My frustration with the NAB


Has anyone else seen this? I have an edition of the New American Bible called the St. Joseph Medium Size Edition and had been skimming through the bible. My biggest upset with the bible is not the translation itself, although it can be better. Rather it is the footnotes that are contained in it.

One example is (Genesis 1: 26) Then God said " Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"

  • **The footnote for the NAB says - Let us make in the ancient Near East, and sometimes in the Bible, God was imagined as presiding over an assembly of heavenly beings who deliberated and decided about matters on earth. This scene accounts for the plural form here. Israel’s God was always considered “most High” over the heavenly beings. Human beings. “image” and “likeness” express the worth of human beings who have value in themselves **

The same verse in another bible that I have called La Biblia De Navarra which is a Spanish translation states that this verse is a reference to the Holy Trinity and is not speaking about angels.

Also this is what the Douay Rheims- Haydock edition states

  • Let us make man to our image. This image of God in man, is not in the body, but in the soul; which is a spiritual substance, endued with understanding and free-will. God speaketh here in the plural number, to insinuate the plurality of persons in the Deity.

Another example is ( Revelations Chapter 12:1-2) 1 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

  • The NAB bible states- Because of Eve’s sin, the woman gives birth in distress and pain.

First of all we know that the above passage is talking about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary was born Immaculately and thus did not have original sin. For this reason the pains she is described as having are not physical but spiritual pains, as many theologians including Scott Hahn have stated.

My Spanish edition La biblia De Navarra states that Mary’s pain is not describing her conception of Jesus but rather the sacrifice at Calvary and thus the Passion of Christ which would pierce Mary’s heart.

The Ignatius Study bible by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch states the same

  • pangs of birth: This is probably related to the Passion of Jesus, which pierced the heart of his Mother and seized his disciples with the distress of a woman in labor.

I am pretty sure there are many other notes in the NAB that I don’t consider orthodox, but these two are the ones I have noticed so far.


I don't use the NAB, but those sound like pretty poor footnotes. Your Spanish bible sounds a lot more accurate.

I always thought "let us make man in our image" referred to the Trinity also.


I have the same edition, and I think the footnotes have changed over time, as I haven’t seen those particular footnotes (and I’m reading Genesis again, for the umpteenth time - I’ve read through my Bible so many times I’ve lost count). Honestly, the biggest problem with the NAB is the footnotes and the introductions to each book of the Bible. Sometimes, I think the footnotes and intros placed there detract from the sacredness of the scripture and actually create a stumbling block for belief. The good part of the NAB, though, IMHO, is the glossary and index it has at the end and the inclusion of the Vatican II Constitution on Divine Revalation. Plus, if you look carefully, that particular Bible translation has many cross-references (those are the little italicized superscripted letters found throughout the text) so you can see how the Old Testament and New Testament reflect each other.

The NAB is the most common Catholic Bible translation found in the US, as it is the translation used in the Lectionary for Mass. And, the translators did work exceptionally hard to try to go to the earliest possible extant sources to create the translation (which is why you will see footnotes that state that not all of the earliest sources of a given book had a particular phrase). So for that, the translators should be commended. But again, the footnotes do very little to explain Catholic teaching from the text.


That’s why I never use the NAB only the Douay.


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