From what I have seen the RSV is pushed very hard by celebrity converts like Scott Hahn. It’s a good translation and I could see how he would prefer it given his Presbyterian (?) background but it’s nothing super special. I have some reservations of my own.
The Ignatius Press then got on board and printed the RSV-CE as the “Ignatius Bible” and with its exposure on EWTN it was off and running in some limited circles. That’s OK but the NAB has been unfairly attacked within those some circles and that bothers me. We even see that here in some postings.
There is legitimate cause to find fault with the NAB. The language is not beautiful and, from a proclamation standpoint, it does not read nor flow well.
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus certainly raised valid concerns. He came from the standpoint of a former Lutheran minister. Here is another sampling of what he wrote in the article Bible Babel:
Consider the parable of the prodigal son: After his dissipation in a “far country” (NAB has “distant country”) the RSV, following the English-language tradition and the Greek text, says “he came to himself”. NAB says “he came to his senses”. No, he didn’t just become more sensible. He came to himself; he returned to who he truly was, the beloved son of the loving father. The theologically literate preacher is regularly compelled to correct the NAB translation prescribed for public reading. Those responsible for the NAB and its perpetual updatings are not heretics and I am sure they do not intend to be doctrinally subversive. It would appear that they are simply indifferent to the great tradition of the Bible in English, frequently indifferent to the history of scriptural interpretation in the Church, and almost always indifferent to good English usage.
So why do they, and so many other translators, do what they do? The answer is undoubtedly related to the fact that, without the production of novelties and revisions, translators would be out of a job. A telling indictment of the NAB is that it is not used or even referred to by non-Catholics and is seldom employed by Catholic biblical scholars who, quite sensibly, prefer other translations. It is a translation that is used at all only because its use has been made mandatory.
Let me offer one example of my own. Look at the RNAB/Lectionary version of what was proclaimed here in the States for the 5th Sunday of Lent, Cycle A:
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed 7 and deeply troubled,
My parochial vicar noted with great angst that this is a particularly bad translation. Pertrurbed is not the right word to capture Jesus’ interior pain at the loss of his friend, Lazarus. He likened Jesus’ reaction, as spelled out in the Lectionary, as one similar to what a horse does (shaking and going floooorsh).
On the other hand, look at what the revered Douay-Rheims Bible notes:
33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself,
This better captures what was going on within Jesus’ very heart regarding Lazarus. Let’s read on a little further, first from the Lectionary:
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb
Now, let’s read how Douay-Rheims puts it:
38 Jesus therefore again** groaning in himself**, cometh to the sepulchre.
The language just is not there in the RNAB/Lectionary. It lacks depth and beauty.