Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Legacy of the RSV-CE and JB

It was around 50 years ago that two influential English language Catholic Bibles were published.  They are, of course, the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition and the Jerusalem Bible.  Both of these Bibles were fruits of the Second Vatican Council and each, in their own way, continue to have a following even today.  The RSV-CE represents a more formal translation in line with its KJV heritage, while the Jerusalem Bible, known for its thorough notes, maintains a more dynamic style.  Each has been further updated/revised, yet each is still available and is in use in various places.

So, I want to hear from you, my gentle readers, as to what you think the legacy is for these two translations and what the future holds for them?

21 comments:

Jonny said...

Hopefully a premium edition of the RSV-CE from Sceptre! I was fortunate to pick up a copy of the medium sized Oxford edition while it was in print. Brown/tan endurahyde, gold edges, and thumb index, it is one of the nicest looking Catholic Bibles I own.

Paul W said...

I personally wish Doubleday or Darton, Longman and Todd or another Catholic book publisher would republish a standard edition of the JB with full notes. For me, the JB was along with the New English Bible a game changer in Bible translation.

Anonymous said...

When preparing for my Bible Study group I often open up 3 Bibles. The New Jerusalem Bible, the NABRE and the NIV Study Bible. It is amazing how these Bibles complement each other. The cryptic NABRE note is often expanded upon by the NJB. The sum of the cross-references of the 3-editions provides a much fuller relationship of the text in question to the whole of the Bible.
In regards to the quality of the printing, the JB or the NJB leave much to be desired. Even under a magnifying glass, the print quality of the notes is abysmal. I cannot find any, currently in print, complete JB or NJB Bibles that might be of better quality. With, the UK moving to the RSV in the lectionary I do not see a positive future for the JB or NJB.
The follow-on to the NJB, The Bible in Its Traditions, will be a long time coming. The sample of the future edition on the website is wonderful. However, I am not sure whether the new edition is actually a Bible translation, but rather it is a great commentary.

Jim

Deacon Dave said...

Maroon JB in that classic slip cover...first Bible I ever received when I reverted to the Faith in college in 1979. Still have it sitting on my bookshelf full of apologetic notes and highlighting. Don't use it too much anymore due to size, having to lug it around, etc. Not a fan of the NJB so I would wish someone would republish the original JB in a easier to handle size with the notes, of course.

Eric Barczak said...

Hey, those Jerusalem Bibles look familiar! So does that computer and desk! Tim, are you recycling pics again? ;-)

I think no matter what happens in the Catholic Bible world, both will always have a place, if even for devotional reading only. The JB will become the modern English Knox Bible-a translation that some people will have a special affinity, and write about it on their blog.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

The Jerusalem Bible was the first Bible I read with meaning, so I love it despite its faults.

CarlHernz said...

As for what is next for the Jerusalem Bible (and the NJB), as most of you probably know, the upcoming revision makes some shocking departures from what we've come to expect from the J(N)B.

Known as "The Bible in its Traditions," the text (available in preview samples now mostly in French with a few in English at http://www.bibest.org/) aside from being very technical at first blush has managed to retain a lot of the artistry of the JB. This is quite an achievement in the face of the fact that this revision attempts for far greater "word-for-word" renderings than ever before.

Granted, I think (and hope) that the text will benefit from finding a better way to present the translation than what appears now in its samples (expect a shock from a very non-user friendly presentation where a plethora of information screams at your face if you have yet to see it). That aside, I am not yet convinced that this approach will gain the same amount of love and admiration from readers that the original volumes have endeared.

Unless you read French, there is not enough of the English to see that the translation is quite masterful. It has achieved more of the cross between a literal translation and a dynamic one than what appears in the NRSV, keeping much of the JB vocabulary word dynamic but presenting it in formal equivalence (that's a feat). For now one must dodge the alternative readings which litter the reader's experience when examining the text. The technical information is good, even a bit different than I have seen before in many respects, but at present I think the evasive format makes the study material outweigh the text as it somewhat rudely demands more attention than the average Catholic is going to want to give to it as it's current format is now presented.

The biggest change is that this revision will no longer use the term "Yahweh" for the Name of God. This rendering has fallen not only into disuse in Catholic liturgy, it has never gained a nod from the Jewish world, academic or otherwise. It resembles nothing similar to anything in Hebrew, and it is seen to be just as foreign as "Jehovah" to Jews as anything can be. Dispensing with this may be one of the most welcomed change in some circles, though for others I am sure it will be greatly missed.

With the UK Liturgy adopting the RSV-CE 2 as its text for worship, and the upcoming revision of the JB as "The Bible in Its Traditions," I fear the legacy of a Bible I have loved greatly will live on only with those that will later stumble over it. Already disliked for the most part in the UK, the JB will likely gather dust as the new RSV liturgical readings take their place (the Revised Grail will serve as the psalter). Some of the JB's beauty will be preserved, however, in the new text, and perhaps (if they can assemble it in a reader-friendly format) the newer version will be praised in this world where the formal translation is starting to be the rule for everything liturgical. Like the Knox version, it surely won't die or be forgotten, but I predict more and more disuse for it in the very near future.

Eric Barczak said...

Speaking of the Jerusalem Bible, there's a fancy one on shopgoodwill:
http://www.shopgoodwill.com/auctions/The-Jerusalem-Bible-1966-34928774.html

(Tim, feel free to post this separately if you want)

Chez84 said...

I own both a Compact Readers Edition and a Readers Edition of the Jerusalem Bible as that's the lectionary translation over here in the UK. I really enjoy it.

Robert C. said...

When I first started collecting Bibles about 30 years ago, one of the first I bought was a JB Compact Reader's Edition. It had a beautiful but delicate sheepskin binding, and the layout was excellent in spite of the tiny, sub-Pitt Minion font. It had frequent, bold section headings, a few basic study notes, and a single-column text. I eventually acquired four of these gems, two from the now defunct St. Francis Book Store on West 31st Street in New York, and two from Strand's Book Store on 12th Street and Broadway. Two now have tattered bindings. One is kept virtually untouched in pristine condition, and I use the fourth, very gingerly, in my parish prayer group.

TS said...

Interesting question!

In the Republican primaries there were "two lanes": the establishment lane and the outsider lane.

Similarly with Bibles there are two lanes: dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence. With the dyamic you have the Jerusalem in the mix, but it just doesn't seem to please the ear or eye enough. We're still looking, I think, for a really good dynamic version. (I choose the Knox, at least with respect to the NT.)

On the formal side you have the RSV, but the only reason is has so much life in it still is because of the NRSV has so overreached towards placating the gods of inclusivity.

Herbert Dulzo said...

I have several copies of each. Using more than one translation is important in study. I have the JB as pictured, from ebay. Also the table top fancy red one. I always seem to drift back to RSV CE which I have some newer printings. I like the JB psalms I have the version Mother Angelica used with the needlepointed cover from ebay also. They are like lays chips, just one realy

Biblical Catholic said...

I concur with the wish that someone reprint the original three volume Jerusalem Bible with full notes. The translation of the Jerusalem Bible is fine as far as it goes, it is excellent in some places and a bit clunky and pedestrian in other places, much like any other translation I suppose, but the real value of the Jerusalem Bible was always the copious notes, which have been available only in a badly truncated form ever since the publication of the 'Readers Edition', and the cease of the publication of the original edition. If no one wants to publish such a huge and bulky book, at the very least they could make the notes available in an e-book edition.

Eric Barczak said...

The Jerusalem Bible Commentary. I like the ring of that. Doubleday? Are you listening? Doubleday?

Oh and Ignatius Press, you might consider the same so your wonderful study bible commentary can be used with one's favorite translation. Ooohhhh even better idea: incorporate the full Didache Bible commentary too. Could probably do all in one volume. The Ignatius and Didache Bible Commentary. Give that to all our CCD kids with their obligatory NABRE, and we could have a biblically literate generation and close the cafeteria.

Ok, I guess I should wake up from that dream. Man, reality stinks.

Biblical Catholic said...

Neither Ignatius Press nor the Midwest Theological Forum owns the reprint rights to the Jerusalem Bible and given the fact that these days, the original Jerusalem Bible is overshadowed by the New Jerusalem in sales and attention, I doubt they would regard it as profitable to attempt to obtain those rights.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised nobody mentioned the Quran (Koran) notes in the NJB's replacement "The Bible In It's Traditions". (Just check out their real PDF examples on the TBIIT website.) The Quran is most certainly not a "bible" to Christianity and has no place being referred to within a real Holy text.

John said...

Can someone let me know what the ISBN (if it exists) for the red JB in the picture above is. I keep ordering these off of Amazon and Ebay, but I keep getting different ones. Last one I bought I was told was the red one, but they sent me this thin white one by Doubleday that had a hard white cover. It's nice, but not what I wanted or ordered.

Thanks

Jason Engel said...

It was fascinating reading these comments. I do not have any copies of the JB, NJB, or RSV-CE (or RSV-2CE even) and so these comments mostly about the JB have sparked my curiosity.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I wonder they make reference to the Koran in the "The Bible in its Traditions." In the examples I saw, it has no relevance other than to compare Muslim practice with Jewish. I think it is an effort to make nice with people who have often have little respect for both Christians and Jews.

Anonymous said...

I am an Anglican Catholic priest and rector. The RSV-CE and the RSV-2CE have been my every day teaching translations for well more than a decade. I love my large print, leather bound St. Benedict Press RSV-CE (sadly out of print). I am currently on my second "leather" bound Ignatius Bible (RSV-2CE), which I keep on hand to give away to new members and catechumens. I once spent six months using only the Jerusalem Bible and came to love the Psalms and the other poetry books. Today, my several copies of the JB sit unused on the shelf, but my New Jerusalem Bible is oft used and even occasionally makes it into my back-pack (oof). When prepping a sermon, or lecture, I start with the RSV-2CE but always consult the ESV, KJV, NJB, and Revised English Bible, and even occasionally the NABRE. I am very grateful for the help and contribution of the RSV-CE family of translations and the JB family of translations. BTW, my parishes uses a large print Ignatius RSV-2CE as the Lectern Bible. The students in our parochial school love reading from it at the Daily Offices. Brad+

rolf said...

Brad, I love the new large print RSV-2CE Bible for teaching out of in RCIA and praying the Liturgy of the hours! I also use the Ignatius Catholic Lectionary (RSV-2CE) to do my daily mass readings.