Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is the ESV Lectionary Dead in the Water?

Thanks to reader Charles for this link which seems to suggest that it is.

If this is true, what is next for those in the English speaking Church outside of North America?  Here are the options that I came up with:

* Go with the newly revised New Community Bible.  (Remember this?)

* See if something can be worked out with the NCCUSA and start again with the NRSV

* Wait for the revised NABRE to be published in ten years which will supposedly provide a text that is both approved for Mass as well as available in print.

* RSV-2CE

* Re-work the Jerusalem Bible

* Do nothing and stay with the original Jerusalem Bible


58 comments:

CarlHernz said...

Why the NRSV is not being adapted for them as it has been in Canada is not totally clear.

It can't be that there is no cooperation on behalf of those who control the NRSV to make the needed changes for Catholic liturgy as Canada was able to create one from the NRSV.

It cannot be that the NRSV is not suitable to work from. Despite what many may think of it (and despite the inaccurate Internet comments to the contrary), the NRSV received Recognitio from the Holy See itself for its use as the basis for liturgy. (See http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=25267) Any necessary changes to the text required by Liturgiam authenticam is clearly not an impossibility on either front.

While I don't see them using the NABRE due to its Americanisms (the NAB rendition of Matthew 19:9 got an interesting comparison with other versions in a CNS story dealing with divorce and mercy at http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303358.htm) nothing is impossible.

While it would be easy to go to the RSV-2CE (all the necessary changes required for Liturgy are in place), the tendency for new lectionaries is to use "newer" translations. There is vocabulary in the RSV-2CE that I understand and I love, but I know from experience that Millennials cannot comprehend.

But the New Community Bible? It is not formal enough to match the type of speech that the new translations of the Missal have attempted.

I am interested in seeing what happens, but in a way I am not saddened by the move away from the ESV. We need more consolidation of the Word in common, not less, in the English-speaking Catholic world. If we can all adopt the Revised Grail for our recitation of the Psalms, it is not impossible to do likewise for our use of other inspired texts.

Eric Barczak said...

If I had to pick an option, my vote would be:

1. NAB-RE: Do an "Anglicized" version of NABRE. They Anglicized the NRSV-CE, so why not? They get some of the most recent scholarship in a fully Catholic translation (not Protestant adapted). Also maybe tweak it a bit for traditional Catholic renderings " Hail, full of grace..."

2. RSV-2CE: If they want an ecumenical bible and the ESV & NRSV copyright holders are balking, the 2CE is ready to go (maybe after a quick Anglicizing).

3. Keep the Jerusalem Bible as is: Is the language in the JB so loose or dated that it has to be replaced? If it ain't truly broke.....


Jason Engel said...

I am completely unable to understand why Catholics would be willing to consider the ESV, much less actively desire to see it used within Catholicism at all in any way. Crossway, the organization that arranged for and funded the translation, and which remains the copyright holder and largest publisher of the translation, is also very public about it's "dislike" (to put it mildly) of Catholicism. Given that, I am truly baffled by any Catholic interest in that translation. On the other hand, if efforts to bring it in to the English-speaking Catholic world fail, I have no doubt it's because Crossway would use it's legal power as the copyright holder to prevent such a thing from happening.

It's like the Devil telling you that you can't have his candy. Why do you want it in the first place? Eventually, he'll probably give it to you, or you'll sneak some from him when he isn't looking. Is that really such a good idea?

I just don't get it.

Ben said...

This is disappointing news, and a nail in the coffin of the push for an ecumenical English Bible.

Looking at less likely options, a thorough revision of the NRSV updated in accordance with LA would have a very good chance of becoming the standard Bible of the English-speaking world. (Who knows what's going on in the NCCUSA these days, with regards to the NRSV copyright?)

LA's translation guidelines are the same ones used by the largest Protestant churches as well, most notably the SBC.

I'm a big fan of the RSV/ESV, but the NRSV is in most places the more literary of the two, although RSV/ESV does a better job at preserving traditional renderings familiar from the KJV and most English hymnody.

A Bible that combined these virtues, and that stood inside the Tyndale/KJV tradition, would be a great accomplishment. In many ways, the ESV-CE represents a huge lost opportunity on this front.

Are we now committed to a bleak future where every church uses its own version, for the benefit of its publishing house?

Charles G said...

The point is raised above about whether the Canadian experience means that there are no copyright issues with the NRSV, notwithstanding that ICPEL thought there were such issues. I'm a bit confused about the status of the Canadian NRSV Lectionary. I know the Sunday lectionary has the Vatican recognitio, but has the weekday Lectionary received the recognitio? At one point I had a read a report that it hadn't, but maybe it has by now? Have the Canadians resolved all the copyright issues for the weekday Lectionary as well? If not, then maybe that might be part of the copyright problem that led ICPEL previously to believe using NRSV was not feasible. Then of course there are all the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours -- who knows when those will be revised, but presumably both copyright consent and recognitio will be necessary to use NRSV for them eventually. Will that be feasible with NRSV?

Bret said...

They should either go with the RSV2CE or the NABRE (Attention Mary Sperry.... tell the powers-that-be to get on this!).

I don't understand the charm or allure of the NRSV at all. It seems like a typical modern protestant-based translation that is infused with neutered theology and inclusive language.

As others have pointed out, at its heart the ESV is a translation controlled by a group of anti-Catholics. Why in the world would we even consider such a translation for our Lectionary? Do we go to Jack Chick next?

The JB and NJB seems to have become too fringe. Its days as the top English Bible outside of the US are fast coming to a close.

Timothy said...

While I think it would be ideal for a single lectionary for all the English speaking countries, we will likely never see that happen for a variety of reasons. As I have been thinking about these developments a couple of thoughts have come to mind:

1) I'd love to see a published edition of the NRSV Canadian lectionary. It is too bad there isn't a Bible in print that matches what is in their lectionary.

2) I generally agree with Jason's thoughts expressed above. I know there are many who like the ESV, but I cannot get over the fact that many of the people who are involved in its translation tend to be anti-Catholic. Need I point out the terrible rendering found in 1 Tim 3:15. And if you really like the style and language of the ESV, there are plenty of other options out there, like the RSV-2CE or NRSV.

3) I cannot understand why they would go about updating the old Jerusalem Bible. It just doesn't seem like it would be a good fit with the most recent update to the Roman Missal.

Ben said...

Re. the NRSV copyright, my understanding (by no means official, just filtered through the Internet hive) is that the problem is not with an NRSV lectionary, but with lectionary based on an "un-PCed" NRSV text edited to restore singular/plural construction and pronouns.

Gerald Champion said...

The only reason there is so much handringing over the ESV is the fact that the NAB just doesn't cut it.

I don't think the RSV Protestant versions in any of their iterations cut it either.

Neither do either of the Jerusalem bibles.

Fix the pre-NAB Confraternity New Testament--the pre-NAB Douay Rheims ChallonerOld Testament--insert the New Grail Psalms--cut out all the inclusive language abominations and the modernist notes--use English spellings--and don't try to be Ecumenical in anyway whatsoever.

Make the liturgy exactly match it.

It's not that hard to do--it's a matter of willingness to do!

As long as the Holy See is not in charge of bible translation we will continue to have this fiasco!

The popularity of Protestant bible translations among Catholics doesn't prove their accuracy--it just proves how bad the NAB is!

Biblical Catholic said...

Anyway, the option of either waiting or doing nothing are simply not options......the purpose of the revision is to bring the lectionary into conformity with Liturgiam Authenticam......and the Holy See has insisted that this happen sooner rather than later....it has already been 10 years since LA was issued, waiting another 10 years before doing anything is simply unacceptable...

And I doubt that the New Christian Community Bible conforms to LA anymore than the NRSV or Jerusalem Bible do.....the only translations currently in print that even come close to conforming to LA are the RSV CE-2 (which was allegedly revised specifically for the purpose of conforming to LA) and the ESV....and even these two will fully conform only after significant revisions are made.

The NCC is less strict about authorizing changes to the RSV than they are about authorizing changes to the NRSV, so there might be hope with the RSV.

I notice that the link associated with this is to a personal blog, and there is no link to an 'official' source announcing the collapse of the ESV lectionary or giving a reason for the collapse. Do we even know for sure that the report is true when there is no official confirmation that I can find anywhere?

Biblical Catholic said...

"I am completely unable to understand why Catholics would be willing to consider the ESV, much less actively desire to see it used within Catholicism at all in any way. Crossway, the organization that arranged for and funded the translation, and which remains the copyright holder and largest publisher of the translation, is also very public about it's "dislike" (to put it mildly) of Catholicism. Given that, I am truly baffled by any Catholic interest in that translation. On the other hand, if efforts to bring it in to the English-speaking Catholic world fail, I have no doubt it's because Crossway would use it's legal power as the copyright holder to prevent such a thing from happening."

If I may be a little cynical here, I don't think the ESV is actually a 'translation' at all, I think that is really only a very modest revision of the 1971 RSV, I don't think that they ever even went back to the original languages, they just looked at the RSV text, found the handful of verses which evangelicals had always complained were too 'liberal' are re-worded them to fit with their more conservative theology, and then went through the text and updated some of the words which they thought were a little old fashioned, such as replacing 'unto' with 'into'....and called it a new translation.

Depending on whom you believe, the ESV text is somewhere between 93% and 97% identical to the 1971 RSV text. That's not a new translation.

There are other things that make me suspicious.....such as how quickly the ESV was completed after it was announced that they were beginning the project, less than 4 years, hardly enough time to actually produce a new translation, heck, that's not even enough time to form a proper translation committee.

Given that a modern translation generally takes anywhere from 10-30 years or more to produce,the fact the ESV just popped out in less than is more than a little weird.

Another thing that makes me suspicious is the fact that Crossway has never actually published the names of the 'translatiors'....why? What are they hiding? Are they withholding the names because they don't want anybody to know that few of them are very well versed in the Biblical languages?


I also am skeptical because of some little nuances I've noticed in the 3 times I've read the ESV from cover to cover....such as the fact that at various places they try to 'correct' the RSV text, and create an error by doing so....in fact they make exactly the kind of errors that one would expect of someone who is not really well versed in the Biblical languages to make.

What I'm interested in doing is writing a text mining program in something like Python or PERL and scanning a digital copy of the ESV and 1971 RSV and find out just how close the text is....if the estimates that over 90% of the ESV text is identical to the RSV....then I think my suspicion that all they did was substitute a word here and there and didn't really consult the original languages has some merit.

I have a digital copy of the ESV...I just need a copy of the 1971 RSV and I write the program and do the analysis...


rolf said...

I would go with the RSV-2CE Lectionary, I have a copy at home if they want to borrow it to get started!

Gerald Champion said...

Better still would be a RSV-3CE--just remove all Protestant bias and insert the New Grail Psalms.

Gerald Champion said...

Better still would be a RSV-3CE--get rid of all Protestantisms and insert the New Grail Psalms!

Biblical Catholic said...

Protestant bias in the RSV? There's a definite bias towards, for lack of a better term, 'liberalism' in the RSV, but there's no discernible bias towards any Protestant sect that I can detect....

Theo (as mentioned in the NETS-CE) said...

You know what? I'd be quite content with the RSV-2CE, but not with the Grail Psalms, in fact, personally, while we're at it I'd completely banish the use of the Grail Psalter in our Liturgy. It's awful.
In fact, forget the RSV-2CE, I'd re-work the New English Translation of the Septuagint! Let's get away from the Masoretic-based translations entirely! It would be theologically helpful, and would bring us closer to our Orthodox brethren!
O, and it should be available to the general public in two formats: black calfskin, or brown goatskin.
There should also be a dedication page where I get a mention.

I am totally serious (except maybe the dedication...)

Gerald Champion said...

2 Corinthian 2:10 and the use of "presence" instead of "person" is the litmus test for Protestant bias.

Paul forgives the incestuous Corinthian "in the person of Christ" in the Douay Rheims, Knox, and Confraternity versions--even in the KJV! He forgives "in the presence of Christ" everywhere else--that's the Protestant bias against absolution.

I wouldn't mind chunking the New Grail Psalms. the Masoretic texts is for Jews and Protestants--why should Catholics subscribe to it?

The one thing I don't like are Protestant translations that have abbreviated versions of the deuterocanonical books which they don't believe in anyway. what sense does that make? deuterocanonical books

Jonny said...

I got the 1971 RSV (w/apocrypha) through e-sword as a download. I think it cost me about 10 bucks.

Gerald Champion said...

2 Corinthains 2:10 is the litmus test for Protestant bias with the use of "in the presence of christ" instead of "in the person of Christ".

The Douay Rheims, Knox, and Confraternity versions all use "in the person of Christ"--even the KJV uses it.

All others use "in the presence of Christ" because Protestants can't abide Paul giving the incestuous Corinthian absolution and the Jerusalem bibles and the NAB trip all over themselves trying to be ecumenical!

Masoretic texts are favored by Jews and Protestants--why should they be favored by Catholics?

How about Jerome's last attempt at translating the Psalms based on Hebrew--PRE Masoretic texts? Is that original language enough?

Anonymous said...


Theo said:

"In fact, forget the RSV-2CE, I'd re-work the New English Translation of the Septuagint! Let's get away from the Masoretic-based translations entirely! It would be theologically helpful, and would bring us closer to our Orthodox brethren! "

That sounds like a good idea to me. After all, the Septuagint was the Bible of the Early Church.

Which brings me to slightly off topic question, are you Timothy or any of your readers familiar with the translation of the Septuagint done by Nicholas King SJ ?
And if so, what are your opinions of it?

Unlike the NETS which uses the NRSV as it base text, King's is a complete translation of the Greek text.

Here's a link: http://www.nicholas-king.co.uk/

I've been thinking about buying it and wondered what others may know about it.

Thanks!

Pax,
John

Ben said...

Re. 2 Corinthians 2:10, I think the argument of "Protestant bias" is overwrought. The traditional Latin is "in persona Christi", thus KJV/DR, but "persona" in Latin first meant face or mask, and only later person as in English.

My knowledge of Greek consists of trying to sound out the words, but I understand that "en prosopo Christou" literally means "in the face of Christ". The similar expression in Hebrew ("in the face of the Lord") is normally translated with "presence", thus RSV and most modern translations.

I don't understand how either rendering proves or disproves the Catholic understanding of the priesthood. Of course, if you want to find bias somewhere, you probably will.

As a fun note, doing a quick Google search when reviewing this post reveals that Luther translated the phrase directly as "before the face of Christ".

Ben said...

A follow-up to 2 Cor 2:10: the NAB also uses "presence". In both the "Protestant" and "Catholic" versions of the verse, Paul is forgiving sins ("I also forgive") through the grace of Christ. Cf. Lk 5.

Jonny said...

I think the ideal would be translating the Scriptures from the original languages, whilst employing the norms given in Liturgicam Authenticam. This is the key to having 1. accuracy and 2. authenticity.

If Jerome's original manuscripts were extant, I believe they would be very close to the best critical editions available now. However, the Clementine Vulgate does contain the seed of authentic intepretation, and a true Catholic flavor that should not be disposed of, especially for the sake of resembling Protestant translations!

Perhaps this ESV fiasco should be a wake up call to the powers at be... follow the instructions given in LA now, and perhaps make up for lost time with a translation that is astronomically better than any of the other translations available now.

I am confident there will be a day when such issues are resolved, but I know that I will still enjoy (if not prefer) reading my good ol' Challoner Douay Rheims when they are!

Biblical Catholic said...

"I got the 1971 RSV (w/apocrypha) through e-sword as a download. I think it cost me about 10 bucks."

Good to know, I'll get to work on that text mining program....

Eric Barczak said...

I'm not sure that dismissing 'presence of Christ' is necessarily denying the sacrament of reconciliation. What if when Paul was forgiving their sins, that the Eucharist was present? If so, Christ would be present. So, if Paul was granting absolution in the presence of the Eucharist, he'd be forgiving their sins in the presence of Christ. Besides, Jesus said, "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst."

The real point of the passage is that Paul is forgiving sins. It points back to the authority Jesus gave the apostles in John 20.

Biblical Catholic said...

One important thing to note in this 'bias' discussion is that the three Catholic versions cited, namely the Douay Rhiems, the Knox and the Confraternity, are all translations of the Vulgate, not the Greek. There actually are some significant difference between the Greek and Latin texts, which text you choose to translate is going to be reflected in things like that.

Gerald Champion said...

Greek actors wore masks in plays. The priest wears the mask of Christ because he plays Christ in persona Christi.

The KJV accurately translated it as person--later on the
protestants realized that they couldn't do that anymore. Protestant bias proof positive!

Simon Garrett said...

I'm an English Catholic and have found the CTS New Catholic Bible to accompany the Mass readings very helpful. The fact that the Jerusalem Bible was more a translation from the French rather direct from the original languages may have been at the root of wanting a change. From my perspective, an Anglicised RSV-2CE would be the way to go, or may be NABRE, but translated in to English English!

Simon Garrett

Biblical Catholic said...

"The KJV accurately translated it as person--later on the
protestants realized that they couldn't do that anymore. Protestant bias proof positive!"

The KJV is a translation which tries to straddle the line between Catholicism and Protestantism, speaking frankly, it is biased as hell. Keep in mind the reason why the KJV was commissioned was to shore up royal authority and the 'high church' elements of the Church of England and undermine the Puritans....and this is not the only place where you see that...

CarlHernz said...

A bit of an update to my previous comments in light of what some others have posted in their response.

Recall that Lectionary readings are not empty spaces in the Roman Rite awaiting a vernacular Bible translation to be inserted in them, but readings from the Scriptures as taken from the Latin text of the prayer of the Mass.

These readings are called “periscopes” and contain introductory and explanatory interpolations (called “incipits”) that do not occur in the original texts, including the Latin Bible text. The periscopes will occasionally rephrase a reading from Scripture to match a time-honored way of phrasing something in Catholic culture. To illustrate notice how different Matthew 6:11 is in the Nova Vulgata from the way we commonly read it rendered in Mass and say in our prayers--

“Panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie” (NV) as opposed to “Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie” (Mass reading and prayer).

When we read or hear the Scripture reading at Mass it is not always the most precise rendering of what one finds in the original language. Like the Jewish tradition of midrash, it can at times include a rendition that adds some interpretation within.

So the issue here is that we are talking about the translation of a Latin PRAYER that INCLUDES specially edited quotations from Scripture, and the issue includes rendering these periscopes with precision, not so much issues regarding the comparing of different Bible translations.

Where does the use of a vernacular Bible translation fit in all this?

One of the reasons a vernacular version is used is that it cuts down on the considerable amount of work that would be needed to render the Latin periscopes into the target language. It also affords the listeners to hear the words in a translation that are familiar to those who use the target vernacular (usually the most popular Catholic Bible version to the region).

Since the periscopes are unique to the Lectionary for the Mass, there are no Bible versions, Latin, vernacular, original texts, etc., that will ever match them. Therefore a vernacular version common to most speakers/readers in an area would be the best to ADAPT for use. Any necessary changes are only necessary because one needs to match the wording unique to the periscopes. We are not talking matching the original language texts and never have been.

This may explain some of the reasons why the ESV is not a suitable choice. How many Catholics are reading the Bible from a particular version has to be taken into account, and Catholics are not encouraged to use a version without proper authorization. The ESV has none.

This explains why Bible translations differ from the periscope readings. One is a translation from the original language and the other is translation of a prayer.

And to argue over wording used in different Bible versions is useless in that the real issue is the wording used in the periscopes. When it comes to Liturgy if the periscope wording is notably different from the common version, the periscope wording will win every time.

Biblical Catholic said...

I've looked all over the Net and that one blog that you've already linked to.....since I can't find independent anywhere....I am forced to conclude that it isn't true....it's just a rumor....surely if such an announcement had been made, more people would know about it than this one blogger

Timothy said...

That is of course possible, but also keep in mind that there were only a handful of sites that were even reporting that there were initial plans for an ESV Lectionary in the first place.

CarlHernz said...

By the way, in copying and pasting my last posting I was betrayed by my auto-correct feature. The word should be "pericope" and NOT "periscope." (I had to fight this again just now to keep it from changing.)

I have a love-hate relationship with auto-correct...more hate these days since the time I ordered a gray "kippah" and the store sent me a gray stuffed "hippo" instead.

Biblical Catholic said...

There were a handful of sites reporting it yes, but they were able to confirm the reports by linking directly to official sources announcing it.....including interviews with the bishop who oversees the project.....there is no such confirmation at this point...

And indeed as recently as May of this year (i.e. only 3 months ago) we were being told that the Sunday lectionary was already finished and was going to be implemented on Advent 2014....why would they suddenly abandon a project that was almost done when they already announced a date when it would be implemented?

Theophrastus said...

If this is true, what is next for those in the English speaking Church outside of North America? Here are the options that I came up with

There is of course another possible option -- for the ICPEL to commission a new translation. While this option seems improbable, I still hope against hope that the ICPEL might select it -- a fresh translation could be of broad interest -- and if the translation were extended to the full biblical text, it might provide an interesting counterpoint to the NAB as a contemporary Catholic translation.

While it will certainly be interesting to watch what happens next with the ICPEL, as readers and scholars we are we already have access to many the RSV, RSV-CE, RSV-2CE, ESV (with "Apocrypha"), and NRSV -- in most cases with multiple editions -- so the presence or non-presence of an ESV (or RSV or NRSV) lectionary edition does not particularly enrich or impoverish our study. It matters more, of course, to those who hear that lectionary at Mass, but many of the comments to this post appear to be from readers in the US and Canada

-------------------------------

A few responses to specific comments above:

I'd love to see a published edition of the NRSV Canadian lectionary

Presumably, these must exist somewhere! But I recall that Ignatius ended up having to remainder its RSV-2CE lectionaries; so I imagine that lectionary sales outside liturgical use are fairly limited -- it seems the vast majority of lay people would rather read Bible translations than lectionary editions.

-------------------------------

Crossway has never actually published the names of the 'translators'

I understood otherwise; see here for example.

-------------------------------

the translation of the Septuagint done by Nicholas King

While I have only read excerpts of King's translations, I've seen quite a few reviews suggesting that King's translation (both of the Septuagint and New Testament) is quite uneven and idiosyncratic (if not eccentric) in parts. I do think the NETS is admirable for translating both the Old Greek and Alpha texts where they differ. (Septuagint texts show tremendous variation, so speaking of "the Septuagint" is a bit of misnomer. The textual problems in establishing a critical Septuagint text are enormous.)

The selection of NRSV as a "base text" was done to identify where the Greek text corresponds literally to the Hebrew Masoretic text and where it differs. This question of where the Hebrew does and does not match the Greek is arguably the single most interesting question for most Septuagint readers. (Note, though, that the NETS did commission a fresh translation of the Greek Deuterocanon and Greek Esther, even though these are already translated from the Greek in the NRSV.)

-------------------------------

Protestant bias ... 2 Corinthains [sic] 2:10

One can defend either the translating "πρόσωπον" either as "presence" or "person." "πρόσωπον" can perhaps most literally be translated as "face" (note that it appears hundreds of times for "פנים" in the Septuagint) and most of its 79 appearances in the New Testament are usually translated as "face." Thus "ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ" can be literally translated "in the face of Christ" -- the first two Greek words being a literal Greek translation of a Hebraic idiom found in Hellenistic Jewish writings for "in the sight of" = "in the presence of."

Compare with Psalm 95:6 -- Hebrew "פנים"and Septuagint Greek "προσπέσωμεν." There is no notion of a "mask" or assumed role in this verse, but rather the notion of bowing down directly before God.

CarlHernz said...

I have been corrected directly from a trustworthy source: The NRSV is indeed currently in use for certain instances in Liturgy, employing the readings as they appear in the current Canadian lectionary. (See http://www.cam.org.au/evangelisation/Liturgy/Liturgical-Guidelines)

But for whatever it's worth, there is no news from any of the diocesan offices about any proposed ESV-based Lectionary.

Biblical Catholic said...

"Crossway has never actually published the names of the 'translators'

I understood otherwise; see here for example."

I'm aware of that list, but notice that none of them are actually called 'translators', they are called rather 'reviewers' and 'advisers'....isn't that kind of weird?

And I don't care how big the committee is, you can't actually translate the Bible in a little less than 4 years....not if you care about doing it well....and if they actually did go back to the original languages and translate from scratch, how come something like 93% of the text of the ESV is identical to the RSV? Is that translation? Or is it just copying? I mean, imagine you were taking a class in Koine Greek and given the homework assignment of translation the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and you handed in something that was exactly the same as the RSV except changing 2 or 3 words.....would that be considered a translation or would you be accused of plagiarism? I mean, I know there's only so many ways of expressing the same thought but.....94% identical?

I mean...the NRSV is also based on the RSV, but the differences between the texts of the two versions are noticeable, only about 40% of the RSV text was carried over without change into the NRSV....

Theophrastus said...

you can't actually translate the Bible in a little less than 4 years....not if you care about doing it well

It may amuse you to know that the Common English Bible translation was begun in 2008 and finished in 2011, thus also being done in a "little less than 4 years." However, I would not claim that the CEB was done well (and I don't think you would say that either!)

I do agree that for the most part, the ESV is only a relatively superficial revision of the RSV. In many places where they do substantively differ, the ESV is worse in the following way: the RSV would at least offer alternative translations.

A classic example: RSV Isaiah 7:14 includes "young woman" as a primary translation, but carefully "virgin" as an alternative. The ESV, however, has no indication of any alternative to "virgin." By indicating that there is a real dispute, the RSV is more intellectually honest.

In this and several other ways, the RSV is superior to the ESV. While the RSV continues to be held in high regard by a broad consensus of the academic Biblical scholars, the same cannot be said of the ESV, whose support lies primarily with a subgroup of Evangelicals (especially Calvinists).

Biblical Catholic said...

The thing that makes me suspicious of what they did is that you can almost always notice when the ESV differs from the RSV because the ESV is not only inferior, it often introduces errors into the translation....it's not just the ESV sounds inferior in terms of English style....it's also less accurate...that's the thing, it's almost like they didn't like the way the RSV worded it, but also didn't bother to consult the original languages, so they just decided to re-word the RSV, usually to very poor effect...sometimes the ESV improves on the RSV, I think getting rid of the archaic 'unto' in favor of the more modern 'into' is a good decision for example....but most of the time the ESV changes are significantly worse, and you can notice where the change is made because when you're reading along, it sounds smooth for several verses, then suddenly it's very jarring....

I don't really mind the fact that they didn't make big changes to the RSV, because I don't think huge changes are needed, I just think that their claiming that it is a 'new translation' is misleading...

And yeah....I think the Common English Bible is one of the worst translations I've ever seen.....I downloaded that free onto my nook, and I tried to read it, but after only a few chapters in it was so bad that I deleted it.....I didn't simply 'archive' it, I flat out deleted it

Verum Laicus said...

In my opinion, the Holy See must initiate a body that will make a common English Bible for the whole Catholic Church, if the Holy See can commission the Vox Clara for the sake of the New Missal, maybe doing a similar one for the Biblical text is a good scenario to consider.

In that way, maybe in that version the Holy See can cite verses with no royalties to pay.

Jonny said...

"Where does the use of a vernacular Bible translation fit in all this?"

The preference of the Holy See is to have a version of Sacred Scriptures translated within the norms of Liturgiam Authenticam, to be modified for use in the Lectionary. When this is not available, the secondary alternative is to use a pre-existing version modified to better fit the norms given. See LA 34ff.

Really, one needs to read the entire document, but I will try to give a short summary.

It is preferable that the translation used for Mass be specially prepared so that the Bible text and the Mass readings coincide (except, of course for the "incipits" such as adding "Jesus said" and so forth, to make the reading make sense out of context.) Also, these readings should coincide with LOTH. Therefore, the faithful have a common text for use in every context of Liturgy, personal study, and prayer. (That is something that most Catholics would find beneficial, I think.)

To accomplish this, the Biblical texts MUST be translated from the original languages, not from Latin. However, the Latin norm Nova Vulgata is to be consulted as a GUIDE for translating into the vernacular, to insure authentic, consistent, Catholic interpretation in all Catholic Bibles.

There are also many other norms set forth in LA regarding inclusive language and certain words that should be translated literally... I really can't do the entire document justice in this comment at the moment...

To be sure, I must say that NO engish lectionaries are in conformity with the norms set out, but the quick fix is to simply modify currently existing texts. The texts currently in use have to fly for now, but newer options must meet stricter requirements, which is why the Canadian NRSV lectionary is not an option.

Timothy said...

Thank you Jonny.

And that is why the USCCB and CBA have begun the process, albeit a long one, in developing an edition of the NABRE that will be used in the liturgy, available in print for study, and utilized in the LOTH.

Biblical Catholic said...

"n my opinion, the Holy See must initiate a body that will make a common English Bible for the whole Catholic Church"


No, absolutely not. There are several reasons why this is a horrible idea.

q. It will prove to be insanely expensive and lengthy process
2. It goes against 2,000 years of established tradition of promoting Bible translations and scholarship at the local level
3. It would represent an unprecedented degree of Papal authority and control, and it would amount to taking legitimate authority away from local ordinaries
4.Once done for English, it would pretty much be necessary to do the same for every other language used in the Church, so we would have to have 'official' Bibles in French, Spanish, Italian, German etc etc etc.....where exactly would this end?
5. It would pretty much bring Biblical translation and scholarship to a halt, once there was an 'official' universal English Bible, there would be pretty much no point in continuing to produce new translations or produce original scholarship Catholic scholarship on the Bible....


But finally, the most important thing is...

It's not needed, it really isn't, there's no real benefit to it...

The fact of the matter is that the reason why different English speaking countries use different Bible translations is because there is no one, universal, English dialect....there is American English, British English, Australian English, Canadian English etc etc etc The English spoken in places like the Philippines is different from the English spoken in the English speaking parts of Africa, and is different from English as spoken in North America etc.....now granted the differences are not so vast that English speakers in different countries are unable to understand each other, but nevertheless the differences exist, and they are broad enough to justify each region having a translation in its own dialect. If you don't think the dialect matters, try reading the Revised English Bible, written in the British dialect, and tell me if you don't recognize a noticeable difference of style.

Timothy said...

Hence the need for an NRSV Anglicised edition.

Theophrastus said...

I very much doubt that the CBA would ever agree to a full Bible translation that was in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam. One significant problem lies with the Deuterocanonicals. Liturgiam Authenticam 37 requires:

In the translation of the deuterocanonical books and wherever else there may exist varying manuscript traditions, the liturgical translation must be prepared in accordance with the same manuscript tradition that the Nova Vulgata has followed. If a previously prepared translation reflects a choice that departs from that which is found in the Nova Vulgata Editio as regards the underlying textual tradition, the order of verses, or similar factors, the discrepancy needs to be remedied in the preparation of any Lectionary so that conformity with the Latin liturgical text may be maintained.

Now, it may surprise those unacquainted with Septuagint studies, but establishing critical texts of the Septuagint is quite difficult because of the many varying textual traditions. (In the case of the NETS translations, the translators try to address this by adopting a multi-column format and translating varying manuscript traditions [e.g., Old Greek vs. Alpha Text] and by putting a fair amount of the translation in brackets.)

Nova Vulgata largely follows the textual tradition used by the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate. However, we have much better Septuagint (including Deuterocanonical) manuscripts than were available in 1592. The vast majority of biblical scholars agree that the underlying manuscript tradition of the Nova Vulgata is inferior to our present critical texts (the Septuagint version used by the the RSV, NRSV, NABRE, and the major contemporary French and German Catholic Bibles is Rahlfs Septuaginta; a newer project is the in-progress Göttingen Septuaginta.)

Now only a relatively small fraction of the Deuterocanonicals appear in the Lectionary, so perhaps some agreement can be made to follow Nova Vulgata for those verses (with a translation of the better texts in the footnotes). But I just cannot imagine the consensus of Catholic Biblical scholars allowing a translation to appear that completely follows the Nova Vulgata manuscript tradition for the Deuterocanonicals.

It is true, as Tim states, that USCCB and CBA have begun a process. It will be interesting to see if that process actually results in a published Bible. Even if it does, it seems unlikely that it could follow Liturgiam Authenticam for verses outside the Lectionary.

Jonny said...

I think that LA is quite flexible for allowing variant readings, as long as the variant reading does not directly conflict with its purpose in context of Liturgical use. I am referring to LA 38:

38. It is often permissible that a variant reading of a verse be used, on the basis of critical editions and upon the recommendation of experts. However, this is not permissible in the case of a liturgical text where such a choice would affect those elements of the passage that are pertinent to its liturgical context, or whenever the principles found elsewhere in this Instruction would otherwise be neglected. For passages where a critical consensus is lacking, particular attention should be given to the choices reflected in the approved Latin text.

Given the liberality of these norms, I am confident that a Bible translation can be made in conformity with LA. Of course, that might mean that some verses could be brackted or accomponied by footnotes indicating alternate translations, but technically I don't think that would be in violation of LA, which calls for "a version of the Sacred Scriptures be prepared in accordance with the principles of sound exegesis and of high literary quality." (LA 34)

Theophrastus said...

LA 38: ... a variant reading of a verse ... is not permissible ... whenever the principles found elsewhere in this Instruction would otherwise be neglected ....

Jonny what is your reading of this portion of LA 38? I read it as saying that LA 37 has priority over LA 38, and thus, "the liturgical translation must be prepared in accordance with the same manuscript tradition that the Nova Vulgata has followed" (at least for the Deuterocanonicals).

If you disagree, then what is your understanding of LA 37's requirement to use the same manuscript tradition as the Nova Vulgata?

I predict that this will a become a significant issue for the NAB revision, and may well require a clarification by Rome before the project can move forward.

Gerald Champion said...

The battle over the next revision of the NAB is the final war between the modernists and the traditionalists when it comes to Catholic biblical translation.

It will probably take 20 years.

Let's just be thankful that the Holy See can protect us when it comes to the Liturgy--but that may not be saying a whole lot as the NRSV was approved for use in Canada.

Does anyone know if the next edition of the NAB will revise its notes?

There are many Catholics who can swallow hard and take the NAB--but they can't take its notes!

Biblical Catholic said...

The NRSV was never really 'approved' for Canada, the Canadian bishops created the lectionary, Rome said 'no', the Canadian bishops said 'whatever' and implemented it anyway. Then Rome said 'well okay, you can use it, but only on a temporary basis until you can find something better'....the Canadian bishops said 'sure, we'll get right on that', rolled their eyes and went about their business.....and nothing has happened on the 'replacement' front since then....eventually the situation will come to a full blown conflict between the Candian bishops and Rome but it hasn't happened yet

Timothy said...

It has been approved with adaptions:
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/12/canadian-nrsv-lectionary-now-in-use/

Timothy said...

And this:
http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=25267

Biblical Catholic said...

It has been 'approved' in the same way that communion in the hand and altar girls were 'approved', i.e. 'well we know you're going to do it no matter what we say so I guess we'll tolerate it'

Jonny said...

Theophrastus,

I read LA 37 as regarding strictly the verses that are used in the Lectionary.

Note the end LA 37 states that "In preparing new translations, it would be helpful, though not obligatory, that the numbering of the verses also follow that of the same text as closely as possible."

If the intention was for the same manuscript tradition to be used in translation of the entire book, why would there be such large discrepancies in verse numbering that could only be remedied "as closely as possible?"

Perhaps the additional verses added to the RSV-2CE Sirach could serve as a point of reference in this matter. I'm not confident that the RSV-2CE Bible or Lectionary follows LA completely, but I think that it might be a clue as to what is forthcoming, given that the Lectionary was approved after the LA norms were established.

CarlHernz said...

"It has been 'approved' in the same way that communion in the hand and altar girls were 'approved', i.e. 'well we know you're going to do it no matter what we say so I guess we'll tolerate it'"

We have to be very careful when we post our opinion on a site. We may wholeheartedly believe in something, adamantly declaring our convictions, but when we have no empirical evidence to back it up we could be breaking the law of both Church and State. The above statements call into question the good name of those involved in making certain decisions for the Church at large.

Calumny is something we must always be on guard of. It can be more than malicious defamation. It can also include the mere misrepresentation of facts when we know our statements are unproven and are without independently validated support. When we post these type of statements on the Internet, even if we are honestly mistaken though motivated by a religious or otherwise strong personal conviction, technically speaking it can be considered libel.

We may not personally approve of a certain Bible translation for whatever reason. But we should never ascribe a lack of fidelity to Christ and to those within the Church who have authority to approve what Bible translations are fit and which are not--not without good reason and proof.

Are we ascribing faults to others when we do not have sufficient evidence to do so? Even when we do, do we realize that posting public statements about others that can harm their reputation can make us not just guilty of libel but the sin of detraction as well? (Calumny is also a sin, for that matter.)

Do you, Biblical Catholic, have such proof to back up your claims? If your claims were fully put to the test and thoroughly investigated, how would you fare? Is the Holy Spirit so incapable of guiding the Church to reject a possibly “harmful” translation of Scripture that the weakness of mere mortals can negate His guidance?

I understand that discussions can get heated, and people have the right to post what they do...But there is a difference in having a right to do something and whether or not doing that same thing is right.

Which is worse, having to use the NRSV-CE or ignoring all translations of Scripture and possibly engaging in calumny and/or the sin of detraction? What use is the Bible we choose to read if it doesn't stop us from being a false witness to the facts?

Whatever happened, however it happened, the Holy Spirit has moved the Church to approve both the NRSV-CE for personal use and the Canadian Lectionary readings based on the NRSV-CE. We must all be careful that we do not publicly post something that cannot be proven or that before God have no authority to speak of or make judgment upon.

Theophrastus said...

Jonny, you are certainly correct that Liturgiam Authenticam only has authority over verses in the Lectionary -- general instruction for Biblical translation (outside of those portions actually used in the liturgy) is outside the brief of the Congregation for Divine Worship. This was, in fact, my point when I wrote

Now only a relatively small fraction of the Deuterocanonicals appear in the Lectionary, so perhaps some agreement can be made to follow Nova Vulgata for [just] those verses (with a translation of the better texts in the footnotes).

Like you, I can imagine such a hybrid Bible. But notice it would be a bit odd. For one thing, the translation would use two radically different principles to establish the source text: for those verses in the Lectionary, to use Nova Vulgata; for other verses, to use the best available texts. For another, notice that the translation might no longer satisfy Liturgiam Authenticam the next time the Lectionary is revised to contain different verses.

When we talk about translating the full Bible according to the "principles of Liturgiam Authenticam," things get even messier, so I'm sticking with my prediction is that consensus with CBA will be difficult.

Over the next few years (or decades), we'll see how things actually develop.

Biblical Catholic said...

"We have to be very careful when we post our opinion on a site. We may wholeheartedly believe in something, adamantly declaring our convictions, but when we have no empirical evidence to back it up we could be breaking the law of both Church and State. The above statements call into question the good name of those involved in making certain decisions for the Church at large."

There is nothing 'calumnious', that is simply what happened, study the case of communion in the hand and altar girls, dioceses simply starting doing these things on their own without authorization, Rome said 'stop doing that', the dioceses ignored the order, then Rome said 'well okay fine, we approve it'.....

That is historically what took place. In fact we can not only pinpoint the specific year, but also the specific diocese in question. It was a diocese in the Netherlands that initiated the practice shortly after Vatican II, Pope Paul VI tried to stop it, the bishop ignored him, so in 1969 Pope Paul gave provisional approval to this one diocese only, then it started spreading, then in 1976 the Pope allowed it everywhere, and finally it was incorporated in the 1983 code of Canon law.
The same kind of thing happened with altar girls....which had been happening since the 1970's, but which never got official approval until the mid 90's....

And with the NRSV lectionary in Canada....

Rome, not wanting to create schism decided to retroactively approve something that it had previously rejected, and it was approved only because the Pope knew that the original order that the practice stop was being ignored.

That is simply the way it happened.
That's just what a wise lawmaker does, you make a law that isn't being obeyed, instead of pressing the issue, you just back off and allow it.

That's how the NRSV got approved for use in Canada, Rome repeatedly said 'no', the bishops went ahead with it anyway, and Rome reluctantly agreed to allow it retroactively.

That is how it happened.

Verum Laicus said...

Ok, Biblical Catholic, got the point.

But not only I hope, though only some may agree with me, may it be commissioned by the Holy See or not, at least there may be uniformity in the Biblical texts for the Lectionary.

If the Grail Psalms (even it's debatable between the original and revised) were able to penetrate the English Lectionary, regardless of the nation, maybe it can be possible that the same could be done on the Biblical texts.

Being united in worship across the world, albeit some variations, is the unique characteristic that the Catholic Church possesses.

What's being a Catholic enjoying and fulfilling is that whenever you are on the globe, you share at least, common worship that makes you feel at home with the Church.

The Liturgy and the Bible are the most things that are accessible to the Catholic laity. I highly believe that those two must be also highly consistent with one another.

A common Liturgy is already there with the new missal. Maybe it's about time that a common version may be shared by English speakers worldwide.

Verum Laicus said...

Ok, Biblical Catholic, got the point.

But not only I hope, though only some may agree with me, may it be commissioned by the Holy See or not, at least there may be uniformity in the Biblical texts for the Lectionary.

If the Grail Psalms (even it's debatable between the original and revised) were able to penetrate the English Lectionary, regardless of the nation, maybe it can be possible that the same could be done on the Biblical texts.

Being united in worship across the world, albeit some variations, is the unique characteristic that the Catholic Church possesses.

What's being a Catholic enjoying and fulfilling is that whenever you are on the globe, you share at least, common worship that makes you feel at home with the Church.

The Liturgy and the Bible are the most things that are accessible to the Catholic laity. I highly believe that those two must be also highly consistent with one another.

A common Liturgy is already there with the new missal. Maybe it's about time that a common version may be shared by English speakers worldwide.