Why did the NABRE translation delete such an important verse from Matthew 17?


In Matthew 17, after Jesus’s transfiguration, there’s a story about a father’s son who was possessed by a demon. Jesus’s disciples were unable to cure the boy. After Jesus cured the boy, his disciples asked him why they weren’t able to cure him. My NABRE translation deleted a very, very important sentence from Jesus’s response. Here is the story from my New King James Version:

A Boy Is Healed
14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic[c] and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;[d] for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”[e]

19 Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 [q]He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21 ][r]

Did you notice what they omitted? Only through prayer and fasting will you be able to ask for what you want from the Lord. Why on earth would our Catholic approved bible translation make an omission of such a critical verse? To omit something like that is SERIOUS. This is the Word of God we’re dealing with.


It’s not the glaring omission you might imagine. Verse 21 is a textual variant that is found in some ancient manuscripts but not others. In my RSV-CE, it includes in a footnote that some ancient authorities add that verse. It’s nothing doctrinal, there’s no agenda here. It’s simply that some things don’t appear so commonly among ancient manuscripts, so the editors decide not to include them in the main body of the text. I’d imagine the NABRE has a footnote to that effect.



Did you see the footnote for verse 21 (which the NAB omits)? It says, “Some manuscripts add, ‘But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting’; this is a variant of the better reading of Mk 9:29.”


You should probably get an NABRE that has the footnotes. Many times – such as this – they are very helpful.


Actually it’s the footnotes that are even more disturbing than the text! :eek:

The Nova Vulgata also omits that verse.


If he’d had the footnotes, he would have known that the verse wasn’t just omitted arbitrarily. And a lot of the historical footnotes are very helpful.


:thumbsup: Right. There is no grand conspiracy. Just a part of what we call textual criticism. There is no Catholic teaching that hinges upon the inclusion or exclusion of any textual variant.


Like the translations cited by **Edward George **and **Gorgias **on this thread, my Jerusalem Bible, 1985 edition, relegates Matt 17.21 to a footnote with a cross reference to Mark 9.29. This verse in Mark, BTW, mentions prayer only, not fasting.


The RSV mentions both prayer and fasting in Mark 9:29, but it doesn’t look like the “fasting” part appears in the original Greek. :hmmm:


Before panicking, check out Mark 9:29 in the NABRE and tell us what you find.


What you mean to say is SOME Greek MSS. There is NO “original” Greek.


A good study Bible is invaluable for stuff like this. There are many other instances throughout the Bible where verses we take for granted as being scriptural do not appear in the earliest manuscripts and thus are suspect that perhaps they were added by copyists. Fortunately there are many thousands of early manuscripts available, and thus we have a strong basis for comparison.

For example, the story of the adulteress brought to our Lord by the Jews to ask him his opinion on the law where our Lord stated, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. It is considered to be scriptural (as in, true) but it does not appear in some of the earliest manuscripts, and is placed differently in other early manuscripts.


My whole problem with “textual criticism” is it seems that most modern translators follow the route of “if in doubt–throw it out”. The problem with that is with each succeeding translation the bible gets smaller and smaller and smaller.

I’m not saying that all textual variants should be included–I’m only saying that I think that too many are thrown out.

I believe that Jesus probably really did say something to the effect of “this kind comes out only through prayer and fasting”.

If it is true that the Nova Vulgata does not have the verse my question is: does the Clementine Vulgate include the verse?


Yes, the Clementine Vulgate DID have the verse, which is why the D/R bibles all have it. I completely agree with you Jerry. My question is; is it something Jesus would have said, not whether it can be found in this mss. but not that one. If the Tridentine Vulgate had the verse, then that is good enough for me. The Nova Vulgata has been updated with textual historical criticism using Greek mss. It is NOT trying to get back to St. Jerome’s vulgate, but really just a Latin version of the current Greek opinions.

D/R: “But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”
Clementine Vulgate: “hoc autem genus non eicitur nisi per orationem et ieiunium”

Also Mark 9:28 uses the same language as mentioned earlier.

The thing that bothers me is that these are the WORDS OF JESUS they are tossing out. It’s not like the Johannine comma, where there is really some doubt, and they are St. John the evangelist’s words. (if they were his words)


As I was reading the thread, I checked the DR/Latin Vulgate on drbo.com, and was about to post their contents, then noticed that you beat me to it. Since the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome was continually used in the Latin Mass for all those years, I would trust it long before any of the modern versions. I think the modern translators might lack the correct understanding and nuances of the original languages, as they were used back then. When St. Jerome was unsure about translating a difficult verse, there were still other people around that spoke those languages, that he could ask for assistance. I also like to think that St. Jerome had special Divine assistance in his monumental task.

Some modern translators seem to go too far with their technicalities, yet on the other hand try to make it sound more ‘politically correct’. This is how errors can tend to creep into the Bible, a little at a time. It’s also why the Catholic Church has always been what some people might refer to as being ‘persnickety’ about approving translations to other languages. There’s good reason for being so careful not to loose the correct meaning, when it comes to the Bible.


Yes, that is what I mean. Thank you for the clarification. :slight_smile:


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