Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Best Bible Translation


Ed Rio said...

It was nice to see a video by an average person who regularly reads the Bible instead of scholars and apologists. Oh, and can't forget, some of the regular contributors to forums. (Do people spend any time on those nowadays? I find little use for them any more.)
I think he came down a little hard on the Good News Translation. For its intended audiences, it's a pretty good one. It has its quirks, as they all do, but I enjoyed reading it.
It was good to hear the NAB called a solid translation. He wasn't a fan of the St. Joseph Edition, but I have little experience with that. The one I had years ago was given away due to very small print. It was also a welcomed break from the usual Luke 1:28 gripes/rants. (After enough reading on that topic, it isn't an issue for me.)
I also liked what he had to say about the JB. The translation itself is a joy to read, the single column format is very good, the notes are helpful, but the font size and the size of the study edition...not so good! It's too bad someone doesn't publish a nice leather JB with larger print, even if it's only for the reader's edition.

rolf said...

Ed, I think his dislike of the St. Joseph edition of the NABRE had nothing to do with that particular edition, it was about the historical-critical book introductions and notes which is common to all editions of the NABRE.

Jason Prewara said...

A few minutes in and I've recognized a somewhat significant error this man has repeated twice now.

Twice he has said St. Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate in the third century... this is incorrect.

The Vetus Latina (old Latin) Bible was translated in the second and third centuries...

Jerome was born in the mid fourth century, and Jeromes Latin Vulgate was translated in the late fourth and early fifth centuries.

Other than that it's good so far, just wanted to point this out however.

Jeff S. said...

Regarding the King James WITH the Apocrypha, what are the key passages
that are "not Catholic enough"? I know that one might be the
Luke 1:28 but I know for a fact that Isaiah 7:14 is translated
exactly the way Catholics would like to see it. I seem to remember
that there is a third verse that's the third "litmus test" verse.

Professor Peter Kreeft at Boston College (a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism) is an advocate of the King James WITH the Apocrypha
becoming the common bible of Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox.
That edition actually has one or so books MORE than the Catholics!

Several good editions of that would be:

http://www.cambridge.org/bibles/all-titles/new-cambridge-paragraph-bible-apocrypha-kj590ta-personal-size?format=HB hardback
http://www.cambridge.org/bibles/all-titles/new-cambridge-paragraph-bible-apocrypha-kj595ta-personal-size?format=BG leather

fancy leather one

Oxford University Press printing the original one from 1611 as it was printed with the real old spelling and font.

in fact, it is available on Amazon.com at
and it lets you "iLookinside"

this has all the old spellings
5-volume set (paperback)

And a really neat VULGATE is put out by Harvard/Dumbarton Oaks

It has some needed corrections to simple oversights by Challoner
as for example in Mark 8:6, Challoner left out Jesus commanding
the flock to sit down on the ground which you'll see on the facing
LATIN page
is clearly indicated. And it has all the places and people spelled in the "modern" style of say the NABRE so one wouldn't get confused by the old-style spelling of the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity editions.

My thoughts are that perhaps the ultimate in "complementing protein"
reading for Bible reading would be to read the aforementioned
complete edition of the King James along with the aforementioned
Harvard/Dumbarton Oaks edition of the Vulgate.

Ed Rio said...

Oh, ok Rolf. I've found the introductions in the NAB(RE) to be helpful and have only noticed a few notes that made me raise an eyebrow. The endnotes are rarely looked at lately. I know some don't like them, but to each his own. :-)

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I enjoyed the video, in particular since he gives reasons why he doesn't like something. He hates the St. Joseph editions of the NAB, but his reason for hating them would be reasons for me to like them. I like the historical critical stuff.

Russ said...

It's always interesting to hear someone else's opinions on bible translations. He completely lost me when he said "terrible footnotes" for the New Jerusalem Bible. One of the many outstanding characteristics of the NJB is its footnotes. To just throw that out there really surprised me. It's a fantastic translation. I'm just sorry it never got the support of other translations, like the NRSV, NIV, NKJV, and NAB(RE). I read it every day and find the footnotes to be simply outstanding.

wxmarc said...

Russ, I totally agree with you about the New Jerusalem Bible. I haven't read it extensively, but whenever I look up passages or read through a book introduction, I find its commentary to be superb. The introductions do a great job of discussing modern historical-critical theories in the context of tradition and looking for ways to reconcile the two. I also find the translation very readable. The single-column format is great -- especially for poetry.

Steve Molitor said...

This was really fun to listen to. I appreciated reviews from someone like me - someone who loves the bible, loves comparing different translations, and doesn't understand the original languages!

I agree, it sounds like his problem with the St. Joseph's edition of the NABRE is actually with the notes, in particular the introductions. I'm guessing that he's particularly annoyed with the NT intros, since he says they get bogged down in whether miracles really happened, etc.

I actually like the NABRE old testament notes. I find them helpful, roughly in the same vain as the NOAB RSV - historical critical and factual, but not heretical.

I found his review of the JB to be spot on: wonderful, but with quirky choices on occasion.

I found it interesting that he actually prefers a bible that is not easy to understand, because "it makes you think about it harder." I guess then in 50-100 years or so the NABRE will be suitable - it's english will be outdated enough to make it a bit harder to understand, but not as hard as say the KJ. Just like the RSV or NASB today! ;)

I do understand what he's saying though. This dovetails with a conversation we had about the RSV a week or so ago. I read the RSV and the NABRE primarily. When I first started reading the NABRE, after using the RSV, I did find that I could breeze thru chapters more quickly, even when lying in bed at night. Sometimes that was a good thing, but sometimes I missed stuff.

The solution for me is to sit up straight and read more slowly! I decided it's not the NABRE's fault that I'm a lazy reader at times! I think the job of a translation is to translate clearly into contemporary English, at whatever reading level the original is at, to the extent that can be done without sacrificing accuracy. I don't need it to be needlessly hard to understand, just to make me slow down.

To pick an example, my beloved RSV uses the word "mantle" a lot. The NABRE and most new translations use "coat." I'm pretty sure there isn't any loss of nuance with "coat", and it is a more common word.

Still, I do understand his point.

Anonymous said...

Ed Rio, if you are looking for a JB (not NJB) with larger fonts, consider the CTS bible:


for example this version in leather, with gold edging, single column for GBP 30 (something like $35)


font size is 8 pt. Not exactly large print, but readable. You can access a text sample on the website to see if it is big enough for you.

This is basically a UK "liturgical usage bible" with the JB as main text, but the Grail psalms substituted in and minor mods (Yahweh -> LORD). The footnotes are largely aligned with the NJB in this version, and it has (some) cross-referencing.

Ed Rio said...

Thanks for the info and link to the CTS Bible. I hadn't picked up my JB Study Edition since getting my new eyeglass prescription. Today I got it out and was pleasantly surprised that, although still smaller than I'm used to, the font was not hard to see clearly and there was no eyestrain! Now the goal is to read the entire JB, instead of re-reading the NABRE. The introduction to the synoptic Gospels was full of information! It'll be interesting to see how the study material compares to what I'm used to in the NAB(RE).

Biblical Catholic said...

Jeff S.,

Regarding the KJV, I think it is important to remember that it was conceived as a partisan Bible, to uphold the distinctive doctrines of the Church of England and to attack the doctrines of the Puritans on the one hand and Catholics on the other.

It is, in fact, an anti-Catholic Bible, a fact which becomes very clear when you read the introduction by the translators (often not included in modern editions of the KJV) which contains several rather vicious attacks on the Catholic Church.

Biblical Catholic said...

One thing he does get wrong, which is a common mistake, is that one of the reasons why the Jerusalem Bible is so readable is because JRR Tolkien was one of the translators. This is just not true.

Tolkien was asked to participate, but he was unable to do so because of his teaching and research load, the only thing he contributed to the project was a translation of the book of Jonah, which is one of the shortest books of the Bible. According to Tolkien himself, he never should have been listed as a translator, but his inclusion in the list was purely honorary. A more cynical interpretation would be that they wanted the prestige of his name even though he contributed almost nothing.

It just isn't true that the Jerusalem Bible is readable because Tolkien was one of the translators.

Ed Rio said...

Thanks for the clarification on what Tolkien translated Biblical Catholic! Personally his contribution is not a deal breaker. What is, is the font size. Even with a recent eyeglass prescription it is still very tiring for the eyes.10-15 minutes and my focus ability was shot for the evening. The large print Oxford NABRE is so much better for me. It can be read easily for a half hour without eyestrain.

Biblical Catholic said...

My own inability to read small print is why I read e-books almost exclusively. With e-books, all but the most poorly formatted and clunky ones, you can adjust the size of the text to suit your needs.

Ed Rio said...

Biblical Catholic, have you made the switch to e-Bibles also? I've used a Bible app or two in the past on the tablet, but nothing more than looking up verses quickly. Have you had less eye strain with e-books?

Biblical Catholic said...

Yes, I have several e-book Bibles, and several e-book Study Bibles or Bible commentaries. The quality of the e-nook depends on the publisher and whether they are willing to format it correctly.

Some of the poorly formatted e-book Bibles have the entire Bible as one big Bible so that the only way to go to a particular chapter or verse is to just keep scrolling until you get there. So, if you want to read, say John 3:16, the only way to get there is to start at Genesis 1:1 and just keep turning the page until you get there, then to go back to Genesis 1:1, you just turn the page the other direction until you get there. That is what the e-book edition of the Jerusalem Bible is like.

The e-book Bibles with the best formatting, such as the e-book edition of the NABRE have a 'table of contents' page, can go instantly to anywhere you want to go, it lists all the books in the Bible in order, then you tap the book you want to go to and it lists the chapters, then you pick a chapter and it lists verse, and then you tap on the verse you want.

I don't suffer any eyestrain at all when reading e-books. I can still read paper books, IF I have sufficient light and IF the type is big enough. It Is difficult for me to find a place with sufficient light, so I just find it easier to read e-books. I use the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy Tab nook tablet, and both of these have led screens rather the e-ink, so I don't need to worry about lighting because I have my own light.

Now, I have tried using a book light to continue reading paper books, but the problem is that book lights tend to be very inconvenient, you can put the book light right on the page, but the moment you want to turn the page, you have to move the book light, and so you are constantly moving the book light back and forth, it becomes exhausting after a while.

Timothy said...


If you would ever have the time, a guest post about the usability of various Catholic e-bibles would be wonderful. 😀

Biblical Catholic said...

Thank you, if I had the time, I could probably do a series about the advantages and disadvantages of e-book Bible compared to traditional paper books, and I could address what is available in e-book form and which ones were the best.

Ed Rio said...

I'm slowly getting used to using the Fire tablet to read books. It's hard to break the habit of relying on it for mainly quick information, music, and communication. With everything going digital, a review of features, along with the pros and cons, of e-Bibles would be great!

Jason Klinnert said...

Seriously, there is just no love anymore for the NJB. Someone please name one Catholic Bible (single volume) with the notes and cross references that the JB and NJB have. Please. I triple dog dare you. Maybe the full NT Navarre but that's just the NT. I have I think every Catholic translation and a few protestant translations and I still reach for my NJB. The readability of it makes it hard to put down. My 2nd choice is the rsv2. Wouldn't it be a joy to have a NABRE or RSV2 that had the notes, cross reference, single column, and margins of the (N)JB? I just wish the USCCB and Ignatius Press would listen to what Catholics want and need.

Jason Klinnert said...

BTW, has anyone ever seen or know the difference between the NJB deluxe edition vs the NJB standard? This is not to be confused with the readers edition which which looks exactly like a RSV which has no notes or cross reference and is double columned. Just curious as to what all the hubbub is about as they go for $150 on eBay.