In 2019 the Augustine Institute in Colorado published the English Standard Version Catholic Edition. This is a Catholic edition of the popular Evangelical Protestant translation that is owned by Crossway publishing house.
This translation is closely related to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible. But it is revised so that the new edition “emphasizes ‘word-for-word’ accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning.” The Catholic Edition was prepared under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India which released a new edition of the Lectionary for Mass based on the ESV in 2020.
At the moment, the Bishops’ Conferences of England and Wales and of Scotland are in the process of editing their own new edition of the Lectionary for Mass based on the ESV. I believe that this edition is almost ready for publication.
I have nothing against the ESV per se. I have actually had a copy of the translation on my bookshelf since well before the Catholic edition was published. I believe that everyone can benefit from exposure to a variety of Bible translations and the ESV has a definite place in such study. But my views are on record, where I explain my opinion that that ESV is not the best choice for a new Lectionary in countries that are currently using the Jerusalem Bible In their Lectionary.
In the United States the ESV Catholic Edition has become quite popular with many Catholics. However, there is very little chance that it will be adopted for liturgical use in the US. It also is in a certain competition with the Ignatius Press edition of the RSV, which was used for the very successful Bible in a Year Podcast and the edition of the NRSV that Bishop Robert Barron is publishing as the Word on Fire Bible.
Late last year the Augustine Institute published Bible Translation & the Making of the ESV Catholic Edition by Dr. Mark Giszczak, Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology. Here he explains the case for the ESV Catholic Edition. He gave an interview on his book on the Catholic Bible Talk blog. This was a very popular post that generated 67 comments. Yet a few weeks later Catholic Bible Talk posted the revelation that the Augustine Institute was in the process of producing their own new translation of the Bible, the Catholic Standard Version. This led to consternation on the blog, and the post has so far generated 124 comments. Since then, two additional posts on the new CSV have been published there, and the new translation has passed from rumor to fact with the publication of some photos of the Gospel of Matthew, the first volume of the new translation shortly to be published by the Augustine Institute.
If PrayTell readers have time and interest, I would suggest that they spend a few minutes reading this series of posts on the Catholic Bible Talk blog and, more importantly, the many comments that they have generated. I find them to be a great insight as to where many Catholics who care about the Bible are. Some are excited about the new translation, others feel that the Augustine Institute have abandoned the whole ESV project, while others express the opinion that the ESV was not Catholic enough to start with. In any case, without the benefit of any special insight on the matter, it does seem strange to me that a publishing house that has so recently invested so much time and energy into producing a new Catholic edition of the Bible as its sole US publisher, would decide to produce a totally new translation that will be in direct competition with the earlier edition.
I doubt any of this will have the slightest affect on the adoption of the ESV for liturgical use in India and Great Britain. But the discussions illustrate the myriad of factors and opinions in the debate as to which is the best Bible translation to use in Roman Catholic liturgy in English speaking areas.
Cover image: Alex Leung – English-Greek Interlinear New Testament: ESV available under a Creative Commons license