Thank you to Chris for this review of his CCB:
One of the pleasant surprises coming out of last week's Catholic Bible Taxonomy was getting to spend time with some less familiar translations. This week, let's take a closer look at the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition.
This is the English translation adapted from Father Hurault's Biblia Latinoamericana in 1986. Although it's been in print consistently since then, and older editions are widely available used and online, it's very hard to locate new in the US. (Thanks to Lenny for locating new copies on sale through St. Paul's Press.) Because I wanted to review the latest (59th!) Revised Edition published in 2013, I contacted Claretian Publications in Macau, who makes this Bible available to English-speaking Christians in China, India, and the Philippines (where the Imprimatur was issued).
The volume itself is quite attractive and very comfortable to read. Using it for a week in Morning Prayer, I can say it's probably my most comfortable Bible to hold and read. It has a surprisingly large typeface for a Bible that's not large print, and a compelling "global" design.
Consistent with Fr. Hurault's desire for a Bible that can be read easily by "ordinary poor people," the distinctive pen and ink drawings for each book of the Bible interpret key themes of the book through the experience of the working poor in the developing world. Here are some of my favorites.
Though I don't have an older copy to compare it to, I rather like the translation of the 2013 Revised Edition. It's definitely a translation, and not a paraphrase. If the New Jerusalem Bible and the Good News Translation (Catholic Edition) had children, this would be their firstborn. Liked the NJB, it uses the Divine Name to render the tetragrammaton. Like the GNT, it is conversational without being dumbed down. To be glib: this is the NJB for pastors instead of scholars, or the GNT for grownups. You can sample the text online, and here are some passages for flavor.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the spirit of God hovered over the waters.
Is 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.
Jer 20:7 Yahweh, you have seduced me and I let myself be seduced. You have taken me by force and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; they all make fun of me.
Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God
Eph 1:3-14 (One sentence in the Greek!) Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in his presence. From eternity he destined us, in love, to be his adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling his free and generous will. This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness, which he granted us in his beloved might finally received all glory and praise. For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by his blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of his grace, which he lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us his mysterious design, in accordance with his loving-kindness, in Christ. In him, and under him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth. By a decree of him, who disposes all things, according to his own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the gospel that saves you, have believed in him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of his glory.
Earlier versions use a much criticized two-size typeface to pop essential passages off the page for visual emphasis. That's still here in the 2013 Revised Edition, but it's not as distracting as I feared, so maybe they've dialed it back a bit. Traditionalists and original language purists will not like the extensive use of horizontal inclusive language. One strange choice I think everyone will find jarring is the highly unusual decision to print the Old Testament not in Catholic or Protestant order, but rather in the order of the Torah!
Essentially this gives us a Catholic Bible built out of the New Testament with an English-language Tanakh in front of it. The guiding editorial principal of this translation is a pastoral focus on Catholic community organizing, so I can't imagine what real-world scenario made this a necessary choice. Perhaps a polemic strategy to counter some Protestant sect in the field?
For my money, the real star of this edition is the commentary. It's quite different, at least to North American ears. Where most Catholic Bibles hew either to historical-critical academic notes or dogmatic-catechetical notes, the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition reads more like the preaching notes of a missionary trying to make clear the sense of Scripture that will help group leaders build and organize communities around the gospel for dignity and survival. That's because they are: essentially the commentary is Fr. Hurault's homiletic notes from his missionary work in 1960s / 1970s Argentina.
To that end, it finishes with a few handy charts of the Liturgical year for easy reference guiding Bible study or planning Liturgy.
I could imagine a revitalized interest in this text given that it shares a common culture with the Holy Father. I could easily see teen and college ministers leading groups with this Bible in one hand and the Didache NABRE in the other.
What do you think? Especially if anyone has older editions, I'd love to hear how it compares and how you've encountered Scripture through it.
Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at StoryWiseGuy.com. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn.