Revised New Jerusalem Bible Lectionary for Sundays of Easter

I have posted on PrayTell before about whether the Revised New Jerusalem Bible a Viable Option for a New Lectionary. During the Easter Season of 2018, I wrote a series of blog posts mapping out how the Revised New Jerusalem Bible would appear in a Lectionary for Sunday Mass. The posts were originally posted on the Catholic Bible Blog.  Unfortunately, the blog has gone out of business and even its archives have been taken down from the internet. As I believe that this is still an issue, and particularly given that the RNJB is finally available in its entirety, I have reposted the series of blog posts here in an omnibus edition. Unfortunately, the various discussions and debates between the readership of that blog are lost.

Second Sunday of Easter (Year B)

First reading: Acts 4:32-35

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

32The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.

33The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect.

34None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, 35to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

32The whole group of believers was of one heart and mind; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.

33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

34None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the sale, 35and laid it at the feet of the apostles; it was then distributed to each as any had need.

Comparing these passages it is clear that the RNJB is fundamentally a revision of the JB and many phrases remain unchanged. Verse 32 in the RNJB uses “one” heart and mind which is a more literal reading of the Greek. The RNJB uses “private ownership,” which eliminates the need for “his” and is clearer. In Verse 33 the RNJB moves the phrase with great power” to the start of the verse, again in keeping with the Greek. The change from “respect” to “grace” is probably a better translation of the Greek “charis.”  In Verse 34 “proceeds” is a more literal translation that “money.” Again in verse 35 “laid it at the feet” is a more exact translation than “present it.”  The more literal translation continues with the RNJB’s use of “each.”

Second reading: 1 John 5:1-6

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ

has been begotten by God;

and whoever loves the Father that begot him

loves the child whom he begets.

2We can be sure that we love God’s children

if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;

3this is what loving God is –

keeping his commandments;

and his commandments are not difficult,

4because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.
5Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
6Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
is a child of God;
and whoever loves the Father
loves the son.
2In this we know that we love God’s children,
Whenever we love God and keep his commandments,
3for this is what the love of God is:
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not burdensome,
4because whatever is born of God
conquers the world,
and this is the victory that has overcome the world –
our faith.
5Who can overcome the world
But the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6He it is who came by water and blood,
Jesus Christ,
not with water alone,
but with water and blood,
And it is the Spirit that bears witness
since the Spirit is Truth.

In V.1 the RNJB replaces “is begotten by” with “is a child of.” In this case the original JB might actually be more literal (Gk: gegennetai). But the new translation is easier to understand. The removal of the “begottens” in the next sentence is, perhaps, less faithful to the Greek, but it is easier to understand (particular in a proclaimed text). V. 3 the “Burdensome” of the RNJB is probably a more literal translation than the “difficult” of the JB.  In v.5 “the one” of the RNJB is perhaps a better translation than “the man” of the JB (plus it is more sensitive to Gender-inclusivity).

Gospel: John 20:19-31

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

19In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, 20and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, 21and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
22After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
23For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
24Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ 26Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. 27Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
30There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. 31These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

19In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, 20and after this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced at seeing the Lord, 21and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
22After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
23If you forgive anyone’s sins,
they are forgiven;
If you retain anyone’s sins,
they are retained.’
24Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ but he answered, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ 26Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were closed, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him:
‘Do you believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
30Jesus did many other signs in the sight of the disciples, which are are not written in this book. 31These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In v.20 the RNJB is more literal when it qualifies “and after this.”  In v.25 the RNJB is more faithful to the Greek when it translates typon(as in “type”) as “marks” rather than “holes.” V.27 has “doubt no longer but believe” in the JB, this is a translation that is very familiar from prayer, however, it must be admitted the RNJB is more literal when it translates the phrase “Do no doubt but believe.” In v.30 and v.31 “written” is a more literal translation than “recorded.”

Looking at the three readings together I would say that overall the new translation of the RNJB is more exact than the JB.  I think it is more than fair to say that that the translation has been improved to be true to the promise on the back cover of the RNJB NT to have a ‘Clear read style,’ formal equivalence and gender inclusion.  My Greek is far from perfect, but time and again, to my poor Greek, the new edition seems to be a more faithful and clearer translation. 

One final thought that comes to mind is that no translation is perfect. It is very dangerous to build a serious theology on a translation. Every translation is imperfect. This is why it is important to have Scripture scholars who can explain the Word of God to us in a particular academic manner. However, more importantly, when Scripture is proclaimed in the liturgical assembly it becomes “alive” in this privileged place. It is proclaimed to bring us to meet the person of Christ. Therefore it is important to interpret Scripture within the tradition of the Church (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 115-119). Nonetheless as a liturgist, looking at these two translations, I consider the RNJB to be superior and more suited to liturgical use than the JB.

Please feel free to add any thoughts you might have in the comments.  I am particularly interested to hear from anyone living in a region where the JB is the current Lectionary, as I personally think the aspect of continuity (which is better judged by those who have been listening to this translation in the liturgy since Vatican II) is an important element in the argument for the desirability of replacing the JB with the RNJB in the Lectionary in these countries.

Third Sunday of Easter (Year B)

First reading: Acts 3:13-15,17-19

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Peter said to the people:13 ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. 14It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer 15 while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.17‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; 18 this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. 19 Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Peter said to the people:13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servantJesus, whom you handed over and disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had given the verdict to release him. 14 It was you who rejected the Holy and Righteous One, and asked that a murderer should be released to you 15while you killed the author of life, whom God raised from the dead, and to that fact we are witnesses.17 ‘Now I know, brothers, that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers; 18 but in this way God has brought to fulfilment what he foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 So you must repent and be converted, so that your sins may be wiped out.

I am not sure where the original JB found the first phrase “You are Israelites.” Maybe it comes from the previous verse. The repetition of the name “Jesus” in the JB is not in the Greek. In V. 14 the Greek Dikaioschanges from “Just One” in the JB to “Righteous One” in the RNJB. Personally its not a big deal for me, but I know that some people have strong preferences for one or the other translation of the word. It is worth noting that V. 17 retains the word “brothers.” I imagine that this is because Peter is addressing an exclusively male crowd, but it is interesting to see that the “inclusive language” is not applied indiscriminately, but rather is an attempt to truly translate what the original author meant in the language of today. In V. 18 it is worth noting that the RNJB changes the translation of Christosfrom “Christ” to “Messiah.” This is perhaps an example of the original JB being more literal than the RNJB, although it could also be argued that we are dealing with an Old Testament allusion and that, in this context, Messiah is a better translation than Christ. In V. 19 in the RNJB uses “be converted” which is a more literal translation that the JB’s “turn to God.”

Second reading: 1 John 2:1-5

I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.
We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

1My children,I am writing this so that you do not sin; 
but if anyone does sin,
we have an advocate with the Father, 
Jesus Christ, the righteous.
2He is the sacrifice to expiate our sins, 
and not only ours,
but also those of the whole world.
3In this way we know
that we have come to know him, 
if we keep his commandments. 
4Whoever says, ‘I know him’ 
and does not keep his commandments 
is a liar, 
and truth has no place in him.
5But anyone who does keep his word,
in such a one God’s love has truly reached perfection. 

In V.1 we have another example of the RNB preferring “righteous” to “just.” The use of “expiation” is probably a more technical and exact translation in V.2. In V.4 “refusing to admit the truth” of the JB has been replaced by “truth has no place in him.” This is slightly more literal, but there is no real word for “place” in the Greek original. In V. 5 the JB’s “God’s love comes to perfection in him” I replaced by the more inclusive “in such a one God’s love has truly reached perfection.”

Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

The disciples35 told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.36They were still talking about all this when Jesushimself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ 37 In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ 40And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, 43 which he took and ate before their eyes. 44Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ 45 He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses to this.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

The disciples35 recounted what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesusat the breaking of bread.36 They were still talking about all this when Jesushimself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ 37 Staggered and frightened, they thought they were seeing a spirit. 38 But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these misgivings rising in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see for yourselves; a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ 40 And as he said this he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 As in their joy they still could not believe it, and were amazed, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 And they offered him a piece of grilled fish; 43 he took it and ate it before their eyes. 44 Then he told them, ‘This is what I said to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, ‘It is written that in this way the Messiah should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses to this.’

In V.37 “ghost” is replaced by “spirit” is probably a better translation of pneuma. In V. dialogismoiis translated as “doubts” in the original JB. Now it is translated as “misgivings.” The Greek means “reasoned thinking,” I’m sure “doubt” is not the best translation. However, I’m not sure if the new translation is perfect either, although it does get the meaning across. In V. 46 se again see the word “Messiah” replacing “Christ.” Both versions are correct translations. Chrsitosis the Greek translation of the Hebrew māšîaḥ. In English both Christ and Messiah can translate either term, but it is interesting to note this preference of the RNJB for Messiah. In this case we are not in the same Old Testament context as we saw in the first reading.

Again this week I think that the RNJB retains much familiar language, but that it is a good updating of the original JB translation. There is no radical difference between the two versions, but the newer one is more precise. Given that sooner or later the Lectionary needs to be revised, the RNJB does seem to be a more usable translation that is in touch with contemporary speech patterns and is more literal in a technical sense. Unfortunately, many people wouldn’t notice if the Biblical translation used in the Lectionary was changed.  But for those that would, I think that this new edition does so in as painless a way as possible. 

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year B)

First reading: Acts 4:8-12

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said: ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, 10 then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. 11This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. 12 For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a sick man and asking us how he was healed, 10 you must know, all of you, and the whole people of Israel, that it is by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified and God raised from the dead, by this name this man stands before you cured. 11 This is the stone whichyou, the builders, rejectedbut which has become the cornerstone. In no one else is there salvation; 12 for there is no other name under heaven given to human beings by which we must be saved.’

Once again, the translations are quite similar and the RNJB is clearly an updating of the original JB. In V.9 “cripple” is now translated as “sick man.” This is a more correct translation of the Greek which says that he is an asthenēs (meaning “sick”) man, without specifying his infirmity. The phrase “I am glad to tell..” in V. 10 is not really justified by the Greek. It is worth noting that the moderate “inclusive” language used by the RNJB updates “Men” to “human beings” in V. 12, but retains the use of “man” in V. 10, as it refers to a specific individual. In V. 11 “keystone” is changed to “cornerstone,” the Greek actually says “head of the corner.” I am not sure which is a better rendering of “head of the corner.” According to my limited architectural knowledge I think a cornerstone is at the bottom of a corner and a keystone is at the top centre of an arch. But I think that “cornerstone” is more common in everyday language on this side of the Pond. Although having spent half my life in Ireland and half in the US my linguistic purity is thoroughly confused!

Second reading: 1 John 3:1-2

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

See what great love the Father has lavished on us 
by letting us be called God’s children, 
and that is what we are! 
The reason why the world does not know us 
is that it did not know him.
2My dear friends, we are already God’s children,
but what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We know that when he appears 
we shall be like him,

In V.1 “see” is a more accurate translation than “think of.” In V. 2 agapētoiis derived from the Greek agape(love) and would be “beloved people.” I suppose both “dear people” and “dear friends” are good translations. Again, note that the RNJB continues its moderate use of “inclusive language” and refers to Christ as “he.”

Gospel: John 10:11-18

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Jesus said:
11 ‘I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and runs away
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
13 this is because he is only a hired man
and has no concern for the sheep.
14 ‘I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
15 just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
16 And there are other sheep I have
that are not of this fold,
and these I have to lead as well.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be only one flock,
and one shepherd.
17 ‘The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
18 No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down,
so it is in my power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Jesus said:
11I am the good shepherd;
the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him, 
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
abandons the sheep
and runs away,
and the wolf despoils and scatters the sheep;
13because he is only a hired man
and has no concern for the sheep.
14I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
15just as the Father knows me 
and I know the Father.
And I lay down my life for my sheep.
16And I have other sheep 
that are not of this fold,
and I must lead these too.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be one flock, 
one shepherd.
17For this reason the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life 
in order to take it up again.
18No one takes it from me.
I lay it down of my own free will,
and I have power to lay it down, 
and power to take it up again.
This command I received from my Father.’

In V.12 the RNJB retains the translation “hired man” and doesn’t use “hired person” or something similar. Here the translation is dependent on common sense and not ideology as women were not hired as shepherds at the time of our Lord. In V. 12 I suppose that “despoils” gives more of the poetry of the Greek har-pad´-zei that the JB’s original translation of “attacks.”

In general, the more I compare the translations I am stuck how the RNJB is a “cleaning up” and updating of the original JB. Whereas the NJB somehow felt academic and not “proclaimable,” I think that this new edition is more of a successor of the original JB, even though it also takes much good from and builds on the work of the NJB. Before I found that the imprecisions in the JB more or less forced serious readers to use the NJB which lost something of the “music” of the original. Now I feel that the music has been restored and the new text is good balance of proclamation, prayer and scholarship.

I hope these reflections are not too emotional and would appreciate if readers can share their impressions.  In particular if there are any biblical scholars out there (who have a proper mastery of Greek, unlike my own amateur Greek) it would be good to hear their expert opinion.

Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year B)

First reading: Acts 9:26-31

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

26 When Saulgot to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. 27 Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. 29 But after he had spoken to the Hellenists, and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. 30 When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus. 31The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

26When Saulgot to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 Barnabas, however, took charge of him, brought him to the apostles, and explained how on the road he had seen the Lord and spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 Saul now started to go in and out with them in Jerusalem, speaking fearlessly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists, and they determined to kill him. 30 When the brothers got to know of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.  31The church throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria had peace; being built up and progressing in the fear of the Lord; encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase in numbers.

Both versions are very alike and we continue to see how the RNJB is more accurate than the original JB. Barnabas “brings” Paul to the apostles and how Paul goes “in and out” In Jerusalem as opposed to “go round.” In V. 31 note that the RNJB concludes with “it continued to increase in numbers” whereas the original JB doesn’t have this phrase (wither in the Lectionary or in the DTS version that I have). I am not a biblical scholar, but they seem to have omitted any translation of the word “ἐπληθύνετο.” This might be due to the manuscript version that was followed. The JB followed the French selection of manuscripts, whereas Dom Wansbrough follows the more mainstream selection of the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament. 

Second reading: 1 John 3:18-24

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

18 My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
19 only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
20 whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
21 My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
22 and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
23 His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
24 Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

18Children, 
let us love not in word and speech, 
but in action and truth.
19By this we shall know that we belong to the truth
and it will reassure us in his presence, 
20even if our own hearts condemn us,
that God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. 
21My dear friends, 
if our own hearts do not condemn us, 
we can be fearless before God,
22and whatever we ask 
we shall receive from him,
because we keep his commandments 
and do what is pleasing to him.
23His commandment is this,
that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ 
and that we should love one another 
as he commanded us.
24Whoever keeps his commandments 
abides in God, and God in that person.
And by this we know that he abides in us, 
by the Spirit that he has given us.

Note the new nuances in the translation of V. 18. The JB had “our love is not to be just words or mere talk,” whereas the RNJB has “let us love not in word and speech.” It is a very minor change, but it is clearer, particularly if the text is being listened to as opposed to being read by an individual. In V.20/21 “καρδία” [kardia as in the English word cardiac] is now translated as “heart” as opposed to “conscience.” In V.24 the RNJB uses the word “abide” rather than the JB’s translation of “μένει” as “live.” Personally I think it is a better translation and sounds more biblical, even if it could also be translated as “remains,” which I think retains some of the original Greek word menei(although I have not had the chance to research the philological roots of the English word “remain”)

Gospel: John 15:1-8

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Jesus said to his disciples:
1‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vine-grower.
2Every branch in me that bears no fruit 
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes 
to make it bear more fruit.
3You are clean already, 
through the word that I have spoken to you.
4Remain in me, and I in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it remains part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
5I am the vine, 
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, and I in that person,
bears fruit in plenty;
for apart from me you can do nothing.
6Anyone who does not remain in me
is thrown away like a branch and withers.
These branches are collected, thrown on the fire and burnt.
7If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask for whatever you please
and it will be done for you.
8In this my Father is glorified,
that you should bear much fruit
and be my disciples.

Here the JB translated the Greek “μείνατε” as “remain” (although in V.4 it initially translates it as “make your home”). So the RNJB is more consistent as it translates the same word that appears in both the second and third readings in the same way, whereas the JB translates it differently. It is also worth noting that throughout the RNJB translation is more precise and easier to proclaim. It is also more inclusive, avoiding the unnecessary use of the words he/him in V.5/6.

Overall, I don’t think this reading add much to our discussion, although if readers want to add their comments they are more than welcome. In my opinion I think this week’s comparison simply strengthens the case that the RNJB is a more crisp translation, that is sensitive to modern linguistic concerns and has been prepared with an eye to proclamation as opposed to private reading. 

Ascension Sunday (Year B)

N.B there are a number of options for this Sunday (some places still celebrate it on the traditional 40thday). For the purposes of this comparison, I am simply commenting on the particular readings that I used when I celebrated Mass in County Armagh in Ireland.

First reading: Acts 1:1-11 

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’ 6Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’ 9As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. 10 They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them 11 and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Acts 1:1-11

In my earlier work, Theophilus, I wrote about everything Jesus began to do and teach from the beginning until the day when, after giving instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, he was taken up to heaven. He had presented himself alive to them after his Passion by many proofs: for forty days he had continued to appear to them speaking about the kingdom of God. While at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. He had said, ‘This is what you have heard me speak about: for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’6Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has laid down by his own authority,8but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be my witnessesboth in Jerusalem and throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’ 9As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him up out of their sight. 10And while they were staring into the sky as he went, suddenly two men in white were standing beside them, 11and they said, ‘Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

In V.3 the word “presented” is a better translation that “showed” to show the nuance of the building up of the faith of the Apostles during the 40 days. Verse 5 is a good example of the RNJB’s decision to be a translation for proclamation in Church.  There is no significant difference in wording, but I think the newer version is easier for the listener to understand. This is a significant characteristic of the RNJB. The King James Bible was also conceived of as a bible to be read in churches. The modern achievement of universal literacy and the economic possibilities of so many people to actually own their own copy of the complete Bible (something that not even most bishops could aspire to before the printing press), has sometimes led us to undervalue the fact that for Christians the Bible is principally something that is proclaimed in the liturgical assembly. In V.11 the RNJB is more exact including the word “heaven” twice (as in the original Greek).

Second reading: Ephesians 1:17-23 

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. 18 May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit 19 and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power 20 at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, 21 far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

17May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in further knowledge of him; 18that the eyes of your mind may be enlightened for you to see what the hope of his call is, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the overflowing greatness of his power to us believers, according to the working of the strength of his might 20which he has put to work in Christ by raising him from the dead and enthroning him at his right hand, in the heavens, 21far above every rule and authority and power and lordship and every title that is given, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 He has put all things under his feet and has given him as head above all things to the Church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

The original JB didn’t need manipulation for editing it for the Lectionary, Here the RNJB did. I think this is a neutral difference.  One would need to look at a complete Lectionary to make any inferences on this point. It should be noted that Scripture has always had to be slightly edited in order to be used in the Lectionary. As we do not read whole books, the start of a passage often needs to have a few words of contextualization added to make it understandable.

Gospel: Mark 16:15-20

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them: 15 ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. 16 He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’ 19And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, 20 while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:15‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 These are the signs that will follow believers: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands; should they drink deadly poison it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’ 19And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; and sat down at the right hand of God, 20while they, going out, proclaimed the good news everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

In V15 the RNJB uses “gospel” rather than “good news.” There are arguments for either translation. Note the inclusive language in V.16. Again I think this is a necessary improvement (see my comments at the end of last week’s post for more). A small note again on the attention for proclaiming the text. At Mass I found it challenging to proclaim V.18 “they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison.” Even though I prepared the readings beforehand, each time I was proclaiming the Gospel I tended to say “they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed” which breaks the sense of the reading. I think the new translation is better in this respect: “they will pick up snakes in their hands; should they drink deadly poison it will not harm them.” This is an improvement that will only be understood when the text is actually read aloud. In V. 20 the translation of ekēryssan is worth noting.  It is the root of the English word kerygma (used as a verb). The JB has “preached” the RNJB has “proclaimed the good news.” I can see arguments for both translations.

Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B)

First reading: Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48 

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

25 As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, knelt at his feet and prostrated himself. 26 But Peter helped him up. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘I am only a man after all!’ 34Then Peter addressed them: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, 35 but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’ 44While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. 45 Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, 46 since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, 47 ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ 48 He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

25As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, fell at his feet and worshipped him. 26But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up, I am only a man, too!’ 34Then Peter began to speak to them, ‘I understand that truly God is impartial, 35but that in every nation one that fears him and does what is righteous is acceptable to him. 44While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those hearing the word. 45The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on gentiles too, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and proclaiming the greatness of God. Then Peter said, 47‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ 48He then gave instructions that they should be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay on for some days.

In V.25 the use of “worshipped him” in the RNJB is probably a better translation of the Greek proskyneō, although it could possibly mean do homage. In V.34 the JB’s translation “‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites,’” is a little long-winded. The new translation is more succinct, as the Greek original. In v.44 the RNJB gives a better translation when it speaks of people listening to the “word.” One should never build an advanced theology on a translation (any serious theology must build on the original Greek), but for amateur theologians it is easier to understand that pagans hear the word (logon) than listeners of Peter in general [although neither translation literally renders the first use of the other Greek word for word (rhemata) at the start of the verse]. The RNJB’s translation of “circumcised believers” and “speaking in tongues” are to be preferred to the original JB renderings in Vv. 45-46.

Second reading: 1 John 4:7-10

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
10 this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

7My dear friends, 
let us love one other, 
since love is from God
and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 
8No one who fails to love knows God, 
because God is love.
9In this, the love of God was revealed among us,
that God sent his only Son into the world 
that we might have life through him.
10Love consists in this: 
not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us and sent his Son 
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

In V. 7 the RNJB’s translation of “is a child of God,” is clearer and easier to proclaim than the original translation “is begotten by God.” Other than that I find the RNJB to be a clearer and tidier translation.

Gospel: John 15:9-17 

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
10 If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
12 This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
13 A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
15 I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
16 You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
17 What I command you
is to love one another.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

9As the Father has loved me, 
so have I loved you.
Remain in my love.
10If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept
my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
11I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy may be complete.
12This is my commandment,
that you should love one another,
as I have loved you.
13No one has greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
14You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
15I shall no longer call you servants,
because the servant does not know 
what the master is doing.
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have heard from my Father.
16You did not choose me, 
but I chose you,
and I commissioned you 
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
so that the Father will give you 
whatever you ask him in my name.
17These are my commands to you,
that you should love one another.

In V.15 the translation of “heard” in the RNJB rather than “learnt” in the JB is a more correct translation. 

I’m afraid (or perhaps consoled) that there are no major revelations in the comparison this week.  In my mind it is clearer every week that the RNJB is a worthy successor to the JB. It is fundamentally a revision of the original JB, but time and time again it is more precise, clearer as regards translation and sensitive to modern requirements for an “inclusive” translation (without doing any violence to the language and using man, him, etc. when needed).

Pentecost Sunday 

N.B there are many options for Pentecost.  For the purposes of this comparison, I have selected three readings from the Mass of the Day.  The Old Testament of the RNJB has not been published yet. These readings are simply for study and comment.

First reading: Acts 2:1-11

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

 1When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

   5Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – 11 Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

              1When Pentecost day had come, they were all together, when suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a rushing wind, filling the entire house in which they were sitting; and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languagesas the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.   5 Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, and they were bewildered because each one heard them speaking his own language. 7They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, visitors from Rome – 11 Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs, we hear them speaking in our own languages about the marvels of God.’

There is not much to comment on here.  The translations are very alike.  The RNJB is a more precise translation. Note the use of “men” in V.5 for the Greek andres. Again this shows a moderate use of inclusive language. Wansbrough retains the exclusive word “men” as this is the more exact translation. Here St. Luke uses a word that means men to the exclusion of women. Historically it is probable that no men were in the assembly that St. Luke describes. Therefore 

Second reading: Galatians 5:16-25

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

    16If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, 17 since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. 18 If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you. 19 When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; 20idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, 21 envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. 24 You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.  25Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

   16 Be guided by the Spirit, and do not fulfil the desires of the flesh. 17The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh: they are opposed to one another, so that you may not do whatever you please. 18If you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. 19 The works of the flesh are obvious: sexual vice, impurity and sensuality; 20 idolatry and sorcery; antagonisms and rivalry, jealousy, bad temper, quarrels, disagreements, 21factions and malice, drunkenness, orgies and all suchlike, about which, I tell you now as I have told you in the past, people who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22On the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with all its passions and desires.    25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behaviour be guided by the Spirit.

I think that an honest comparison of the two translations is perhaps the clearest argument in favour of adopting the RNJB to replace the JB in the Lectionary.  The JB is not bad, but its avoidance of the word “flesh” for the Greek sarxis a very significant fault. “Indulgence” kind of says the same thing, but it lacks the clarity and the poetry. Likewise the interplay between “Flesh,” “Spirit” and “Law” are much clearer in the RNJB.

Gospel: John 20:19-23 (words omitted from the Biblical text in the Lectionary are stricken through)

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, 20 and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, 21 and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
22 After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

19 In the evening of that same day,the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ 20 and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced at seeing the Lord, 21and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
 ‘As the Father has sent me,
so am I sending you.’
22 After saying this he breathedon them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins,
they are forgiven;
if you retain anyone’s sins,
they are retained.’
 

The translations are very similar.  The final instruction in V.23 is now conditional in the RNJB. This is the same translation as in the RSV/NRSV, the NAB and the KJV/DR are closer to the original JB translation. This is more an editorial decision.

With this comparison, our series is complete. Next week there are Old Testament readings and we will have to wait the publication of the full RNJB later this year to compare those readings. Obviously it is essential to see the Old Testament before making a final decision, but I believe that these 8 sets of readings that we have compared since Easter have shown what a RNJB lectionary would look like. I commented already on the issue of Rome preferring a single Biblical translationfor use in each region  Given this preference, I personally believe that the interest of the faithful in the countries where the Jerusalem Bible is currently in use would be best served if their bishops adopted a new Lectionary using the Revised New Jerusalem Bible. The bishops have already decided that the current Jerusalem Bible Lectionary is no longer fit for purpose.  Not only is this new translation a much more exact and faithful translation that its predecessor, it also has the great advantage of pastoral continuity as it does not sound radically different to its predecessor.  Adopting it would help maintain what St. Augustine described as the tranquillitasordinisor tranquility of order in the Church. I think this is particularly important given the radical manner in which the translation of the Roman Missal was changed a few years ago. Pastorally I do not think that it would be good to adopt a totally new translation of the Bible as the basis of a new Lectionary in those countries where the Jerusalem BibleLectionary is already in use.

8 comments

  1. Neil,

    As with your previous thread, not sure why you are spending time on this, given that RNJB is not going to be used as a basis for the new British Isles Lectionary.

    I do agree with you that there are pastoral considerations in play here, but whether the bishops will take them into account is another matter.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Honestly, I still see it as a viable option.

      I reposted this analysis now, because the UK release date for the RNJB is this month.

      I know that England & Wales seem to be tending towards adopting the ESV for their lectionary. I hope, for their sake, that they don’t. I believe that once they have the new edition of the RNJB in their hands (unlike the ESV that is only available in India in a Catholic edition), that they will come to their senses. Maybe I am not enough of a realist, but I simply cannot believe that no bishop in England & Wales has a pastoral bone in his body. They must realise that the current missal was not the finest moment in pastoral liturgy.

      Also just because Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales, Australia and New Zealand are using a common lectionary edition at the moment, that does not automatically mean that they will continue to do so in the future. For the editions of the Roman Missal, the Irish bishops went their own way and didn’t participate in the common missal published by the CTS. True, they managed to publish an edition that was of as poor a quality in its physical attributes as it was in its translation. But, nonetheless, if E&W insists on going the ESV route, that is no reason for the rest of the Conferences to be dragged along with them. Having multiple lectionaries in these nations would make sharing of other resources, such as hand missals, etc., more difficult. But it is far from impossible.

      Another possibility is that English-speaking Africa seems to be perfectly happy to use multiple bible translations in the liturgy ( https://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2018/08/30/liturgiam-authenticam-36-on-scripture-translations/ ). So if we currently have both an approved RSV and JB Lectionary. What is there to stop us having an ESV and a RNJB Lectionary in the future? There are definite arguments in favour of one translation in a given region, but the Africans have shown us that today that doesn’t have to be the case.

      1. I like what I have seen of the RNJB so far, but I also enjoy the ESV translation. Are you against the ESV lectionary because of how different it is from the JB family or do you have issues with the underlying ESV translation itself?

      2. Hi Devin
        My main concern if for pastoral continuity in those areas that currently use the JB in their Lectionary for Mass. While the JB Lectionary does need a certain updating, I think the RNJB is a much better solution than the ESV.

        Regarding the ESV, generally it is OK, but it does have some issues (I’m working on another piece that describes some of these). But the question remains that given that we have the RSV, NRSV plus the Ignatius Press reworking of it, what new benefits does the ESV bring to the situation. Given that it is not available in a Catholic edition (unless you live in India), surely we should wait for the ESV to be published in a Catholic edition and for that edition to gain popularity among Catholics, before we consider adopting it as our “official” biblical translation!

  2. The ESV Lectionary in India is simply frightful – woefully inadequate on multiple levels. Unfortunately, I have found this to be the case with the production of other liturgical texts undertaken in India, both at the national level and by individual religious families. Very basic knowledge of the elements that constitute a Catholic lectionary are lacking. Biblical passages are reproduced exactly without a single incipit. One can find entire Gospel pericopes that do not even use proper nouns *once* – only pronouns – leaving the hearer totally baffled as to who is being referred to at all. Projects like this almost make one wish that such matters were back in the hands of Rome…..

  3. As someone who uses and is satisfied (never 100%, but close) with the NRSV, I’ve always felt the ESV to be unnecessary. But reasonable people disagree on this, I realize. Of course, editions of the ESV are many and varied and widely available; the NRSV a bit less so, and my favorite of all, the Revised English Bible, is shamefully underrepresented, at least here in the USA>

    1. I agree that the Revised English Bible is underrepresented, and happy to see that noted here. While I have the original print edition, which I purchased soon after it was available in the USA circa 1990, I purchased an app (Olive Tree) that allows me to have it on my tablet, so that I could more readily use it for my Lenten/Eastertide course reading of the Gospels and Acts. I am quite aware of the REB’s own peculiarities, but in my many years of reading so many translations (because I am itchy with most of them for differing reasons), it seems to arrest and engage my attention (in a good way) the most – it certainly prompts me to consult Greek interlinear and concordances (I am not at all Greek proficient, other than being able to read the alphabet, as it were), and wrestle (again, in a good way) with text and context. I tend to toggle between the REB and RSV. (Not a fan of the USCCB’s NAB and its Lectionary kin, and a multi-year forced-march through the NRSV back in the 1990s for an alternative lectionary translation project did not leave me loving it, either.) I do prefer a euphonious or literary register over a conversational register, and while the REB was typically classed as dynamically equivalent (not sure if that would be considered as true now compared to other versions since produced), it has a level of literalism I prefer – somewhat more transparency than editorial veiling when an editor-translator oversteps assumptions about what I should prefer dynamically vs what would more aptly be addressed in homilies and by study.

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