Sunday). Housing fee is additional.


Jason Engel said...

I've had the pleasure of joining Fr. Michael for dinner and conversation. He has one of those warm, glowing, strong personalities that inspire people who are near him, and he is an amazing speaker. If you have the opportunity to go to this event in Little Rock, or if you can make room for the opportunity, I highly recommend it. Whatever the topic, listening to Fr. Michael is a real treat.

Timothy said...

I am looking forward to his upcoming book on the Saint John's Bible that you alerted me to.

Theophrastus said...

I am guessing that as chair of Committee on Text and Illumination, he likes the St. John's Bible. You can read the remarks he made at Yale here.

I do wonder about this: there are two big outreach Bible projects associated with the Saint John's Abbey (Collegeville) group -- one is the illuminated Bible and the other is Collegeville Commentary series. I wonder how the scholars at the Abbey made the decision to go with the NRSV for the illuminated Bible and the NAB/NABRE for the commentary. (I am presuming that an illuminated Bible would be treated as a special case by Confraternity and would not require illuminating the NAB/NABRE notes!)

Timothy said...


I have often wondered why they went with the NRSV, but I realized that at the time, and even now, it was the only real option. They wanted a Bible for the 21st century and the NRSV fits the need: Its scholarly, literary, ecumenical, tied to the KJV tradition, and doesn't have archaic language. The RSV wouldn't have worked due to the archaic language and the NAB at that time was still under the OT revision. What are the other options? NJB?

I think the NRSV was the best choice ultimately. The only problem that I have read about was the illumination of the Son of Man in Dan. 7 which is translated 'human being' in the NRSV with the literal note which is included.

Theophrastus said...

Well, that makes sense (although since you mention "even now," I think that the NABRE [sans notes] would also be a good choice.)

But why, then, did the same Abbey go with the NAB for the first edition of the Collegeville Commentary? (As I understand, the second edition of the OT is being produced now with the revised NABRE). Wouldn't the NRSV recommend itself for that Collegeville project for the same reason?

(I wonder how many people actually "read" the text in Saint John's Bible? I sometimes read my "cheap" St. John's Bible reproduction together with a pocket NRSV -- first reading the NRSV printed page and then meditating on the way that the artists represented it in the illuminated manuscript.

Timothy said...

Also, the NRSV is more widely utilized in the UK and other English speaking countries than the NAB. I am sure that that played a part in the decision. Not to mention that its translation philosophy is more consistent throughout even more than the much improved NABRE. Of course another issue is inclusive language and its role in the final decision.

rolf said...

I see the St. John's Bible as an ecumenical project, something to interest Christians all over the world, so the NRSV which is used by Catholics and Christians of many different denominations worldwide. The NAB/RE is used predominately in the USA. The Collegeville Bible Commentary is geared more for the U.S. market (correct me if I'm wrong) so the NAB/RE would be preferred as the translation for that market. Just my thoughts.

Theophrastus said...

Tim, suggests to me a possible reason why the same group chose different translations for their two major outreach projects. You mentioned the international aspect of the audience, but maybe there is an ecumenical one too:

Maybe the Collegeville Commentary designed for use primarily as part of American Catholic Bible studies (so the NAB/RE makes the most sense); while the illuminated Bible was designed for a more ecumenical (and perhaps international) audience (so the NRSV makes the most sense). This especially applies given some of the Hebrew and Jewish symbolism used in the illustrations as well as references to other cultures, such as American Indians, South Asians, Chinese, Near Easterners, etc.

And since the Collegeville Commentary is available in anthology "commentary only" volumes, such as this one, they can be used with any moderately formal translation of the Bible, including both the NAB/RE and NRSV.

You are preaching to the choir regarding the NRSV: as you know, I think the NRSV is the best of the major translations during the great burst of Bible translations that happened starting in the second half of the 20th century until today.

I think for specific books of the Bible, such as Leviticus or Psalms or Job or Canticles or Mark, there are some very interesting alternative choices, and I think there are lots of great translations from the 14th-18th centuries, but the NRSV is the translation I recommend for those wanting an entire Bible translation in contemporary English.

Jason Engel said...

Hi all.

Because of my proximity to the Saint John's Bible project (I work with Saint John's giving presentations about it), I can probably give an accurate answer to this question of why they chose the NRSV (I'm trying NOT to throw my job title around as evidence of authority on the topic, but to make it clear that I've heard the answer directly from the individuals who made the choice).

Saint John's chose the NRSV specifically because they wanted their illuminated Bible to be ecumenical and broadly representative of Christianity as a whole, not only Catholicism. They did, however, choose the Catholic edition of the NRSV so that it includes all the books of the Catholic Bible in the Catholic order. It is a unifying translation that is approved and considered worthy for use both privately and in community by Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox traditions, albeit in varying degrees.

What impresses me most about this choice is that the monks of Saint John's Abbey selected it knowing full well at that time that the NRSV was NOT approved for use in an American Catholic mass (even though it can be used for mass in every other country) and thus they undertook the massive expense and effort to create this for the world knowing they would not be able to use it themselves in their mass (they have since received permission from the Vatican to use it in mass).

Jason Engel said...

I'd add that everyone's comments before mine are indeed accurate reasons for the choices made about the NRSV and NABRE for the SJB and the commentary, respectively.

Biblical Catholic said...

Jason I'm not aware of any Orthodox Churches that have approved the NRSV....all I've seen is negative....

You got a citation for that?

Jason Engel said...

"In 1990 the synod of the Orthodox Church in America decided not to permit use of the NRSV in liturgy or in Bible studies.,[6] though the National Council of Churches notes that the translation has "the blessing of a leader of the Greek Orthodox Church."[3]"

And, as I commented above, "in varying degrees". There's definitely been a lack of a fourth edition of the NRSV that places content in the Orthodox order.

Jason Engel said...

Perhaps better than Wikipedia would be to quote Saint John's explanation for their choice of the NRSV:

"The Saint John's Bible uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation of the Bible. This translation was chosen because it is theologically sound and because its predecessor, the Revised Standard Version, is officially authorized for use by most Christian Churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox."

Of course, since I only know one person of the Orthodox tradition, and he's not much of a church-goer, I don't have an active member of that faith to ask their opinion of the RSV and NRSV.

Biblical Catholic said...

The RSV is still as far as I know, the only translation into English or any other language, which has been authorized for use in Churches in Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Churches. I understand the RSV is now 60 years old so they feel it's a little dated, but for ecumenical value, still nothing tops the 1977 RSV Ecumenical Edition with Expanded Apocrypha.

Theophrastus said...

Michael -- see the third bullet point here.

The blessings and endorsements were from:

* Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, and
* Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

Kevin speculates that the two Orthodox primates who endorsed and blessed the NRSV may not have been completely familiar with their contents. (However, I am certain that they had access to preprints of the manuscript before it was published -- this is absolutely standard in the publishing industry. Whether the hierarchs actually read the NRSV translation, I cannot say.)

I am not aware that either primate ever retracted his remarks (Archbishop Iakovos was in office until 1996 and lived until 2005; Metropolitan Philip is still in offfice).

One of the best known American Orthodox scholars, Demetrios Constantelos, who also edited Archbishop Iakovos's writings, served as one of the NRSV translators.

Having said all of that, I must also say that English Scripture translations are much less important to most Orthodox churches than they are to Protestant and Catholic churches. I believe that most Orthodox churches have liturgy based on Scripture in Greek, Slavonic, Coptic, etc.

Theophrastus said...

Michael wrote: The RSV is still as far as I know, the only translation into English or any other language, which has been authorized for use in Churches in Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Churches.

In fact, the NRSV is also used by Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox. You will note, for example, that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America runs an official shop in which the NRSV is sold: see here, here, here, and here. And I have also seen both the RSV and the NRSV used by scholars and students at the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute and at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary.

There are other translations in other languages that are widely used across denominations. For example, in modern Greece, there are Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches, and my understanding is that the Septuagint is widely used in all three.

CJA Mayo said...

I still have one foot in the Orthodox world (I'm almost "Catholodox", which sounds kind of like a dinosaur), and I can say with reasonable certainty that there is no actual opinion on the NRSV.

This is the same with most things Orthodox. Ask four different Orthodox from two different communions and get eight different answers.

The majority of the rank-and-file and conservatives, and pretty much every priest I've known, ranks the NRSV up there with Augustine and Thomas Aquinas (both curse words to many Romanides-influenced or Giannaras-influenced Orthodox), but it's the official translation of SVS Press (the main scholarly Orthodox publishing house in America).

For most Orthodox, there are two commonly-used and well-liked translations: KJV and NKJV. There's more of a reason than the Early Modern English, and theological correctness, as well - they use the Textus Receptus, which is similar to the 1904 Patriarchal Text, which is viewed as essentially inspired. Modern text-critical editions are viewed as going against the collective mind of the Church. (Thus the use of the LXX as well.)

CJA Mayo said...

Most GOAA and OCA parishes use Brenton, the OSB, the NKJV, or most often, the KJV in the English parts of their liturgies (many parishes have the liturgy sung in both the native tongue and English).

This practice is less common in ROCOR, being done maybe in only one parish out of two, compared to seven out of eight of the GOAA, and ten out of ten of the OCA.