Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guest Post: Bible Versions in Spanish

Thank you to Javier for this wonderfully helpful essay!

Before the Encyclical Letter Divino Afflante Spiritu of 1943, all catholic bibles in spanish were translations of the Vulgate. There were not many of them either: only two, as far as I know: the Petisco-Torres Amat Bible, and the Scío de San Miguel Bible. Very few lay people had a Bible in their homes up to that date, and even fewer ever read them.

From that date on, translations into Spanish from the original languages (hebrew, aramaic, and greek) began to appear. The first such translation to reach the market was the Nácar-Colunga Bible. It was first published in Spain in 1944 by BAC (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos), and its translators were bible scholars Alberto Colunga Cueto O.P., and Fr. Eloíno Nácar Fúster. It has been revised and reprinted several times (there have been 30 editions so far). Its latest revision was in 2010. (Pictures are from the 1961 edition).

The second translation to be released was the Bóver-Cantera Bible. It was published in 1947, in Spain (also by BAC). Its translators were José María Bóver, S.J., and Francisco Cantera Burgos. It is considered the first critical edition of the Bible in spanish, translating (of course) from the original languages. It is not being reprinted, as it was superseded -so to speak- by the Cantera-Iglesias Bible, in 1975.

La Biblia de Straubinger (The Straubinger Bible): Next there was a translation published in Argentina (my country, of all places), in 1951, by Mons. Johannes Straubinger. This german priest was living in Argentina due to the political turmoil in Germany (he fled the nazi regime, narrowly escaping arrest by the Gestapo). In Argentina, he translated the Bible from the original languages. His version is considered to be a very orthodox and reliable version (particularly because of its notes and introductions). It is very well liked by Trad Catholics in Argentina. In fact, this is the Bible that the SSPX recommends in Argentina.
Straubinger also wrote several essays on biblical translation, and on theological matters. He could well have been our Ronald Knox, had his Bible not been abducted by the Trads (and then, because of it, automatically shunned by the Church in Argentina).

In 1964, La Santa Biblia, translated by Evaristo Martín Nieto (and his team of 15 members) was published in Spain. It is said to be in a very correct spanish.

In 1966, in Barcelona, Editorial Regina publishes la Sagrada Biblia, translated by claretians Frs. Pedro Franquesa and José María Solé. This bible is extremely rare. It has been praised for its fidelity to the original languages (so, formal equivalence I guess).

In 1967 appears the spanish version of the Jerusalem Bible, known as La Biblia de Jerusalén. There were revisions in 1975, 1998, and 2009. It is claimed it translates the biblical text from the original languages, and the notes from the french edition.

La Biblia Latinoamericana (The Latin American Bible), is the brainchild of french Fr. Bernardo Hurault. He was a missionary in rural areas of Chile. He noticed that the evangelical protestant faithful were well equipped with their own bibles, and read them, while catholics didn’t usually have a bible, and those bibles they could eventually have access to, were translated into a spanish that was cultured and from Spain, and thus sounded unnatural to Fr. Hurault intended target audience. So, with the help of chilean Fr. Ramón Ricciardi, he began translating the bible from its original languages. It was not easy for Fr. Hurault to get the “Church License” to print his bible. He finally found a Bishop that gave him his authorization, and the Bible was published in 1972. It is a dynamic equivalence translation. As its notes and illustrations were -at least in the early editions- heavily reminiscent of marxism and third world liberation, it stirred at first a great controversy. Subsequent editions have polished the translation, and gave less political flavor to the notes.
This Bible inserts the deuterocanonical books in a separate section between the Testaments.
This might well be the best-selling catholic bible in spanish speaking Latin America.
(Some years later, Fr. Bernardo Hurault would move to the Philippines, where he published his Christian Community Bible).

Sagrada Biblia Cantera-Iglesias: Translated by Francisco Cantera and Manuel Iglesias, it was published by BAC in 1975. It is a formal equivalence translation. It is highly valued as a tool for approaching the underlying meanings of the original languages.

Nueva Biblia Española (New Spanish Bible): this translation is the work of bible scholars Juan Mateos and Fr. Alonso Schökel. It was published in Spain in 1975, by Ediciones Cristiandad, and it was quite revolutionary. It is clearly a dynamic equivalence translation. And it strived to use a natural spanish language, that the reader could approach without previous knowledge of specific “biblical” terminology. Furthermore, the translators tried to keep the peculiarities of each genre in the target language, so that poetry, when translated, still read as poetry. It even translated into spanish the hebrew names of cities and places (when those names meant something specific in the original hebrew).
Until recently, this was the translation chosen for official liturgical use in Spain.

La Biblia, published in 1975 by Editorial Herder, in Spain, and translated by a team directed by Fr. Serafín de Ausejo, OFM. The team included catholics as well as protestants, from Spain and Latin America.

Sagrada Biblia de Magaña: Published in Mexico in 1975, it was translated by mexican Fr. Agustín Magaña Méndez. It seems to be very popular in Mexico. He translated the Old Testament from the LXX. This is unique among Catholic translations into spanish.

La Biblia de “La Casa de la Biblia”: First published in 1966, by “La Casa de la Biblia” from Spain, this translation was completely revised in 1992. It is still being published.

El Libro del Pueblo de Dios (The book of the People of God): This is an argentine translation, by Fathers Armando Levoratti and Alfredo Trusso. It is official for the Lectionaries (and for all liturgical use) in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It is also the only bible in spanish featured in the official Vatican site (and in case you ask, this happened way before an argentinian was elected as Pope). The translation uses a neutral latin american spanish. It is a very readable -but by no means beautiful- translation. At times it can be a bit prosaic. (This is, so far, the only Bible I have read cover to cover).
This Bible inserts the deuterocanonical books in a separate section between the Old and the New Testament.

Biblia del Peregrino (Pilgrim’s Bible): Published in 1996, by Editorial Mensajero, in Bilbao, Spain. This translation was the work of a team directed by the late Fr. Luis Alonso Schökel -Professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome- who had previously translated the Old Testament for the Nueva Biblia Española. It is a dynamic equivalence translation. As with the Nueva Biblia Española, the translator wanted a Bible that sounded natural in the target language. Many consider this translation to be the most beautiful version of the Bible in spanish. (I’m currently reading this bible. I could not say if this is ‘the most beautiful’ spanish translation. But it certainly makes for very pleasurable reading. Fr. Schökel did have a superb command of spanish).

Biblia Americana San Jerónimo (revision of the Vulgate translation of Fr. Felipe Scío): Published in 1994, by Edicep, in Valencia, Spain. This a very strange translation: Fr. Jesús María Lacea, S.P., took a translation into spanish from the Vulgate, dating from 1793, and corrected it by comparing it with the Bible text in the original languages (hebrew, aramaic, and greek). The target audience seems to be the catholics of Latin America. But I have never seen it in a bookstore (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Dios Habla Hoy: Published in 1979, by Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas (United Bible Societies). The translation team included evangelicals and catholics. It has a catholic edition, with deuterocanonicals and with official Church approval, by the CELAM (Latin American Bishops Conference). It is a dynamic equivalence translation. Its language is natural and not particularly sophisticated. Its target audience is mostly latin american catholics. It is sold in catholic bookstores, and it is widely accepted by the catholic faithful. It is published by Ediciones Paulinas, with the cover title La Biblia, Palabra de Dios (The Bible, Word of God).

Biblia de América (Bible of the Americas): Published in Mexico, by PPC, in 2001. It is an initiative of La Casa de la Biblia publishing house, from Spain. It was translated by a team coordinated by Santiago Guijarro Oporto and Miguel Salvador García. It is intended as a Bible for the Catholic Church in spanish speaking Latin America. The translation team includes prestigious scholars from the different language areas of the continent.

Biblia - Traducción en Lenguaje Actual (Bible - Today’s language translation): This is a translation by Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas (United Bible Societies), whose goal it is to simplify the language in order to reach a wider audience. It is a paraphrase. This is an ecumenical translation with Church Approval. The edition I own is approved by Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, President of CELAM. It also includes a recommendation letter from 2006, signed by none other than Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ.

Biblia de Navarra - Edición Popular: From 1997 to 2004, EUNSA (Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, S.A.) published the five volumes of the “Sagrada Biblia”, translated by the Theology School of the University of Navarra (affiliated with Opus Dei). The translators team was led by Fr. José María Casciaro. This one volume Popular Edition is a joint initiative of the Midwestern Theological Forum (MTF) and EUNSA. It was first published in 2009.

La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo (Our People’s Bible): This 2009 bible, is the ‘pastoral version’ of the “Biblia del Peregrino”. It takes its excellent translation, and changes the notes and introductions -which were more of an exegetical nature in the Biblia del Peregrino-, to make them more pastoral and relevant to the everyday problems of a latin american audience. It is published by Ediciones Mensajero, and printed in China.

Biblia Católica para Jóvenes: This version, published in 2005 in the USA, was originally aimed at the american youth of latin background. It takes the text of the Biblia de América, but uses different notes and introductions. It sells in all of spanish speaking Latin America.

La Biblia - Traducción Interconfesional (BTI) (The Bible - Interdenominational Translation): This ecumenical Bible was published in Spain in 2008. It is the result of a long joint effort between Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas, and La Casa de la Biblia, which had began in 1973. The introductions and notes are of a linguistic, historical, and literary nature, as opposed to a denominational approach. In 2014, the version for Latin America -Biblia Hispanoamericana- was published. The evangelical version of this translation, without deuterocanonicals, is the Bible La Palabra (The Word).

Sagrada Biblia - Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española (Holy Bible - Official Version of the Bishops Conference of Spain): This version has been published in 2010, in Spain, by BAC (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos). The translation project began in 1996, as an initiative of the Bishops Conference of Spain. The goal of this version is to be the one and only version to be used by the Catholic Church in Spain for every official use of scripture: Mass Lectionaries, catechisms, liturgy of the hours, etc.. It was translated by a team of twenty four scholars, from the original languages. While translating, they took also into account the already existing liturgical translations, and the latest edition of the latin Neovulgata. This version, of course, has full backing of the Bishops Conference of Spain.

Biblia Católica de la Familia (Family Catholic Bible): Published in 2012 by Editorial Verbo Divino, this Bible uses the text of the argentinian El Libro del Pueblo de Dios translation, with different notes and introductions. Its intended audience are the spanish speakers of the Americas.
Just as the El Libro del Pueblo de Dios does, this Bible places the deuterocanonical books in a separate section between the Old and the New Testaments.

Biblia de la Iglesia en América - BIA (Bible of the Church in the Americas): This is the latest catholic translation project of the Bible into spanish that I’m aware of. It began by a request of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Bishops Conference of Latin America for a new bible translation that could be used by the US spanish speakers. The translation team itself began working in 2004. The project eventually expanded to become an initiative for a common catholic bible in spanish for the Americas. The New Testament is to be published during the second half of 2015.
The website for the New Testament is set to be launched next week (May 11th, 2015):

List of Catholic Bibles published in spanish after the release of the Encyclical Letter Divino Afflante Spiritu, in 1943, by Pope Pius XII:

1-. Biblia Nácar-Colunga

2-. Biblia Bóver-Cantera

3-. Biblia de Monseñor Straubinger

4-. La Santa Biblia (Evaristo Martín Nieto)

5-. Biblia Regina (Franquesa-Solé)

6-. La Biblia de Jerusalén

7-. Biblia Latinoamericana

8-. Sagrada Biblia Cantera-Iglesias

9-. Nueva Biblia Española (Schökel-Mateos)

10-. La Biblia de Herder (Serafín de Ausejo)

11-. Sagrada Biblia de Magaña

12-. La Biblia de “La Casa de la Biblia”

13-. El libro del Pueblo de Dios

14-. Biblia del Peregrino

15-. Biblia Americana San Jerónimo (revision of the XVIII century translation of the Vulgate    by Fr. Felipe Scío)

16-. Dios Habla Hoy (Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas)

17-. Biblia de América (by La Casa de la Biblia)

18-. Biblia - Traducción en Lenguaje Actual (Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas)

19-. Biblia de Navarra - Edición Popular

20-. La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo

21-. Biblia Católica para Jóvenes (text of “La Biblia de América”)

22-. La Biblia Traducción Interconfesional (BTI)

23-. Sagrada Biblia - Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española

24-. Biblia Católica de la Familia (text of “El Libro del Pueblo de Dios”)

25-. BIA (La Biblia de la Iglesia en América)


Anonymous said...

Great presentation Javier.Thanks for all the hard work.
So English isn't the only language with multiple translations.Interesting !
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

¡Es una obra maestra, Javier!

Anonymous said...

It is understandable that our friend Javier, if you have noticed the unusual capitalizations he used on some proper nouns. That's how it is done in Spanish.

This is the dilemma that bilinguals often encounter, the tendency to mix up things.

But being pedantic aside, the post was a great one. It is more extensive than Biblical translations in the Philippines.

The main difference is that while us here, only organizations carry out translation, for Hispanohablantes, even individual priests have the capacity to do translations of their own.

Anonymous said...

Javier, as far as I am aware, there are many variants of the Spanish, set aside the differences of European and American Spanish, but does 'vos' and 'ustedes' usages are reflected in Spanish Bible versions?

Add to that the unique conjugation of 'voseo' verbs, what does the Latin American Spanish have in common?

Javier said...

¡Gracias Gerald!, I'm glad you liked it.
Spanish is basically a single monolithic language, with some local peculiarities here and there. I'm currently reading a bible from Spain (La Biblia del Peregrino), and it might have, I don't know, like thirty words I was not familiar with, but that's it.
Spain's spanish uses the second person plural (vosotros), and we in Latin America replace it whith the third person plural (ustedes). So, Latin American spanish bibles use 'ustedes'.
As for the 'voseo', it is not a Latin American thing. It is more of an Argentina/Rio de la Plata thing. So bibles use the 'tu', and not the 'vos'. Even argentinian bibles use the 'tu' (that we argies never ever use in our real everyday life).
So I guess there is not much in common to the different strains of Latin American spanish beyond the used of the 'ustedes' instead of the 'vosotros'.
Then there are some words that spaniards use a lot, that can never ever be used in public in some parts of Latin America, and much less printed in a bible (particularly the ubiquitous spanish verb 'to take' which happens to be our slang for sexual intercourse).

hoshie said...

One of my neighbors speaks Spanish and uses the La Biblia Latinoamericana. I went to her house last Christmas and she brought it out to show my mother and me a verse. My mother wanted to share her favorite verse. I used my Bible app to point to a Spanish version. My library has the La Biblia de Jerusalén and the Reina-Valera (this is the common Spanish Bible used by Protestants). The Traducción en Lenguaje Actual seems to be the Spanish equivalent of the Contemporary English Version. It is also worth noting that Dios Habla Hoy is also known as the Versión Popular; it is also the equivalent of the Good News Bible.

Javier said...

both the Traducción en Lenguaje Actual, and Dios Habla Hoy, are translations by the United Bible Societies. That might explain the parallels you find between them and the CEV and GNB.
The Reina-Valera is the equivalent to the KJV. And it is its contemporary. Some praise it as being a masterpiece of spanish language. Only that the Reformation was crushed early on in Spain, and so this bible never had any real influence on spanish culture. It is the dominant translation among spanish speaking evangelical protestants.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting. My fiance's primary language is Spanish, and she also speaks English fairly well. I would like to give her a bilingual Bible. Which version would be easy for her to read and understand? She was raised in Monterrey Mexico.

Anonymous said...

There two bilingüal Bibles Spanish/English with deuterocanonical books that I am aware of. There is the blue version of the Good News Bible/Dios Habla Hoy (GNB/DHH) of the United Bible Societies and the Bilingüal Edition of Biblia Latinoamericana which is a Christian Community Bible/Biblia Latinoamericana version. The four translations are dinamic. Both books are without notes or explanations. In the case of the GNB/DHH it is normal because they are Protestants translations in its origin, but the bilingual Latinoamericana despite being both languages Catholic translations, there are no notes either. In both books the size of the letter is small because in reality they are two bibles in one book. They both have similar size, the size of a US medium size Bible. Both books are in two columns per page, one column in English and one column in Spanish, which makes very easy to pass from language to another when you have a doubt. I definitely prefer the Bilingüal Biblia Latinoamericana, because the two language versions were translated by the same team on the basis of the same biblical and lingüistic research and it shows, because the text is really equivalent. It is almost phrase per phrase equivalent equivalent in each column, despite the fact that they are not a translation of each other, but from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek text. That is why both Spanisha dn English versions of the bilingual Biblia Latinoamericana have the imprimatur in the book. You may not have heard of the Christian Community Bible in the US or the UK, but it is the official English liturgical translation in the Phillipines. Fantastic for language learners or people whose level in one of the language is not enough to be able to read the Bible.