Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Guest Post: Would an ESV-CE kill the RSV-CE?

Thanks to Gerald for this post.

It came rather as a surprise to Catholics that ESV was for consideration for the English language Lectionary when the NRSV-based lectionary was dropped from the table by the International Committee of the English Language (ICEL) in view of the changes brought by Liturgiam Authenticam. This project was deemed necessary to complement the more literal changes to the Roman Missal.

And from then on, some Catholics have been eager for a consequent ESV-Catholic Edition. Many spectators believed that it would be a challenge given the failure with the negotiations with NCC for the NRSV, the ESV would likely to pose more difficulties, knowing Crossway.  Now that the ESV lectionary project had been pronounced dead by the ICEL, it leaves the hypothetical question: "Should the ESV lectionary project and an ESV-CE became a success, would it kill the demand the demand for the RSV-CE?"

In this post, I will offer both sides of the coin of what could had happened to the Catholic world if ESV-CE penetrates the elusive arena of Catholic Bible market.

1. ESV corrected some of the "un-Christian" renderings in the Old Testament without looking at light from the New Testament, usually in the more scholarly critical path, bearing the RSV "liberal" in many Protestant circles. 
Knowing the RSV-CE's patronage by Catholic apologists, theologians and serious students of Scripture, an ESV-CE would certainly shift the market, provided that necessary Catholic emendations be made to rid of its apparent Evangelical slant.

2. ESV is an easier read due to modern formal English while being a bit literal from the RSV. Moreover, ESV used the 27th Nestle-Aland for the Greek, while RSV in its base used the 17th NA.

3. ESV is recently finding adoption by the Evangelicals, particularly brought by the mishaps by the NIV 2011. And this is phenomenon right now, the once unbeatable NIV is being replaced by ESVs. Most Protestants are already familiar with the ESV as a major translation, even competing to the good old NASB. Should an ESV-CE exist, it would further bring the ESV's popularity to great heights.

4. Since ESV is a light revision of the RSV, most study tools that are keyed to RSV would probably still be useful and would make the shift seamless to those who are already familiar with the RSV.

5. ESV is already widely distributed, not only by Crossway but also by Gideons and foreign Bible societies outside North America. And having an ESV Catholic Edition will surely fill the void of a formal translation for Catholics that can be widely available to most people.

1. ESV and its translation committee had never been ecumenical in the first place. Especially with the Crossway earning integrity as solidly conservative Protestant. Having an ESV-CE will put a doubt on its Protestant readers. 
This was not a problem to the RSV, since at the beginning, NCC did not paved way for evangelical revisions recommended to it in the early 60's. However, NCC gladly accommodated the Catholic and Orthodox reservations to make amendments to RSV and to provide the extended canon.

2. The Church authorities would probably not grant a recognitio to an ESV-CE.
The ESV is not an ecumenical committee and had not included Catholic members in the development of ESV. On the other hand, NRSV included Catholics from the beginning of their translation, and RSV only later after the Protestant release of the RSV upon the permission by Dei Verbum. 
Dei Verbum 22 specifies that other translations by "our separated brethren" may be considered, and that would also include our Orthodox brethren. ESV, still ia not finding any traction on Orthodox circles.

3. The ESV with Apocrypha by Oxford publishing likewise did not caught significant attention to Catholic specialists, nor the RSV-CE readers that could be the target market by the ESV w/ Apocrypha. NRSV with Apocrypha, immediately found support to some Catholic bishops. In fact, it first got the imprimatur before the NRSV-CE. It was the patronage of Catholics to the NRSVA that compelled NCC to release a specific NRSV-CE for Catholics. RSV with Apocrypha, likewise immediately found clamor from the Catholic authorities especially upon the immediate need for a version that would be compliant to Dei Verbum section 22.

4. Should an ESV-CE be anyways approved by Crossway, it would be likely that minimal changes will be allowed by Crossway to be done to ESV. I suppose much less than changes approved to both RSV-CE and NRSV-CE.

5. ESV textual decisions that are usually in preference to the Hebrew Massoretic Text and deferring most of the emendations offered by the Septuagint except for some theologically important verses will be a challenge if it aims to be compliant with Liturgiam Authenticam.  LA prescribes that while reference to the Hebrew texts should be the basis, emendations from either the Septuagint and the Vulgate should also be given weight, especially in view of Patristic understanding of biblical text for the Septuagint and preserving the latin liturgical tradition from the Vulgate.

Your opinions?


rolf said...

For me there is no need for an ESV-CE and no need to have to deal with Crossway. The RSV-2CE meets most of the needs for you mentioned above with the one exception of using the latest Nestle-Aland manuscripts. And there already a Lectionary based upon the RSV-2CE that is approved by the Vatican and is in use now and will be in the future in the UK.

Jonny said...

The ESV is owned by an Evangelical Protestant group which could continue to revise and/or update the translation as they have previously done at least twice since it first appeared in 2001. If a subsequent version introduced error, it would be scandalous for the Catholic Church to be connected to the brand... (not to mention any ESV Study Bibles that might contain error.)

The Spring 2016 Ignatius Press catalog contains a brief piece about the making of the "Ignatius Bible" (RSV-2CE.) I guess I didn't realize this but Ignatius Press did not set out to make a Second Edition Bible or lectionary. They simply wanted a RSV-CE lectionary, and submitted that to the Congregation for Divine Worship for approval. It was the CDW that instigated the all the changes in language, style, and sometimes alternate readings. Also illuminating was that it was this effort of the CDW that inspired the promulgation of Liturgium Authenticam. It was this very document (in 2001) that demanded an entire Bible to complement the aforesaid Lectionary (Bible published in 2006.) Again, this was not the design or intention of Ignatius press, they just followed the precedent set by the CDW in their RSV-CE lectionary and in LA. Perhaps one might more accurately refer to the RSV-2CE as the RSV-Vatican Edition? The RSV-2CE origins, as well as it's continued popularity as a translation in personal devotion, study Bibles, and liturgy give it quite a bit of weight in the Catholic sphere. To try to supplant it with a different KJV-based "Catholic Edition" translation seems quite a superfluous venture.

I would not mind seeing a new liturgical translation that was culled from more traditional Catholic English language sources... especially from the peculiarities of the Douay Rhiems, original and Challoner editions. But until then, I am just fine with RSV-2CE as a liturgical source. The RSV, I believe, draws from both KJV and DR traditions, both linguistically and in interpretation. That is a huge generalization, I know, but the RSV does have an ecumenical advantage in general which, IMHO, makes it commendable for the Universal Church.

Jason P said...

I find it surprising when Ignatius revised the RSV-CE "in accordance with LA" that one of the most easily done, most quickly recognizable and apparent updates that could have been made, wasn't made.

I mean Amen.

LA recommended Amen be transcribed into Amen, and not translated such as "verily", "truly", or "solemnly".

I have doubts that the people who did RSV-2CE editing actually read LA, because if they did I have no idea how they could have missed this. Also things like Raqa and Mammon.

Jason Engel said...

Fortunately, I doubt we will ever see an ESV-CE. Even if Catholics wanted it despite not having any control over the translation, the simple fact that Crossway is nigh-rabidly anti-Catholic would clearly prevent any kind of collaboration on their end. If a Catholic feels the need for a modern English translation in the KJV tradition but with Catholic content, the existing NRSV:CE and RSV:2CE (and to a lesser extent the RSV:CE) should serve nicely. Given it is unlikely that a Vatican-initiated, Vatican-controlled, literal, liturgical, modern English translation by native-English-speaking expert scholars of the original languages, will appear on store shelves before my dotage, I suppose the debate will simple have to continue.

Michael Demers said...

See this pdf file for a critque on the ESV by Mark L. Strauss:

Jonny said...

Jason P: The RSV-2CE Lectionary preceded the publication of LA. The RSV-2CE is a revision based on the changes made in the lectionary and the mandates of LA. The peculiar examples you cite were apparently afterthoughts that were added to LA after the promulgation of the Lectionary. Trivial details, I think, in the greater context of having an improved version of the already respected RSV-CE. Either way, the minor discrepancies you mention are not the result of a careless reading of LA. Hope that helps. I was confused about that for quite a while myself.

CarlHernz said...

Along with what Jonny has written in response to Jason P.:

L.A. has not been applied by the Holy See in an unbending, black-and-white fashion. The principles therein represent standards that the Conregation for Divine Worship adjusts according to each vernacular language and culture. L.A., remember, was not written merely to guide English-language translations of liturgical texts. Not all the principles apply in an absolute universal form, therefore, since languages and cultural use of languages can differ immensely.

Case in point, L.A. strictly states that "fathers" be used in texts where there is mention of the ancestors of the Israelites, for example Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However the Congregation for Divine Worhip gave formal approval to the recent Revised Grail Psalter that does not use "fathers" at all. Instead it uses "forebears."--Psalm 95.9.

Similarly, the approved Italian CEI version used for private use and Liturgy does not use "amen" but the equivalent to "verily" in English. There are various examples among the recently approved texts that demonstrate that L.A. is neither "written in stone" nor its principles exercised in an inflexible manner by the Holy See.

Matthew Celestine said...

I've never been an ESV fan, but I think that would be a really positive development.

The Roman Catholic Church needs to engage more with Evangelicals and this would be a great piece of bridge-building.

Michael Demers said...

If I remember right, the ESV bought the rights to the 1971 edition of the RSV NT.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for all the comment guys...

* Jonny -
I am more than sure that LA did not grew out from the RSV-2CE project. In fact, in my opinion, Liturgiam Authenticam was an evolution from CDW's document "Varietates Legitimae" that had been released in late 90's, which was of course being spearheaded by the then Cardinal Ratzinger (the Pope Emeritus Benedict).

"Varietates Legitimae" was believed to be the limiting document behind the Vatican-initiated changes in the NAB New Testament Text, when the USCCB originally planned to put in more inclusive language in the US lectionary.

It just so happened that for the composition of Liturgiam Authenticam, it not only included translation prescriptions by Varietates Legitimae, it also included some pastoral concerns regarding liturgical books, together with some frameworks in doing so.

* Carl -
I second you on the reality that LA cannot be entirely implemented for all vernacular languages.

Perhaps for highly specialized languages such as Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English and maybe some European Romance language which shares some linguistic features with Ecclesiastical Latin, one can really be completely compliant with LA.

However, for some languages, for instance, Asian languages, we will definitely encounter some conflicts with the prescriptions of LA against the nature of the languages.

For example, I had read somewhere that Japanese Catholics are finding it difficult to translate the now-common response "Et cum spiritu tuo" (And with your spirit).
Specifically the hard part goes to the word "spiritu". Japanese ecclesiastical authorities reported that it would be naive to use the literal equivalent of the same word in Japanese. Using the literal equivalent has an added connotation of "spirit" as something supernatural or even paranormal.

But LA also guarded itself against possible abuse, it specifically mandates that the language proper to the liturgy should be maintained as proper to worship. LA even discourages the use of style manuals for translating the Liturgy and on the other hand encourages the use of a bit of archaic level of language so as to establish a "language resister for Liturgy" for a specific language.

Biblical Catholic said...

"The Roman Catholic Church needs to engage more with Evangelicals"

On the contrary, there has already been far too much of that going on, and it always goes the same way: Catholics agree not to be fully Catholic in order to 'not offend' evangelicals, but we rarely get anything in return.

Enough is enough. In the words of Captain Picard in Star Trek: First Contact

" We've made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further! "

Anyway, there are two major reasons why an ESV-CE could never replace the RSV-CE:

1. The ESV just isn't as good of a translation. It is always possible to tell where the ESV has changed the RSV because the changes are the exact places where the text tends to fall apart. You're reading along, the text is very smooth, and then suddenly there's an abrupt shift, and it doesn't feel right, this is where Crossway has modified the text. At least 90% of the time or more, Crossway's changes to the text resulted in making the translation WORSE not better.

2. To put it simply: If the NRSV couldn't replace the RSV, the ESV can't do so either.

Timothy said...

In most places, the NRSV has replaced the RSV.

Biblical Catholic said...

Here's the thing though when the NRSV was published, the RSV went out of print, because it was supposed to be the 'replacement', and for several years, the RSV was completely unavailable.

What happened is that the people who love the RSV turned out to have a much deeper attachment to the RSV than they expected. When the RSV went out of print, there was a wave of complaints. They responded to the complaints by agreeing to republish it, the copyright to the RSV and NRSV are owned by the National Council of Churches, and the NCC decided they weren't going to personally print the RSV anymore, but they agreed to license it to Oxford University Press and later Ignatius Press. And the NCC agreed that the RSV will remain in print for as long as sales remain strong enough to justify the expense of printing it.

And here we are, 27 years since the debut of the NRSV when the RSV was supposed to permanently go away, and yet it not only remains in print but it is Ignatius Press' bestselling book and has been for years, and with the ICSB and the Didache Bible, there are still commentaries being written for it.

The fact that the RSV is still in print, and still selling well and still being used as the basis for commentaries, 27 years after it was supposed to die, is a testament to just how devoted RSV fans are.

Biblical Catholic said...

By the way, what is the evidence that Crossway Publishing is anti-Catholic?

I ask this because I happen to the know the origins of the ESV. There was a meeting of some prominent evangelical leaders who were upset about the inclusive language in recent revisions of the NIV, in Colorado Springs in 1999, They agreed to a series of guidelines of how to properly translate the Bible, known as 'The Colorado Springs Guidelines', and they agreed to negotiate with the NCC to revise the 1971 RSV text and used it as the basis for a new translation that would embody the guidelines.

The evangelical leaders in this meeting are publicly known, and none of them has a reputation for anti-Catholicism. In fact, several of the attendees were signatories of the two 'Evangelicals and Catholics together' statements which is an attempt at rapprochement between Catholics and evangelicals.

The people who initially authorized the ESV were not anti-Catholic, it seems odd to me that they would then send the text to an anti-Catholic publisher to print it.

Timothy said...


I can agree with much of what you say about how the RSV has remained on the scene. There is no denying that. However, if one looks outside of those associated and supportive of Igantius Press and their RSV, it is clear that the NRSV is used far more often. I have a number of biblically based books, both academic and pastoral/spiritual, from a variety of publishers and the translation that is most often cited is the NRSV. Yes, I will occasionally see the RSV (or on occasion the RSV-2CE) cited in books from OSV or Servant or Word Among Us Press. Yet, if it is any book that is academic, it will most always be the NRSV, though occasionally I even see the NAB (in some form).

So, yes, there is no denying that the RSV has endured and remains appreciated by many. Heck, one of my most treasured bibles is the the NOAB RSV leather edition from Oxford. That is an amazing Bible, in such a compact, useful format. Yet, I see the NRSV used far more often and if I had one desire that could be fulfilled, that would be to see a Catholic NRSV study bible of some sort.

Timothy said...

I would also add publishers like Catholic Answers utilize the RSV extensively as well.

Michael Demers said...

BC, that is odd and most unfortunate.

Biblical Catholic said...

It is quite true that the NRSV rules academia, but it is also true that this means little, because it is not used very much outside of academia.

There are two main reasons why the NRSV is used in academia:

1. Because it is 'ecumenical' having been produced by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish scholars, and thus it can reasonably be assumed to not have any 'denominational' biases and thus very unlikely to cause offense in a college classroom.

2. Because of the inclusive language and the desire of colleges to be very PC

Until Harper One got the right to print the NRSV a few years ago and began promoting the heck out of it, the NRSV virtually disappeared, it was difficult to obtain a copy anywhere except at a college bookstore, it wasn't stocked at places like Barnes and Noble or Borders or BooksMillion, it was like it didn't exist and had been pulled from print.

Sure, thanks to Harper One, it has experienced a bit of a renaissance recently, but for more than 10 years the NRSV was the forgotten translation. And even with the success of Harper One's campaign, the NRSV still lags behind the NIV, ESV, NASB and KJV in sales.

The NRSV is used widely in academia, but not much by common readers. In fact, it is probably used by the general public less than the RSV.

Timothy said...

I'm not sure our Canadian friends would agree with that.

Biblical Catholic said...

Well, just as I think it is an error to think that use in academia automatically translates to use by the general public, I think the same needs to be said about use in the liturgy. I mean, in the US the NAB is used in the liturgy, but many Catholics reject the translation and don't use it outside the liturgy, and the RSV, Jerusalem, and New Jerusalem Bibles are still widely used. I always wonder how many Catholics are aware of what Bible is used in the liturgy.

There is no doubt that in one sense the NRSV is the most widely used translation in the English language as it is used not merely in academia but also in the liturgy of most mainline Protestant churches, both in the United States and elsewhere in the English-speaking world. But sales still lag behind most other translations. The NRSV generally only reaches the top 10 sales charts in August and January, when most of them are bought up by college students who use them for their classes (and many of them no doubt sell it at the end of the semester.)

CarlHernz said...

While the NRSV was not able to be employed for the Liturgy, the Holy See has approved of its use in both Englsih translations of official documents and in its ecumenical dialogue in English. Note for example the 3rd notation in the 2014 Vatican document, "Sensus fidei in the Life of the Church" at

Though the NRSV could not be successfully adapted for use in the Liturgy by the Holy See, the CDW was definitely willing and spent much time attempting to find common ground that, in the end, could not be reached between them and the NRSV crew. But the Church does not see the NRSV as an error for use in other ways and the Holy See certainly has not rejected it for uses outside of Liturgy.

Theophrastus said...

Biblical Catholic wrote: Here's the thing though when the NRSV was published, the RSV went out of print, because it was supposed to be the 'replacement', and for several years, the RSV was completely unavailable.

This is simply untrue. While some publishers may have discontinued this-or-that instance of the RSV, it has been continuously published. This is true of some individual publishers as well: for example, Oxford University Press has continuously published the RSV since the 1950s. Oxford has certainly continuously published the RSV since 1989 (the year that the NRSV was released).

CarlHernz said...

I really appreciate the zeal and in-depth comments from Biblical Catholic. And I hope this added comment doesn't give the impression that there is ever a reason to "gang up" on any poster. Opinion and even healthy debate are essential ways we can see the Holy Spirit deal with us as a body, and I think it is better to speak up and not be afraid of being wrong over being right but keeping it to yourself. (Luke 19.11-27) If anything, Biblical Catholic, you show passion for the faith, and it is an admirable example many should imitate.

The comments about Harper One bringing a virtually non-existent NRSV forth, I cannot say where you get this. But when I returned to the Catholic Church after years of trying to claw my way out of the Watchtower, one of the very first things I did was visit Catholic Churches throughout my state.

I wanted more than anything a good Catholic Bible to replace my very worn-out (and very inaccurate, not to mention hard-on-the-ears) New World Translation. From the very first to all the many more Catholic bookstores I walked into, whether it was the one operated by a parish or mission or one that sat alone, featured prominently everywhere was the NRSV Catholic edition.

It was the mid-to-late 1990s, and this Bible was everywhere. Published by Catholic Bible Press (a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers), this delightful series of editions had a candy-purple, pink (and sometimes white fading into violet) cover, was available in a paperback, a hard cover, and a series of various large editions. It was in American English, and had been released in 1992/1993. It had the traditional NRSV logo of a flame over a check-like ligature that resembled a Hebrew oil house lamp. I still have my very worn out paperback and my prestine hardcover, self-pronouncing version right here with me. Though out of print, becuase Harper One received the contract once Thomas Nelson's ended, you can still find all of these in circulation and even purchase them in perfect condition from some sellers the last time I looked. Up through the first decade of the 2000s, however, this was the version (and blue or other color versions makes the Protestant and ecumenical canon editions).

This is the Bible that called me out of darkness, the one I cherished upon my return. It was everywhere. Even when Harper editions showed up, they only increased the NRSV in number in bookstores and shops. I've never seen the NRSV disappear. It holds this most special place in my heart, my favorite Bible, the one that made my transition back home possible.

While it may not be the big seller that the NIV is, the NRSV is the main pew Bible of the Methodist Church and many Prebyterian congregations in America. It has been one of the flagship translations of the American/United Bible Socities, and the Revised Common Lectionary, employed by all Protestant Churches that follow the liturgical calendar in union with the Catholic Church, and all the RCL materials in connection each employ the NRSV. These editions and Lectionary resources number into the millions upon millions in the USA alone.

While I appreciate the comments posted about the NRSV from the perspective of one who believes it fell off the scene for 10 years or so, that may be because of a limited vantage point. I assure you, the NRSV never disappeared.

Anonymous said...

First the practicality. The USCCB is not about to release primacy of place of that L'il ole money maker: NABRE. So forget the concept. Second the fact that we have not a non-Catholic publisher but an anti-Catholic publisher holding rights to the ESV. Why in the world would we want to line their pockets with use permission fees? Are you kidding? We send enough to anti-Catholic groups now. Ignatius has a lectionary in the RSV-CE2 already compiled. It's better than a Protestant edition and it can't get approved. Forget this flawed idea. Deep down (I know from family ties in my own home) Evangelicalism hates Catholicism (I didn't say Catholics, I said Catholicism). Let 'em sell it down to the First Baptist Church, not at Holy Innocents parish.


Biblical Catholic said...

Where do people get the idea that Crossway is anti-Catholic?

Biblical Catholic said...

"he comments about Harper One bringing a virtually non-existent NRSV forth, I cannot say where you get this"

All you have to do is look at sales figures.

Harper One has been publishing the NRSV since 1993, however, it was only in 2007 that, after being disappointed with years of lackluster sales, they decided to re-launch it with a major new ad campaign and a major upgrade of its Catholic Edition

. Harper One spent millions of dollars in 2007 running ads in Catholic magazines and newspapers announcing a new Catholic Edition of the NRSV, and they even spent millions setting up special displays in many bookstores dedicated solely to the NRSV. As a result of this effort, sales skyrocketed, and the NRSV began to appear in the top 10 Bible sales list for the first time since its original publication.

In 2010 and 2011, Harper One made the NRSV available for the Kindle and the nook and made it available in epub format for other e-readers, becoming one of the first Bibles to be made available as an e-book.

I remember this moment specifically not just because I remember the ads that Harper One ran everywhere, but also because whenever I visit Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore, I always like to look at the Bibles, just to see what's popular, and 2007 was the first time in YEARS that I had seen a copy of the NRSV anywhere except a college bookstore, it was like it didn't even exist.

2007 was the start of a major revival of the NRSV, so much son that the NCC actually cancelled plans for a revision of the NRSV. They were considering a revision because sales were such that they weren't making as much money off it as they would like, and they thought that maybe introducing a new revision might be a good way to drum up some sales. But when the sales of the NRSV started increasing starting in 2007, that plan was cancelled.

Theophrastus said...

Biblical Catholic wrote: 2007 was the start of a major revival of the NRSV, so much [so] that the NCC actually cancelled plans for a revision of the NRSV. They were considering a revision because sales were such that they weren't making as much money off it as they would like, and they thought that maybe introducing a new revision might be a good way to drum up some sales. But when the sales of the NRSV started increasing starting in 2007, that plan was cancelled.

I am unaware of any serious plans to revise the NRSV in 2007. I believe you may be confusing this with plans by five publishers associated with mainline Protestant churches [Chalice Press (Disciples of Christ), Westminster John Knox Press (Presbyterian Church U.S.A.), Church Publishing Inc (Episcopal Church), Pilgrim Press (United Church of Christ), and Abingdon Press (United Methodist Church)] to produce the Common English Bible (CEB) translation. The CEB, like the NRSV, had an ecumenical translation board, but it was envisioned as a new translation, not a translation in the Tyndale translation family (both the RSV and NRSV are descendants of the Tyndale.).

While the CEB has some advocates, I believe that it is safe to say that the vast majority of Biblical scholars (across ideological and denominational spectrums) found the CEB to be inferior to existing scholarly translations, including both the RSV and NRSV.

I do not believe the best measure of a Bible translation is sales figures; nor profit for the publisher(s), but since Biblical Catholic seems interested in "top 10 sales charts," I will also mention that I am unaware of any claims that the CEB has been a bestseller. (Associating bestsellers with quality is problematic on many fronts: Recall that Fifty Shades of Grey was a bestseller, yet few or none admire that work from literary, pedagogical, or ethical grounds.)

I am not sure which "top 10 sales charts" Biblical Catholic is quoting, but one popular one is put out by the Christian Booksellers Association -- that only includes member stores (largely Protestant "Christian bookstores") that are not representative of the larger market -- the CBA figures do not include online sales from Amazon, sales in secular college bookstores, sales in religious bookstores that are not members of CBA, and sales in mainstream brick-and-mortar bookstores).

In particular, because of the religious demographics of CBA member stores, it is improbable that Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish translations could appear in "top 10 sales charts," and yet it is clear that at least some of these translations have enormous intellectual and social impact. Moreover, note that commercial (and secular) publishers continue to put them out (consider, for example, Norton's publications of Robert Alter's biblical translations), suggesting that there is a serious (and profitable) market for them.

Erap10 said...

Biblical Catholic,
Maybe the anti-Catholic reputation is not necessarily to be found with the ESV committee istelf but with Crossway overall. Maybe. I think one aay to find out is to see how many catholic books (bibles or otherwise) they sell. I mean catholic-friendly. Also, I remember from a past post (like years ago) of a poster's personal experience with living near a Crossway publishing house or something. I'd suggest looking at past posts that talk about the ESV.

Jason Engel said...

Biblical Catholic wrote: "By the way, what is the evidence that Crossway Publishing is anti-Catholic?"

The only book Crossway publishes about Catholicism at all is all about the fallacy of Catholicism. And about a week after Pope Francis visited the USA last year, Crossway sent out an email to people on a mailing list reminding it's readers that the Pope is not a person real Christians should follow.

That's just two examples. It's late in the evening, I'm tired, and simply not interested in beating this dead horse. Again.

Jeff S. said...

I've been a subscriber for five years to the New Oxford Review (a conservative Catholic publication) and ran across this in their "archives" section a few years ago.
(in case you can't access it, I sent Tim a copy of it).

Thought it would be germane to the discussion regarding the ESV.

My feelings are that the the KJV with Apocrypha is better than the RSV which is better than the ESV and there should simply be a KJV-CE. Remember that the original KJV included the Apocrypha as they called it.

And lately Cambridge and Oxford have been printing the KJV with the Apocrypha.

And in regards to the KJV-CE ... remember there is
(technically there is in England, but it does not apply anywhere else in the world.)

Anyhow, I would love an officially imprimatur-ed KJV-CE. Why go with watered down things like RSV or the worse ESV?
Other than Luke 1:28, would there be than many needed changes?

Michael Demers said...

Jeff S., The KJV with the Apocrypha is being used by Anglican Ordinariates in the Catholic Church.

CarlHernz said...

Back on track to the actual article's subject:

I asked around and there appears to be some confusion. The ICEL was not involved in the ESV Lectionary project. It was the now dissolved ICPEL. There is a difference.

Whereas ICEL includes conferences of various territories where English is spoken, ICPEL was a joint commission of the CatholIc conferences of England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Australia alone. The proposed ESV Lectionary project was a project of ICPEL, not ICEL.

The copyright owners of the ESV were reported to be eager to produce the Lectionary based on their translation, but the various territories of ICPEL could not agree on a single set of needed changes, nor could the various demands of these various parties be made to always agree with the directives from the Holy See.

Add to this, the ICPEL had originally decided to create a Lectionary with the Revised Grail Psalter, but not all members of ICPEL stayed on board with this decision.

Whatever other reasons may have been involved, a dominating factor to the end of ESV-based Lectionary was the inability of the various parties at the table to agree. In the face of this ICPEL was dissolved, and along with it the ESV Lectionary project.

Yes, there were reported disagreements between the ESV crew and some of the requested changes, but apparently they were not all from the Vatican. The lack of unity in ICPEL was a factor to the bowing-out of those in control of the ESV, and without them and without agreement regarding the use of a psalter, ICPEL was folded.

Jeff S. said...

I don't see why bringing up the KJV is "off the track".
The RSV and ESV are revisions of the KJV itself. And I verified
what Michael Demers said by going on the web and finding that some Anglican Catholics in England are using the KJV.
So if some people are dissatisfied with the RSV and are talking about the ESV which itself is derived from the RSV, it seems natural to me
to simply put into play the idea of making a KJV-CE.
And there'd be no legal issues to worry about as there is no copyright on the KJV.

CarlHernz said...

Jeff S.,

I was making reference to my previous comments which had been focused on points raised about the NRSV in a conversation with Biblical Catholic. Along with others these took on a life of their own, and I felt this was taking the conversation off track regarding the ESV.

I hadn't even considered what you wrote when I composed the statement you are speaking of, so it has nothing to do with your comments.

Jonny said...

Tim: I sent you some pictures of the latest printings of the Didache Bible via email. Hopefully I didn't get sent to spam. :p

Jeff S. said...

Has something changed in the "latest printings of the Didache Bible"?
I bought both the Didache RSV-2CE and the Didache NABRE last year.
Have they changed?

Timothy said...

Stay tuned

Steve Molitor said...

Great topic. I was pretty excited about the ESV initially. Pace BC, I thought the ESV changes generally improved readability, while maintaining the good qualities of the RSV. The RSV is my favorite translation but it does have some unnecessarily dated language and wooden bits, that the ESV goes a ways towards removing.

However I kept stumbling on changes that seemed evangelically biased. Ultimately I felt I couldn't trust this translation because of Crossways. The RSV has been so well vetted over the years and had such a wide variety of contributors and editors that, while one can disagree with its translation choices, one can be sure they weren't driven by bias or agenda and were well informed. I can trust the RSV.

I don't fully feel that way about the RSV-CE2 because Ignatius could never come up with the list of changes, and other issues discussed on this blog. Still, it's still an RSV, with only small changes, so I like it, and prefer it to the ESV.

Ultimately I'd love to see an RSV-CE3 that would work with the latest manuscripts and include a wide swath of translators, not just an handful of in house Ignatius folks. Not holding my breath though!

Biblical Catholic said...

"I am unaware of any serious plans to revise the NRSV in 2007. "

Nothing was ever publicly announced, but there is no doubt that it was being seriously considered for the 20th anniversary of the NRSV in 2009.

From 2008-2009, the NCC sent out survey cards to thousands of people on their mailing list, pastors, scholars, professors etc asking them their opinions on the NRSV and whether they thought a revision was necessary, and if so, what the revision should consist of. I happen to know someone (not personally, but through a Bible blog) that received one of these surveys, he didn't post the card online, because the NCC asked for those who received and filled out the cards to not reveal the contents publicly, but several people on that blog confirmed that they too received the survey.

You don't spend money to ask if a revision if necessary if you aren't considering a revision. Since nothing has come of that in the 8 years since it happened, I think it is safe to assume that the proposed project has been cancelled.

Anonymous said...

* Carl -
My apologies. Thanks for the correction.
I remember that at the demise of the ESV lectionary plan, it was ultimately decided that any proposed lectionary should be left INDIVIDUAL country members. And from what I knew, it would end up revising the Jerusalem Bible to be compliant with Liturgiam Authenticam.

* Steve M. -
Tim is also a bit skeptical of why Ignatius does not disclose the list of changes, or at least the translation philosophy behind the revision. Ignatius now has the momentum. Especially when the RSV-2CE became the base lectionary text for England and Wales and the Anglican Ordinariates, which we could expect that other Commonwealth nations would follow suit.

* Biblical Catholic -
I had also read somewhere that there is a plan in the late 2000s in revising the NRSV. But if NCC would plan to take off a new version, it would only the NRSV that would be feasible, since the RSV 1971 rights was already with Crossway. The RSV CE text is already at the hands of Ignatius Press, not to mention some publishers that still use the RSV CE.

But thinking about the timeline, it could be that the Vatican changes to the NRSV for the Canadian lectionary fueled the NCC to consider if a revision would be necessary. It could be beneficial likewise if the NCC sought the Roman framework in considering a revision. Obviously, the NRSV cannot adopt all changes that Vatican had mandated but at least the guidelines set by LA can be at least a resource.

Anonymous said...

The ESV has an evangelical bias... which is worse than the modernist bias in all current Catholic versions? Come on, guys, get over yourselves.