New American Bible: Revised Edition

The New American Bible revised edition is more than a mere Bible translation. Authorized by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the New American Bible seeks to provide the best resource for understanding the church’s sacred Scripture.

To begin with, the translation beautifully and accurately conveys the word of God in English, using the most recent scholarly resources available and translating directly from the original languages. While the Bible plays a central role in the church’s life, it is also important to remember that it is an ancient book written over several centuries. It carries a rich tradition of interpretation over even more centuries.

That is why the many scholars and church teachers who worked years on this project did more than provide a clear and accessible translation; they also sought to provide additional help and guidance for those who truly want to understand what they are reading:

  • Each book of the Bible begins with an introduction, providing the historical context of the work, its literary style, its main themes, its use in the history of the church, as well as an outline of the contents.
  • As you read the Scriptures, notes have been provided at the bottom of the page offering explanations for particular passages, terms, and concepts.
  • Since Scripture often refers to itself, a system of cross-references are provided so you can see where else historical figures, particular stories, or similar concepts are also treated in the Bible.
  • At the end of the Bible, sixteen pages of color maps are provided to help orient the Bible’s stories in their geographical context.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “New American Bible: Revised Edition

  1. Review

    When HarperOne contracted with the National Council of Churches to manage the licensing of the NRSV in 2006, one of the happy surprises for us was the openness the Catholic market had to new Bibles designed for them. Catholic consumers spoke of “Bible envy” when they saw all the colors, features, bells, and whistles on their evangelical neighbors’ Bibles. Many said they wanted “cool” Bibles as well.

    So we accommodated these requests, offering a variety of colors, bindings, sizes, and styles, including single-column (called the NRSV Standard), large print (XL), thinline (Go-Anywhere), compact, and even Bibles for teens (Live) and families (Catholic Faith and Family). While these NRSV Bibles found good homes and did well, we kept getting the same request: please do a beautiful edition of the main translation Catholic parishes and schools use, the New American Bible.

    Once again we decided it was wise to listen to our audience and say yes to them whenever we can. Last month, we released a new hardcover of the NAB revised edition with a beautiful two-color text setting (subtitles and bottom of the page note references in red) to be followed by a black, imitation leather edition later this month. I have to admit, they are stunning and should assuage any Catholic still suffering from Bible envy.

    But what was most fun for this Protestant editor was discovering so many delightful surprises in the NAB. The translation was done by an elite group of Bible scholars and overseen by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. If one judged by stereotypes and caricatures, one would think such an approval process would encourage a conservative and narrow rendering of the text, but I found just the opposite to be true. In fact, from the evidence of the translation, it would be easy to make the case that the Catholic community and hierarchy are one of the most open Christian communities to the findings of scholarship and science, producing a wonderfully accurate and pleasing translation with a surplus of extra features to help anyone read and understand their scriptures.

    One of the historic charges against the Catholic church was that it discouraged the laity from reading the Bible for themselves (a perception which the church since Vatican II has vigorously reversed—hence our success with Catholic Bibles). One might see this old prejudice at work in the decision to include multitudinous notes and long introductions to each book of the Bible so that it is almost impossible to find an NAB Bible without these trappings of a complete study Bible. Yet as someone from the evangelical community who has been immersed in the world of study Bibles, I have to say that I think these extrabiblical helps are among the best on the market. They combine mature and wise interaction with scholarly issues with a sensitivity to pastoral and ecclesiological concerns—which is a rare feat.

    But what I found the most refreshing, by far, was the mature nondefensiveness about what would constitute controversial issues for most Protestant Bibles. For instance, in the introduction to the Pentateuch (the first five books of Moses), Moses’s authorship is questioned and the document hypothesis for explaining the different sources for these works is described and integrated into the notes and introductions. In the explanations for Genesis 1-11, they explain how the creation and flood stories were borrowed from other Mesopotamian groups and adapted by the “writers” of Genesis and should be considered “neither history nor myth.” They later explain how there were at least three Isaiahs and that Paul may or may not have written the Pastoral letters. All this without any hint that these conclusions undermine the Bible’s authority or teachings or could be described as “liberal” or “skeptical” in any way (remember who owns and manages the translation: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops!).

    So who has Bible envy now? My advice to my Protestant friends, don’t let tribal markers keep you from enjoying a wonderful new biblical resource. Take up and read the NAB.

or, use the form below to post a comment or a review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>