A closer look at the newly revised Bible edition

| March 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

The revised New American Bible was released March 9 and includes the first revised translation since 1970 of the Old Testament. The Bible will be available over time in an assortment of print, audio and electronic formats, from a variety of publishers. The following Q&A about the revised version is provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Q: Why do we need a new translation? The Bible hasn’t changed, has it?
A: The Bible hasn’t changed. However, our knowledge about the Bible has changed. New translations and revision of existing translations are required from time to time for various reasons. It is important to keep pace with the discovery and publication of new and better ancient manuscripts (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls) so the best possible textual tradition will be followed, as required by “Divino afflante spiritu” [Pope Pius XII’s 1943 encyclical on the nature of the Bible].

There are advances in linguistics of the biblical languages which make possible a better understanding and more accurate translation of the original languages. And there are changes and developments in vocabulary and the cultural background of English.

Q: Will this Bible be used at Mass?
A: The Lectionary (book of Scripture readings) used at Mass is based on the 1970 New American Bible (NAB) Old Testament and the 1986 New American Bible New Testament. (Some changes were made to accommodate public proclamation of brief excerpts.)  At present, there is no plan to use the New American Bible, Revised Edition.

Q: Can I still read my old Bible?
A: Of course. Older editions are not made invalid by new translations. However, the scholarship underlying the new translation may help you come to a deeper and richer understanding of the meaning of God’s Word.

Q: Why was only the Old Testament revised? What about the New Testament?
A: The New Testament was revised in 1986. Much of the work on the 1970 Old Testament was done in the 1950s and was, therefore, in greatest need of updating.

Q: Do Catholics even need to read the Old Testament?
A: As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, (cf. “Dei Verbum” [DV] 14) for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

Indeed, “the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men” (DV 15). “Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,” (DV 15) the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God’s saving love: these writings “are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way” (DV 15).

Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God (CCC, 121-123).

Q: Does this Bible use inclusive language?
A: The text is somewhat more inclusive than the original NAB, produced at a time such concerns were non-existent, but only in minor ways since most of the material, especially in the narrative books, is gender specific. Attempts along this line have been modest and only in language referring to people, not language referring to God.

Q: Has the Vatican approved this text?
A: No. The Holy See does not typically approve translations of Scripture unless they are intended for use in the liturgy. If, in the future, the U.S. bishops approve this text of the Old Testament for use in the liturgy, it will be submitted to the Holy See for approval.

Q: When will I be able to buy this Bible? Who will publish it?
A: The New American Bible, Revised Edition became available for purchase on March 9, though not all publishers will have editions available at that time. A list of licensed publishers is posted at http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/nabre.shtml. This page will be updated as new publishers are announced.

Q: Will it be available online?
A: Yes. The complete text of the New American Bible, revised edition will be posted at http://www.usccb.org/nab/.

Q: There are books in the New American Bible, Revised Edition that aren’t in other Bibles? Why?
A: The seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel that are not found in Protestant Bibles. These books are called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church considers these books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. They have been part of the canon of Scripture from the early centuries of the church.

Q: I’ve always heard that Catholics aren’t supposed to read the Bible. Is that true?
A: No, it isn’t. In fact, the bishops at the Second Vatican Council strongly encouraged all the faithful to read Scripture frequently, to listen carefully to the Scripture as proclaimed at Mass, and to take advantage of catechetical programs that will help them gain a better understanding of God’s word (cf. DV 25). As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Q: What are the changes? Are the stories different?
A: You will still find all of your favorite Old Testament stories in this new edition.

Q: Where is the NAB used?
A: The NAB is used throughout the United States, in the Philippines, India, South Korea and the English-speaking countries of Africa. It is used in the liturgy, in catechetical instruction, and in private readings and devotion.

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