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John Cormier wrote:

Hi, guys —

The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) says the NAB (New American Bible) is the only version authorized to be used in the United States for saying Mass.

  • Does that mean if a priest is teaching apart from what he teaches in his homily, he cannot use any other bible than the NAB?

The reason I am asking is in Luke 1:28, the NAB teaches one thing and the Douay-Rheims teaches an other.

New American:

And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."

Douay-Rheims:

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

John

  { If the bishops have authorized a specific biblical translation, can they preach using another one? }
Spacer

Mike replied:

Hi John,

Thanks for the question.

I believe the authorized addition is the New American Bible, Revised Edition. (NABRE)

New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) from the USCCB web site

As to whether a priest who uses Mass readings from the NABRE can preach using another translation of the Bible, I think it would be dependent on the local bishop.

In my opinion, it would certainly be more confusing to the worshipers, unless the intent of the homilist was to put down an authorized Church translation over his personal preference:
a dumb idea!

Maybe my colleagues have another opinion.

This posting may help you understand the specific passage you mentioned:

Mike

John C. replied:

Thank you Mike,

I totally agree. In the words, listed in the online NAB, "grace" is said to be used in
Luke 1:28, however, "highly favored" is used instead, so they are interchangeable.

I agree on the "dumb idea". I think a priest, in saying the Mass on Sunday, would base his homily on the new NAB version, and, say on Monday, apart from Mass, teach from the same version.

Your comments are appreciated.

Thank you.

John

Eric replied:

Hi, John —

The homilist can use whatever translation is conducive to the salvation of souls. The NAB/NABRE is not the best translation, but even if it were, no translation can totally capture the nuances of the original language, and it is always best, when really doing bible study, to consult multiple translations.

That being said, the homily is not, according to some, a bible study, per se, but I'd say if he has a relevant point to make that the NAB/NABRE does not bring out, he's free to make it from another sound translation such as the RSV-CE Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition or Jerusalem Bible.

Eric

John C. replied:

Thanks Eric,

That's true, but look what I found on the EWTN web site under:

Bible Versions and Commentaries

Devotional Reading

A bewildering array of Catholic Bibles are available for personal use. They all have imprimaturs, but not all avoid the use of inclusive language. That use is indicated in the summary. The order is generally chronological.

  • Am I reading this correctly?

This tells me that the use of other versions are to be for personal use only. To me, that means
I cannot use other versions in a public forum.

  • Is this correct?

John

Eric replied:

Hi, John —

I don't read it that way at all. The title of the section is "Devotional use". That means we're talking about one's own personal devotion, private bible study. I think "personal use" just means "devotional use" but they didn't want to say "devotional" again. This is after a section on liturgical use, so he's contrasting liturgical use with personal use.

I suppose one could argue about whether a homily constitutes liturgical use. I don't think it does, especially when we no longer have a bible that corresponds to the only approved liturgical text. That would put the priest in the absurd position of being forbidden to cite Scriptures which aren't in the Lectionary because they aren't approved.

I say, don't be legalistic about it. No priest is going to be suspended because he read a Scripture quote from the RSV-CE during a homily.

Eric

John C. replied:

Thanks.

I had no idea this was an option!

Boy! I am learning a whole lot of stuff today!

John

Richard replied:

Hi, John —

The Lectionary of Scripture readings used at Mass is approved by the Holy See, but editions of the whole Bible are approved by the United States bishops conference, thus the Lectionary does not always match the latest NAB edition; this has been the case in the USA for ten years.

A page on the EWTN website discusses this issue in part:

Because of the occasional differences between the NAB and the Lectionary, if you want to be sure about the texts read in Mass, it's necessary to check:

  • a Lectionary book
  • a hand missal, or
  • a missal booklet

containing the readings; or the USCCB web site. For December 8, the Gospel does use the expression "full of grace":

— RC

John C. replied:

Richard said:
The Lectionary of Scripture readings used at Mass is approved by the Holy See, but editions of the whole Bible are approved by the United States bishops conference, thus the Lectionary does not always match the latest NAB edition; this has been the case in the USA for ten years.

Sounds like the old adage "The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing"!

  • Would it not be less confusing if both said the same thing from the same Bible?

John

Eric replied:

Don't get me started!

This whole situation where there doesn't exist a bible that corresponds to the readings at liturgy is patently absurd.

Eric

John C. replied:

This is getting deep!!

  • If there doesn't exist a bible that corresponds to the readings at liturgy, from where do the Mass readings come from?

John

John DiMascio replied:

Hi, John —

The readings are modified translations based on the NAB. They didn't retranslate the whole bible.

The entire bible isn't found in the Lectionary, even if you include the daily Masses. Most of the bible is, but not all of it. There are some texts we don't use for Liturgical purposes. We may use only part of a Psalm, or part of an epistle. Not every line in the bible is found in the Lectionary so it was easier for them to just modify the Lectionary.

By the way, the NAB and the Lectionary aren't the greatest translations. In fact, they have the poetic majesty of a small soap dish. They are fairly accurate, but you lose quite a bit of the nuanced meanings.

It's not easy to translate from the original languages. That's why any one who is serious about studying the bible should use several translations. You won't use them all the time, but you will reference them often enough. I highly recommend a couple of Protestant translations. They are missing seven books from the Old Testament, but they do a good job of conveying the meaning.
I particularly like the (NKJV) New King James.

John

John C. replied:

Modified translations?

I don't quite understand.

You are right about having several translations. I have access and refer to twenty (20) translations, which include the NAB, the Douay-Rheims, and the KJV.

I also use Strong's Greek and Hebrew Lexicons.

What I find most frustrating in discussions on Scripture, is that some look in the English dictionary for the meaning of Greek or Hebrew words used to translate into the English language.

John

Richard replied:

John —

There has been conflict over translations in the Church for some years now. Not everywhere,
but in some particular countries, including the USA.

The lay organization "Adoremus" has done excellent work in following the issues involved; if you're interested in the subject, I recommend you subscribe to their monthly "bulletin"; here are some lists of articles and documents they have published over the years:

Because of various conflicts over translation, the Holy See issued a new document on translation principles for the liturgy, "Liturgiam Authenticam" ("Authentic Liturgy"), in 2001. That replaced a document issued in the 1970s. Those new principles have produced the revised Mass text we are now using, and over time, other parts of the Church's liturgy will be revised in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam.

At some point, the US Lectionary will need to be updated too, and that work may already be underway in the Catholic Biblical Association, which does the translation work behind the NAB
but it will take years. The US Bishops Committee on Divine Worship doesn't have an update to the Lectionary on its radar for the near future, at least according to a letter by its priest secretary, Fr. Hilgartner. I can't blame the committee: they've just spent some years on the new Mass text, and they will be involved with similar revisions to the other rites of the Church:

  • Baptism
  • RCIA
  • Marriage
  • funerals; and
  • eventually the Liturgy of the Hours. (a job bigger than the Mass texts.)

— RC

John C. replied:

Thanks Richard,

Just a follow-up:

I was hoping you would address my confusion about my quote: "Modified translations?"

  • Am I correct in saying that there is nothing in the Lectionary that is not founded in the Scriptures?

John

John DiMascio replied:

Hi, John —

By modified translation, I meant the Lectionary started out using the NAB. They simply modified certain texts but not every text. Some of the texts read the same as you would find them in NAB. I'm not even sure that they went back to the original languages. They just sort of watered down the English so as to make it more understandable, or worse, in some cases, they catered to the sensibilities of special interest groups, like feminists.

As for your other question, every text found in the Lectionary is found in the bible, although it might not be translated the same exact way, but every single line in the Bible doesn't make it into the Lectionary.

If you look at the missalette, at the beginning of each reading, it will tell you what verses are being read. Sometimes they skip verses. So you might see something like:

— Romans 1: 1-3, 11-18.

So as you can see, verses 4 through 10 inclusively are not included in that day's reading. Sometimes they may be in some other day's reading, and other times they simply aren't every read. In the case of minor works, like the Prophet of Baruch, you might only get a couple of paragraphs from one chapter that made it into the Lectionary; the same goes for Tobit, Judith and a bunch of other books. They simply aren't important enough in the eyes of the Church to be included in the three cycles of readings. Nevertheless, over a three year period you will get all the major parts of Scriptures.

John

Eric replied:

John —

According to:

the current version, which they call USL98-02, is "based on the New American Bible (NAB),
an English translation based on the Hebrew and Greek texts."

Note: USL means United States Lectionary [for Mass].

USL70 closely follows the 1970 NAB edition throughout; USL98-02 uses the 1986 revised New Testament of the NAB, but the text for Old Testament readings is almost the same as in USL70, since the revision of the Old Testament portion of the NAB (which has been in process for many years!) was not yet finished.

The English texts printed in USL98-02 sometimes differ slightly from the NAB, since minor changes were made by the USL translation committee and approved by the US Bishops Conference and the Vatican; the biblical references, however, are the same.

Eric

John C. replied:

Hi, guys —

  • There still has to be a Bible translation that corresponds to the readings at liturgy,
    or is there one?

John

Richard replied:

Hi, John —

Alas, there are currently no plans in the bishops' conference to update the Lectionary, so we have to expect it to remain in place for another decade.

— RC
(via phone)

John C. replied:

Thanks for everything!

Your answers to my questions have been totally clear and I understand fully what you are saying.
Your patience and time is sincerely appreciated.

It's been a pleasure.

Keep your eyes on Christ and all will be well.

John

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