Is it wise to read NASB bible while starting out as a Catholic?


My source for this is The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford), 2nd Ed. One essay in the back is about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which AFFIRMS that the proto-Masoretic text, the Samaritan pentateuch, and the proto-Septuagint are all represented at Qumran. Well, Oxford U was originally a Christian university but I think these essays are all “Jewish” authors. So, we will have to agree to disagree – I don’t know enough to argue a point on my own, so I nearly always provide a source for what I say, if not immediately, then on the rebound.

I know nothing original about the Talmud, except to say that it is very polemical in opposing Christianity on every front (as I’ve been led to understand), including the canonicity of texts and the translation of Hebrew-to-Greek e.g. Is 7:14.

John Bergsma and Brant Pitre had a book published last year The Catholic Introduction to the Bible, Old Testament. I forgot what I was going to say – Now I don’t think that they made this point of why the book of Tobit is not in the Jewish canon, but I personally think it is because the storyline has a supernatural being, in this case an angel, taking the form of a human being. That’s WAY too close to God taking flesh, ala Jesus Christ. This may not be germaine to this overall topic but I thought I’d throw it in for the sake of conversation. Catholics are not supposed to bypass the idea of bringing Jews to faith in Jesus Christ. And, God-in-the-flesh is one of the hurdles that an observant Jew would have to overcome. We refer to this as the Incarnation, and the gospel is very incarnational.


for informational purposes, can you explain this? What WOULD JPS Tanakh be based on if not the centuries worth of tradition for it?


You can get the Didache Bible in an RSV or NAB version. The commentary uses the Catechism. The Catechism is an elegant commentary that helps other aspects that “scholarly commentary” in a study bible does not. Brad Pitre’s Commentary on OT is magnificent compared to anything I have read. But not for the beginner. There are flaws in all translations and useful to have more than one. Douhay if flawed because it is a translation from the Latin Vulgate, so a translation of a translation and then modified by Challoner to suit his needs. NASB is a good thing provided you can ignore when questionable commentary shows its ugly face.


You seem to have misunderstood what c1949 said. c1949 said that the Septuagint was “OF the Jews, BY the Jews, and FOR the Jews.” Your counter is to say that only the Torah was translated by “the Rabbis.” That is confusing the issue. It is true that it seems that initially, only the Torah was translated. However, the rest of the Old Testament was still later translated into Greek and was completed at least a century before Christianity was ever founded. Yes, it was not the original translation team, so to speak, but it was still Jews who did the translating, and all before Jesus was born.

The Jewish Encyclopedia, which was written by Jews and can therefore hardly be considered to have a pro-Christian bias, had this to say on the Septuagint in the context of a discussion on Bible translations:

“The oldest and most important of all the versions made by Jews is that called “The Septuagint” (“Interpretatio septuaginta virorum” or “seniorum”).”

While it is true the Jewish Encyclopedia was published in the early 20th century and may be out of date, the Jews who wrote it had no problem affirming that the Septuagint was translated by Jews. c1949’s statement appears correct.

On the original topic of the NASB, it is unfortunately not a Catholic translation, so it is missing some books of the Old Testament. However, it is notable in being (from my understanding) possibly the most literal translation in English, or at least the most literal English translation of the last several centuries. If your goal is pure literalness, the NASB is generally your best choice. Of course, it also shows the problem of literalness, which is the wording often being awkward or stiff.


Talmud has nothing to say about the Jesus of the Gospel. Whereas the Septuagint is represented 5% in the DDS (JPS), the photo-Masoretic text is represented 60%; a huge difference. You are correct regarding Tobit. It is not part of Tanakh for that very reason.


Incorrect, the rabbis only translated the five books, Christians did the rest. The Jewish Encyclopedia is talking there about the five books.


I have always wondered. The Bible is the word of God and the most important writing in the life of a Christian. Should not every Christian who is capable of it, learn and read the Bible in the original languages it was written in to avoid translation issues? People will learn a foreign language for their career or travel, but not to read the Bible as originally written. Seems strange priorities.


I’m surprised that nobody has recommended the New Jerusalem Bible, which is both faithful to the original text and highly readable in English. The translation was made by the very fine scholar Henry Wansbrough.


It is highly unlikely it was only talking about the five books, considering it goes on to discuss other books of the Old Testament, even discussing attestations to them. For example:

“The grandson of Ben Sira (132 B.C.), in the prologue to his translation of his grandfather’s work, speaks of the “Law, Prophets, and the rest of the books” as being already current in his day.”

This was centuries before Christianity existed. How exactly could the Septuagint (by which I mean the Old Testament as a whole) have been translated before Christianity even existed, as even Jewish sources readily attest? You seem to be pulling this claim that Christians did the translations out of nowhere.

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