Friday, November 17, 2017

Guest Post: NABRE vs. NRSV (Part I)

This is meant to be more of a participatory guest post by Dominic, who wants to know your thoughts comparing the NABRE and NRSV bibles.  He has listed some ground rules for this, which I encourage you to read before commenting.  Dominic has been going over both translations for years now, and is interested in hearing what you all think.  This is the first in a multi-part series.

Here are the ground rules:


1) Must have an appreciation for both translations and you must state that. 

2) State your favorite Bible Translation (doesn’t have to be the NRSV or NABRE)

3) Pros and cons of each translation

4) No other translation may be introduced other than only naming your favorite translation. 

5) Which Translation do you prefer between the two, and why?

At minimum, you must follow the five points or your comments will not be posted.  If at all possible,  post links to articles or essays about said translations and translation philosophies that may be read for further reflection for both series.

9 comments:

Tom said...

I like both translations, at least since NAB became NABRE.

My favorite translation is probably the Knox.

For me, the pro side of the NRSV is the language is a bit clearer and pleasingly less familiar. The NABRE sounds so much like the Mass readings that it can be a bit numbingly familiar. The con side of the NRSV is the intrusive language (okay, actually inclusive, but it’s intrusive in its inclusivity). The pro for NABRE for me is that even though I know the notes are infamous and skeptical in nature, I do like reading a gloss on things. If the NRSV came with NABRE notes I’d probably never read the NABRE.

So in summary, I prefer the NRSV for reading, the NABRE for study.

PS: Pointless aside. These CAPTCHA tests starting to make me nervous. This one wasn't bad, but I was on a site the other day that I failed repeatedly since I'm never sure if the photo containing a sliver of road sign or car "counts". When A.I. comes along I guess it'll be the end of commenting.

Timothy said...

Thanks for your comments Tom. Sorry about the CAPTCHA. I get way too many spam emails as it is. But I do feel your pain!

Anonymous said...

NRSV is main version and prefer it's elegant style. Excessive gender correction language is it's flaw (I am for moderate).

I like NABRE because it gives me a purely Catholic version. It is clear. But bland in style.

Leighton said...

I will try to remember all the ground rules!

Favorite translation: Probably the REB with deuterocanonicals, in spite of a few glaring defects in translation choices. I love the flow and the beauty of the language, even if it fails at times (what translation is perfect?).

I do like both the NABRE and NRSV very much and use them primarily, especially when teaching. Both are excellent translations in my estimation.

Preference between the two: NRSV. Why? Because, to my ear, it is much smoother and elegant in style than the NABRE.

Observations: The NABRE does a much better job with gender inclusiveness. It is inclusive while not compromising key themes (such as not pluralizing in places where the meaning and typology might be obscured). For instance, in the NABRE you will not hear about the "human one" (ch. 7) but rather the "son of man," which connects to Jesus' self-designation. Also, Psalm 1 retains the ability to see Christ prefigured in the description of the blessed man (or "one," as the REB renders it). Many scholars have said that pluralizing the blessed man obscures the connection.

The NABRE has some REALLY awkward renderings, such as its fumbling English in Matthew 19:6 due to an attempt at inclusivity, but I really enjoy the letters of St. Paul in the NABRE. The NABRE psalms and prophets are good, too.

My favorite edition of the NRSV is my genuine leather, New Interpreter's Bible. My favorite edition of the NABRE is my Oxford Catholic Study Bible, edited by Donald Senior (which was bonded leather, but I recovered it with the genuine leather of my old NAB one).

Christopher Buckley said...

1) Must have an appreciation for both translations and you must state that.
I appreciate both translations, and consider them both reliable.

2) State your favorite Bible Translation (doesn’t have to be the NRSV or NABRE)
My heart will probably always belong to the RSV, though I am committed now to the NABRE because I appreciate the more recent textual basis.

3) Pros and cons of each translation
Pros-
Both: Equivalent source text (both use Nestle Aland 26th ed. Greek NT), OT source text uses full array of texts not available to RSV translators, ease of reading, gender inclusiveness more palatable to array of modern readers
NRSV: Evokes literary tradition of RSV, consistent edition (OT/NT released together, not in waves)
NABRE: A reliable and fluid rendering of the OT balancing multiple source texts, more recent than NRSV, and more nuanced in its balancing of horizontal vs. vertical inclusive language. Introduces some fine phrasings all its own (Oracle of the Lord!). Also, sponsored by the USCCB, owned by CCD, and translated by the CBA, it represents the Catholic Church's own official presentation of scripture to the faithful.

Cons-
Both: At times gender inclusiveness forces an awkward reading, similarly use of OT source texts beyond Masoretic Text lends to nontraditional renderings in OT ("young woman")
NRSV: Clunkier inclusiveness (esp. in Pauline letters) with language that simply departs from source text ("brothers ans sisters"), OT based on older source texts, not as lovely as NABRE's revised OT
NABRE: Inconsistent hybrid translation (2011 OT + 1986 NT) and thus "incomplete" until NT finally revised

4) No other translation may be introduced other than only naming your favorite translation.
OK, I won't mention the HCSB.

5) Which Translation do you prefer between the two, and why?
NABRE. Quite simply because I like to know that the Bible I'm reading is based on the most recent source text analysis possible. So as much as the RSV will always hold a special place in my heart, I come to "trust" it less and less because I know the NT is based on the NA 17th ed, and the OT is limited to the MT available in the 1940s.

Both the NABRE and NRSV use the NA 26th ed. for their NTs, and also balance the MT with older preferred readings of OT texts from Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, and Vulgate which were unavailable to the RSV translators. Arguably though both share a common NT source text, the NABRE presents a more recent textual working of the OT.

Only two Catholic translations use a more recent textual tradition for their NT (NA 27th ed. Greek NT), but these are both Protestant editions approved for catholic use. The NABRE NT revision project is working with the 28th edition. (Only the Christian Standard Bible - formerly the HCSB - currently uses the 28th ed. Greek NT as its basis. But as I said, I won't mention that.)

JDH said...

I love the NRSV and the NABRE! Those two and the RSV-CE are the only translations I regularly use. Occasionally, I'll read from the Knox or Bibliotheca, but usually one of those three.

With the revised OT, the NABRE has taken over the top spot for me, but the NRSV is not far behind.

Pros and cons: The NABRE is a wonderfully readable, yet mostly formal equivalence, translation that, in my opinion, gets the inclusive language issue almost exactly right. The cons include the constant revisions, resulting in lots of confusion among people as to the current text or the status of the text. Also, there are a handful of places where the translation makes unfortunate choices. Those places are well known and the same can probably be said of any translation.

As for the NRSV, I think they went a bit overboard with the inclusive language. But, the footnotes help with that, and the literary quality is outstanding.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

1) I purchased 2 bibles in the last year. The first was an older copy of the NRSV (the Oxford Annotated) and the other was a recent NABRE. I chose these on purpose.

2) My favorite varies depending on need. I enjoy reading the earliest Douay outloud, it has a wonderful antique sound. For practical reading, I prefer the NRSV.

3) For my purposes the 2 are have no cons other than publishing decisions. My NABRE is printed on too translucent paper. Both are 2 column printings, I would prefer single column.

4 .. NA

5) Which Translation do you prefer between the two, and why?
As a translation I like the NRSV because it is a study edition. I dislike the way the NABRE has divided the books into topics called 'principal divisions'. My copy is the Harper Collins and I find those division distracting when added to the existing chapters and verses.

Bob said...

1. I do indeed have an appreciation for both translations.

2. I'm quite surprised to say that for the past year or so I've settled in with having the NABRE as my favorite, though I also spend a lot of time with the c. 1986 NAB because it matches the lectionary quite well, and that sort of thing matters to me.

3. NABRE: PROS-It is a Catholic translation which while quite literal for the most part and based on the most modern text evidence. (The New Testament is getting revised as we speak. Until then, we have a very good one that is current to the scholarship of the 1980s, which is still quite recent.) It reads aloud well. It's inclusive language was well thought out and nearly always reflects language as it is spoken and written nowadays, while remaining true-ish to the source material, according to material I've read. While the footnotes catch heat, I truly don't understand the animus. I think these annotations are incredibly helpful. Without them, large sections of the Old Testament would be opaque to me. The epistles and Revelation are made much clearer by the notes and the world of the Gospels is illuminated. For me these notes have not only helped my intellect, but increased my faith. See the notes on hinting at Christ's divinity in Mark 6:50 and parallels.

CONS-It still isn't a totally uniform translation due to a '86 NT and a '11 OT. It isn't in the KJV stream of existing in dialogue with great literature, if that matters to you. There aren't many scholarly helps for this translation--at least compared to the NRSV.

NRSV-PROS- It is a very free-flowing and fluent translation. Its reputation for beauty is deserved. It is the current preferred bible translation for colleges and bible scholars. It is the translation used by a lot of spiritual reading in the world of Ignatian spirituality, as well as the lectionary of a Benedictine Monastery I like quite a bit. Small thing, but I think its treatment of the hymn in Phillipians 2 is the best I've read. It is trusted even by people outside of Christianity--it is the base text for the Jewish Annotated New Testament.

CONS-While this is probably intermingled with the NRSV being so appreciated on an ecumenical level, I would feel slightly more comfortable with more involvement in a translation by the traditional liturgical/sacramental Christian communities. In my peace activism I've hung out with many great Mainline protestants, but to be perfectly honest I find their churches to be a bit accommodating and watered down. (That being said, knowing these people has been very inspiring to me, as they love Jesus to a deep level that I am only beginning to understand in my own life.) The NRSV's inclusive language can be a bit beyond how we speak it, even now, 25 years after it was published! It thoroughly wrecks a couple OT typologies.


My preferred translation is the NABRE. I think it is as scholarly, and more updated, than the NRSV. Also, it is the newest version of the bible I grew up listening to at mass, so even its strangest language seems to me quite normal and inoffensive (I'm thinking of Isaiah 9 here). I find its literary value to be incredibly underrated. And while I am involved in several ecumenical things, in the privacy of my own bible reading, I guess it still matters to me that the NAB was a Catholic translation from soup to nuts, and not a translation with Catholic involvement.

One last thing: I am not excited or nostalgic about archaic English, however the parable of the "dishonest manager" in the NRSV strikes me as too modern! That being said, I bet that the word "steward" is a word that I understand in that context only from that parable. I suppose this outmoded noun will be on the chopping block for the 2025 NT, but I can't think of a single alternative that doesn't sound banal. Is this the first sign that in the year 2040 I will be curmudgeonly reading my 2011 NABRE and bemoaning the undignified newer translations?

Steve Molitor said...

1. The NABRE and NRSV are among my three favorite translations. I love them both.

2. My favorite translation is the RSV.

3.

NRSV Pros:
The NRSV is the most uniformly beautiful translation. It flows smoothly, and is in the KJ tradition, so it still echoes traditional phrasing that resonates in our culture, because of the deep influence of the KJ. It is based on fairly recent scholarship and manuscripts.

NRSV Cons:
The inclusive language is too much at times, as mentioned by almost everyone else!

NABRE Pros:
It's used at mass. It's easier for an American to understand at times than the NRSV, while still being a fairly literal translation. It is also based on fairly recent scholarship and manuscripts: in the case of the OT, very recent. The revised OT is quite stunning at times, particularly Isaiah.

NABRE Cons:
The NT isn't quite as good as the OT. It feels like two translations sometimes, as the style and notes of the old and new testaments don't match up.

4. I prefer the NABRE. The NRSV is somewhat similar to my RSV, so I pick up the NABRE when I want to read something different. It's really growing on me.