Welcome to my world. I, too, have some frustrations with the NAB. The sad fact is that we’re stuck with it for the time being because the lectionary here in the US is based on it.
But, we have an ally. Read what Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote in his article, “Bible Babel”.
The problems begin with the very first verse of the Bible. In the English tradition, solidly grounded in the Hebrew as well as in Jerome’s Latin translation, Genesis 1 begins with the majestic words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Here is what the NAB offers us: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters”. Compare that with the English tradition, followed almost exactly by Douay-Rheims: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”. Apart from the NAB’s deaf ear to poetry and theological suggestiveness, the very first words of the very first verse of the Bible raise a question of no little importance. Note the difference between “In the beginning God created …” and “In the beginning, when God created…”
“In the beginning God”. Homilies and theological reflections beyond numbering have pondered and probed those four words. It is God and God alone who is in the beginning; He is the source and acting subject of all that follows. If we do not get that right, we will not get right all that follows. Very different is the NAB’s rendering, “In the beginning, when God”. Here there is no invitation to ponder and probe what and who is meant by God. The knowledge is taken for granted; the reader’s attention is immediately turned from the acting subject to His actions. “In the beginning was the Act”. That is not, from the beginning, how Christians have understood the matter. The writer of the fourth Gospel begins with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. The great student of the fourth Gospel, C.K. Barrett, writes, “John intends that the whole of his gospel shall be read in the light of this verse. The deeds and words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God; if this be not true, the book is blasphemous”. That, says Barrett, is the significance of the tie to Genesis 1, “In the beginning God …”
From the apostolic and patristic eras up through magisterial and theological writings of the present day, the parallel between Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 has been the source of the most profound reflections. God who was in the beginning is now revealed in Jesus the Christ who is God. The great Augustine, writing in the fifth century, insists upon the parallel wording. As in the beginning is God, so in the beginning is the Word who is God. Here he is preaching against the Arian heresy which claimed that the Son is not truly God but was created as an agent for creating the world. No, insists Augustine: As in the beginning God, so in the beginning the Word. That parallel, so crucial to the entire gospel story, is quite thoroughly obscured by the NAB. From the beginning, the NAB introduces unwarranted novelties that not only further erode what remains of a common biblical vocabulary but are often blithely indifferent to the Church’s tradition of theological reflection.
Sometimes, I have to refer either to the Douay-Rheims Bible that I inherited from m beloved paternal grandmother or the RSV-CE from Ignatius Press whenever I have to prepare to proclaim the readings.
Hopefully, we will one day get a lectionary for use in the United States that fully conforms to the principles laid out in Liturgicam Authenticam. At least the RSV-CE, as published by Ignatius Press, does conform to the Vatican’s document on translation.