Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Guest Post: The Revised English Bible (Part 1)

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.

A Brief History:
The REB is a British translation sponsored by a consortium of major Christian denominations in the British Isles. As its name suggests, it is a revision of the earlier New English Bible (NEB), which was published in 1970. The NEB project began after World War II with a narrow goal in mind. The King James Version (KJV) enjoyed wide acceptance for worship and private reading throughout the protestant world, and this seemed unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. The language of the KJV represented the traditional language of the bible for generations of people. On the other hand, as churches reached out to non-religious people after World War II, they found many people who were unfamiliar with the KJV and found its language difficult. A new translation of the bible in contemporary language could help them to better understand the language of the KJV.

During the course of translating the NEB, though, the culture was changing quickly. The Catholic church, after the Second Vatican Council, was implementing vernacular liturgy throughout the world, and as soon as the NEB was released, protestant churches began using it in their weekly services. It was more popular than expected. During the translation process, the NEB scholars had followed the same convention as the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of preserving archaic language (“thee” and “thou”) in prayers addressed to God. By the time of publication in 1970, this solution was already out-of-date. A few years after publication, the Joint Committee of Churches which sponsored the NEB agreed to sponsor a thorough revision. The Catholic bishops conferences of England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland joined the committee as official sponsors of the revision (they had been observers to the committee in the final years of the NEB translation). 

A special thanks to Marc who authored this three part examination of the REB.  I know that a number of you read and love the REB.  The other two parts will be published over the next two weeks.


Mark D. said...

The REB is an outstanding translation and I used it for years when I was in college and then graduate school. I would be using it to this day except my copy wore out and when I went to replace it the edition with the Apocrypha was out of print -- the only current edition that I have found in print is the Oxford Study Bible with Apocrypha but that is paperbound and would last about a month of heavy use. I found a copy of its predecessor translation, the New English Bible with Apocrypha, in a used bookstore (Oxford hardback) and I have been using that. But if I had my choice, I would much prefer using the REB -- for a dynamic translation, it is almost perfect. There are a couple of verses where it falls flat, but only a couple.

Christopher Buckley said...

I think of it this way: various traditions try to "dust off" favored translations to extend their shelf-life and make their language more accessible to readers. Though changed, the basic language appeal of the base text is often evident in the result.

The RSV, for instance, has been warmed over nicely and makes for tasty leftovers:
-Catholics turned it into the RSV-2CE
-Reformation evangelicals did the same thing and ended up with the ESV

Now, it seems like Christian groups in the U.K. have done something similar, only climbing up a little higher in the tree, to revise the KJV into the REB.

Inmteresting that Catholics in the U.K. were "sponsors" yet haven't seen fit to approve it for Catholic use. I wonder why.

Wasn't there a rumor about an REB lectionary under way, a while ago? Or am I mistaking that with the ESV? And what about the RSV-2CE lectionary the U.K. bishops were supposedly considering? Did that ever get off the ground?

Leighton said...

Mark, You can find a good quality hardback edition of the REB w/ apocrypha from Cambridge University Press: The one I ordered a couple of years ago had sewn signatures and will last a lifetime (I later purchased a Berkshire leather version).

It's got some idiosyncrasies (like leaving out "Woman," in Jesus' address to His Mother in John) but the translation, for the most part, is a wonderful read. Especially the Psalms.

wxmarc said...

Christopher: Stay tuned for the next installments of the review! I covered the Catholic approval status of the REB in detail. Also, a word of clarification: the REB was never intended to be a revision of the KJV. The NEB translators deliberately undertook a completely fresh translation so that Christians unfamiliar with the KJV could better understand the meaning of the bible. So, while the RSV and NRSV are revisions in the direct lineage of the KJV, the NEB/REB comprise a distinct line of translations.

Biblical Catholic said...

One very important fact about the New English Bible (NEB) is the reason WHY the decision was made to produce it.

The English Revised Version of 1881 was the first major revision of the KJV, and it was a major project of the time. The American team was angry that its suggestions weren't taken more seriously and so in 1901, they produced their own version of the text under the name 'English Revised Version American Standard Edition', which eventually came to be known as simply 'The American Standard Bible.'

It is this 1901 text that was revised and published in 1952 as 'The Revised Standard Version.'

The reason why both the RSV and the NEB happened at all is because the copyright on English Revised Version of 1881 was set to expire soon, as well as the copyright on the 1901 American version of the text.

Both the RSV and NEB were produced because they were worried about losing a major source of revenue when the copyright expired, so they got around the problem by producing a brand new text so they could have something new to copyright.

Both the NEB and the RSV are examples of how having copyright protections exist only for a very short period of time, has tended to inspire great creativity.

On the other hand, modern copyright laws keep copyrights in place practically forever (in the case of the NEB and the RSV, the copyrights will last for 95 years) tends to prevent creativity.

If the 1998 copyright act had been in effect in 1937 (when the RSV was authorized) and 1944 (when the NEB was authorized) then 1881 English Revised Version would probably still be in wide use, because no one would have any incentive to produce a newer text, and neither would any of the other translations that derive from that 1881 text, including the RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB, NEB and REB.

Modern copyright law is bad.

Mark D. said...


When I went to the link it took me to a separate volume of the Apocrypha -- not bound together with the rest of the Bible. I'm not interested in having a two-volume set -- I would be looking for an REB to carry around on the move (but not as an electronic text). Thanks for the suggestion though.

Biblical Catholic said...

And by the way, I think you understate your case when you say

"By the time of publication in 1970, this solution was already out-of-date. A few years after publication, the Joint Committee of Churches which sponsored the NEB agreed to sponsor a thorough revision."

it was revised because the reaction to the publication of the NEB was almost entirely negative. People hated it, passionately. It was judged to be a very poor translation, which made lots of weird and awkward choices.

Much like the NAB in the United States, the NEB quickly developed serious PR problems in the media. When the full Bible was published in 1970, most of the public, having read negative stories about it in the newspapers for years, were already talking about how bad it was and how much they hated it.

Part of the problem was that when the New Testament was published in 1961, two very famous and influential Christians literary critics published their reviews of the text, and both of the reviews were extremely negative. Now, literary critics generally don't have much influence with the public, if they did, books like the Da Vinci Code or Fifty Shades of Grey would never get published!

But, in 1961, it turned out that the literary critics who published savage reviews of the NEB New Testament just happened to be two of the most popular and widely read authors in England.

I am referring to TS Eliot and CS Lewis. Both published reviews of the 1961 NEB NT, both of them hated it, and both of these reviews were distributed widely and reprinted in newspapers and magazines for years.

By the time the full Bible was published in 1970, most of the public had already decided that it was terrible and began complaining about its being used in churches. Oddly enough, out of all the churches that did use the NEB, one church that never did adopt it was the very church that originally proposed and sponsored it: the Church of England, it was never adopted by the C of E apparently due to the public backlash against it.

Thus, only a few shorts years after its first publication, it was reluctantly agreed that it would need to be completely revised.

I'm sure that when the official announcement was made, the committee probably did claim that the revision was because 'the translation is already out of date, and we need something even more modern', but that wasn't the real reason for the revision.

Jeff S. said...

Mark, and Leighton,
There are zillions of copies available on
of REB with Apocrypha:

This link will give a list starting with the lowest priced.
There are a bunch of offerings from overseas(usually England)
but as you keep scrolling you'll start finding the American offers
so you don't have to worry about it taking a long time to get here.

This link just shows the ones from USA booksellers.

CarlHernz said...

@Christopher Buckley

The REB does indeed have formal Church approval, but since it is an interconfessional translation, this approval is not limited to an imprimatur.

According to the "Guiding Principles for Interconfessional Cooperation in Translating the Bible," published by the Holy See in 1987: "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."

Ordinarily Catholic translators need to obtain formal permission (such as from a bishop) when they work on an ecumenical/interconfessional Bible translation project representing the Church by their cooperation. Under some circumstances, especially when the permission comes from an entire conference for example, the formal nod to cooperate is in itself formal Church approval. Often the Catholic translators themselves come with formal requests for an interconfessional translation committee in order to prepare it for Catholic use, and more often than not the sponsors of the project request Catholic participation for that very purpose, i.e., that it can be used by the Catholic faithful. The REB is such a work.

Deacon Dave said...

I'm not familiar with the REB but interested to know it was a revision of the NEB. I heard an audio of one of Venerable Fulton Sheen's talk back when I was in college around 1980 and he praised and recommended the NEB as the best translation available at that time. I believe he used it for his "Life of Christ" book as well. Anyhow, I got a black bonded leather Oxford Study Bible NEB with Apocrypha and still have it/refer to it. I wonder what translation he would promote today?

rolf said...

I wonder why Cambridge does not offer an Apocrypha option with the newer synthetic cover REBs, Especially considering it was developed as a ecumenical translation?!?

Christopher Buckley said...


Interesting. I don't think I'd have taken that meaning from the quote you included, which seems to me to be guidance for permission to PRODUCE an interconfessional translation, rather than permission to USE it.

So, in a Bible without an explicit imprimatur, what technically needs to appear for me to know the Church endorses it for my personal prayer and study?

"A joint recommendation by ecclesiastical authorities?" Would that be evident in the foreword of the text, or are we to know magically who "got a nod?"

And does it matter if the text itself isn't in Vulgate order?

Biblical Catholic said...

"And does it matter if the text itself isn't in Vulgate order?"

Why would that matter? The NAB isn't in Vulgate order, and I don't think the Jerusalem Bible is either.

Leighton said...

Mark, my apologies. I was in a hurry when I searched Cambridge and saw the green edition (my hardcover is green) and thought it was the right one. Amazon also does have some REBs w/ apocrypha, but I don't know if they have sewn or glued binding.

rolf said...

The REB would not truly be an ecumenical translation if Catholics were not allowed by the Chuch to use it. I find it unbelievable that the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland who had become full members of the committee overseeing the translation of the REB and not intent to allow Catholics to use it for personal study???

wxmarc said...

Biblical Catholic: Those are interesting details to add on the history of the NEB. I gleaned most of the historical information from reading Roger Coleman's book New Light and Truth: The Making of the Revised English Bible. Roger Coleman was the secretary of the Joint Committee of Churches which sponsored the REB, so it's certainly possible that he presented a picture that was too biased in its favor.

He does note that after publication of the NEB New Testament in 1961, the committee received "several hundred criticisms and suggestions...the majority reflecting nostalgia for the familiar phrases of the [KJV]." This led to the decision to make a minor revision of the NEB New Testament before publication of the complete bible in 1970. Revising the Old Testament in a similar way was an easy decision, but the committee soon decided to undertake a broader revision of the text and solve the "thee/thou" language problem and the unusual rendering problems at the same time. That's how Coleman presents the history.

Also, the fact that the NEB was used for public reading in churches at all was beyond the scope of what the translators originally intended. So, to suggest that it failed because many churches did not adopt it for public reading involves applying a standard they didn't set for themselves. Professor C. H. Dodd, who began as general director of the NEB project, stated at the outset in 1949 that the NEB "is not intended...for reading in church, nor is it directed, primarily, to those for whom the language of the [KJV] and the Book of Common Prayer is the familiar and natural language of devotion."

You also mentioned that the Church of England never used the NEB in its services, but Coleman states otherwise. There were multiple "Alternative Service Books" that were approved by the Anglican General Synod. The biblical readings for these alternative service settings were taken from a mix of bible translations, but according to Coleman, 30% of them were from the NEB.

It sounds as though the translators were well aware of the criticism, but they also kept in mind their original intent to use modern English. T. S. Eliot was invited to be a literary advisor to the translators early in the NEB project (in 1948), but he declined, stating "I wonder whether there is any need for a new translation of the Bible, and also whether any contemporary English is likely to be good enough for the purpose. I should have thought that a text of the [KJV] provided with notes of correction where the Jacobean translators have gone wrong is all that is really needed."

CarlHernz said...


There are two ways a Catholic can determine whether a Bible translation is approved for private use. The ordinary way is a formal mark approval by Church authority which can include a nihil obstat and imprimatur or a rescript.

The other is the above-mentioned manner, when due to agreement or particular circumstances various ecumenical parties mention in a foreword that they have sponsored the work. In these instances the Catholic scholars whose credentials appear can only do so with ecclesial permission. However if the Catholic scholars work on the project but the final product fails to meet with ecclesial standards for an interconfessional version, their credentials will NOT appear in the foreword (or appendix, etc.; wherever the interconfessional statement appears). In such a case (which has happened before) the product cannot be presented to the public as being produced with Catholic participation.

Why are interconfessional versions allowed to be acceptable without a rescript or imprimatur? In some instances other parties to the project might object on the grounds that the version might be confused as "Catholic only" and might be rejected by people of other faiths for whom the translation was also intended. So the foreword stating the translation was a product of a formal partnership between faiths is all that is necessary.

While Catholics may use them, they are not "Catholic" Bibles. They are ecumenical works. They belong to all peoples of the various faiths that produced them. Such works are usually marked "with Apocrypha" yet contain the exact text that a formal Catholic version contains. Such is the case with the NRSV which is an interconfessional translation. From the beginning Catholics were involved in its production. A Catholic edition with the books in "Catholic order" was given an imprimatur by two English-speaking Catholic authorities, but the entire translation has been affected by Catholic participation. As an official Catholic Bible cannot have books like 3rd and 4th Maccabees, it is not proper for the Church to mark such a version with an imprimatur. Thus the full translation version does not have such (and neither does the NRSV editions with the Protestant canon). However, since the complete Bible is the product of formal Catholic cooperation, the NRSV "with Apocrypha" can be (and is) used in formal Catholic educational settings. Except for books like Esther and Daniel, a Catholic can read the text of other books in any edition of the NRSV knowing they meet Catholic standards for private use as these don't change regardless of the edition they appear in. Thus the Jewish-Annotated New Testament which employs the NRSV New Testament is using an approved Catholic translation of the NT.

However for most Catholics it is sufficient to employ the use of a Catholic edition with an imprimatur or rescript. If a question arises whether a certain interconfessional version is approved for your personal use, you should contact the Catholic scholars listed or the bishops conference they are subject to. For the most part interconfessional Bibles with formal Church approval are usually released with an edition made available via the United Bible Societies (the American Bible Society is the USA branch). After all, that is what an interconfessional Bible is for--a Bible product that is designed to be accessible to all (and at cost or less, which is what the Bible Society does). The REB is basically out of print, for the most part, so I wouldn't expect it to be on UBS shelves. But if it's there, and it's interconfessional (with Catholic participation), then you are good to go.

Anonymous said...


Your discussion of inter confessional translation approval is fascinating to me. I had heard of REB as a great, if unconventional translation and I've always been impressed by the bits of it that I've come across. I began to think that here at last I had found a modern Bible translation with inclusive language that didn't drive me crazy and was actually appealing to read as actual literature. But its questionable approval status within the Catholic Church made me hesitate. I mean, I'm sure non-Catholic Bibles have their own appeal and virtues, but with so many translations out there I figured you've got to narrow the field somehow, might as well stick to ones with Church approval, which I had believed meant only those with imprimaturs, now you're telling me there's more?

I wonder, could you tell me what other Translations might fall under this exception? I know you mention the NRSV, but that has a Catholic version, so I always assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the other variations of that translation had at least some assumed degree of approval within the Church. I'm wondering if you know of any other interconfessional translations, that never made a Catholic version with an impramatur, that might also fall under the same kind of approval regime that you say the REB falls under, I'm curious what other translations are out there that I might want to take a second look at now that I'm aware of this alternate approval track.

CarlHernz said...


Interconfessional translations are quite new on the Bible scene. They only became possibilities for Catholics after the mid-20th century with Divino Afflante Spiritu and are even somewhat dependent upon the promulgation of Dignitatis Humanae after Vatican II. So there are not many around.

Along with the REB and the NRSV, in English there are also the Contemporary English Version and the Good News Bible (Today's English Version, Second Edition). There are both ecumenical and Catholic editions of both too, like the NRSV.

Recently the CEB or Common English Bible was produced, but only an official interconfessional/ecumenical edition exists. There is a non-approved volume of the CEB marked "Catholic edition," but it isn't formally recognized as such. Apparently there is some confusion on the part of the current governing editorial board over the issue and importance of ecclesiastical approval.

A similar misunderstanding took place in the 1990s when Tyndale released a now-out-of-print "Catholic" version of the first NLT. With only Evangelicals on the board, there were incorrect impressions about Catholic Church approval. This caused that version of the NLT to fail. But the current version, soon to be released in the USA, came about only after friendly dialogue between Catholics and Tyndale helped build the necessary bridges to make the new version possible. It may take the same in order for the CEB committee to have an official Catholic version on the market, but it's status as an interconfessional work remains since, as far as I am aware, the Catholics scholars worked with permission to do the work.

The CEB is also the first English version created with Jewish translators doing some of the translation work. The NRSV was merely reviewed after it was completed by a single Jewish scholar who checked it to ensure nothing in the OT was offensive to Jews but could not offer formal approval. In contrast the CEB was created by direct cooperation between Christians and Jews, a major step in interconfessional translation. Jews can use the translation as a result.

Christopher Buckley said...

So are you saying the interconfessional edition of the CEB has the same kind of approval as the REB?

CarlHernz said...

To the best of my knowledge, the Catholic scholars who worked on the CEB did so with legitimate permission. All such works fall under the same rule for interconfessional translations of the Sacred Scriptures set in place by the Holy See. The CEB begins with a foreword listing the cooperating bodies of translators, and that is all that is necessary.

I have to admit that up until now it has been not too clear regarding everything about the CEB, but this has partly been due to their production of a Catholic edition. I have just learned that this has been pulled. It previously existed only in e-book format anyway and now that is being phased out. A definitive Catholic edition is not particularly necessary, IMHO, and for what the CEB is I think it is best to stay as it is, a Bible for the ecumenical world. I personally would prefer that if it gets more exposure in the Catholic press that it then gets an imprimatur due to the confusion stirred up to this point. I say this because the CEB would also benefit from the notation requirement, especially explaining how some of the unique rendition choices therein (i.e., "Human One") can be understood in a Catholic context. Accuracy in translation, no matter how precise, can become ineffective if it is too foreign for its target audience, especially when there is nothing in one's religious vocabulary to match the choices offered. While many of the renditions in the CEB are fresh and technically on target, they can confuse and even insult without a full explanation for the Catholic perspective. It's a more precise read than the Good News Bible, thus good for that type of audience. Yet some of its unique choices which barely make up 1% of the CEB can prove to be a stumbling block to the better 99% of it.

Explanatory notations are required and would be welcome, though personally I feel little need to go "modern" in speech all the time. I fear that it is just a novelty in some instances, a "selling" point for Bible publishers to make money when we should be finding ways to fund Bible production in order to offer them at cost or freely. Many of the poor cannot afford a good sturdy Bible that will last through a lifetime of use, and everyone deserves one--not just those who can afford to line the pockets of a bookseller. And if an older expression in Scripture, even one that is somewhat archaic is still fully understood, offering change for modernization's sake is bad translation. I still understand secular books written in the 1900s like "The Wizard of Oz" and earlier, but somehow I supposedly need another revision of a Bible that was just completed in 1970?

Biblical Catholic said...


"T. S. Eliot was invited to be a literary advisor to the translators early in the NEB project (in 1948), but he declined, stating "I wonder whether there is any need for a new translation of the Bible, and also whether any contemporary English is likely to be good enough for the purpose. I should have thought that a text of the [KJV] provided with notes of correction where the Jacobean translators have gone wrong is all that is really needed."

TS Eliot hated the idea of modern language in the Bible, regardless of how well it might have been done. But CS Lewis hated the NEB NT just as much as TS Eliot and CS Lewis had no problem with modern language Bibles, had long advocated modern language Bibles, and had previously endorsed JB Phillips' 'New Testament In Modern English'.

So, not all of the negative reaction to the 1961 NEB NT was due to people just liking the idea of a modern language translation.

I've never read or even had an opportunity to read, the NEB, however, I have literally never heard anything good about it. But of all the complaints out there, they all seem to be referencing the same select verses, verses which have renderings which are admittedly, very bad. But the thing is, that most of the reaction was negative long before the NEB was even published.

That is kind of what getting at in my comparison to the NAB. The NAB suffers from the same kind of PR problem that the NEB does. There are lots of people out there who really, really hate the NAB. And most the most aggressive critics of the NAB are people who seem to have never even read it. And when you read the complaints, one can't help but notice that all the negative reviews mention the exact same verses, such as Isaiah 9:6. It has gotten to the point where I have to wonder whether the person writing the most recent 'the NAB is really terrible' article is doing anything other than copying and pasting someone else's 'the NAB is terrible' article.

No matter how good a Bible translation might be, it is always going to be possible to cherry pick a handful of verses which are bad and make that handful of verses the object of the attack. Even the sainted KJV has some really bad verses here and there.

So, I don't know if the NEB really is as bad as the critics said, all I know is that the NEB was basically the New Coke of Bible translations, just like millions of people 'knew' that they hated New Coke without even trying it, likewise millions of people 'knew' that they hated the NEB without even reading it or giving it a fair chance.

The reasons for this negative reception are complex and multi-faceted, and as I said, I've never actually read it, so I don't know if it is as bad as people say, it might not have been that bad, it might have just been a few bad verses that were blown out of proportion.

And, as you note, the translators of the NEB themselves said that it should not be read aloud, which, so part of the reason for the negative reaction may be precisely that, many people were introduced to the NEB by hearing it read to them at church.

But, of course, it does raise the question, what exactly is the point of translating the Bible at all, if it is not intended to be read aloud. That seems like a very bad decision frankly.

Finally, about the use of the NEB within the Church of England. Here's the thing: the C of E is not very centralized. Individual pastors and individual bishops have a lot of discretion, much more so than in many other denominations. In some C of E churches, one will encounter some parishes that have a very Catholic liturgy and some that have a very evangelical liturgy. The NEB may well have been used in some parishes or dioceses in some parts of the country, though I have never heard that it was, but it was never really approved for use nationwide by the bishops as a whole.

rolf said...

I dusted off my Cambridge REB with Apoc. and started using it again! I like the French Morocco leather it feels good In the hand, though the cover is very stiff! This is a reader's edition so you get one ribbon marker and the Bible text and nothing else. Though, I like the size of this Bible, is 8 1/4 x 5 1/2 (text block) with bold size 8 print on good paper with excellent bleed through control makes up for the lack of everything else!

Mark D. said...

The REB is a much stronger translation than the NEB, still dynamic but not as free as the NEB. I still use the NEB regularly and I think it gets a bad rap -- while there is no question that there are areas of the translation that are too free (I am thinking parts of Malachi and Hebrews specifically), there are other parts of the translation that are quite fluid and beautifully rendered into English. BTW, the Oxford Study Bible edition of the NEB with Apocrypha has an imprimatur from a Catholic bishop (as per pre-1983 canon law) and had Catholic scholars work on the annotations and introductions. The annotations and introductions are considerably different from those in the Oxford Annotated Bible (RSV with Apocrypha) that was published around the same time.

rolf said...

Mark, I agree! I just wish that the REB would have come out in a few more editions and would have been supported a little more by Cambridge and Oxford. But the NRSV came out around the same time and the universities concentrated their efforts there. It would have been nice if they could have sopported both translations! But that is the story of the NEB and REB, just a little late to the dance!

Robert said...

Wish they could have put this translation in ebook format. One of the only translations in ebook that I don't have. same with the ESV w/Apocrypha-Deutercanonicals.

rolf said...

You can get it in the 'Olive Tree' app!

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I know that angry critics can cause a lot of damage. I am not familiar with this translation but I am familiar with the criticism of the Merriam Webster's 3rd International dictionary. The criticism was extreme and wrong-headed and it was effective. So, I can only assume the NEB was better than its critics said.

Mark D. said...

The NEB is a good translation -- the REB is an outstanding translation. It is probably, IMHO, the best of the dynamic translations and it is a true shame that the translation didn't get more usage (as noted in the comments above, it got swamped by the NRSV).

wxmarc said...

Rolf, the Cambridge French Morocco REB is a nice edition isn't it? I had the amazing fortune of getting one new from Cambridge over a year ago. I sent them a message asking if they would ever consider reprinting the with-Apocrypha edition of the REB. While they have no plans on doing that (demand is too small), they said they had one extra French Morocco edition with Apocrypha lying in their storeroom! It's a beautiful edition. The text block is identical to the hardcover Cambridge edition, which was my first copy of the REB.

I agree that the leather cover is stiff, but I've grown to like it. I enjoy a cover that supports the pages enough so I can hold the bible with one hand and read it. If the cover is too floppy, I need to hold it with two hands to support the page I'm reading (I'm always reluctant to fold the bible over, as many people do with their premium leather editions. I think it's a hold-over from my experience with paperback books, which can be bent out of shape that way.)

rolf said...

Wxmarc, I have had this REB a long time and am ready for a change. It will still be easy to hold since the book block is personal size and the paper is pretty thick. That is awsome that they had a REB lying around, these Morrocco editions are getting hard to find. I would love to get one of the lectern editions but don't have a spare $500 + lying around!

wxmarc said...

Yeah, I must say, I've looked longingly at the lectern editions myself!

Jason Engel said...

Sorry for coming to this late. So, just some quick points.

- As an avid reader of the NEB/REB for several years, and given my fascination with histories of translations, I have not once encountered any of the serious negative criticism of the NEB mentioned by BiblicalCatholic in any source. It was not intended for public reading in churches, so when - due to its unexpected popularity - it started to be used for public reading, the translation committee recognized that it's work in the REB must also include effort to maintain what was attractive and improve what was not. The NEB experienced broad church use in America as well as the UK, and this is in part confirmed by the many used copies I have purchased that wore bookplates from churches that used them as gifts to new parish members. While the popularity of the NEB actually grew steadily throughout the 70s and 80s, the REB's struggle for popularity was in part the result of being released at the same time as the NRSV. Of course, the logical explanation for the difference in experience between me history with NEB/REB and BiblicalCatholics may be that I don't associate with conservative churches & their leaders and it's fairly clear he does. The NEB was so often considered "liberal" and favored by churches that leaned liberal. It's descendant, the REB, was, however, looked at as a conservative take-over of the translation branch, so when NEB-using churches needed to look for replacements of the now OOP NEB, they went with the NRSV rather than the REB.

- I found CarlHeinz's comments about the imprimatur in the NRSV to be interesting, but I am questioning their accuracy because my copies of the protest and ecumenical editions from 1992 on all carried text on the publisher page stating they have the imprimatur. However, I have one from 2010 that does not. So not sure what to make of that.