Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bishops Announce New Translation of the New Testament

In America the most widely used English version of the Bible by Catholics is the New American Bible.

Its popularity is largely due to the fact that it is this version of Scripture that is read at Mass on Sunday.

Last year a revised edition was released that re-worked the Old Testament. It has not however been approved for liturgical use.

Now the process of retranslating the New Testament has been undertaken.

When complete it is expected to be approved for use in the lectionary. The translation process will take "a long time".

*Ahem. I suspect that is going to turn out to be quite an understatement.

Here's the report from the Catholic News Agency:
Atlanta, Ga., Jun 19, 2012 / 01:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops have announced a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy. 

“The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14. 

As he addressed his brother bishops at the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Cardinal Wuerl pointed to the central role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church. 

He explained that the bishops’ committees on Divine Worship and Doctrine have both expressed a desire for a single translation, suitable for all pastoral applications, including individual prayer, study and devotional use, along with liturgical proclamation. 

The new translation would “provide us one source of language when we speak the Word of God,” he said. 

The process of creating the new translation will take “a long time” and will consist of numerous lengthy steps, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged. 

The New Testament translation was last revised in 1986. By way of comparison, the translation portion of revising the New American Bible’s Old Testament began in 1994 and was finished in 2001. 

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine will work with the Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts, to undertake the revision, he said. The group will “look at those texts to see that they are going to be able to be used for proclamation as well as for ordinary use.” 

This work will utilize the same principles that guided the recent revision of the Old Testament in the New American Bible, as well as translation norms for Sacred Scripture, he added. 

“The Biblical scholars responsible for the revision will be sensitive then to the pastoral, the doctrinal, the liturgical considerations” as they work to produce a draft, which will then be presented “for review and preliminary approval” by the the Scripture translation subcommittee, the cardinal said. 

The committees on worship and doctrine will then have an opportunity to review the texts.
Ultimately, the body of bishops “will be asked to approve the completed Biblical text for liturgical use,” so that it can then be submitted to Rome for the Vatican’s “recognitio,” after which the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference can grant it the “imprimatur.” 

At that point, Cardinal Wuerl said, the revised translation of the New American Bible “will be able to be used in the lectionary at Mass.” 

“So the end product will be one translation that we will all be using,” he explained, and all of the faithful will be “hearing the same words when we refer to specific texts.” 

“That translation will be used in the liturgy, it will be used in study, it will be used in personal devotion, it will be used when we’re simply reading the text,” the cardinal said. 

He emphasized that although the process will take a long time, it is currently an ideal time to begin, now that “we have all the pieces in place.”


Brian Sullivan said...

OK, but why just another revision of the NAB? Or revise/use the RSV-CE or Douay-Rheims? Better still, why not an entirely new Catholic translation?

Restless Pilgrim said...

Yeah, I'm with Brian on this one. I really don't like the NAB.

I've lost track of the number of times I've said in Bible study:

"Okay, the NAB translation doesn't really do justice to the text...here's how the RSV renders it..."

Matthew Kennel said...

I think the real question is, will the bishops either give us a text without the commentary, or give us a commentary that doesn't say such foolish things as, "Neither this nor the two later passion predictions (Mt 17:22–23; 20:17–19) can be taken as sayings that, as they stand, go back to Jesus himself. However, it is probable that he foresaw that his mission would entail suffering and perhaps death, but was confident that he would ultimately be vindicated by God"

OneTimothyThreeFifteen said...

This could just as easily go in the wrong direction...

...but more worryingly, it could end up spawning the ridiculous situation in Evangelicalism where the trend in many of their books have (NRSV), (NAB), (KJV), (MOT), after every quotation to show which translation fits their 'slant', because soon they'll have more translations than denominations...

(MOT) = My Own Translation = an even more recent trend :)

Moonshadow said...

NB: the Bible translation was completed in 2001 and published last year. The approval process took a really long time.

I'm losing patience with this whole thing, not only because I'm buying updated missals and Bibles every few years.

If the translators / bishops could have done this, they should have done it previously. Why revise the lectionary in '99 / '02 and not also publish a Bible? (Oh, copyrights?)

Very frustrated by this news.

Rick Pena said...

The NAB is a horrible translation. It is appalling that the NAB refers to the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity as "holy Spirit" (the only Trinitarian translation that does that); and other things, such as Titus 2:13, a clear affirmation concerning the deity of Christ, not conveyed in the NAB.

I personally use many translations including the New American Standard Bible, English Revised Version, Young's Literal Translation, Douay-Rheims Bible, Confraternity Bible, and the English Standard Version.

The Church should consider revising the RSV, especially in the Book of Ephesians, ch 1 in the translation of "prooridzo" (predestine; foreordain). The NAB simply doesn't convey the many nuances of the Greek NT.

I concur with Brian, why not an entirely new translation? How about a literal translation that adheres to strict formal equivalence? If you ever read the Church Fathers, the Baltimore Catechism, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, you can clearly see how well written and reverent they are, why not a Bible translation with the same qualities? When one reads the NAB is just doesn't read like Sacred Scripture, it's too loose and many parts are left under-translated.