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.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well yes, there is a need for children's bibles. I'm a little interested in why you see the need for a kids bible with the RSV-2CE. While I like this translation, its just not accessible for kids or even teens. I like the GNT for lots of reasons and even think The Message is good to get kids used to reading the Bible.
Keith

Eric Barczak said...

I'd kind of agree with anonymous-I think the RSV is probably a little bit over the head of a first grader. I think the NABRE is too. My 3rd grade daughter (who's reading almost two grade levels ahead) has some struggle with the NABRE yet. Don't get me wrong-I think the RSV-2 is probably the best modern English Catholic edition, but not for a first grader.

HoosierHound said...

I think you are selling the St. Mary's Press bibles short. They fill almost exactly the criteria you have laid out, except for maybe their covers.

Christopher Buckley said...

@Eric @Anonymous @HoosierHound -

I hear you: the syntax is a bit above the earliest readers. I agree. That's precisely why it's the right level for such a Bible.

Remember, I'm asking for a "Sunday School Bible," not a children's Bible, which is why the St. Mary's Press volumes fall short. If you've been Protestant, you'll know exactly what I mean. It's that Bible you are given in Sunday School, asked to read out loud in group or at home, and are rewarded for memorizing passages of. It'll be the same text you started reading in grade school, and are still reading in High School... because, again, you memorized passages.

That means it has to fill two needs:

1) It needs to be a translation (and binding) they will continue to use beyond childhood

2) It should be a text that is recognized (if not reluctantly respected) by other flavors of Christians

The GNT fills #2, while being very accessible to early readers. That's why St. Mary's Press uses it for their Children's Bible. But that (as much as its colorful cartoonish binding) fails #1. Respect it though I do, the GNT is a translation you outgrow. The passges you memorize as a kid aren't going to hold weight in an adult conversation.

The NABRE, on the other hand, is a translation to grow into. A Sunday school teacher or parent can ask a reading-age child to read a page out loud, ask what they think it means and then talk through an explanation. But, the NABRE fails #2: it is "only a Bible for Catholics." Giving it to a grade schooler in an ecumenical world is just setting them up to have no credibility later among evangelical friends. Anything they memorize and quote will be dismissed. They need at least a Catholic edition of the same translation "everyone else" is reading.

The NLT-CE arguably fills both requirements: accessibility and wide recognition. It may end up being the go-to Catholic edition of they can produce a well-formatted edition in a neutral binding that's easy for new Bible readers to navigate. But does it fulfill the child-to-adult memorization requirement? Only time will tell.

So I can't help thinking that with the popularity of the ESV now often eclipsing the NIV in evangelical circles, a better choice for the "evergreen" translation Catholics can start - and grow - with would be the RSV-2CE. It clocks in at about an 8th grade reading level, so new readers can "stretch up" in class or at home. It is remarkably similar to the ESV because both are edited versions of the RSV. Passages memorized from the 2CE will likely sound familiar to ESV readers.

The 2CE cleans up the 1966 Catholic RSV, while the ESV cleans up the 1971 RSV... which itself incorporated many of the textual changes the CE introduced. Catholics and Evangelicals who care about formal rendering and a "standard" text to memorize now look to these texts over the NRSV. The RSV has the added bonus of being officially cited in the Catechism, and the 2CE will be the base text for YouCat readers later, so starting kids on it makes sense.

Jokingly, the 2CE is essentially the "Catholic Standard Version" and the ESV the "Evangelical Standard Version." In fact, they're so similar, I can dream about a project some day to unify the texts. Imagine a new "USV" reconciling the two into a united interconfessional version used by both Evangelicals and Catholics. Kind of like the Einheitsübersetzung version in Germany created by both Catholic and Reformation churches there.

The point is, almost alone among Catholic translations, the 2CE is close enough to a major Protestant version that you can practically study, memorize, and debate the same text without charges of tampering with Scripture.

The NLT-CE will too, but like the GNT, it may prove to be more of a starter translation than one to grow with... at least for those reading English as their first language. I'd love to see starter Bibles in both.

Michael Demers said...

It'd be interesting to compare the ESV and the RSV2CE word for word. There must be some kind of search engine or app that can do this.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

If you are older than a certain age, you would never have read the Bible as a child, so what you were given were Bible stories. You would be given a children's missal and later a more elaborate 'adult' missal. My parents didn't own a full Bible, though they did own a New Testament and a book of Psalms.
A lot of younger Catholics may find that odd, but it is true.

Michael Francis Saunders said...

I have re-read my comment before hitting send, and it seems to me that it suggests a hostile or combative attitude. I am not hostile or combative. I am not spoiling for a fight. I really don't understand where the OP is coming from, but I am confidant he is coming from a good place, and my questions are legit, not rhetorical.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am not clear on what you seek.

I think you want a Bible that a new reader can use, and can continue to use for the rest of his life. Evangelicals have many such editions of the Bible, you say. If I go down to my local Evangelical bookstore and ask to see a "Sunday-school Bible," will they be able to show me one or more editions like that?

I am sure you can find many editions of the RSV-2CE. What more, besides having a translation which Protestants can respect, do you want? You say it should be "formatted for easy reference by young readers." I am not sure what that means. I would guess that no matter how it is formatted, any RSV-2CE will be hard for the youngest readers to reference.

If I understand you correctly, you want kids to become familiar with the language of a particular translation which they will be able to use all their lives (possibly the RSV-2CE), and you would like them to memorize passages in this one translation, even if this means they have to stretch (and be coached) to understand that language. Okay, but can't you read to them out of your Bible? Can't you write out passages from your Bible for them to memorize? They can use their Bibles when they read to you, or read on their own. If they read the Bible in a group (Catholic School, CCD, or Sunday School) Then they should use whatever Bible the group is using.

It seems that St Mary's wants Catholics to buy a succession of Bibles as their kids are growing up. Well, they sell more Bibles that way, but it isn't a bad idea, and might even be a good idea.

My suggestions would be to plan on giving a succession of Bibles, starting with a GOOD Bible storybook (one that not only gives all the stories but shows how they are all linked together into a big over-arching story of God's love for His people, and by implication if not explication, His love for the child who has received the book). Then St Mary's Children's Bible, their Youth Bible, and then the RSV-2CE version of the Didache' Bible.

Michael Francis

Christopher Buckley said...

@Michael Demers I compared the two translations today on the bus home after reading your comment, looking up the mass readings. Save for one or two pronouns, each passage was identical across the two translations right down to the punctuation. Both are editorial revisions of essentially the very same base text.

@Jerry McKenna I certainly recognize what you say. As a convert though, I can't emphasize enough how much I wish this aspect of cultural Catholicism would give way to the Protestant model. As a Methodist, we had Bibles (plural) at home, and read them. Sunday school lessons, even when dominated by arts, crafts, and songs, always involved "Take out your Bible, and turn to..." Lessons were devoted to memorizing the order of the books, and how to use navigation aids at the top of page to find one book quickly. And always memorizing and reciting verses. I can still sing you the names of the books of the Old Testament in order. Don't get me wrong: I chose sacramentality. But a little more disciplined Biblical orientation would only make for a stronger, more sacramental Church.

@Michael Francis Saunders It's a fair point, and for want of a suitable choice, that's what I do. I read them mine and theirs. Most importantly, the boys actively see me reading my own Bible each morning with my practice of the praying the morning Hours. In a world where religion is feminized, I want them to internalize that it's a manly thing to do.

The difference though between my Bible, a Children's Bible and what I'm looking for are many.

-My Bible, and a Children's Bible are both essentially study Bibles with extensive commentaries written for concerns of different ages. A Sunday School Bible would be pretty much text only, save for translation notes and introductions.

-When I talk about formatting, I'm talking about navigation aids: clear references at the top corner of each page indicating at a glance what book you're in and how far into it you are. There may be some kind of printed or physical tabs along the edge of the page so you can flip through to a specific point once you know your way around. The text isn't so compact, but designed for reading. Tables of contents are more robust, perhaps color coded or shaded to match the tabs for easy orientation until you get the order down and can find your way. That's where illustrations, or possibly color plates, come in. I found a neat old Nelson RSV at my Grandmother's house, with a number of color illustration plates throughout. Dated now, yes, but they kept you turning pages. There may even be a topical index of suggested texts to read or memorize around specific issues, doctrines, or life concerns.

-Again, binding makes a huge difference to longevity. If it says "Children's Bible," adults don't open it, even if it's the same text. If it says "Catholic Bible," you can't win any arguments. It should be a simple, sturdy cover, perhaps titled merely "Holy Bible" with the translation identified on the spine.

Michael Demers said...

@Christopher Buckley, thank you and I look forward to the USV.

Michael Demers said...

I wonder how old Jesus was when he began to read the Scriptures. 12?

Steve Molitor said...

Chris,

Thanks for your post. My children are 2 and 1, so we will be looking into bibles for them in the future.

I didn't quite follow your comments about the NABRE being unsuitable however:

'2) It should be a text that is recognized (if not reluctantly respected) by other flavors of Christians'

'But, the NABRE fails #2: it is "only a Bible for Catholics." Giving it to a grade schooler in an ecumencal world is just setting them up to have no credibility later among evangelical friends. Anything they memorize and quote will be dismissed. They need at least a Catholic edition of the same translation "everyone else" is reading.'

I disagree for several reasons.

- The NABRE is slowly gaining respect among other Christians, at least judging by some Protestant bible blogs I've read. It wouldn't surprise me if in ten years, when the kid grows up, that the NABRE is highly respected, at least among those who don't have an irrational anti-Catholic bias. And for those who do, you'll never please them anyway.

- Who is this "everyone else"? What about their liberal protestant friends who are reading the NRSV or what have you? Won't they dismiss the RSV (or ESV) as a sexist and "fundamentalist" bible? You can play the game of pleasing imaginary future friends of your kids round and round forever...

- Who cares what "everyone else" thinks anyway? A child well grounded in their faith should be able to defend solid Catholic material, such as the NABRE. Why be ashamed of the NABRE, or other Catholic things?

I'm not saying the NABRE is the only suitable translation. The RSV-CE2 is great too. But there's no reason to be ashamed of it, just because it's Catholic.

CarlHernz said...

I think a lot of people have varied but nonetheless valid opinions and views that can work in many circumstances, for some people, but definitely not always across the board. There is definitely some value too in what Christopher stated about Catholics, young AND old, getting to be more proficient at knowing where one can find Scripture texts in the Bible, not to mention how to look them up with efficacy and ease. But I think we need to do more than worry about which Bible will help them (and especially our children) keep up with dialogue with Protestants.

Whichever Bible we give our children, the important thing in the Catholic tradition is to learn to use it to be a better neighbor to others and a faithful servant of God. Of course, as a Catholic it is important to know one's Bible in order to "always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15) But the Catholic tradition is less about learning your Bible in order to be prepared to engage with others who challenge Catholic faith. Foremost Catholics learn Scripture in order that they can evangelize by means of a life that reflects what is written in Scripture. Catholics do not study Scripture in order to show their faith by their words or arguments, but to live lives that prove their faith by the way they live.--Compare James 2:18.

Unless our children learn that the message in Scripture is one that teaches us to be the healing presence of God's kingdom in the world, their mastery of Scripture will be hollow, like that demonstrated when a Jehovah's Witness comes to your door and quotes an abundance of texts, but walks away judging you as blinded by Satan for not subscribing to their religion. Knowing a lot of "proof-texts" doesn't guarantee that someone harbors within themselves the right dignity others deserve to be thought of with.

Jesus wants his disciples to evangelize, definitely, but he isn't clearing out special places in heaven for just those people who have made the most converts, won the most debates, or even performed the most miracles in his name.(Matthew 7:21-23) On the contrary, Jesus teaches that those who spend a life serving the poor, the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the disenfranchised, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick and visiting the imprisoned as if they were ministering to Jesus himself--yes, this is what a person does who reads God's Word and gets it. Those who read it and don't get this "go away into eternal punishment."--Matthew 25:31-46.

While this does not exclude the need to correct false doctrine when the need arises (2 Timothy 4:2), remember it was a Samaritan, a man who practiced a false religion with incorrect doctrines, who proved to be "good" by comparison with a priest and a Levite who served at the authentic site of worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. (Luke 10:25-37) It's not those who merely know what the Bible authentically teaches that get God's approval, but those who authentically do what God teaches us in Scripture: "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified."--Romans 2:13.

While many of the views and points mentioned above have value, remember you want to get a Bible for a child that helps them learn that "the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of living it by its power."--1 Corinthians 4:20.

Christopher Buckley said...

I'm certainly not anti-NABRE. It's one of my two translations I use daily.
I'd like nothing more than for it to be one of the "default" translations used ecumenically.

But right now, it's not, and the reason it's not is that it comes from Catholics. Therefore it is automatically suspect for pushing Catholic dogma and doctrine. To a convinced Evangelical, it's as partisan and biased in its misrepresentation of the fundamentals of the faith as the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation (ironically adapted from the American Standard Version, the precursor to the RSV).

So I hear you, Steve, but that's why I say the broader appeal matters. It's one thing to be using a "Catholic edition" of a recognized Bible translation used across Christians. It's quite another to use a "Catholic Bible."

Totally agreed, we have a specific WAY of reading the Bible and a DOCTRINE we want kids to learn and live, that is quite different than Protestants. It's why I converted.

"Everyone else" matters to the new evangelization. Perhaps it's an artifact of my joining thru RCIA, but Catholics who are convinced as adults don't just drop their Protestant or Evangelical foundations once and for all. We bring them into the Church with us, and continue to build on them. The Church won't thrive simply by "raising up" our kids as cradle Catholics. We need to offer our fellow Christians a way home to the original Christianity. More importantly, we need to equip our own cradle Catholic kids with the skills needed to differentiate our Catholic faith from the many ways their non-Catholic Christian friends practice and appeal to them. And we need to talk Catholic ideas in the language evangelicals (and New Agers and Buddhists) use so that we can help our kids find thew way back when (not if) they step away from the Church we raised them in.

Steve Molitor said...

Chris,

I totally agree about evangelizing to everyone - New Agers, Buddhists, even Jehovah's Witness. But I still don't follow why just one of those groups should be catered to (evangelicals) in choice of bible translation for a child.

And as Carl said, true witness is about more than quoting memorized bible verses anyway.

Fundamentally, I don't understand why a good Catholic bible would ever be an inappropriate choice for a Catholic child.

Steve

Christopher Buckley said...

Neither do I.

I just want a good Catholic Bible.

;-)

Michael Francis Saunders said...

I went to my local Evangelical bookstore this morning. I looked through all the Bibles on display, and when the clerk asked if she could help me, I asked to see a "Sunday School Bible."

She had no idea what I was talking about, and asked which church's Sunday school would it be for. She said she could ask the church what edition of the Bible they used in their Sunday school. I said I wasn't looking for a particular edition, but was looking for any of the kind of Bible that churches use for Sunday school.

She was baffled by this, and said that as far as she knew, there was no such category of Bible editions. I said, "I don't know, but I was told that Evangelicals would recognize that as a kind of Bible." She said, "I am an Evangelical, and I have no idea." She went to her computer terminal and asked me what translation I was looking for. I said I thought that many different translations might find their way into this kind of Bible, but then meekly suggested "RSV?" She seemed doubtful, but typed it in (I couldn't see her screen) and then she brightened, "Oh, the New Revised Standard Version" ... and then "Here's something, [hesitation] ... it's a large print Catholic edition, with Deuterocanon." (I think her nose wrinkled a little on "Deuterocanon.") They don't carry it, but They could order it and it would be in on Tuesday. She wrote down the ISBN for me. It is published by Oxford University Press.

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/revised-standard-version-catholic-bible-9780195288704?q=9780195288704&lang=en&cc=us

As far as I can tell, this looks a lot like what the OP seeks, except that both the front and back covers call it a "Catholic Bible" and the front cover has a full color picture of Jesus displaying His Sacred Heart.

Michael Francis

Michael Demers said...

@Michael Francis Saunders: now this is all very revealing; an eye-opener!

wxmarc said...

This is interesting, although I'm not surprised that the clerk found a Catholic edition when you mentioned the RSV. I haven't been able to find any copies of Protestant or ecumenical (with Apocrypha) editions of the RSV in Christian bookstores for years. The only commonly-sold editions of the RSV on bookstore shelves are Catholic. I wonder what would have happened if you mentioned the ESV or NLT.

Christopher Buckley said...

It's definitely a phrase I'm coining. It's that Bible you take with you to Sunday School.
Or my "Sunday School Bible."

As a kid, mine was the Good News Bible (not labeled as a Children's Bible).
It lasted me thru to college, when I switched to the (then) RSV.
Both had neutral covers that identified them as the "Bible," not as the Bible for "Children" (or "youth" or "Catholics" or "Women" or whatever).

Christopher Buckley said...

For what it's worth, from the available (limited) options, I opted for the St. Mary's Press Children's Bible for my nephew:

https://smile.amazon.com/Catholic-Childrens-Bible-hardcover/dp/1599821788/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488819693&sr=1-1&keywords=catholic+children%27s+bible

Shockingly, still the only full-text official Catholic Children's Bible in print.

But it does have a companion volume in their Catholic Children's Prayer book:

https://smile.amazon.com/Catholic-Childrens-Prayer-Book/dp/1599827883/ref=pd_sim_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1599827883&pd_rd_r=4A7H79Z8W5826DXNERXE&pd_rd_w=cAQpA&pd_rd_wg=W2ZNT&psc=1&refRID=4A7H79Z8W5826DXNERXE

Steve Molitor said...

Chris,

Thanks for letting us know about the St. Mary's Press Children's Bible! I may be looking at that for my boys in a few years.

Steve

Biblical Catholic said...

"I'm certainly not anti-NABRE. It's one of my two translations I use daily.
I'd like nothing more than for it to be one of the "default" translations used ecumenically.

But right now, it's not, and the reason it's not is that it comes from Catholics. Therefore it is automatically suspect for pushing Catholic dogma and doctrine. To a convinced Evangelical, it's as partisan and biased in its misrepresentation of the fundamentals of the faith as the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation (ironically adapted from the American Standard Version, the precursor to the RSV)."


Incorrect, while there are no doubt some anti-Catholic Protestants who avoid all Catholic Bibles just out of principles, that isn't the main reason that the NAB isn't used anywhere except by Catholics.

In fact, the NAB is more ecumenical than many of the bestselling Bibles currently on the market. There were, on the NAB translation team, not merely Catholic scholars, but also Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish scholars. This is definitely not a claim that can be made about the NIV, the ESV, the HCSB, the NASB or many others. It would seem to be the ideal Bible for Anglicans and Orthodox Christians to use for that very reason, but they don't.

The main reason why the NAB is no an ecumenical Bible is because the market is flooded with Bible translations, and there is very little about the NAB that is truly distinctive or unique to make it stand out from the crowd.

Why would any Protestant use the NAB when there are literally dozens of other options that are as good or better? What does the NAB have that other translations don't have? As far as I can tell, nothing.

And the fact of the matter is that the notes in the NAB tend to alienate and offend many potential readers. Any evangelicals who might be inclined to give the NAB a fair shake are going to put it back on the shelf the instant they start reading the notes.

This, combined with the fact that the NAB received a very poor reception from Catholics when it was first published in 1970, gives the NAB a very bad (although I believe, exaggeratedly bad) reputation.

The fact of the matter is that there really is no truly 'ecumenical Bible' out there, which is precisely where there are so many translations.

Any Bible you can think of has its share of critics who dismiss it as 'biased' or 'sectarian'.

The RSV and the NRSV are both dismissed as 'liberal Bibles' by evangelicals. I don't know if you've ever done a serious study of the issue, but the fact of the matter is that there are some fairly serious doctrinal issues that have been raised about both of these translations, particularly in the Old Testament. Not a few commentators have pointed out that all of the Old Testament messianic prophecies seem to have been deliberately translated so as to make a Christian interpretation impossible.

The ESV is dismissed by Catholics as 'Calvinist' and is dismissed by liberal Protestants as a 'woman haters Bible'.

The NIV is dismissed by both Catholics and mainline Protestants as biased in favor of evangelicalism.

The HCSB is dismissed as a 'Baptist Bible', and the NASB is dismissed as an attempt to create a fundamentalist alternative to the RSV (which, let's be honest, is exactly what it is).

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.







Christopher Buckley said...

Thanks Biblical Catholic-

Yes, I'm certainly familiar with the contentious history of the RSV with Evangelicals, which is why their reliant on it for the ESV is such a step foreward. What was anathema to them then is now their conerstone.

And you've unpacked nicely what I was brushing through in my write-up: Evangelicals and even mainline Protestants will reject the NABRE because of the notes. They clearly mark it as a Bible from and for the Catholics. So I hear you, and I stand by my summary. I don't think we're in disagreement here.

Biblical Catholic said...

No, the reason why the notes are offensive to Protestants and Evangelicals isn't because they are Catholic, because truthfully, the Catholicity of the notes is in question I think, being that the notes challenge the traditional Catholic interpretation of the scriptures.

The reason why I think evangelicals aren't going to like the notes is because they are heretical, openly denying many of the chief doctrines of Christianity and questioning the legitimacy and truthfulness of the scriptures on many key points.

There is just simply no reason for a Protestant to want to read the NAB. It is a decent translation, but it is far from the best translation, in either accuracy or readability. The primary appeal of the NAB is the fact that it is the Bible that is used in the liturgy, which is not something that anyone except Catholics cares about.

The NAB translation itself in fact avoids many of the characteristic 'Catholic expressions' that have been used in Catholic Bibles since the Douay-Rheims, it calls Mary a 'favored one' rather than 'full of grace', Jesus calls people to 'repent' rather than to 'do penance', it says 'presbyters' rather than 'priests' etc.

And again, going back to its first publication in 1970, the NAB has a bad reputation, mostly undeserved. Remember that the 1970 NT was very.....bizarre, and employed many bizarre terms of phrase, such as not referring to the 'kingdom of God.' This is why, when the NT was published in 1970, it was immediately judged to be inadequate and a revision was ordered, which was finally published in 1986.

If there was something that was unique or distinctive about the NAB that might appeal to Protestants, then they might try it out, but the only really distinctive about the NAB is that it is the Bible used in the liturgy, which is something that only Catholics are likely to care about.

At any rate, I'm not sure that the fact that the NAB is a 'Catholic Bibles' is something that ought to matter anyway. Why should we care what non-Catholics think about the Bible we use?

Michael Demers said...

@Biblical Catholic: I imagine that the notes have been revised and updated for the 2010 edition. Also, can you cite one note that's heretical?

Biblical Catholic said...

No, the notes were not revised in the 2011 edition, the notes have not changed since the 1970 edition, although they are supposed to be updated for the third edition of the New Testament in 2025.

As for the problems with the notes....

There are literally hundreds of places where the notes suggest that the scriptural accounts are in error.

For example, if you read the notes in the gospels, they repeatedly point out alleged 'contradictions' between one gospel and another. The notes do the same thing in the Pentateuch, claiming, following the JEDP theory, that there are multiple accounts of the same event which contradict each other.

The notes also suggest that pretty much all instances of fulfilled prophecy in the Old Testament are really descriptions of events that were written after they had already and put in the mouth of someone who lived in the past to make them look like predictions.

The notes in the Gospel of John are particularly bad, asserting that the author of the gospel is confused, and includes events that actually happened decades after the events of gospel. The notes assert (at John 11:49) that John falsely believes that the high priest only served for one year. The notes assert that John's claim that the authorities issued a decree that anyone who believes in Jesus should be expelled from the synagogue never happened at all and reflects the state of affairs at the time the gospel was written.

There are many of these kinds of examples that could be given. This is the stuff that I was talking about when I said that a Protestant looking at the notes is likely to be offended and to put it back on the shelf.

And now, as far as the notes being Catholic well...in many points the notes challenge or question established Catholic doctrine, the most infamous being the note on 1 Corinthians 3:15.

1 Corinthians 3:15 says (in the NAB)

"But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved,[a] but only as through fire."

The note reads simply "The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this."



You know what the text is referring to there when it says that the verse has 'sometimes been used'? One of the places where that verse has been used to support the notion of Purgatory is in the decree on Purgatory by the Council of Trent. Yet these notes baldly assert, without providing any supporting arguments or evidence, that the Council was simply wrong.







Michael Demers said...

@ Biblical Catholic: Good point. Compare this excerpt from the Didache Bible on 1 Corinthians 3:15, "...The Church's teaching on Purgatory is based on Sacred Scripture and the immemorial tradition of both Jews and Christians of praying for the dead (cf. 2 Mc 12:39-45). (CCC 1030-1032, 1054, 1472, 1475)."

Ignatius Press; Midwest Theological Forum. The Didache Bible: with Commentaries Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Erap10 said...

Yeah, that note from 1 Corinthians really disturbed me at the time.
On another note, I really hope to God that not only they change "favored one" to "full of grace" (or something close to it), but also put a note about the Greek word itself (kecharitomene)!!!
In the current 1986 NT it doesn't mention anything remarkable about the angelical salutation.

Michael Demers said...

Regarding the commentary in the NABRE, please see again Timothy's post back in 2011: http://www.catholicbiblesblog.com/2011/02/nabre-notes-and-commentary.html

Michael Demers said...

Also see this (from Facebook):

15) Will the commentary and notes be new for the Old Testament? How about the New Testament?
All introductions and notes for the Old Testament have been revised or at least re-examined. Some remain unchanged because the underlying material remains unchanged, e.g., a note that explains a play on words in the original Hebrew. The note s in the NABRE Old Testament are far more extensive than those in the 1970 edition and will provide a very helpful resource to those seeking to undertake the canonical exegesis recommended by Pope Benedict XVI. Many of the notes provide very helpful information about how a specific verse is interpreted in other parts of the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Combined with the extensive cross references, readers will be able to interpret the text in light of the unity of Scripture.

The New Testament notes remain unchanged.

Biblical Catholic said...

The NAB notes are useful in many places, the notes which explain the puns in the original Hebrew (for example what Pharoah's daughter meant when she said that 'I will name him 'Moses' because I drew him out of the water') are particularly useful.

It is the historical-critical notes which repeatedly assert that the scriptural account is in error that are the problem. They need to eliminate those notes entirely.

Michael Demers said...

@Biblical Catholic: Well, just make sure you don't miss the forest for the trees.