Pat Reviews Various Translations of the
Study Bible (CSB)
The Catholic Study Bible
is a special edition of the New American Bible.
The American Bishops insist that every
edition of the NAB have the same footnotes --
whether it is a family edition, large-print
edition, electronic edition, or a study bible.
So what makes the CSB special? It is a
bible and commentary in one volume!
The first 525 pages are a “Reading
contains general Catholic teaching about the
Bible, as well as a commentary on each biblical
book. Throughout the biblical text, from Genesis
through Revelation, there are marginal notes. For
instance, at Matt 1:1, there is a note: “See RG
375-76.” This alerts the reader that pages
375-376 of the Reading Guide have information to
help understand this part of Matthew’s Gospel.
After the Book of Revelation
there are other useful study tools.
A “Glossary” explains the meaning of
many words. There is a section on biblical
“Measures & Weights.” There is also a
“Lectionary” section, which lists the
scripture passages used at Mass in the Catholic
Church for Sundays and weekdays.
Finally, there is a helpful Index, a small
concordance, and a series of maps. [I will do a
separate Pastor’s Corner on concordances in the
I heartily recommend the CSB
as a worthy addition to your library. The 2011
edition contains the NABRE, New American Bible
Revised Edition. The translation of the OT, along
with its notes, is completely revised.
American Bible (NAB)
New American Bible is
the translation of the scriptures that we read at
Mass on Sundays.
The NAB was the first Catholic translation
to render the ancient texts from Hebrew, Aramaic,
and Greek directly into English.
the NAB the Douay Bible was in use.
This was a translation of St. Jerome’s
Latin translation of the bible, often called the
In effect the Douay Bible was a translation
of a translation.
Similarly, the Jerusalem Bible was based on
a French translation of the ancient languages.
Since the editors wanted to use the same
footnotes, they had to “keep an eye on the
French” when they were writing their English, so
the JB was also in effect a “translation of a
NAB has gone through several editions. The first
edition came out in 1970.
It was done rather quickly, and needed
1986 version was a great improvement.
Then, in 1991 the book of Psalms was
revised—the rest of the bible being
Last year, 2011, a completely revised Old
Testament was published, with completely revised
study notes. The
2011 edition is so updated that it no longer goes
by NAB, but by NABRE, New American Bible Revised
NABRE can be purchased at bookstores.
It will probably be some time before our
liturgical books are updated.
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
RSV, Revised Standard Version is the 1952
revision of the King James Version.
It is available in three formats. The OT of
the simple RSV has only books accepted by Jews and
“RSV with Apocrypha” has additional books
accepted by Catholics and Greek Orthodox (whose OT
is longer than ours).
It places these books in an appendix after
the NT. The “RSV Catholic Edition” contains
all the books recognized by the Church, and places
them in our “Catholic order,” i.e., in the
midst of the other OT books.
RSV is a fairly “literal” translation; it
often renders the Hebrew and the Greek
word-for-word into English.
It is a bit old fashioned in that it uses
“thee” and “thou” when addressing God, but
it does not use these words when addressing a
human being. Another
weakness, by contemporary standards, is that the
language is not “inclusive.”
E.g., it uses the word “man” to mean
both “males” and “females.”
It translates the Greek work adelphoi
by “brothers” rather than by “brothers and
I were condemned to live on a desert island with
only one English translation of the Bible it would
be the “RSV with Apocrypha.”
The RSV was the translation used by every
single professor I had during my seminary studies.
Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The NRSV, the New Revised Standard Version of
the Bible, is the “successor” to the RSV,
about which I wrote last week.
The NRSV is an ecumenical work, the fruit
of the labors of Protestant and Catholic scholars.
One of my professors at Catholic University was a
member of the team that produced the NRSV.
simple NRSV, like the RSV, does not contain all of
the books in the Catholic Bible.
However, the NRSV is available in a
“Catholic Edition,” which has an imprimatur
from Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore. In addition,
the “NRSV with Apocrypha” contains additional
books considered inspired by the Orthodox.
of the strong points of the NRSV is its use of “inclusive
That is, it recognizes that many biblical
readers are women.
So, instead of simply translating the Greek
word adelphoi as “brothers”
it translates it as “brothers and
Instead of saying, “Blessed is the
man who follows not the way of the wicked,”
the NRSV reads, “Blessed are they who . . .”
first became aware of the importance of inclusive
language when attending a wedding in Germany.
The service was being translated into
English for the benefit of my friend, the
began, “Brothers and sisters . . . we are here
today . . . to join two
men in marriage . . .”
It occurred to me that if it sounded
“funny” to speak of joining two “men” in
marriage, then the word “man” no longer
equally refers to men and women, as it once did.
Inclusive language is important!
Jerusalem Bible is
the 1966 English version of the 1956 French
translation made from the ancient languages by the
Dominican scholars at the Ecole
Biblique in Jerusalem. The translation was
made from the ancient languages (Hebrew, Aramaic,
Greek), but because the translators wanted to use
the excellent footnotes of the French edition,
they “kept an eye on the French” as they made
their English translation.
was the first Catholic Bible that did not use
“thee,” “thou,” and other antiquated
forms. As a sophomore in college I read it from
cover to cover.
I found it much more “readable” than
the old Douay-Rheims version, which I also read
that same year. (Every morning I got up at 5:00,
went to the study hall, and read the bible for an
hour. To keep from falling asleep I walked up and
down the aisles between the desks!)
JB renders the divine name as “Yahweh.”
This is how it would have been pronounced
by ancient Israelites.
By the time of Jesus, however, the divine
name was considered too sacred to pronounce.
Wherever it was written, the lector said Adonai (Lord) rather than Yahweh.
Most other modern bibles render the divine
name as “the LORD.”
It is placed in all capitals to remind the
reader that the Hebrew does not really
say “the LORD” (Adonai)
but rather “Yahweh.” The difference between Yahweh
is the same as the difference between
“Father” and “Pat;” “Doctor” and
“Jones;” “Professor” and “Smith.”
One is a name,
the other is a title.
New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
New Jerusalem Bible is
the 1985 update of the Jerusalem Bible produced by
the Catholic Dominican scholars at the Ecole
Biblique in Jerusalem.
of the peculiarities of the old JB was in the
choices made of what to translate. Before
bibles were printed, each one was written by hand
-- the Latin word manu-scriptum
literally means “by hand - written,” and
is the source of the English word
Since all bibles were originally written by
two of them were alike. So, the first problem
a translator faces is: which
ancient manuscript am I going to put into English?
Benoit, director of the Ecole,
had made some choices that many scholars consider
instance, even though every Greek manuscript in
the world might say something, if there was one in
Coptic that said something different, Père Benoit
would insist on translating it, arguing that every
Greek manuscript in the world was “corrupt” at
that point. (Coptic was the language of Egypt
before Arabic--it is used by Egyptian Christians
to this day).
of these “odd” manuscript choices have been
corrected in the revised New Jerusalem Bible,
while maintaining the excellent points of the old
highly recommend the NJB to Catholics who are
looking for a “second Bible” for study
New English Translation
is short for New English Translation.
It is also called the “NET Bible”
because it is available for free on the internet.
Go to http://bible.org/netbible/
NET has the best notes of any Bible in the world,
over 60,000 of them.
There are 3 types of notes. 1) Notes marked
translators notes, and explain difficulties in
rendering a passage into English.
2) Notes marked tc are text critical notes, and let the reader know when ancient
manuscripts do not agree -- see last week’s
article on the New Jerusalem Bible.
3) Notes marked sn
are study notes of interest to general readers of
of the drawbacks of the NET is that it does not
contain all of the books that our Church considers
to be sacred and canonical.
While the NT is exactly the same as ours,
the OT is lacking seven complete books, as well as
several chapters in other books, from our Catholic
NET bible is currently working on translating
word of caution!
While I highly recommend the NET version,
some of the articles on their website have an
This, of course, I cannot recommend!
New English Translation of the Septuagint
stands for New English Translation of the
Septuagint. About two hundred years before Jesus
there were many Jews living in Alexandria, Egypt.
Like Jews in America today, most of them no
longer spoke Hebrew.
They needed a translation of the bible in
their own language.
In their case this meant Greek.
Since Alexander the Great had conquered the
world, Greek was the international language.
to legend the translation was done by 70 scholars.
The Latin word for 70 is septuaginta;
hence our English word “Septuagint” to
designate the work of the seventy.
It is often abbreviated by the Roman
numeral LXX (50 + 10 + 10 = 70).
are we interested in the Septuagint?
Well, for one thing, it contains the seven
books in the Catholic OT that are not found in the
Hebrew Bible, and hence not in Protestant Bibles.
Also, at times the Greek is significantly
different than the Hebrew.
rare exceptions, whenever a NT author quotes the
OT, the quotation is almost always closer to the
Greek than to the Hebrew.
Would you like to read the OT used by first
century Christians? Almost all bibles today are
translations of the Hebrew
you want to read what Paul and the Gospel writers
read – but do not read Greek – the NETS is for
is available for free online at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/
Hard copy may be purchased at bookstores.
News Translation (GNT)
for Good News Translation of the Bible.
Sometimes this translation is called TEV,
Today’s English Version. It was first published
by the American Bible Society in 1976.
The GNT lacks 7 books in the OT that we
Catholics consider sacred and canonical.
However, in 1992 the ABS published the GNTCE,
Good News Translation Catholic Edition, which
contains all the books of our Bible.
strength of the GNT is that it is easy to
was written so that anyone who can read at a 4th-grade
level can read this Bible.
For comparison, to read the King James or
the old Douay version of the Bible one must be
able to read at 12th-grade level. To
put this in perspective, there are many college
graduates, even many people with masters degrees
and doctorates who are unable to read at 12th-grade
primary audience for the GNT are the billions of
people for whom English is a second language,
including many non-Christians in China and India.
The GNT is also an easy Bible for children
to read. But
do not let its simplicity fool you!
Many times after pondering the difficulties
of the ancient languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek,
Latin, Syriac) my friend Rabbi Kline and I have
been amazed at how wonderfully and accurately the
GNT renders a passage!
It is obvious that the translators have
examined the work of ancient translators and
biblical commentators, both Christian and Jewish.
adding the GNTCE as a second (or third!) Bible to
New Testament (JANT)
The Catholic Biblical
of America met at the University of Notre Dame
several weeks ago. I participated in the seminar
on “Biblical Issues affecting Christian-Jewish
Relations.” A major part of this year’s
discussion was devoted to The Jewish Annotated New Testament.
JANT came out in 2011. The
biblical text is the NRSV translation.
The New Revised Standard Version is the
work of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish scholars.
It received an imprimatur
from William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore.
makes the JANT
special is that all of the study notes, including
the introduction to each book, is the work of a
Jewish scholar. While written from a Jewish point
of view, the tone is one of respectful
inter-religious dialogue. I recommend this edition
of the NT as a worthwhile edition to your library.
The ISBN is 978-0-19-529770-6.
A Study Bible
is a bible is a special tool to help the reader
who wants to study the scriptures, as opposed to
using them only for prayer. (Theology is “faith
seeking understanding!”) Typically study bibles
include footnotes to help you understand the text,
as well as a general introduction to each biblical
is a brief description of my favorite
Catholic Study Bible: NABRE (2011) includes the newly
revised edition of the New American Bible, the
version we read at Mass.
Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: RSV
(Oxford, 1965) got me though my theological
studies as a seminarian, as well as my degree in
Liturgy after my seminary training.
I still refer to it.
HarperCollins Study Bible: NRSV with the
(1993) is a worthy successor to this. The New
Revised Standard Version is an update of the RSV.
The version “revised” by both the RSV and the
NRSV is the King James Version.
NET Bible, First Edition (www.bible.org)
is available for free online. One may also
purchase “hard copy” via the website. It
contains 60,932 helpful notes.
works help us understand the perspective of our
Jewish friends. The first is The
Jewish Study Bible: Tanakh (Oxford, 1999).
The Second is The Jewish Annotated New
Testament: NRSV (Oxford, 2011).
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