RNJB Bible readings for Advent and Christmas

I have already posted on PrayTell advising that those countries that now use the Jerusalem Bible in their Lectionary consider adopting the newly translated Revised New Jerusalem Bible for the revised edition.

I imagine that some people are tired of hearing me on this topic. However, after experiencing the adoption of the current Roman Missal translation, where change for change’s sake seems to have been a translation criterion, I think that, from a pastoral point of view, this current translation of the Missal was a poorly thought out translation and I think we should be careful that any new edition of the Lectionary is prepared with a better pastoral awareness.

I was disappointed to hear that some people are proposing the English Standard Version. Ultimately I don’t have anything against the ESV per se. I bought a copy of it a few years ago and find it to be a nice enough translation, even though I do prefer the Second Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version that Ignatius Press publishes (and I don’t see anything wrong with the New Revised Standard Version either). My main issue with the ESV is that today we are 50 years out from the liturgical renewal of the Council and in many countries we have been using the Jerusalem Bible for all of this time. From the point of view of pastoral continuity, I can’t justify adopting a translation from any other family. The current 1981 edition of the Lectionary for Mass in use is basically a slightly edited version of the original 1960 edition. US and Canadian readers have much newer Lectionaries. In Ireland and the other countries using the JB, we basically have had only one Scripture translation since the Council. So at this stage it needs to be renewed, but I think the RNJB offers the best possible way forward.

My main criterion is pastoral continuity. The bishops of these countries are not starting from scratch. If they were, many Catholic editions could be considered and their pros and cons could be discussed. But that is not the situation we find ourselves in, therefore I think that only a very serious deficiency could justify the adoption of another translation.

Obviously, I am not proposing that the Revised New Jerusalem Bible is absolutely perfect; it is not. There are passages that people won’t like. However I think that fairness demands that we not simply look at our favorite passages. With that in mind I helped Darton, Longman and Todd (the publishers) to prepare a small booklet that was distributed with last week’s London Tablet to their subscribers in the UK. This contained the text of the selection of readings from the Lectionary for the Sundays of Advent this year. It also included an introduction by Dom Henry Wansbrough (the translator of the RNJB) and an afterword of my own. The idea was that those interested could take it for a “test drive” during Advent and see how it reads for the readings that we hear in the liturgy.

I offer the booklet here in pdf form for those readers of PrayTell who might be interested.


  1. Thank you for taking the time/effort to post this and really was interested in your AFTERWORD – excellent.

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