New catholic, but dont understand the NABRE commentary. is it infallible?

Hello, I am a new convert but cannot be admitted into the church for another 6 months since the place where I live does not have an RCIA class in my first language. I used to be a protestant, on becoming a catholic I read a catholic bible called the NABRE as it was approved by the US council of bishops. But the footnotes and commentaries that are in the bible are full of liberal modernist theories that seem to go against what the church teaches. How can this be? the church approved this translation and declared in free of error nihil oblst. So why are these foolish footnotes in the bible? does the catholic church officially teach these footnotes are its official doctrine? If not, how can they have declared the nasbbre free from error?

The approval of the translation may be strictly just for the translation and not the commentary. Temporal judgements of the Church (Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, etc) are fallible. The commentary is wrong, against the Church, and is not infallible. The Church does not teach that the comments are it’s official doctrine.


Footnotes, regardless of the translation, are not infallible teaching. They are observations or opinions, nothing more.


Welcome to the Church, and ( far less important) to CAF.

I think the prior posts are right. The footnotes and introductions are really just a guess, based on recent theories, half of which may be discarded in a decade.
The imprimatur is an imperfect, though still useful tool.

Btw, there are other bibles, such as Ignatius and Douay.


The approval of the NABRE covers the notes as well as the translation. It is more than just approval, the bishops had an active role in reviewing and approving the content.

Still the notes are not infallible. They reflect “what the church teaches” since they are approved by the Church’s teachers, bishops. Other bishops might disagree with the US bishops, but in general this is what bishops around the world teach.

RCIA should teach you how to respond when teaching challenges your beliefs. I hope you have a chance to explore your questions during your preparations.

I can’t think of a single example of biblical footnotes, whether from a bible approved by the Church, or other, that can be considered “infallible”. Infallibility is often misunderstood. Even commentary by Church Fathers or Doctors of the Church are not infallible, unless the authors were Popes making a statement concerning faith and morals from their chair, or accepted and promoted by the Magisterium.

1 Like

No. Only the text is official Doctrine.

If not, how can they have declared the nasbbre free from error?

The NAB is an ecumenical bible. The Catholic Church invited separated brethren to have input on the translation. In my opinion, they left their mark, in the footnotes.

However, even the footnotes are free of error. Or, at least, I haven’t found one that actually denies or contradicts Catholic Teaching. But, if you have an example that troubles you, please provide it.

1 Like

I have Ignatius and the NAB i like to read both of them but right now I’m reading the NAB . I like both of them. I’m reading the book of Mark right now and after I’m finished reading it im going to look at the readings from daily mass .

The historical critical method was the in vogue way of analyzing Biblical texts at the time the notes were made. The method has its uses, especially for academics. However, it’s not really devotional reading or, when used alone, edifying for most of the practicing laity, in my opinion, and it really taking into account the teaching authority of the Church or context of classic Christian interpretation.

Anyway, Biblical commentary is definitely not infallible.

1 Like

It would be more accurate to say a committee of bishops reviewed it, the US bishops found the notes didn’t conflict with Catholic teaching, though not necessarily the only valid interpretation, or best translation. A national conference of bishops does not have as much teaching authority as a Bishop Ordinary within his own diocese.

The usccb was not designed for the purpose of teaching, at all. Thus the NAB is not necessarily more authoritative than, for instance, the Ignatius Bible, even in the USA

1 Like

:open_mouth::thinking::thought_balloon::thought_balloon::thinking: I wouldn’t think that the usccb would be wrong about the bible.

Absolutely not. They are not doctrine.
The footnotes are not included in the “free from error” promise.
Never read any English-language Bible that is not Douay-Rheims

1 Like

The notes and intros were developed using the revolutionary historical-critical method. This was an absolute innovation in textual criticism and may work well in a purely historical pursuit, but it is poorly applied to matters of Christian faith. The method does not generally allow for supernatural events, miracles, healing etc.

IMO the NAB notes are corrosive to faith, draining the supernatural elements out of the faith and discounting or minimizing the sacred tradition. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote about the method, stating that while it had certain pluses, it also has definite limitations.

i would say to obtain a Revised Standard Version, either 1st or 2nd Catholic Edition. Get Knox Translation. Heck, get an Oxford-Cambridge Revised English Bible w/Apocrypha. All of these are superior to the NAB and NAB/RE. Get almost any other Catholic bible. Again, IMO, the NAB is a weak translation, and the notes can lead the faithful to confusion - that is NOT what Christ left us. Sadly, it is but one symptom of the 60 year malaise that the Church has been going through.

The NAB and NAB/RE have their staunch defenders, and they will certainly pipe up here, but the likes of these two editions have never been seen in Christian history. I am certainly not alone in my opinions.

1 Like

Those footnotes are commentary by supposedexperts in biblical studies. in no way are they infallible. Anything that contradicts a major point in either the Apostles’ Creedthe Nicene Creed or the Catechism of the Catholic Church should be ignored in my opinion.

The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the “word of God in human language,” hs been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it.
Pontifical Biblical Commission The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church

The Pontifical Biblical Commission is a group of scripture scholars from around the world chosen by the Pope to advise him on Sacred Scripture. The chair of the commission is the head of the Congegation on the Doctrine of Faith; for the Document quoted, the chair was Josef Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI. I am sure that he agrees with the above statement, that the historical critical method is required for a proper understanding of the Bible. He also recognizes that it is not the only factor in Catholic exegesis.


The usccb is not infallible about anything. Its predecessor group was founded in 1917, to coordinate war relief, later disaster relief in general. The newer versions, starting in 1967, try to coordinate pastoral care with a specifically American focus.

Since the bishops all have full time jobs elsewhere, the permanent, lay staff in Washington write up the “bishops” position statements and reviews things.

It’s possible no bishop read the footnotes of NAB prior to publication.
They are not saying the translation is necessarily the best, just that it is a valid one.

IMO the language is cumbersome, a horizontal tone with reference to God, utterly lacking in transcendence or awe. Nobody wants to memorize it, because it is so unmemorable.

G. K. Chesterton referred to certain modern translations, that the translators likely had a better understanding of Hebrew and Greek than the translators of the KJV; but the KJV translators knew English a whole lot better. He’d say the same about NAB/NABRE.

1 Like

Possible, but not likely. The Church was involved in translation controversies at the time of the revision of he OT, so it is likely some of he text was reviewed by he commitee members involved. Some of the bishops on that committee had advanced degrees in Scripture, so interest was there.

Nor are they saying it is a flawless translation, just that it was done by the best people they could find for the job.

I really do not understand the push to minimize the bishops’ involvement. Other bibles have their own ways of pickinh their translators, none of whom reflect the bishops concerns. The Ignatius bible may be better in some ways, but it reflects the priorities of a small group of scholars, not those of the bishops.

1 Like

Believe what you will. How did the faith last 1,950 years without the “indispensaible method” of these alleged scholars? Why did our Lord not teach itr? Please bear in mind that the method can lead, or it can mislead. I also see arrogance in a group which purports to know more about historical incidents than those who were there.

Scholars who teach us to doubt, not to believe.

But, we do have the freedom of willl to follow them.

As to any commission, it is a sign of the times a symptom of the malaise which the Church is undergoing.

“Test all things. Retain that which is good”

Looking at the overall health of the Church, it is clear that the hierarchy is not immune from testing.

No, the commentary is not infallible. And no vernacular translation is either.

There have been a lot of comments on CAF with concerns about the commentary. And, well, it does have its problems.

Looking at the laity I know, most of us are not doing better than most bishops at living the Christian Life. But we aren’t under the microscope.

So bishops conference isn’t all good or all bad. Be cautious about websites that raise money by attacking the hierarchy.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit