Why do People Dislike the New American Bible (NAB)

The issue as I see it, is that that there have been far better Catholic bibles. There are currently far better Catholic bibles. The Second Edition of the Catechism does not even use the NAB!

Once again, my advice is to get an Oxford-Cambridge Revised English Bible w/Apocrypha. It is a nice appearing bible and is a very goodce daily reader. It is easier to defend Catholic teaching from it than from the NAB and derivatives.

The Church has done far better. The Church can do far better. To help end this maliaise, the Church must do better.

Pretty sad when Tyndale’s Catholic Living Bible is better; when their New Living Translation - Catholic Edition is better.


The NAB devotees are unshakable. If those who are non-committal about the NAB would only purchase a 1941-1969 Confraternity Bible and read the intros and foot notes. More than a world of difference.

I found the ff. in the book The Catholic Tradition:

Nov, 1991: the NCCB approves of the RNAB Psalter through a majority vote

May, 1992: the CDWS approves of the RNAB Psalter but says nothing about the lectionary

Jun, 1992: the NCCB sends a lectionary to the CDWS for approval

Jun, 1994: the CDWS revokes approval of the Psalter but says nothing about the lectionary, and later states that the revocation came from the CDF.

The CDF argued that the RNAB Psalter (as well as the Psalter and the NRSV) are “unacceptable for liturgy [and catechesis] because some of their inclusive language was deemed incompatible with the Catholic theological tradition” (234). I will look for more details on that which, also, might explain one reason why some dislike at least some editions of NAB that appeared before 2010.

It’s possible, then, that the problem is not so much a change of rules or direction but groups supporting more inclusive language (according to the book, those who oppose it refer to the ICEL and the CDWS) and those who argue that some of its use is not compatible with Catholic theology (like the CDF).

The REB is my favorite non-Catholic Bible. I wish they came out with an official Catholic edition of that Bible with the books in the correct order and with a corresponding nihil obstat and imprimatur.

I have the REB edition that you provided in your link. It’s a nice readable edition but I wish there was a Catholic REB edition with more in-depth footnotes plus more study material including introductions to the books made from an orthodox Catholic perspective.

Another person who had great disdain for the NAB was Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the founder of the journal “First Things”. Here’s some of what he had to say about the NAB (circa January 2006):

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It’s the word “New” that upsets people.

I don’t know… St Jerome was pretty Metal with his Memento Morris Skull…:skull:

Plus he was a total curmudgeon.


Age levels of various translations according to their publishers, from “Bible Translation Reading Levels”:

RSV - 17
NRSV - 16
NABRE - 14

Thank you.

The point I have been trying to make is that 1994 marks a change in policy. In this account, US bishops worked with the approval of the CDW on translations for liturgy until 1994, when the CDF took over for the CDW. The problem was not a lack of consultation between the bishops and the CDW, but between CDW and CDF. CDF’s stance on inclusive language prior to this is unclear; they used the RSV instead of the NRSV for the Catechism in 1993, but that is the only sign of opposition I know of.

I think this actually reflects a different dynamic. The rules for translation called on the Vatican to confirm the translation produced by the national bishops. This did not include the possibility of rejecting the translation. When the CDF stepped in, it changed the process significantly by giving the CDF a veto over the bishops and the CDW. Francis’ Magnum Proprium reversed that change, giving final authorization to national bishops.

In any event, the current effort to create a translation suitable for liturgy is subject to the same kind of disruption. Everyone could cooperate and agree and approve until someone with power disagrees. It could be for the opposite reason, that the translation is not inclusive enough. It could be for something totally unrelated, like evidence from a new cache of ancient artifacts; or the correction of a racist bias; or something I cannot imagine.

At least, I hope there will be a way for someone to correct an errant translation, even if the error cannot be seen today.

Disdain is a major issue. While there is always a legitimate level, it is too easy to slip into an anti-Catholic disrespect for Church authorities. To some degree, it is our respect for the ordained that defines Catholicism. Neuhaus had the education and experience to justify his disdain without it becoming disrespect. Others simply push it too far into disrespect.


I was reading this article, and it appears that it wasn’t so much the CDF taking over for the CDW, or that there was a change in rules, direction, or policy, or that some sort of disruption involving people in power took place, but that the translations were rejected because they had “doctrinal problems.” And if I’m not mistaken, the problems were acknowledged and corrected in the NABRE, which means it’s a good thing that the CDF stepped in.

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I contacted Oxford-Cambridge and inquired about such an edition. The response I received was that the REB was formatted and typeset in the 80s in a manner which does not allow for easy editing or rearrangement of books. To make it worthwhile for them, they would need something on the order of 50,000 copies ordered. Ah, if only…

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