Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Thing with the NABRE NT Revision

With the helpful update we received last week from Mary Sperry on the revision, I thought maybe we could have a discussion about what we might see in 2025 when the revision may be published.  So, let's list one thing you would like to see in the NABRE NT revision.  This could be something that would be new to the translation or something retained from the current '86 revision. 

For me, at least, I would really like to see certain word choices that the '86 revision did maintained.  For example, the NABRE is one of the few translations to go with "Amen, Amen", "Gehenna", the "I AM" sayings, and "magi".  

What say you?


Biblical Catholic said...

Keep the 'amen, amen' in the gospel of John, get rid of the vague references to 'immorality' in 1 Corinthians.

Mark DeForrest said...
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Anonymous said...

To echo Biblical Catholic above, I think "sexual immorality" would best be labeled as such in the actual text and not just in some of the headings.


Christopher Buckley said...

Notes that incorporate patristic references and not just textual critical features.

As for the text itself, I'd like to hear more of the Greek cadences in Paul and the Catholic letters. Long, awkward sentences so we can distinguish the writers of the various letters.

Don't smooth it out for readership.

In a similar vein, in Mark keep all the "kai"s as initial "and"s in the sentences. Don't smooth them over.

Anonymous said...

The Greek word "sarkos" in the current NAB is rigorously translated as "flesh." While never technically wrong I think; at times, when we see the word our modern English eyes, we might give it a sexual context. When you say "sins of the flesh" I think the first thought (especially to a new reader) that comes to mind are sins of a sexual nature. Yet if you look at Romans 8 the word flesh can be seen as "self-indulgence" or "human nature" or "selfishness." Blindly using "flesh" for sarkos every time diminishes the depth of Paul's writing.


Leighton said...

I would like to see the revision be a bit more literal (though not wooden, like the NASB) in its renderings, just, as they say, the OT revision improved in that regard on the earlier.

An example: Mt 5:2: "And he opened his mouth and taught them"... (RSV) instead of the NABRE's, "He began to teach them, saying..." Why? Because the former takes one back to his words during the temptation in the desert: "'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'"

Perhaps I am reading too much into the text (eisegesis vs. exegesis), but after making the connection while using the RSV some years ago, I heard a priest, in a homily, make the connection, too, and it seems to fit.

And a passage cited by the late Fr. Neuhaus is an apt example of the clunkiness found here and there in the current NT, also from Matthew: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, NO HUMAN BEING MUST SEPARATE" (Mt 29;6)???? Argh! A clear example of a literary critic in the final stage of editing the text being asleep at the wheel (assuming there was one)!

Finally, keep the hasty, take no prisoners movement of Mark by including the many "And"s. Even if they grate a bit, they convey the spirit of Mark well, and should not be sacrificed in the interest of making the text easier on the ear.

But I agree with others that the retention of "Amen," and "I am," are to be hoped for. Sometimes the NAB NT gets it right where most others don't. I have found no translation satisfies 100%.

I am hopeful for the revision, given the translation team.

Steve Molitor said...

I love the sentences that begin with "And..." in Mark in the RSV, and the repeated use of "immediately". It really gives the rough and ready quality of Mark's gospel: here's a man in a hurry to get his message across, who doesn't have time for grammatical niceties. I hope they do that in the revised NAB NT. Like Chris said, I hope they keep the different qualities of each writer in the translation, and don't try to smooth things out too much.

Similarly, I hope they keep translating "sarkos" as flesh in Paul. Many other traditional translations do the same: DRC, KJ, RSV, NSRV. It was a bit confusing to me at first too, but it forced me to think about Paul really meant when he says "flesh".

But you can't make everyone happy. If they do as I wish, others will mock the translation for being rough and hard to understand, even incompetent - "They can't even writ englis no good. Didn't their elementary school teacher tell them not to start no durn sentences with 'And'? They don't got no edumacation."

But seriously, I flip between more literal and more free translations. There is value in both. I do hope however, that the revised NT is consistent with the revised OT: consistent in translation philosophy, etc. I'm really starting to appreciate the revised OT, and I want the revised revised NAB to feel like one consistent translation. The NT should be as literal but no more literal than the OT.

The OT was written in formal language, and many of the NT books were written in less formal language, so that should manifest in different styles in the translation. But not different because one translator favored a more literal translation style and another a less literal style.

Steve Molitor said...

Oh and one more thing: I understand it won't happen, but I still wish they would allow publication of the NABRE with alternative notes. Translations have longer shelf lives than notes. This will probably be the last NABRE revision for several decades. If they do a good job the translation will stand for a half a century or more, but the notes will begin to seem dated: out of date with recent scholarship, etc.

Also I think allowing alternative notes would spark a healthy competition for good Catholic study and annotated bibles. The NABRE is a good contemporary catholic translation not in the control of any one publisher, so it's in a unique position to be the basis for many different study bibles, even outside of the US, targeted towards different cultures and audiences: RCIA classes, those who want to read what the church fathers have to say about different passages, members of organizations like Opus Dei, etc.

But not if they insist that all versions include the original notes. That kills it - the resulting study bibles are bulky and awkward.

I'm not a canon lawyer, but I don't think that canon law requires that only the bishop's notes are allowed.

Emilia said...

I would like to see them keep "slave" in the epistolary prescription (praescriptio), I do not like the use of "servant" (although I understand why most translations would go that route; just see the current NABRE note for the letter to the Romans [1:1]). Please translate Jude 12 as " submerged" reefs instead of "blemishes" and then change the note to explain why the word was translated literally and why many translations go with "blemishes".

Christopher Buckley said...

I'm of two minds about slave/servant.

It's just such a hate-filled term because of its hate-filled, racial history in the US that there's simply no way to use it without invoking racial enslavement.

That's a problem since in the Hellenistic world, it was an economic arrangement more akin to "indentured servitude." England in the 17th Century had both "slaves" and "indentured servants," and understood them very differently. So when referring to "slaves" as "members of the household," a better analogy is "manservant."

Perhaps we could strike a balance using "manservant" for the kind of indentured service we see in Hellenistic "slavery," and "slave" for something we fully expect to be negative, like the forced ethnic deportation into forced labor of the Exile or the Israelites in Egypt.

Evergreen Guy said...

Manservent has a problem. It has a forbidden word in it: man.

Christopher Buckley said...

Bondservant, then.


Besides the word that should REALLY be problematic for Christians is "serve."

Evergreen Guy said...

Were it up to me, "man" would still be an acceptable word, and maybe the folks at the Vatican will keep the "inclusive language" reworking of the text to a minimum -- but I bet that even if they do, "manservant" would be considered unacceptable. I bet they go with "servant" instead, and then provide a clarifying footnote or two about what kind of "servant" they were talking about. Personally, I think the word "slave" is a better and more accurate translation (explain Greco-Roman slavery in a footnote), so I hope they keep it. But if they don't, my money is on the translators/revisers going with "servant" instead.

Bob said...

Keep the I AMs. I can't get enough of them.

Jason P said...

I know the 2025 NABRE revision is specifically aimed at the New Testament, but before getting to what I'd like to see done in the NT, I have some serious issues to raise with translation decisions made in the NABRE OT.

These are, IMO, major departures from Traditional Christian understanding of the Scriptures, and to modify the translation to reflect traditional understanding would be a huge improvement. Examples:

Genesis 1:1-2 NABRE
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth— 2 and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters

Recommended changes - drop the when clause because it's a guess by the translators, an interpretation more than a translation. It belongs in a footnote, not in the text itself. Change mighty wind (how in the world do you get mighty wind from ruach elohim?) to reflect what the Hebrew actually says - Ruach Elohim literally means spirit of God(s). It should read a "Divine wind", "mighty spirit", "breath of God", "Spirit of God", or "God's Spirit".
Mighty wind is a totally uncalled for and incorrect translation. Again, it is an interpretation (the translators opinion being that the Sacred Writer was thinking of a wind sweeping over a chaotic mass of water - how do they know what a man was thinking 2500+ years ago? They don't - they're guessing.)

Look at how ruach elohim has ALWAYS been understood and translated - pneuma theos (Spirit of God) in 250 B.C. by the Greek Septuagint translators - Spiritus Dei (Spirit of God) in ~A.D. 400 by Saint Doctor Jerome in the Latin Vulgate - Spirit of God in the 16th-20th centuries by all English translations (the Douay, the Confraternity, the Knox, the KJV, the RSV).

Stop playing fast and loose and introducing novelties into the Sacred Texts. Critical Biblical scholarship needs a heavy dose of self criticism and humility and knock off the know-it-all "we finally understand this!" garbage. St. Pope Pius X said it well when he wrote "To hear them descant of their works on the Sacred Books, in which they have been able to discover so much that is defective, one would imagine that before them nobody ever even turned over the pages of Scripture. The truth is that a whole multitude of Doctors, far superior to them in genius, in erudition, in sanctity, have sifted the Sacred Books in every way, and so far from finding in them anything blameworthy have thanked God more and more heartily the more deeply they have gone into them, for His divine bounty in having vouchsafed to speak thus to men" (PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS 34)

Next we can go to Isaiah 7:14 - the "young woman" will conceive. Yes, almah is somewhat of an ambiguous term, but how has it always been understood? The Greek Septuagint understood it as virgin (parthenos), St. Jerome understood it as virgin (virgo), St. Matthew understood it as virgin (Mat 1:23), English translators always understood it as virgin (Douay, Confraternity, KJV - the NAB itself translated it as virgin in the pre-NAB Confraternity Bibles, and the 1970/1986/1992 NAB - it was only recently that they decided the 72 translators got it wrong, St. Matthew got it wrong, St. Jerome got it wrong, Dr. Martin and Bishop Challoner got it wrong, etc.)

Those are the two biggest examples of areas in the OT that need imrpovement (without even mentioning the commentary that almost always focuses on the historical-critical and literal interpration and almost always neglects the patristic and spiritual meaning and understanding)

Jason P said...

Moving on to the NT, certain things that need to be fixed - Matthew 18:2 - change "He called a child over, placed it in their midst" to either "He called a child over and placed the child in their midst" or "He called a child over and placed him in their midst". With the mass abortions and attacks on the family happening in the culture of death, we do not need our Bible translation referring to children with gender neutral terms. We need to humanize and personalize children in any way possible.

As others have said, in the Gospel of Mark, instead of editing out all the "and's" (gk kai), translate them. Do not insult St. Mark by "fixing" his writing. It needs no fixing - it is the perfect Word of God. Translate it. Don't "fix" it. Stop. Please.

Luke 1:28 - the Mass Lectionary has already fixed this, but it's a huge one - "Hail, full of grace". Done. Stick to the way things have been understood traditionally, look to the Latin Vulgate as an example of how the text has been understood through the ages.

Mat 17:25 - translate literally the gk huion as either sons or children instead of servants.

Throughout the Gospels, translate the gk egeneto as it has always been translated "it came to pass".

They've done a good job translating greek ego eimi as "I AM", but they can go a step further and also literally translate it as I AM instead of "It is I" in Mk 6:50, Jn 6;20, and Mat 14:27 to read -

Mk 6:50 "They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, I AM; do not be afraid!”

Jn 6:20 "But he said to them, “I AM. Do not be afraid.”

Mat 14:27 "At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, I AM; do not be afraid.”

Well, this is it for now. I doubt anyone will see this or take my advice, but a man can pray and dream. God bless.

CarlHernz said...

Jason P.,

You are correct, but only partially.

In Hebrew the word ELOHIM doesn't actually mean "God." It's most primary and basic meaning in Hebrew is "mighty." When speaking of an entity, ELOHIM means "mighty [one]."

However, Genesis 1.2 is problematic. The expression is RUACH ELOHIM, which literally reads as "breath-wind mighty." Since the subject is RUACH, the following use of ELOHIM is, in its most elementary reading, an adjective. In other words the "breath-wind" is ELOHIM.

In this instance, the NABRE translators chose the rendering "mighty" for ELOHIM becuase the text is saying that the "breath-wind" IS or has the quality of ELOHIM. Since Jews did not see the "breath-wind" as a personification of YHWH, the use of ELOHIM is rendered in the NABRE as a description of the type of RUACH, namely "mighty" RUACH or "mighty wind." That is not an interpretation but a direct translation.

However, traditionally in both Judaism and Christianity the verse is interpreted to mean "God's breath" or "a wind from God" (NJPS) or even "the Spirit of God." That is the traditional translation, and as such it appears in the Jewish NJPS Tanakh. BUT that is based on the interpretation from Jewish tradition, not a basic reading from the Hebrew. The NABRE chose the literal word-for-word reading becuase RUACH is not an entity in Genesis 1:2, and thus ELOHIM in this instance is just "mighty," it's most basic form. It is considered an alternative reading in Judaism, though not the textual interpretation of it.

Isaiah 7.14 will never be solved. The equivalent word in English no longer exists in common usage. ALMAH is not ambiguous. It means "maid." But the term "maid" in English is simply "young woman," as "maid" now means "cleaning woman" instead to almost all American readers, While the term in Hebrew does imply virginity, the English word "virgin" cannot work. Remember the movie "The 40 Year-Old Virgin"? It's about a man. In English a " virgin" is someone who has not experienced sexual intercourse, but ALMAH is only always a female of a specific age, a maid, maiden, or damsel. Hebrew allows for ALMAH to refer to a maiden who has recently had intercourse or through rape lost her virginal status, but "virgin" in English cannot be used this way. The problem is with English, not the NABRE or the original Hebrew.

And finally, the word for children in most other languages except for English is almost always "boys." In current Spanish, for example, a group of girls and boys is spoken of as "boys." These usages are not literal as they are in English. The same goes for Hebrew and Greek too. The word may literally be "child" in the masculine, but that is only a matter of syntax. When I speak or pray in Hebrew or speak Ladino (a form of Spanish) masculine pronouns rarely exclusively imply male gender, unless the context demands. It is therefore dishonest to render such pronouns in the masculine when the original masculine term and context applies to both boys and girls.

Jason P said...

I just get irritated because I feel like they are introducing novelties that are unnecessary.

If the Prophets, Apostles, Fathers, Doctors and Saints understood things to mean Spirit, Virgin, Grace, what gives these scholars the right to come along and try to modify two millenia of tradition and try interpreting these things all of a sudden as mighty, woman, favor?

I can only imagine St. Jerome or St. Augustine or St. Thomas or St Pius X picking up an NABRE - they would be SHOCKED to see things they fought against openly endorsed by Catholic "scholars".

For example - St. Jerome VEHEMENTLY opposed Porphyry and his ideas the book of Daniel was written by an anonymous person pseudoepigraphically in the second century B.C. - and now here we have modern scholars openly discarding St. Jeromes opinion, siding with the pagan, and then having the gall to present what they believe as the undisputed , uncontested FACT.

It's NOT.

I believe Moses wrote the Torah, Isaiah wrote Isaiah, Daniel wrote Daniel - and so did the Father's and so did Jesus and so did the Apostles.
I find it detestable that these scholars trample our Holy traditions so wantonly

CarlHernz said...

That, Jason, I understand. And you don't necessarily have to change what you've learned as valid and worthy truths from the Church. Many of these things actually support what Catholics have always believed, but it is often hard to tie all the strings together in new directions. It may appear as if these things a "new," and to be honest some of them are. The NAB did introduce some novelties when in first arrived in the 1970s. And the current work that is being done is part of the attempt to remove them. But in the end nothing changes about what the Church accepts as true and what is found in the Deposit of Faith.

"Go back to the beginning" is the basic direction of Rome when it comes to translation. While not ignoring and attempting to incorporate all the Church has cherished since the time of the Apostles, the truth is that our faith did not begin with them. It began with the Jewish patriarchs. As such we must be stewards and custodians of the Word of God, work at its preservation, carrying on the Scriptures as a tradition, and correct where due to unnecessary arguments (and admittedly a few small incidents of intellectual dishonesty) that which crept in during the time Jews and Catholics saw themselves on different sides. I'm sure you are aware that especially since this last December that is no longer the case.

These things you mention still mean "Spirit" and "virgin" and "grace." You are very correct. But in some of these instances they also mean more, and we as Catholics didn't do a very good job of agreeing with others (sometimes even Protestants) that this was so as history unfolded. It is a splash of cold water now to read these thing, but it is never easy to accept where we have been wrong or even partially incorrect. But the good news is you don't have to give these up becuase these are still valid meanings one can read from the Scriptures.

More good news for you is that the way you are used to hearing the Bible read in Mass will probably not change. While admittedly those working on the NABRE don't expect any demands for changes to come down from the Vatican on the current OT revision when it's time to put it in the Lectionary, history has proven you can't predict what the CDW will do or demand. I'll put good money down that Isaiah 7.14 will have to read "virgin" for Mass even in the future becuase the Lectionary is based on the Latin version, not the Hebrew like the NABRE.

As for Daniel, I am sure you are aware that my people do not consider Daniel one of the prophets, and the conclusions others have had about the book and the person are not set in stone. Daniel was a historical person, but the Jewish apocalypse bearing his name is not a book of oracles, not as the nation of Israel has ever understood it to be. Inspired, of course, but not even kept with the other books of prophecy in the Tanakh. The current position of the NABRE reflects the worthiness of the Jewish tradition at the behest of scholars working with the Holy See. It isn't the only conclusion one can come up with, granted, but it is the oldest and most reliable. The historical Daniel, according to Jewish tradition and scholarship, did not live during the time of the Babylonian deportation. It is likely he did live among pagans, proved faithful to the Torah even though away from his people, but his character, now legendary, was used an apocalyptic sounding board by the Jews in a work meant to discuss political intrigue during the time of the Hasmonean struggle,

Jeff S. said...

Not that this would ever happen, but what would be wrong with
the final 1969 version of the Confraternity Bible which would be the same as the 1970 NAB except with the Confraternity Genesis and the
New Testament of 1941. Given that it's essentially impossible to find a copy of the 1969 completed Confraternity, a person could simply read any Confraternity Bible they have for Genesis and the New Testament and then the intervening books from the 1970 NAB.