New American Bible

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New American Bible
New American Bible

In 1970, the New American Bible (NAB) was first published. It is an English Bible translation that was produced by members of the Catholic biblical scholars in cooperation with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It had its beginnings in the Confraternity Bible, which began to be translated from the original languages in 1948. Its translation method is Dynamic Equivalency.[1]

It was specifically translated into English by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine under the liturgical principles and reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Excerpts are taken from the New American Bible to form the approved Lectionary for Mass by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, specifically the 1970 Old Testament, 1986 New Testament, and 1991 Psalter in which the inclusive language that appears in controversial places is replaced.


First Edition

The text of the first edition of the New American Bible is composed of:

  • The New Testament directly translated from Greek, appearing in portions from 1964 and completed in 1970.
  • The Old Testament (except Genesis): the Confraternity Bible text translated in stages between 1952 and 1969 from the original languages, with minor revisions to the text and notes in 1970.
  • Genesis newly translated from the Hebrew in 1970, replacing the 1948 translation.

The spelling of proper names found in this edition departs from the ones found in older Catholic Bible versions, such as the Douay, and instead adopts those commonly found in Protestant Bibles. The notes in many places present 20th centuries theories still current, e.g. the Q source or different sources for the Pentateuch. Catholic scholars translated this version with collaboration from members of other Christian churches (denominations).


It contains the following articles and other information:

  • Bible Helps
  • The Purpose of the Bible
  • The Bible and History
  • How the Bible Came About
  • How to Study the Bible
  • List of the Popes
  • The English Versions of the Bible
  • Literary Forms of the Bible
  • Biblical Themes
  • Suggested Readings for the Liturgical Year
  • Sunday Readings of the Holy Scriptures

Second Edition

In 1986 some traditionally familiar phraseology was restored to the New Testament. This included some Gender inclusive language.

Third version

In 1991 it was again amended to create more inclusive language in the Psalms. Some controversy ensued because of its alleged use of vertical inclusive language (God and Christ) and some uses of horizontal inclusive language (human beings instead of men).

Fourth Edition - NABRE

In 1994, work began on a revision of the Old Testament.[] However, since the 1991 Psalms were rejected for liturgy use, the text was modified by a committee of the Holy See and the Bishops for use in the Latin-Rite Catholic liturgy in 2000. This is the current text of the Lectionaries of the Catholic Church in the United States. The Holy See accepted some use of inclusive language, such as where the speaker is speaking of one of unknown gender (rendering "person" in place of "man"), but rejected any changes relating to God or Christ. On November 2008, the revised Grail Psalter[] was accepted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is currently awaiting Vatican approval.[] This will replace the current modified NAB Psalter for Lectionary use in the United States.[]

In 2002, the Old Testament (excluding the Psalms) was completed and sent to the Ad Hoc Committee to see if it was a suitable Catholic translation.

In June 2003, a re-revision of the Psalms that followed the Liturgiam Authenticam was completed but rejected by the Ad Hoc Committee. It was again revised in 2008 and sent to the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship but rejected in favor of the revised Grail Psalter.

In September 2008, the last book (Jeremiah) of the Old Testament was accepted by the Ad Hoc Committee. In November of that year, the complete Old Testament (including footnotes and introductions) was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, they would not allow it to be published with the 1991 Psalms. A final revision of the NAB Psalter was undertaken using suggestions vetted by the Ad Hoc Committee and stricter conformity to the Liturgiam Authenticam.[]

In January 2011, it was announced that the fourth edition of the NAB would be published in March 9 of that year.[] To be known as the "New American Bible, revised edition" or NABRE, the fourth edition of the NAB will include the newly revised Old Testament and re-revised Psalms, and the revised New Testament from the second edition. While the NABRE represents a revision of the NAB towards conformity towards Liturgiam Authenticam, there have not been any announced plans to use the NABRE for the lectionary in the United States.


The New American Bible of 1991 has been lauded by many liberal Catholics. However, it has been derided by more tradionalist Catholics for a number of reasons. For one, it uses gender-neutral language in many places. Pope John Paul II and other Vatican officials were not happy with the 1991 revision, mainly because of the inclusive language. The revised Psalter of 1991 was rejected for liturgical use by the Holy See in 1994. The revised text (New Testament and Psalms) was specifically disallowed by the provisional norms for translation of biblical texts sent by Vatican officials to American Bishops in June 1997, and also disallowed by the translation guidelines formally promulgated in an Instruction published by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in March 2001 "Liturgiam authenticam", hence the issuing of an amended text for liturgical use. Nonetheless, the New American Bible is one of the most widely used translations by American Catholics.

The notes especially have been criticized by some Catholics because of their perceived liberal and higher critical interpretation of passages, such as those which are believed to prophesy the coming of Christ. Traditional authorship of many books is also questioned, e.g., the Pentateuch, Book of Daniel, and some of Paul's letters. Some more traditional Catholics therefore reject its use and call on Catholics to use more traditional translations, such as those in the Douai-Rheims Bible and the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible series. It should be noted, however, that many Church authorities find nothing wrong with the scholarly questioning of traditional authorship, especially since in many cases (in the Old Testament and even the Gospels) there is no authorial identification in the text.

See Also

Other Catholic Versions


External links

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