Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Listen to him!

"During this week of Easter it would do us good every day to read a passage from the Gospel which speaks of the Resurrection of Christ." -Pope Francis via @Pontifex 4/18/17

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move. The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. “Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”
-Matthew 28:1-7 (MSGCE)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Pocket NABRE NT & Psalms

Thanks to Lenny for letting me know that this edition will be coming out in May from Pauline Books.  The listing on the Pauline website also includes a preview of the page-layout.  It is sewn!

New Testament and Psalms Pauline Edition

About this Book:
This lightweight, versatile, and easy-to-read volume combining the NABRE translation of the New Testament and the Psalms is also elegant and ideal as a gift. Starting with the gold-embossed icon of Jesus the Teacher on the cover, it offers extra durability with its quality sewn leatherette binding, while the ivory paper, colored ribbon markers, and gold edges make it a treasury of craftsmanship. The 10-point type and full-page text will make it easy to use as an aid for prayer and devotion.
Features & Benefits: 
  • New American Bible Revised Edition translation (NABRE) is approved for Catholics 
  • Quality sewn binding makes for greater durability 
  • Includes guide on how to use scriptures to pray 
  • Beautiful look and feel make it appealing for prayer and devotional reading 
Product Details:
Binding: Leatherette 
Trim size: 6 X 4 inches 
Pages: 1312

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bible Rebind: Oxford Large Print NABRE

Thank you to Jason for this article detailing his rebound NABRE.  If there was ever a translation that deserved a premium edition, it would be the NABRE.

I was received into the Catholic Church in 2006. Prior to that, I was very active in a conservative Baptist denomination. As readers of this blog are all well aware, the pride that conservative Evangelicals take in their Bibles and the hearty response the resulting demand elicits from publishers lead to easy availability of all kinds of high quality Bibles.

After I entered the Church, I quickly realized things were much different on this side of the Tiber. I looked for some time for a quality Catholic Bible, ultimately settling on the (now out of print) Oxford/Ignatius RSV-CE Reader’s Edition. I used that Bible for years, but as happened with many of them, the binding began to pull apart at the pastoral epistles. Also, although that Bible was pretty good, it had no content at all other than the Ignatius Bible notes, a few prayers, Dei Verbum, and the Biblical text. It had no cross-references or other study helps, and the print was quite tiny.

A couple of years ago, I discovered this blog, and what a wonderful find it was! I actually went back to the very first post and, over several weeks, read through every post until I caught up. In the process I discovered that my frustration with the lack of quality Catholic editions of the Bible was shared by many, but I also came across reviews of some Bibles I did not know existed. And I learned of the possibility of taking a decent book block and having it rebound to produce a premium Bible. This was not an option I had really heard about before.

Through a review on this blog and through discussions with Timothy and Rolf through Facebook, I became intrigued by the Oxford NABRE Large Print. It has a genuine leather cover, which is good, but it is the same hard, durable but not very pleasant, leather found on the RSV-CE Reader’s Edition. The layout, however, is quite good. The print is 12-point, and the NABRE notes and cross-references are in the back of each book, as opposed to on the page with the biblical text. I ordered it and, after reading from it for a month or so, decided this would be my main daily reading Bible and the object of my first rebinding adventure.

From this blog and from the Facebook groups many of us frequent, I was of course familiar with Leonard’s. I considered sending this Bible to them, but I also loved the fact that a number of young men were taking on Bible rebinding as a trade and a ministry. Diego Caloca and Jeremiah Frost are two examples, and I really wanted to support them in their efforts. I corresponded with both and ultimately settled on Jeremiah (Diego was simply very busy and it was going to take longer; there were no other concerns at all with him).

A few weeks later, I had my Large Print NABRE returned to me bound in a wonderful black goatskin with four black ribbons (I wanted to be able to mark Psalms and Wisdom lit, other OT, NT Epistles, and Gospels; that tends to be how I manage my devotional reading and prayer).

I loved almost everything about it. The goatskin is some of the softest and most pleasantly aromatic leather I’ve ever encountered (with the caveat that my experience with leathers is somewhat limited). It is simply a pleasure to hold and to read from. And having a Bible that has some personally chosen features, such as the four ribbons, really enhances my feeling of attachment to it and my desire to read from it.

I did immediately have one concern. I’m not sure if this is minor or major, since I have no other experience with having a Bible rebound. As you can see, I hope, from the photos, the edges of the cover are a bit too short. This causes the edge of the endpapers to get caught in the folds of the leather. I’m not sure how serious this issue would become be over time, but it has already caused some wear on the edges of the endpaper. Beyond that, however, I was extremely pleased with Jeremiah’s work, and would recommend him to anyone else wanting to support this new generation of rebinders.

Now for the rather sad ending to my story (or latest chapter, anyway). For the past few months, I have been enjoying this Bible immensely. I love the size of the print and having the notes and cross references in the back of each book, easily available but not a distraction while reading. This was a Bible I could read from for years, at least until the NABRE NT revision is published. And then, a few days ago, I noticed the last signature in the NT was separating from the book block. I don’t think the fault for this lies with Jeremiah; this seems to be a common problem with Oxford. It is the exact same problem that plagued the RSV-CE Reader’s Editions I mentioned above. I have owned two similar, but not identical, Bibles published by Oxford, and this has happened to both of them. It’s hard to believe that’s a coincidence, even if one of them was rebound.

At this point, I am simply not sure what I’m going to do. Given what has happened, I have my doubts about the quality of the book block, but I may send it to Leonard’s to have it repaired. It certainly is one of my favorite Bibles to read from. Any advice would be appreciated!

The quest for a quality, long-lasting Catholic Bible continues!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Which Translation of the Bible is the Best?

Reader Emilia passed this 2016 article from Catholic Answers by apologist Trent Horn.  Although the article is fairly short, I'd be interested in hearing from you what you think about it. Consider it your homework assignment!

We have discussed issues like this on this site for almost ten years.  I would like to think that we have dispelled any pseudo-knowledge regarding translations over these years.  We have given most translations a good look over and have had very good discussion/debate about each of the major Catholic translations.  So, what is your say?

This thread is now closed.

Friday, March 31, 2017

More Premium NRSV News

From an email I received from the evangelicalbible.com website:
Schuyler is considering an NRSV Bible in 2018 - but needs to know what the interest level would be.  This Bible would have the Apocrypha included as well as cross references.  Let us know what you think - Please CLICK HERE to complete the survey.  

If this is an edition you might be interested in, please make sure to answer the survey.  They make some of the finest bibles on the market today.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New NRSV's Coming from Cambridge Bibles

This is very exciting news!  If you are looking for a premium NRSV (w/apocrypha) including references, this will be the bible to get.  You can view their offerings, which will be available in summer here.  The 2017 Cambridge Bibles catalogue (UK edition) shows their reference NRSV will be available with or without Apocrypha, in hardcover or french morocco leather.  A premium edition with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals will be in edge-lined goatskin and art-gilt page edges.  This will be quality and likely the finest Bible in print that contains all the Catholic books.  

There will also be large print editions available with Apocrypha that will come in hardcover and leather, with gilt edges and ribbon markers.

The catalogue is for the UK, but we can expect these to be available in the US as well.  Once I find out what the prices will be, I'll let you know.  

Monday, March 27, 2017


Will you purchase the new NLT-CE when it is released in the Fall?
Thinking About It
poll generator

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Coming Soon: NLT-CE from Tyndale

Tyndale is pleased to announce the NLT Catholic Readers Edition, approved by the Catholic Church for reading and study and including the official Imprimatur. The Bible includes the New Living Translation text with deuterocanonical books. It also features book introductions to aid your personal study. The Holy Bible, New Living Translation communicates God’s Word powerfully to all who read it.

The New Living Translation is an authoritative Bible translation rendered faithfully into today’s English from the ancient texts by 90 leading Bible scholars. The NLT’s scholarship and clarity breathe life into even the most difficult-to-understand Bible passages―but even more powerful are stories of how people’s lives are changing as the words speak directly to their hearts.

This edition is due out in October.  The dimensions are 6 X 9 inches.  The list price is $24.99.  If you love the NLT this will be a no brainer.  I think it is also important to support this so that Protestant publishers, who frankly make superior bible editions, will consider publishing more and different Catholic Bible editions.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

What are you reading?

Good morning!  Once or twice a year I like to see what you, my readers, are using for your daily bible reading.  This seems like the perfect time, since we are in the middle of Lent and Spring has come upon us.  I always feel much more refreshed when this time of year, both liturgically and seasonally, comes around.

As for me, I am in the fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises (19th Annotation) of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Each day has a particular passage of scripture that I am to spend 30-45 minutes in prayer and reflection, including journaling.  While my main, everyday bible translation continues to be the NRSV (I explained why here), I wanted to go with something more dynamic.  Perhaps you are like me, in that I have a tendency to read through passages way too fast, particularly the ones I know well.  As if I really knew these passages well......  So, to avoid that bit of spiritual arrogance and spurred on by an article by Msgr. M. Francis Mannion,  I have been using The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition each day as I pray and meditate on the selected passages.  I have also decided to write, underline, and annotate in my paperback edition of The Message: Catholic/Ecumecinal Edition.  I have found that the renderings of Peterson (and Griffin for the Deuterocanonicals) has allowed me to see these passages anew.  I have not been so concerned about the exact word-for-word translation choices, but rather the message (no pun intended....or maybe it is intended) which is trying to be shared.

So, what are you up to?  What bible are you using?  What books are you reading?  Feel free to share in the comment section of this post.

I wish you all a happy and blessed Lent!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ICSB Joshua (May 2017)

The trickle continues..........

This volume in the popular Ignatius Catholic Study Bible series leads readers through a penetrating study of the book of Joshua using the biblical text itself and the Church's own guidelines for understanding the Bible.

Ample notes accompany each page, providing fresh insights by renowned Bible teachers Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch as well as time-tested interpretations from the Fathers of the Church. These helpful study notes provide rich historical, cultural, geographical, and theological information pertinent to the Old Testament book—information that bridges the distance between the biblical world and our own.

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible also includes Topical Essays, Word Studies, and Charts. The Topical Essays explore the major themes of the book of Joshua, often relating them to the teachings of the Church. The Word Studies explain the background of important biblical terms, while the Charts summarize crucial biblical information "at a glance".

The ICSB edition of Joshua is scheduled for publication in May.

Monday, March 13, 2017

All Didache Bibles on Sale at MTF

Thanks to Eric for pointing out that all Didache Bibles (both the RSV-2CE and NABRE) are on sale at Midwest Theological Forum.  Follow this link for more information.  You can preview the content of the Didache Bible here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Guest Review: Catholic Children's Bible by SMP

Catholic Children’s Bible by St. Mary’s Press
Reviewed by Chris Buckley

Glorious. It’s simply glorious. If you have a child, and you want them to know Scripture and not just Bible stories, the Catholic Children’s Bible from St. Mary’s Press is the only Bible to consider. Literally. It may well be the only full-text Bible formatted specifically to build Biblical literacy and Catholic faith in children.

It’s clearly designed by people who not only value the Bible as scripture, but are also skilled curriculum designers for the learning styles of children.

For one thing, it’s huge. At 7 x 10 inches and 2000 pages, it has the heft of those old Golden Books Children’s Bibles you may remember from the 1960s and 1970s. Not an asset for most readers of this blog, but trust me: it makes for a lasting place on a child’s bedroom bookshelf.

For another, it uses layout, font size, illustration, and color prompts to make it as easy as possible for new Bible readers to navigate. In my last post, I called for solid navigation aids. This Bible has them in spades, better than any I’ve ever encountered. It’s practically an orienteering course in Bible reference. It introduces the layout of the individual books in their various textual groupings with a color-coded bookshelf graphic. That color-coding carries through into the borders of the pages, and the section headings of the individual books. A child can easily find - and internalize the internal order of - the books of the Bible this way until it becomes automatic. Lavish edge illustrations surround the text on nearly every page, making it a colorful “page-turner” that even young kids will flip through like a big lap-sized picture book, whether they are readers or not.

The publishers didn’t ignore children who read, though. They have wisely selected the approved Catholic edition of the Good News Translation (formerly, Today’s English Version, second edition). If you remember the Good News Bible of the 1970s, you know what to expect, but you may not be familiar with the improved, revised edition of 1992, formally  approved for Catholic use in 1993. Though still a “thought-for-thought” translation using syntax and vocabulary for about a fourth-grade reading level, the new GNT is to the old Good News Bible what the NLT is to the old Living Bible. Today, it’s a proper translation from the original texts, no longer a paraphrase of a standard English text, hence the imprimatur. I have far more confidence in it as a proper book of scripture for beginning reader. (By comparison, the publisher’s Catholic Youth Bible comes in both NRSV-CE and NABRE varieties.) If you’re going to create a Bible for kids out of an approved Catholic translation in English, this is the text to use.

But it’s what they do with the text that makes this Bible so wonderful. Instead of the traditional Annie Vallotton line drawing that typically accompany the Good News Translation, the publisher has introduced its own full-color illustrations that tie into the learning aids. In mid-flow of the scriptural text itself, the publisher introduces 125 Bible stories told in two-page illustrated spreads. Each spread follows the same format: the scripture text from the page before continues directly onto the left hand page so that the Bible passage itself becomes the “story,” surrounded by illustrations and definitions of any challenging vocabulary. The right-hand side of the spread employs a standard format for every story (also adopted for older readers in the Catholic Youth Bible):
     Understand it - a brief exegesis of the passage for children
     Live it - A devotional tip for how to put the teaching of that passage into practice
     Tell it - A simple storyboard an adult can use as a prompt for the child to retell (and thus internalize) the story in their own words 

Then the Bible text continues uninterrupted on the next page. By making the scripture itself into the stories, and by including so many passages, this book is now the best of both worlds: a full Bible that can also function as a “big book of Bible stories” most Catholics are used to. With 125 selections interspersed throughout scripture, using it as a bedtime storybook and reading one story a night, a parent and child could literally work through the entire canon of scripture together in about 17 weeks. Simply amazing.

It concludes with colorful, yet simplified Biblical aids using photographs and illustrations in place of the typical essays and maps an adult study Bible might have. It has a brief section full of catholic Prayers, instruction on the rosary, and a final page of “Bible Passages for Special Times” to help children find consoling passages for specific life events or challenges. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but this is a functioning “Study Bible” for children, covering the same spread of textual and dogmatic instruction as something like the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. Along with the companion Catholic Children’s Prayer Book, it’s a terrific resource. This isn’t the Bible to give at first communion. Rather, it’s the Bible to give in kindergarten and read together on their journey toward the sacraments.

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, LinkedIn, and on YouVersion Bible.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Reader is Selling an NLT-CE

Keith has been a reader of the Catholic Bibles Blog for a while and he contacted me to see if I would post his EBAY sale of the recently published NLT-CE.  I am happy to do so, since there are a number of folks who are looking to get a copy before the official USA publication occurs later this year.  

Here is the link to the sale.  

The specs:
Hardback, with a white ribbon marker
Anglicised text
Size: 22 x 14cm
Colour: Blue & Tan
ISBN: 9788170867180
Illustrations by Nicole Kaufman

Pope Francis and Regular Bible Reading

“What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?  What would happen if we always brought it with us, or at least a small pocket-sized Gospel?” -Pope Francis (Angelus 3/5/17)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Guest Post: Catholic Sunday School Bibles?

Thanks to Chris for this guest post.  This is an issue I have thought about often, particularly now with three children.  The one I purchased for my daugher is the one on the left, the NRSV Kids Study Bible (w/ Apocrypha) by Hendrickson Publishers.

I need a full Bible for children (especially using the text of the RSV-2CE). It's a gap that exists everywhere in Catholic publishing, and which is really frustrating to a former Protestant like me.
What typically gets labeled a Catholic “children's Bible” is usually a collection of illustrated Bible stories, not a book of scripture. Even the coming YouCat Bible, which does use the RSV-2CE, isn't properly speaking Scripture, but an abridgement somewhere between a commentary and an inspirational guide.

What I need is something ubiquitous in the evangelical world: a "Sunday School Bible." That is a full Bible in full translation, formatted for easy reference by young readers, and possibly illustrated. It's something they can read together in a group, looking up references in class, or individually. It is in tasteful, neutral non-childish binding so that it grows with them and they can continue to use it as they age, because it's a full Bible.

The closest thing we have to it currently is the Catholic Edition of the Good News Translation (complete with the Annie Vallotton illustrations), and possibly the soon-to-be-released Catholic Edition of the New Living Translation from Tyndale. But, especially as a former Protestant, I really want to have something usable in the RSV-2CE.

Consider this. I grew up (and went to seminary) as a Methodist and was confirmed Catholic as an adult. No one else in my family is Catholic. I am the baptismal sponsor of my Methodist nephew who is going to Catholic school and about to enter first grade. If I were Protestant, I'd give him his Sunday School Bible to use in class and as he grew up. There are dozens of editions of full Bibles that are available for Protestant and Evangelical children. None of them contain the complete canon of Catholic Scripture. None of them use an approved Catholic Translation or reference and study aids consistent with Church doctrine.

Among the approved Catholic translations, the RSV-2CE is positioned for interconfessional appeal because the RSV still carries a lot of credibility in Protestant churches. But there are no editions of this otherwise excellent translation in a full Bible formatted for easy access to first-time Scripture readers.

For lack of credible options, I gave my first son the Catholic GNT for his first Communion. I'm considering the NLT-CE for my second son.

The only "age appropriate" FULL Bibles for young Catholic readers, in fact, seem to be from St. Mary's Press. They have a "Catholic Children's Bible" using the full GNT-CE, and a "Catholic Youth Bible" available in both NABRE and NRSV-CE editions.

On the plus side, they both use a consistent "Pray it, Study it, Live it" paradigm for the annotations. On the minus, they are both bound in trade dress that clearly brands each Bible for its niche audience, so it kind of builds in an expiration date for the owner. No teenager will want to read the cartoonish "Children's" Bible once gifted by their loving relative. Most college students will think they've outgrown their "youth" Bible.

Hence the need for a neutral non-childish binding that contains a full Catholic Bible with some navigation aids and perhaps illustrations to make it available to readers at a young age, while keeping it relevant as "their" Bible as they get older.

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, LinkedIn, and on YouVersion Bible.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent 2017

But there’s also this, it’s not too late—
    God’s personal Message!—
Come back to me and really mean it!
    Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!
Change your life, not just your clothes.
    Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.

-Joel 2:12-13 (MSGCE)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guest Post: The Revised English Bible (Part 3)

Many thanks to Timothy for allowing me to share a review of the Revised English Bible (REB). Almost two years ago, Rolf (a commenter on this blog) piqued my curiosity with his praise for the REB. I asked questions in the comments and discovered other blog readers who are REB fans. I ordered a used, inexpensive, hardcover REB to check it out. It quickly became my favorite translation, and I have used it as my primary bible for well over a year and a half. I'm excited to share it with all of you.

Catholic Involvement and Approval Status
The Catholic approval status of the REB has been an interesting puzzle to solve. The Catholic bishops in the British Isles officially sponsored the translation, Catholic scholars were involved in the translation process, and an auxiliary bishop of Westminster (Bishop Christopher Butler) sat on the joint committee of church representatives which sponsored the translation. In spite of all this, I cannot find any evidence that an imprimatur was ever granted to the REB.

The UK edition of the Divine Office uses excerpts from the NEB (the REB’s direct predecessor) for some scripture readings, even though the Catholic bishops were only observers during the NEB translation process. I also cannot find any evidence that the NEB received an imprimatur.

Trying to make sense of all this, I contacted the Conference of Catholic Bishops for England and Wales to inquire about the approval status of the REB. They assured me that the Catholic Church’s participation in the translation process would have involved a desire for the resulting translation to be acceptable to the Church.  They also pointed me to the Vatican directive Guidelines for Interconfessional Cooperation in Translating the Bible promulgated in 1987. In section 2.8, it states, “In some circumstances, it may be wise to consider a preface including a joint recommendation by ecclesiastical authorities instead of a formal nihil obstat and imprimatur.” In the case of the REB, the translation preface from the Joint Committee of the Churches commending the translation to their readers would certainly satisfy this provision.

Printed Editions of the REB
The Joint Committee of the Churches granted the copyright for the REB jointly to Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. Since its publication in 1989, the popularity of the REB has been overshadowed by wide acceptance of the NRSV and the NIV for public worship in protestant churches and continued use of the JB, NAB, and NRSV in Catholic churches. As such, demand for the REB has waned since its publication, and very few editions are still in print.

Cambridge University Press no longer publishes any editions of the REB with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books. They publish a stand-alone hardcover binding of the Apocrypha, along with hardcover and imitation leather bindings of the protestant canon. I had a chance to buy the imitation leather edition at a deep discount on Overstock.com a year ago, and I must say, it’s one of the nicest imitation leather covers I’ve felt:

Out-of-print hardcover editions of the REB with and without the Apocrypha are easy to find used online. My first copy of the REB was a used Cambridge hardcover (shown below). I should note that the REB Apocrypha contains all books in the Catholic canon, as well as a few others that are part of the protestant Apocrypha: 1 and 2 Esdras, The Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalm 151. It does not contain 3 and 4 Maccabees.

Oxford University Press publishes only one edition of the REB: a paperback version of the Oxford Study Bible with Apocrypha. This edition contains succinct study notes, similar in scope and detail to the New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV second edition. Hardcover editions of this bible are no longer in print, but they are readily available used on a variety of websites.

It’s also occasionally possible to find out-of-print editions of a pocket-sized REB New Testament (published by Cambridge). These editions have an attractive single-column text layout.

Monday, February 27, 2017

NABRE's On Sale from USCCB

Follow this link for the discount.  Offer expires 11:59 PM ET on March 4, 2017.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Guest Post: The Revised English Bible (Part 2)

Many thanks to Timothy for allowing me to share a review of the Revised English Bible (REB). Almost two years ago, Rolf (a commenter on this blog) piqued my curiosity with his praise for the REB. I asked questions in the comments and discovered other blog readers who are REB fans. I ordered a used, inexpensive, hardcover REB to check it out. It quickly became my favorite translation, and I have used it as my primary bible for well over a year and a half. I'm excited to share it with all of you.

Revision Details and Translation Philosophy:
The revisers updated all archaic language to contemporary (“you”) usage, and they quickly realized that this was more than a simple find-and-replace process. Sentences that were originally translated with archaic language contained verbs and language structure that sounded fitting in context, but once the archaic pronouns were updated, the rest of the language seemed mismatched. The revisers attempted to rephrase this language while maintaining translation accuracy.

The NEB also contained a number of non-traditional renderings of difficult or uncertain language based on the most recent scholarship at the time which seemed too speculative in hindsight. The revisers updated these accordingly. They further revised British expressions that were unfamiliar to readers in the US. The REB retains occasional words that are unfamiliar in American vocabulary, but they are few and far between. 

Finally, the revisers also attempted to make limited use of inclusive language in a way that was faithful to both the original text and normal English style. If either English style or the original text were not easily consistent with inclusive language, the revisers did not attempt a change. As such, the REB is quite sparing in its use of inclusive language compared with the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) or the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB). It often renders the original subject inclusively, but subsequent references to the same subject will use the “he” pronoun rather than making the entire sentence plural (a common solution in the NRSV). The first two verses of Psalm 1 illustrate this:

Happy is the one
who does not take the counsel of the wicked for a guide,
or follow the path that sinners tread,
or take his seat in the company of scoffers.
His delight is in the law of the LORD (Psalm 1:1-2a REB)

Compare the NRSV and the NJB:

Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the LORD (NRSV)

How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked
and does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread,
nor a seat in company with cynics,
but who delights in the law of Yahweh (NJB)

The REB is a dynamic equivalence translation, in the same league as Msgr. Ronald Knox's translation of the Vulgate and the Jerusalem Bible. To quote the translators' introduction to the Old Testament, “the guiding principle adopted has been to seek a fluent and idiomatic way of expressing biblical writing in contemporary English. Much emphasis has been laid on correctness and intelligibility, and at the same time on endeavouring to convey something of the directness and simplicity of the Hebrew original.” The preface to the New Testament adds, “This version claims to be a translation rather than a paraphrase, observing faithfulness to the meaning of the text without necessarily reproducing grammatical structure or translating word-for-word.”

While some dynamic translations like the Good News Translation (GNT) and the Common English Bible (CEB) place great emphasis on making the text accessible and simple, the REB retains a broad vocabulary and greater dignity in tone (similar to the JB and the Knox). Its command of the English language is impressive. Poetic passages sing and touch the heart in a visceral way that cannot be paralleled by intellectual study of a literal translation. Consider a short section of God's answer to Job (Job 38:12-18):

In all your life have you ever called up the dawn
or assigned the morning its place?
Have you taught it to grasp the fringes of the earth
and shake the Dog-star from the sky;
to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal,
until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak,
when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed
and the stars of the Navigator's Line go out one by one?

Have you gone down to the springs of the sea
or walked in the unfathomable deep?
Have the portals of death been revealed to you?
Have you seen the door-keepers of the place of darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanse of the world?
Tell me all this, if you know. (REB)

Interestingly, this is a passage where one of the unusual renderings of the NEB remains in the REB. The references to the Dog-star are generally translated “the wicked” in other translations. Sir Godfrey Driver, who chaired the translation team for the NEB Old Testament, argued that the Hebrew words were a reference to astronomical markers. It is a speculative rendering, but it seems to fit the context better than the literal reference to the wicked. For comparison, consider the NRSV:

Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
   and caused the dawn to know its place,
so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
   and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
   and it is dyed like a garment.
Light is withheld from the wicked,
   and their uplifted arm is broken.

Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
   or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
   or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
   Declare, if you know all this. (NRSV)

The vividness of the REB continues in the New Testament. Consider John's vison of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16:

I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me; and when I turned I saw seven lampstands of gold. Among the lamps was a figure like a man, in a robe that came to his feet, with a golden girdle round his breast. His hair was as white as snow-white wool, and his eyes flamed like fire; his feet were like burnished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of a mighty torrent. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword; his face shone like the sun in full strength. (REB)

Consider also the beginning of Jesus' agony in the garden in Mark 14:32-36:

When they reached a place called Gethsemane, he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took Peter and James and John with him. Horror and anguish overwhelmed him, and he said to them, “My heart is ready to break with grief; stop here and stay awake.” Then he went on a little farther, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible this hour might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he said, “all things are possible to you; take this cup from me. Yet not my will but yours.” (REB)

The other area where the REB truly shines is the New Testament letters. Paul's diction, when translated literally, can be a challenging intellectual exercise to parse and untangle. Of course, there is a strong argument for maintaining that difficulty in an English translation if a fluent Greek speaker would have a hard time deciphering it. But there is also value in allowing the power of his argument to be transmitted in natural English, touching the heart of a reader more viscerally and immediately than would be possible through intellectual study of difficult sentences. Consider Paul's discourse on the law, the flesh, and the spirit in Romans 8:1-6:

It follows that there is now no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus the life-giving law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the law could not do, because human weakness robbed it of all potency, God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of our sinful nature and to deal with sin, he has passed judgment against sin within that very nature, so that the commandment of the law may find fulfillment in us, whose conduct is no longer controlled by the old nature, but by the Spirit. Those who live on the level of the old nature have their outlook formed by it, and that spells death; but those who live on the level of the spirit have the spiritual outlook, and that is life and peace. (REB)

Note that the REB uses a variety of English alternatives for the Greek word which is commonly translated “flesh” in more literal translations. Compare the REB's rendering with the 1986 New Testament in New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), which strove for literal accuracy, even preserving Greek word order where possible:

Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death. For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. (NABRE)

A final useful example comes from Hebrews 7:17-24. Here, the writer is contrasting the priesthood of Jesus in the tradition of Melchizedek with the Levitical priesthood under the law:

For here is the testimony: “You are a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek.” The earlier rules are repealed as ineffective and useless, since the law brought nothing to perfection; and a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Notice also that no oath was sworn when the other men were made priests; but for this priest an oath was sworn in the words addressed to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not go back on his word, 'You are a priest for ever.'” In the same way, God's oath shows how superior is the covenant which Jesus guarantees. There have been many Levitical priests, because death prevents them from continuing in office; but Jesus holds a perpetual priesthood, because he remains forever. (REB)

Compare this with the NABRE's translation.

For it is testified: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” On the one hand, a former commandment is annulled because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law brought nothing to perfection; on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. And to the degree that this happened not without the taking of an oath – for others became priests without an oath, but he with an oath, through the one who said to him “The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: 'You are a priest forever'” – to that same degree has Jesus [also] become the guarantee of an [even] better covenant. Those priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but he, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. (NABRE)

The NABRE preserves a double-negative expression from the Greek (“not without the taking of an oath”), and the subsequent long parenthetical expression and convoluted grammar make it very difficult to parse this sentence without interrupting the flow of reading. The REB sacrifices the double-negative and renders the ideas in much more natural English.

Overall, I find the REB to have a flowing, natural turn of phrase with powerful language that surprises me and sheds new light on passages that I've heard countless times. In many ways, it lives up to Msgr. Ronald Knox's ideal of expressing the language of the bible in a way than a native English speaker would. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Guest Review: Oxford Notre Dame NRSV-CE

Thank you to Rolf for this short guest review!  I have a similar edition, without the ND affiliation, in burgundy leather.  You can see that review here.

I saw this NRSV Bible on the Fans of the NRSV facebook group. It is published by Oxford University Press for Notre Dame and is sold through the Notre Dame bookstore.

It is a Catholic edition (Anglicanized) and has a navy blue genuine leather cover with a gold ND seal on the front cover. It is a nice size: 8 1/4 x 6 inches and has a well spaced approx. size 9 print. The text block appears to be sewn and has one gold ribbon marker. The paper though thin, controls bleed through very well.
This Notre Dame edition has 64 in text maps and 12 graphs in text. It has a concordance and a list of the Sunday and Weekday readings for Mass. Though it does not have references.  The cost is $75.00.  

This will be a Bible I will take to seminars and next weeks Religious Congress!

You can purchase this edition, via the ND Bookstore, here.