Friday, February 04, 2011

The New American Bible Shakes Its "Booty": Why I'm Not Dancing


(Yes, I reposted this with a different heading. This title was better.)

Apparently we won't have to read about the "booty" of Israel's enemies in the revised version of the New American Bible due out in March . . . which is good. Why? Fr. Jenson explains:
The word "booty" also has taken on the slang meanings of "buttocks" or sometimes, "sexual intercourse," instead of its primary meaning of "plunder," such as a marauding army might acquire.
Am I the only that finds it funny that a biblical scholar just used the word "buttocks". Maybe it's just late and I'm in a silly mood.

Other changes?

Apparently, "cereal" is also out.
The goal when possible was "to make the language more contemporary," said Father Jensen. In today's culture the phrase "cereal offering" conjures up images of Wheaties and Cheerios, not the bushels of wheat type of offering that the term is intended to mean, he said.
Another change is that "holocaust" will be replaced by "burnt offering".
Since millions of Jews were killed in German death camps before and during World War II, the word Holocaust has gradually come to specifically refer only to that period of history, she explained.
All and all though it seems that
For the most part, the changes will be hard to spot, except by those who are serious students or scholars. . .
That, in my opinion is bad news; the translation of the New American Bible in many places is just plain terrible. It's no wonder the Vatican went with the Revised Standard Version when they put out the English version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

For example, in Isaiah 9 the coming eschatological Davidic King is described not with the familiar "Mighty God" but instead as "God-Hero." I groan every time I hear that read! Is the Messiah a Marvel comic book superhero?

Another passage that needs to be re-examined is the NAB's translation of Genesis 10:8-9:
Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.
Nimrod, we later read, is the king of Babel, the wicked city which elicits a judgment from God. That he is a mighty hunter "before the Lord" has the connotation of his being a notable man, perhaps "to God's face". The latter works well in context: prideful defiance of God seems associated with Babel's building project in the chapter that follows.

Either way, the NAB's translation is outrageously absurd. While just about every English translation has "before the Lord" (Revised Standard Version, English Standard Version, the New International Version, the King James Version, the New King James Version, etc.), the NAB has something that apparently comes out of nowhere.
[Nimrod] was a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD; hence the saying, "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD."
That's a stretch--and that's putting it mildly! The NAB makes it sound like Nimrod--the king of Babel--was a "man after God's own heart"!

But aside from all my complaining, it should be said that all translations have weaknesses--certainly the RSV does as well. Indeed, the best Bible translation is the one you will actually read. And this translation of the NAB sounds like it's at least somewhat of an improvement. You can read more about it here, including the sordid details of the ongoing royalties dispute between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Biblical Association.

10 comments:

Timothy said...

It should be noted that the NAB, minus the dreadful '91 Psalms, is the English language Bible on the Vatican website.

Also, if you are interested in some additional posts, and discussions on the NABRE, you can check out my site:
http://catholicbibles.blogspot.com/

Matt said...

That's true, but the actual Bible and Commentary side of the Vatican's website, www.clerus.org defaults to the 1966 RSV-CE.

In fact I don't even see a way to get the NAB on that any more.

Timothy said...

Yeah, Biblia Clerus is a great site. I am no sure why then, they have the NAB on the main site: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_INDEX.HTM

Steve said...

Luke 1:28. Is "Hail, favored one" still in there? I carry a FREE copy of the Douay-Rheims with me on my smartphone, but the NAB is on my shelf, just in case.

Nick said...

"except by those who are serious students or scholars. . ."

What a nice way to offend the people who are called by the Church (read: every Christian) to study the Sacred Scriptures.

And FYI: "booty", "cereal" and the like helped expand my vocabulary as an adolescent. I learned new meanings to terms I was already familiar with!

Sirius Kynes said...

I think it is important to point out that the NABRE is not in accord with Dei Verbum. Dei Verbum (and subsequent documents on the study of sacred scripture) makes it clear that scripture is to be read and understood within the same spirit as which it was written, in accord with the doctrinal and dogmatic understanding of the Church, and in harmony with the sensus fidelium. The translators of the NABRE decided to translate according to the zeitgeist as the article above points out, not according to the Faith of the Church. Other articles on the NABRE have made it clear that they are trying to trying to recreate an "original text" version of scripture (which indicates a more Protestant understanding of the inerrancy of scripture as most Protestants apply inerrancy only to the "original text") which by necessity is both an ignoring and undercutting of the veracity of later texts and translations that the Church understands to be the authentic word of God, as well as being an amalgamation of ancient texts pieces together based on the opinion of the translators as to which ancent codex is more important. Additionally the notes in a bible are often of more worth as they have more impact on the thought of the average person. The NAB notes are often terrible and heterodox and if the NABRE translators are having issues over the usage of "cereal" I can only imagine the banality in the NABRE's notes.

david said...

I don't think that the NAB's choice of translation in the case of Nimrod is "outrageously absurd". The Bible, and particularly the OT, consistently gives God the credit for any virtue that a person possesses. And so, if Nimrod had the virtue of might, then it must be attributed to God as his gift. HOWEVER, the OT is also full of examples of people sinning against God no matter what virtues they might possess. Soloman is a great example. And so there is no absurdity in saying that Nimrod was mighty by the grace of God, but also a man who committed the sin of pride.

Jaceczko said...

I say you're reaping what you sow if you follow a Biblical religion and you're interposing a translator between yourself and your Sacred Scripture.

stpetric said...

"In Isaiah 9 the coming eschatological Davidic King is described not with the familiar "Mighty God" but instead as "God-Hero." I groan every time I hear that read! Is the Messiah a Marvel comic book superhero?"

Nope. In that same passage, he is also called "Wonder Counselor," which as a psychotherapist has always made me jealous.

Rebecca said...

Speaking of buttocks, what about this whopper from St. Jerome:

“There is not a day but you may see the dressed-up clown in the streets whacking the buttocks of some blockhead... We need not wonder if the books of know-nothings find plenty of readers” (Against Rufinus, Bk. 1, 17).

Ha, ha!

Thanks for all the great work you guys do! Can you please help us get rid of some of the study notes for whenever the next revision of the New Testament may come out? I’m thinking of notes such as what they have for the Triumphal Entry in Matthew 21:1-7, and the “awkward picture resulting from Matthew’s misunderstanding of the prophecy.” Absolutely deplorable and scandalous!

Thank you for your help!

With love in Christ,
Pete Holter