The New American Bible


What are other Catholics’ opinions on the New American Bible? When I had CCD for my Confirmation, this is the Bible that they gave us. What are people’s general opinions on it? I heard it’s Vatican-approved, if I’m not mistaken. Maybe I am?

So what are people general opinions on the New American Bible? I don’t know much about it. So could people fill me in?

If you like it, why?
If you don’t, Why?


It is a fine Bible. It converted me back to the faith. The notes are not so good but the notes are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Only the text is. It is the Bible used in Mass in the USA.

I prefer the RSV-CE but the NAB is a fine Bible. I often use my NAB to compare with the RSV.

No translation is perfect.



The translation is fine in my opinion, but the footnotes is its black eye.


What are some examples of these problematic footnotes?


This is the 3rd time I’ve seen this question :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s the Catholic Bible I ordered online. I’ve been happy with it… not that I really have other Catholic Bibles to compare it to.



The footnotes of the New American Bible have a really complicated story behind them. Some of them are great – when I read the Book of Revelation with the New American Bible’s footnotes, I was left wondering not what the Book means but wondering why people think it’s confusing at all.

So it depends on what footnotes you’re looking at. The reason many of them are bad is because the scholars they chose to write the footnotes were not teachers of Catholic tradition but of modern historical critical research methods. Historical criticism is fine, but the emphasis on that is so heavy that you don’t get Catholic tradition almost at all in the Bible’s footnotes, and a lot of good Catholic info gets left out. Here are a few examples:

The footnote on Genesis 1:26 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."

Now traditional Catholic interpretation says that the phrase “Let us make” refers to the Trinity. It uses a plural personal pronoun because there is a plural number of persons in the Godhead. But an even deeper problem is that it almost suggests that the text is just a primitive way of thinking that we shouldn’t believe in in modern times. “Oh, this was an ancient way of imagining God in a sort of polytheistic way.” Um, no, Catholic tradition doesn’t suggest that polytheistic thinking is halfway endorsed in the Bible. Especially not in the Creation account.

Another example is in Matthew 16:23, where Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to be handed over to the Pharisees and crucified. The footnote says, “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).”

Now why the heck does it say these statements can’t go back to Jesus Himself? The idea that Jesus couldn’t have said this makes no sense. One would think that the author was suggesting that Jesus didn’t know the future. But the very next breath says that it is “probable” that He did. It looks like the editor of the footnotes disagreed with the author of the footnotes and added a clarification, but it weakens the first remark, “neither this nor the two later passion predictions…go back to Jesus,” and makes it look contradictory and silly. Not to mention that it’s not based on Catholic tradition but on modern historical critical scholars, who so often are ready to assume that any prediction of the future is impossible.

Anyway those are two quick examples from the top of my head. Another one would be that, somewhere in the Old Testament, there was a Protestant footnote writer who wrote that the Old Testament forbids images to be made. Which is not only not Catholic tradition, it’s a classic Protestant heresy. Why the heck is it taught in a Catholic Bible? But I can’t find the footnote that says that right now after an internet search, so take that as it stands. Anyway, the footnotes are basically a mixed bag. And it would just be nice if they were based on Catholic tradition more than they currently are.


The Bible Translation is good, but the footnotes…oh the footnotes … border on heresy.


And you’ve only been on CAF since June. Imagine how many times I’ve seen this question. :stuck_out_tongue:

I voted “other”. I think the NAB is fine. The bishops approved it. It’s (basically) what we use at Mass. Yes, I also have some problems with some of the footnotes. But those are easy enough to ignore.

I prefer the RSV-CE. But I use the NAB, too.

As Timothy said, no translation is perfect. But it’s close enough. :wink:


It’s easy enough to ignore if you have a solid faith and profound awareness of what constitutes the orthodoxy of the Church. That would exclude huge swathes of Catholics that just know what they hear at their parish and RCIA/CCD classes. You and I can overlook those footnotes (in fact, I would venture to say we probably know a lot more about some of these subjects than the actual authors of the footnotes do…), but the average lay Catholic can’t. And it can be a serious challenge to their faith when they read in the very Bible that their Conference has recommended to them, that Jesus couldn’t really see the future, or that it’s just some stuffy overly conservative theologians that think purgatory is evident in scripture.

Frankly I think it’s utterly appalling that the USCCB approved the NAB at all. Is this translation really so good that they think the faith of Americans will be magnified by it in spite of the heretical footnotes? I pray for the day when a much more sound version, like the RSV:CE (or 2CE) becomes the official translation of all English speakers in the Church.


Fair enough. It is sad that adding a caveat about the footnotes is necessary.


So…since the question at hand seems to have been asked a lot…here’s my question.
(sorry off topic, but I’ve yet so see an answer elsewhere):confused:

What is the best SPANISH LANGUAGE bible? I would have thought I could find a recommendation at the USCCB site, but no, unless I’m just not looking in the right places.
With so many immigrants coming up for RCIA, I would like to find them a nice Bible for their study in their native language. Any thoughts wise people?
thank you.


Sorry. I suppose this comes under the heading of a “new thread”. Never mind,


I do not speak Spanish, so I am going entirely off of what I have read about the subject, not personal experience:

The Biblia de Petisco y Torres Amat appeared in 1825. Traditionalist Catholics consider this to be the best Spanish translation because it is direct translation from St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, like the English language Douay-Rheims Bible.

In 2010 the Conference of Spanish Bishops published an official version of the Holy Bible in Spanish for liturgical and catechetical use.

Source, accuracy unverified

So my inclination would be to say one of those two. :shrug:


I have a copy of the NAB which was referred to as “iffy” on Catholic Radio, but nothing specific was mentioned. I thank those who took the time here to point out the problematic parts.



I agree with this sentiment 100%.

It is filled with anonymous commentary from a panel of lukewarm protestants and catholics who value textual criticism done in vacuum disconnected from tradition.


Thanks for your prompt response. I accidentally began a new thread. Can’t seem to get the hang of this.
But so appreciate the information. God Bless!


Other people have responded quite adequetly to the problems of the footnotes and the book headings. But I also have some real problems with the flat and tendentious text which the style-commitee seemed determined to wipe out any trace of the original poetry and delivery of the original languages. The only other “translation” I find so-often flat is the “Good News Bible” (The NWT is by FAR worse but that is NOT a translation but a truly awkward and delibertly inaccurate transliteration of the KJV)


In of itself it’s not bad, but certainly not my preferred translation. I was raised Presbyterian and we used the King James Bible. Because of that I prefer the Douay-Rheims translation primarily because the more modern translations just sound odd to me. I also have an RSV-CE Bible that I prefer of the NAB. I rarely read the footnotes so that never caused me heartburn with the NAB.


Coming from a three decade career in which accurate documentation of events was critical, I cast a rather jaunduced eye toward the NAB and its NAB/RE derivative. My observations:

Actually, it is a heavily modified NAB/RE that we hear at mass. The bible that you and I can buy is not approved for liturgical use by the Vatican due to its extensive gender-neutral language and other issues.

Main issues I have with the NAB and its derivative:

  1. Mary is not full of grace (Luke 1:28)
  2. Paul did not forgive sins in the person of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:10)
  3. Mary’s soul does not magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46)
  4. Mary is not blessed for her faith, (Luke 1:45) but only for believing that God would actually do what He said He would.
  5. The mother of the Messiah, a “young woman” is not described as a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  6. The word “hell” appears nowhere in this bible.
  7. Its immediate predecessor, the Confraternity bible, as well as the Douay-Rheims before that, contained the prayer to the Holy Spirit to be offered before the reading of the scriptures. Neither the NAB nor the NAB/RE have this prayer anywhere in them. I believe that appealing to the Holy Spirit (the Author of all scripture) for guidance is a tradition (or simply a practice) worth perpetuating, unless the guidance of the Holy Spirit is passe these days.
  8. Let’s not even get started on the footnotes and intros, non-clerical “theologians” and a Presbyterian pastor (a Calvinist) that were involved in this “Catholic” translation.

The world’s oldest and largest human organization, with the greatest writers and theologians on earth, can certainly do better than this “squishy” (Jimmy Akin) translation. The US alone uses this bible, and the USCCB which approved it holds the copyright and gains operating funds from its sale. To me, this does not pass the sniff test. I place the RSV-2CE, the various Confraternity Bibles and the Knox Translation substantially ahead of the NAB. We can do better.

As a practical matter, it is easier to defend Catholic doctrine from a protestant King James Version than it is from this “approved” Catholic bible.

What is the best catholic (version) Bible out there?
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