Confraternity Bible - My favorite translation

After quite a bit of time and effort spent trying to collect this particular translation of Holy Scripture, I managed to obtain it. It has always been my favorite, as it was unique - especially in its time - as far as its approach.


Many of us who may have attended public school for a short time or all of our lives, will remember going to catechism classes and that they were often referred to as “CCD classes”. The vast majority of people, however, do not even know what the acronym “CCD” stands for.

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was actually established in Rome in the 1560’s for the primary purpose of providing religious instruction. Thus, we are talking about an organization established by the Vatican and in use for over 400 years.

Although I covered this in another thread, most people do not realize that the “Duoay Rheims” Bible that they read today is not actually the same DR that was produced by Father Martin in the late 1500’s/early 1600’s. Although several period bibles exist, and one can actually purchase a facsimile reproduction of the actual DR bible that was printed back then (I purchased my online version as well as my printed version from, the DR bibles that most people read today are actually what is know as the Challoner Revision.

Bishop Challoner did much more than revise the DR - he actually produced what can be described as an entirely new translation in many areas. Unfortunately, many old english idioms were used and it still proved to be difficult reading for many.

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine’s 20th century’s goals

It appears that in the early to mid-1930’s, the CCD launched a “campaign” to begin rigorous instruction of laypeople - namley Catholics - in scripture. The earliest source of this campaign I was able to obtain was a 4-volume softback set of “study aids” meant to help discussion clubs form and study the New Testament in an orderly fashion. The pamphlets give pretty concrete steps in how to form such clubs, how to conduct meetings, how the various subjects should be discussed, etc. These first appeared in 1934.

In 1937, the CCD published a pamphlet called “Manual of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for priests, religious, seminarians, and laity promoting Confraternity activities”. Basically, the manual was a “how to” on setting up CCD groups within individual parishes.

In 1938, the CCD published the first of two scholarly works that were designed “printed - not published”. The best I could glean from these works was that they appeared to be a “test” of how the public would react to an entirely new translation of sacred scripture.

The two volumes were entitled: “A Proposed Revision of the New Testament in English - The Gospel According to St. John, based on the Vulgate and done with the Challoner-Rheims New Testament in View”, and “A Brief Commentary on the Gospel of St. John - Eventually to form part of a one-volume commentary on the entire New Testament”.

Rome was very receptive with these efforts by the CCD, and encouraged the work to continue.

The New Testament

In 1941, a new translation of the New Testament was released since Challoner’s revision in the 1700’s. The CCD’s version was called: “The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - Translated from the Latin Vulgate - A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version”.

This version of the NT was promulgated under the auspices of what was known as The Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine", and was published by St. Anthony Guild Press.

This NT translation was very well received, an in fact, a commentary of the entire New Testament was published by the CCD in 1942, called, “A Commentary on the New Testament”.


What a pity! There was a method and content to CCD in the 30s, but I had CCD in the 70s and it was boring, aggravating, futile because we didn’t learn anything–we made felt and burlap banners and colored. :mad:

Divino Afflante Spiritu

In 1943, in what was to have a profound effect on the CCD’s scripture translation project, Pius XII issued his famous encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. In that encyclical, the Holy Father made some rather startling remarks, especially in light of the importance accorded to the Latin Vulgate (which was essentially known as the Clementine or Sixto-Clementine Vulgate since the 1600’s) by Trent. Basically, Pius XII emphasized the importance of studying the original languages in which the books of the bible were written, and said that such study was necessary to fully understand scripture. The most “controversial” statement in the encyclical was the statement that, “the original text … having been written by the inspired author himself, has more authority and greater weight than even the very best translation, whether ancient or modern”.

Now, modern biblical archaeologists do not dispute the extreme importance that should be accorded to any text written in the original tongue of the writers of divine scripture, especially those texts that could be “dated” to a period as close to the time of Christ and his Apostles as possible. Yet, that “instruction” by the encyclical, and more specifically, the statement that original language texts have “more authority and greater weight than even the very best translation, whether ancient or modern.”

The reason why this particular statement in the encyclical was so controversial was because it appears, on its face, to be in conflict with Trent’s declaration regarding the Latin Vulgate. Until 1979/1986, the Latin Vulgate was THE “official” bible as far as liturgical use by the Catholic Church. In fact, all vernacular translations to be used in religious instruction and at masses were required to be translations from the Latin Vulgate. Ironically, the Latin Vulgate was exactly what Divino Afflante Spiritu discussed: an ancient translation!!!

CCD does an “about face” in light of Divino Afflante Spiritu

Given Pius XII’s encyclical, the CCD realized that its recent NT translation based on the Challoner-Rheims version of the NT was no longer “in accord” with the encyclical’s instruction.

With the encyclical in mind, the CCD next embarked on translating the entire OT.

The first volume released was a translation of Genesis published in 1948. Note the difference of the title of this initial one-book translation when contrasted with the title of the NT translation I mentioned above: “The Holy Bible - Translated from the Original Languages with Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources by members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America Sponsored by the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine - The Book of Genesis”.

This translation was also apparently well-received, as the CCD continued its work on translating the OT.


CCD’s OT work

The vast majority of Catholics do not realize that the Confraternity Bible was actually completed. But what they have in hand today, or were given as confirmation/first communion gifts in the 1960’s and 1970’s were NOT Confraternity Bibles. The following explains . . .

The CCD planned, and executed its plan, to publish four volumes of the OT. Those books are (note that I list them in numerical order, rather than order of publication):

The Holy Bible - The Book of Genesis (1948 standalone volume mentioned above)
I. The Holy Bible - Volume I - Genesis to Ruth - 1952 (first ed.)
IA. The Holy Bible - Volume I - Genesis to Ruth - 1953 (second ed.)
II. The Holy Bible - Volume II - Samuel to Maccabees - 1969
The Holy Bible - The Book of Psalms and the Canticles of the Roman Breviary (1950 standalone volume)
III. The Holy Bible - Volume III - Job to Sirach - Sapiental Books - 1955 (first ed.)
The Holy Bible - The Book of Psalms and the Canticles of the Roman Breviary (1955, reprinted 1959 standalone volume)
IV. The Holy Bible - Volume IV - Isaia to Malachia - Prophetic Books - 1961

Thus, by 1969, the CCD had completely translated the entire bible - both NT and OT. The following link will show readers the covers and first pages of each of the books I of scripture I discussed above, along with the two volumes regarding the Gospel of John:

For reasons I have been unable to discover, the CCD NEVER issued a complete one-volume edition of the bible that contained all of the Confraternity’s translations.

The New American Bible

The New American Bible (which has been the “bane” for many “conservative” or “traditionalist” Catholics because of some of its translations, but mainly because of its “study notes”), whose first edition was published in 1970, was actually the collection of all Confraternity OT translations listed above (except the 1948 translation of Genesis - it was completely revised for the NAB 1970 publication). The 1970 NAB translation did, however, contain an entirely new translation of the NT.

As mentioned briefly above, given the Confraternity’s completion of the Old Testament in 1969, and the NAB’s introduction in 1970, there has never been a release of a complete Confraternity Bible (that is, with both Old and New Testaments) featuring all of the Confraternity’s translations of the 1940s through 1960s. The most complete editions include the Confraternity’s New Testament and those portions of the Old Testament that had been translated by 1961. These are the editions I referenced earlier regarding first communion/confirmation gifts that many baby-boomer Catholics received in the 1960’s.

Again, for reasons I have not been able to discover, Volume II (Samuel to Maccabees) of the Confraternity Bible was never included in a complete OT translation. Instead, the books in that volume were taken from the Challoner-Duoay OT. Thus, those bibles that the vast majority of people have today that they refer to as their “Confraternity Bible” are actually a hybrid more properly called the “Douay-Confraternity Bible”, referencing the fact that the Old Testament section was made up partly of books from the Challoner-Douay Old Testament, and partly from books translated or revised by the CCD.

Publishers released “Confraternity Bibles” into the mid-1960s, always indicating to what extent they featured Confraternity translations of the Old Testament. They typically included some variation on the following description of the edition’s Old Testament contents: “The New Confraternity translation of the First Eight Books, the Seven Sapiential Books, and the Eighteen Prophetic Books. The balance is in the Douay Version.”

Recently, TAN books began publishing the Confraternity NT that was first published in 1941, and the Phillipine publisher Sinag-Tala began publishing a one-volume bible called “The Old Testament Confraternity-Douay Version and The New Testament Confraternity Version.”


The NAB - and update

As alluded to above, the NAB has not been embraced by all Catholics, primarily because of several translations, but mostly because of the various notes that accompany the text itself.

The NAB has actually had four editions published:

NAB - First Edition

The text of the first edition of the New American Bible is composed of:

The New Testament directly translated from Greek, appearing in portions from 1964 and completed in 1970.

The Old Testament (except Genesis): the Confraternity bible text translated in stages between 1952 and 1969 from the original languages, with minor revisions to the text and notes in 1970.

Genesis newly translated from the Hebrew in 1970, replacing the 1948 translation.

The spelling of proper names found in this edition departs from the ones found in older Catholic Bible versions, such as the Douay, and instead adopts those commonly found in Protestant Bibles. The notes in many places present 20th centuries theories still current, e.g. the Q source or different sources for the Pentateuch. Catholic scholars translated this version with collaboration from members of other Christian churches (denominations).

NAB - Second Edition

In 1986, we see the first introduction of “inclusive language” that the public began to notice. Also, the NT was revised for the first time since 1970.

NAB - Third Edition

In 1991, the NAB was amended again to create even more inclusive language in the Psalms. A great deal of controversy arose because the new version of the Psalms included both horizontal AND vertical inclusive language. Because of this, the Holy See rejected the 1991 Psalter revision and produced its own Psalter to be used at Mass.

NAB - Fourth edition

This is the New American Bible that is set for release the first week of Lent this year (2011).

In 1994, work began on translating the entire OT - a task that was last undertaken in the 1960’s by the CCD and contained in the four Confraternity volumes produced individually during the 1960’s, and finally incorporated into one text in the NAB that was produced from 1970 to the 4th ed. that is about to be released.

Unfortunately, “inclusive language” reared its ugly head and what can only be described as an outright “battle” between Rome and America began over the Psalter.

After the rejection by Rome of the 1994 Psalter, a new revision was produced and sent to Rome for approval. Again, Rome rejected the revised Psalter in 2003, and work was undertaken to produce yet another revision of the Psalter. This re-revision was sent to Rome for approval in 2008, but apparently Rome had grown tired of the “back and forth” and completely excised the Psalter revision and adopted what is known as the Grail Psalter.

Thus, on March 9, 2011, the “New American Bible - Revised edition” will be released. It will contain a new revision of the OT (the first since the 1960’s OT revisions published by the CCD), the 1986 revision of the NT, and the Grail Psalter.

The ultimate irony (at least to me), is that given all of this translation work, the lectionary used in America will NOT (at least not yet) be changed to reflect the new translations found in the NABRE.

So again - we Catholics in America will have only ONE approved biblical text (the NAB), but will hear readings from a lectionary that is NOT based on the NABRE.

Go figure . . . :frowning:

Pius XII, that radical!

I think the Psalms we sing at Mass are based on the 1970 NAB. But you’re right. There should be a Bible that corresponds exactly to the Lectionary. I don’t think that’s a priority for anyone making the decisions, however.

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