The NAB and the Catholic Faith


#1

I've heard a lot of bad things said about the NAB, especially its footnotes, but I know this is the version used in Mass (can there be any higher endorsement of the text than reading it in the Liturgy of the Word?), it carries an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, and was approved for publication by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All of this seems to suggest that the NABRE should be the safest most orthodox English language Bible in the world for Catholics...but then there are some very troubling footnotes. Consider this article by Jimmy Akin and the footnote he cites from Matt. 16:21-23 (emphasis mine):

This first prediction of the passion follows Mk 8:31–33 in the main and serves as a corrective to an understanding of Jesus’ messiahship as solely one of glory and triumph. By his addition of from that time on (Mt 16:21) Matthew has emphasized that Jesus’ revelation of his coming suffering and death marks a new phase of the gospel. Neither this nor the two later passion predictions (Mt 17:22–23; 20:17–19) can be taken as sayings that, as they stand, go back to Jesus himself. However, it is probable that he foresaw that his mission would entail suffering and perhaps death, but was confident that he would ultimately be vindicated by God (see Mt 26:29).

I'm sorry, what?

Also, what's up with the contradiction between the CCC and footnote for 1 Cor. 3:!5

...although Paul can envision very harsh divine punishment (cf. 1 Cor 3:17), he appears optimistic about the success of divine corrective means both here and elsewhere (cf. 1 Cor 5:5; 11:32 [discipline]). The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.

Vs. CCC 1031:

The tradition of the Church by reference to certain texts of Scripture speaks of a cleansing fire (cf 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7)

Huh?

And these are by no means the only problematic footnotes in the NAB. So my question for you is this:
1. Is the NAB a danger to faith, or is it a little on the liberal side but still firmly within the scope of Catholic orthodoxy and faithfulness to the Magistrum?
2. If you answered "yes, it's dangerous", why does the USCCB permit this version to be even on the approved list, much less the exclusive version used as Mass.Furthermore do you consider its Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat to be erroneous?
3. If you feel it is safe, even if you personally disagree with it sometimes, please explain.


#2

As much as I dislike the NAB footnotes and intros, I hesitated to vote no but I did. When I was discovering Catholicism I first began using the NAB, and the footnotes were troubling. But I kept searching out the faith until I was led to more traditional resources that confirmed the kind of Catholicism that I felt was more solid and grounded. Saying that it probably sounds like I am going against my own vote, but my feeling is that if a person is truly searching for Catholicism then they won't stop at one source like the NAB, but will investigate the Faith and will look at more Catholic resources and will discover the good stuff and recognize it. The NAB won't lead a person into false doctrine, and that's what is important. But I can see it being a stumbling block for those who are expecting the Bible to be reliable and trustworthy and says what it means and means what it says, because the NAB footnotes and intros make the Bible look like forgeries and myths.


#3

I voted 'no' because 'The Catholic Study Bible' (NAB) was the first study Bible that I was introduced to as I was coming to the Catholic (Christian) faith 10 years ago. The NAB is the most used Bible in Bible Studies, RCIA, etc.

The NAB uses Catholic based historical - critical notes (as do most modern Catholic and ecumenical Bibles). The notes can be a little academic at times! I feel that the historical-critical notes and commentary make you look at all sides of the faith; conservative and liberal (for lack of better terms). Since the notes are scholarly, they are in many cases theories of the scholars that are writing them. I have learned to be a little more critical of notes and I use many sources to confirm or deny a position stated. Another advantage of being exposed to historical-critical thinking is that scholars like Bart Ehrman, Dominic Crossan and their teachings (that tear apart the faith of many new Christians), didn't even phase me (even as a new Catholic) which in my opinion strengthened my faith. However one type of Bible commentary notes are not suitable for everybody.

That said, I am in favor of a two tier note system for the NAB/RE. I would use more theological based notes for most NABRE Bibles (that are less scolarly) and use the historical-critical based notes on Catholic Study Bibles and other academic versions of the NABRE.


#4

Thanks for the replies. I can certainly see how the NAB is valuable in the sense that any version of the Bible is valuable, and the footnotes as being a good prompting to do more searching into the teachings of the Church, but I guess what I'm really asking is, is the NAB something faithful Catholics should be reading, or would want to read? (Or in my case a non-Catholic Christian interested in coming into full communion with the Catholic Church). To provide a bit of context. I recently bought a copy of The Catholic Study Bible with revised OT so I could have a study Bible that includes the deuterocanonicals, so as I read these "new" books I can have some references for understanding them. But I was a bit disturbed by some of the footnotes I found in other books and what people are saying about the NAB online, and I'm trying to decide if I should take the book back to the store and look for a different resource. I like the formatting of the study Bible and it seems like a lot (not all) of the Reading Guide is very interesting (though I was disappointed it retained the NAB footnotes instead of providing new notes), but if the NAB constantly promotes theories, speculation, and secular scholarship that assert that many of the Biblical authors didn't actually write their books, that they just copied each other, etc. with no redeeming value elsewhere in the footnotes, then I see no reason why I should use this version of the Bible. So I'm really looking for opinions about this book as a tool for my own faith formation and understanding of Scripture from a Catholic prospective.

Matt


#5

I voted no because all the footnotes, commentaries, academic critiques in the world do not measure up to the impact of the heart of each of the faithful.

The bigger challenge is to pray and live the lessons the scriptures are intending to teach us.


#6

**I dislike the footnote in St.Matthews Gospel, in the first chapter:

"25] Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated "until" does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it." End qoute

What bugs me is that this is a subtle attack on the Doctrine of Our Lady's perpetual virginity. This footnote makes it sound as if "She may have been a virgin after, she may not have"...**


#7

[quote="MattofTexas, post:1, topic:338513"]
I've heard a lot of bad things said about the NAB, especially its footnotes, but I know this is the version used in Mass (can there be any higher endorsement of the text than reading it in the Liturgy of the Word?), it carries an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, and was approved for publication by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All of this seems to suggest that the NABRE should be the safest most orthodox English language Bible in the world for Catholics...but then there are some very troubling footnotes. Consider this article by Jimmy Akin and the footnote he cites from Matt. 16:21-23 (emphasis mine):

I'm sorry, what?

Also, what's up with the contradiction between the CCC and footnote for 1 Cor. 3:!5

Vs. CCC 1031:

Huh?

And these are by no means the only problematic footnotes in the NAB. So my question for you is this:
1. Is the NAB a danger to faith, or is it a little on the liberal side but still firmly within the scope of Catholic orthodoxy and faithfulness to the Magistrum?
2. If you answered "yes, it's dangerous", why does the USCCB permit this version to be even on the approved list, much less the exclusive version used as Mass.Furthermore do you consider its Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat to be erroneous?
3. If you feel it is safe, even if you personally disagree with it sometimes, please explain.

[/quote]

Nihil Obstat:
permission to publish a book, granted by an official censor who, upon examining it, has certified that it contains nothing contrary to faith or morals

Imprimateur:

An official license to print or publish a book, pamphlet, etc., especially a license issued by a censor of the Roman Catholic Church.

Until these are removed from the book, I can see how personal preference for individual translation style, less or more footnotes, can be appropriate topics for discussion... but I take strong objection to a discussion that includes the translation used for Mass with words like "erroneous" "safe" and "danger to the faith".

Just my opinion.


#8

The situation cries out for a far better translation. Look at what has happened to Catholic Church membership (excluding the influx of Hispanic Catholics) since 1970, when the NAB was introduced. Now, there are far more reasons for the exodus than the NAB, but its squishy translation and confusing notes have probably contributed.

The NAB that we can buy is not the version used in the liturgy. The vatican required modifications - mostly the elimination of the extensive inclusive language - before they would allow the NAB to be used in the liturgy. We cannot buy the liturgical version.

Actually the NAB may be considered to be one of the first "vote of the prople" bibles, inasmuch as a substantial amount of input from members of the laity, and liberal ones at that, was included. The role of clergy and religious was reduced and lay theologians and a Presbyterian minister were allowed input.

The USCCB, private a 501c3 organization (not directly associated with the Church) which determines the bible used in the US liturgy, holds the copyright on the NAB, and earns operating funds from the sale of each NAB. As far as I can tell,the USCCB does not sell the actual version that is approved by the Vatican. Does this pass the sniff test?


#9

Neither stamp is an indication that the issuer of that stamp agrees with the content or opinions contained in the book. So, the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat are good signs, but are not guarantees.


#10

I would keep it for reference and the NAB translation (since the Mass is based upon it). If I were you I would also purchase ‘The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testament’ from Ignatius Press. The ICSB-NT uses the RSV-2CE translation and more theological based notes, that are excellent! Then you can have the best of both worlds!


#11

[quote="coachdennis, post:7, topic:338513"]
Nihil Obstat:
permission to publish a book, granted by an official censor who, upon examining it, has certified that it contains nothing contrary to faith or morals

Imprimateur:

An official license to print or publish a book, pamphlet, etc., especially a license issued by a censor of the Roman Catholic Church.

Until these are removed from the book, I can see how personal preference for individual translation style, less or more footnotes, can be appropriate topics for discussion... but I take strong objection to a discussion that includes the translation used for Mass with words like "erroneous" "safe" and "danger to the faith".

Just my opinion.

[/quote]

This discussion has nothing to do with preference, it has to do with evaluating the truthfulness of the meaning of those declarations as applied to the NABRE footnotes, introductions, and in this case the reading guide of the Oxford Press Catholic Study Bible. Consider, the following statement appears printed on the same page as the Imprimateur and Nihil Obstat: "The Nihil Obstat and Imprimateur are official declarations that a book is free of doctrinal and moral error." So naturally if the NAB footnotes actually contain doctrinal errors then these declarations must be erroneous. The doctrinal errors are not, by definition, spiritually safe and thus present a real danger to the faith because error is being presented as truth, or at least scholarly opinion that has been formally declared not at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. I had no intention of speaking irreverently about the Bible or the Church's decisions, but these decisions are not infallible, and in the interest of my own spiritual development I have sought the opinions of those more knowledgeable than myself about the understanding and application of the Church's approval of this Bible version given some of the problematic footnotes it contains...and indeed hoped for a well thought out evaluation of the magnitude of the problems that exist in the NAB's footnotes and introductions juxtaposed with the merits of the selfsame materials. It was perhaps wrong of me to ask regarding the legitimacy of the declarations, but those who fall into the camp of opposing the NAB must needs justify their position and consider its implications, and as a non-Catholic it's unclear to me exactly. I meant no offense to you or anyone else, I just want to know if this is a faithful book for studying the Catholic faith.


#12

[quote="po18guy, post:8, topic:338513"]
The situation cries out for a far better translation. Look at what has happened to Catholic Church membership (excluding the influx of Hispanic Catholics) since 1970, when the NAB was introduced. Now, there are far more reasons for the exodus than the NAB, but its squishy translation and confusing notes have probably contributed.

The NAB that we can buy is not the version used in the liturgy. The vatican required modifications - mostly the elimination of the extensive inclusive language - before they would allow the NAB to be used in the liturgy. We cannot buy the liturgical version.

Actually the NAB may be considered to be one of the first "vote of the prople" bibles, inasmuch as a substantial amount of input from members of the laity, and liberal ones at that, was included. The role of clergy and religious was reduced and lay theologians and a Presbyterian minister were allowed input.

The USCCB, private a 501c3 organization (not directly associated with the Church) which determines the bible used in the US liturgy, holds the copyright on the NAB, and earns operating funds from the sale of each NAB. As far as I can tell,the USCCB does not sell the actual version that is approved by the Vatican. Does this pass the sniff test?

[/quote]

Thanks for the clarification about the liturgical vs..."reading" version of the NAB, as well as the information about its production.


#13

[quote="CalCatholic, post:10, topic:338513"]
I would keep it for reference and the NAB translation (since the Mass is based upon it). If I were you I would also purchase 'The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testament' from Ignatius Press. The ICSB-NT uses the RSV-2CE translation and more theological based notes, that are excellent! Then you can have the best of both worlds!

[/quote]

Good advice. I actually have the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testament, and I really like it! I wish there was an OT version or complete Bible edition available too.


#14

We don’t know exactly what Jesus said. Between the Gospels there are many contradictions about Jesus’ exact words. This doesn’t mean the Gospels don’t convey what Jesus said and taught; the essence of Jesus’ teachings are there, including the meaning of what he said. While the footnotes is very vague, it isn’t technically wrong.

Also, what’s up with the contradiction between the CCC and footnote for 1 Cor. 3:!5

We don’t know what St. Paul was thinking. It’s pretty arrogant on the part of the NAB footnote writers to imply they know he wasn’t thinking of purgatory, but there is nothing in the deposit of faith that says when St. Paul wrote 1 Co. 3:15, he had purgatory in mind. That doesn’t discredit the fact that Church Tradition has long seen the passage as evidence of purgatory.

Or perhaps the footnote is criticizing a certain way of viewing purgatory, an archaic worldview, as if it was merely another level in our universe on the way to God.

Vs. CCC 1031:

Huh?

A Nihil Obstat means that there is nothing contrary to the Faith in what is contained within the writing. The very ambiguous footnote in the NAB is very misleading, but I don’t think it is per se wrong. In certain time periods within the Church people have seen purgatory as another hell, and have had a view of God as an angry God only concerned with divine punishment (taken from a faulty reading of the Bible - “Paul can envision very harsh divine punishment…”). If this is what is meant, then no, 1 Co. 3:15 does not envisage purgatory.

And these are by no means the only problematic footnotes in the NAB. So my question for you is this:

  1. Is the NAB a danger to faith, or is it a little on the liberal side but still firmly within the scope of Catholic orthodoxy and faithfulness to the Magistrum?
  2. If you answered “yes, it’s dangerous”, why does the USCCB permit this version to be even on the approved list, much less the exclusive version used as Mass.Furthermore do you consider its Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat to be erroneous?
  3. If you feel it is safe, even if you personally disagree with it sometimes, please explain.
  1. No. Liberal side, meaning very ambiguous and very open to false interpretation, but not unorthodox.

  2. The event of an orthodox Catholic who would think something with a Nihil Obstat is doctrinally in error is pretty ironic.

  3. See above. Personally I think the RSV-2CE is better.


#15

Ignatius Press (like the Catholic Church) moves slowly at times!


#16

[quote="mymamamary, post:6, topic:338513"]
**I dislike the footnote in St.Matthews Gospel, in the first chapter:

"25] Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated "until" does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it." End qoute

What bugs me is that this is a subtle attack on the Doctrine of Our Lady's perpetual virginity. This footnote makes it sound as if "She may have been a virgin after, she may not have"...**

[/quote]

I both agree and disagree here. No doubt, reading through the NAB I have (on more than one occasion) cursed out with disdain that the NAB appears to hold Catholic tradition in so little regard. But there's something important here, also.

It's important in apologetics to know what we're talking about. It's true: the word "until" doesn't indicate either way whether or not Mary stayed a virgin! We believe she did- and that's based on the understanding of the Church, the Fathers of the Church, and it's at least strongly indicated by what Jesus says to John and Mary while on the cross (though again it's not indicated definitively)

The NAB notes fail constantly to justify Catholic opinion on dogma-- but again, they're not meant to. When you read the NAB you have to also know Church teachings. Equipped with the knowledge of the Truth (Church teachings) and the knowledge of what is really in the Scripture (NAB) you are much more instructed than someone who's study bible is completely slanted.

Again, imagine if the NAB said this instead for the footnote: rest assured, though the word says "until", it's a misnomer and Mary never had relations with a man.

How would we be equipped to deal with a heretic? How would we be equipped to understand the roots of our faith?


#17

We need to remember that the footnotes in a Bible are not the Bible.

The New American Bible is just that, a Bible. The footnotes are not part of the Bible but added to the Bible as an extra. They can be read or they can be ignored because they are not inspired text.

My Oxford RSV-CE doesn't even have notes. I have been reading it and using it in formal Bible study for years. The NAB is a fine Bible too.

I think too many rely on the footnotes instead of making the texts part of their lives. No footnotes are perfect and even the best footnotes barley even scratch the surface of what the texts contain.

-Tim-


#18

I voted it's safe. But, I think there are better Bibles out there for many applications.

For in-depth study, I think the RSV is better. It's more accurate, has all the traditional renderings (in the Ignatius 2nd Ed), and still understandable. If one is more traditionalist, the Douay-Rheims would also be better.

For devotional reading, I think the Knox or Jerusalem Bibles are better reading than the NAB. They flow better and you have your choice of modern or archaic English.

For liturgical use and in our religious ed programs for younger children, I think the NAB(RE) is actually a good fit. I've heard it was written to a lower grade level than the RSV (6-8th verses 11-12th). Being more understandable to younger audiences will get them engaged at a younger age at Mass (since they can follow the readings more easily) or get them reading a regular Bible soomer (as opposed to a children's bible).

Are some of the footnotes questionable? Yes. But, I think the translation itself is a good middle-of-the-road translation - not too literal as to be difficult reading, but not so dynamic that one can't use it for study (although I wouldn't want to use it for a thesis or anything).

The Catholic Bibles Blog a few weeks ago featured an edition called the New African Bible. According to the blog, it's the NABRE translation with different intros and footnotes, that might be worth checking out.


#19

[quote="mymamamary, post:6, topic:338513"]
**I dislike the footnote in St.Matthews Gospel, in the first chapter:

"25] Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated "until" does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it." End qoute

What bugs me is that this is a subtle attack on the Doctrine of Our Lady's perpetual virginity. This footnote makes it sound as if "She may have been a virgin after, she may not have"...**

[/quote]

No it doesn't, it simply says this passage neither proves nor disproves it.


#20

**

[quote="Fragile, post:19, topic:338513"]
No it doesn't, it simply says this passage neither proves nor disproves it.

[/quote]

It leaves it up to ambiguity, which then increases the doubt in someones mind "Well, maybe She did or didn't" instead fo actually saying that nothing happened, because Our Lady is a perpetual virgin, case closed and dismissed.

Now let's be realistic here, how many Catholics are going to bother picking up Patristic commentaries on Sacred Scripture? How does that leave poor old Joe, who frankly, doesn't have time to peruse Patrisitic commentary on Sacred Scripture, but wants His daily dose of Sacred Scipture, and then poor old Joe, being a Catholic, buys this Catholic Bible (NAB) , opens it to St. Matthew's Gospel and for better comprehension and acting under the assumption that the footnotes are there to help aid His understanding in a consistent and orthodox manner, finds this:

"25] Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated "until" does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it." End qoute

Now that's going to make him think twice because, well, who knows, "It may have or may not have happened".

Another thing that irks me to oblivion over this Bible is again, the footnotes and the text helps. The footnotes keep expounding on this idea of the Q-source. I think this Q-source is heretical. It does nothing but basically state that these Gospels came from a single-source (Then you can pretty much scrap the idea of Divinely inspired, because if there was a Master Text, who needs Divine Inspiration right?").

I also am irritated by the gender neutral stupidity. I have enough polticial correctness to deal with in the secular world, let alone inside the Church. Especially not when this gender netural stupidity totally eradicates the meaning of a verse from what it was meant to mean.

The NAB irritates me. If I could find one WITHOUT gender neutral stupidity and garbage footnotes, then I would consider it as a good/acceptable translation.

RSV or the Douay Rheims are the good translations. **


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