The Catholic Comparative New Testament
The Catholic Comparative New Testament
The Catholic Comparative New Testament, from Oxford University Press, is a perfect addition to any Catholic library; an easy to use, one volume book of the entire New Testament in eight different Catholic Bible translations. A great Bible resource for both the religious and the laity – anyone who wishes to know and understand the Bible better.
Why a Comparative New Testament?
The New Testament is a foundational treasure of faith for Catholics – in it we experience the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and learn about the origins and development of the Church. We get to read the words of Christ, and also the words of His apostles who evangelized and taught the word of God and mysteries of Christ to the early Christians. One can read the New Testament from the first words of the Gospel of St. Matthew to the final passage in the Book of Revelation and then begin again and find a wealth of information one didn’t notice the first time. We can never read too much or finish learning when it comes to the Holy Scriptures.
Likewise, we can also gain new knowledge from reading the different Catholic Bible translations. For example, the language of the Revised Standard Version may provide the most literal translation of a word or phrase, but the Good News translation may prove to be more accessible to some because of the common language used.
Features and Easy to Read Format
This volume combines eight translations of the New Testament: The Douay-Rheims, Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New American Bible (NAB), the New Revised Standard Version, The Jerusalem Bible, The New Jerusalem Bible, and The Christian Community Bible. To make it easy to read, the book is not set up as eight separate bibles lined up consecutively, but in a verse by verse, face to face format. Perhaps you remember reading Shakespeare in school in a book with the traditional Shakespearean language on one page, and the modern English on the page facing. That useful type of layout is employed here. Each page has four translations of the same verse. For example, pages 1014-1015 mark the beginning of the Letter of Paul to the Romans; you can read the text of each of the eight translations on those two facing pages. Imagine you are re-reading the gospel you heard in Mass that day. You can re-read the exact passage from the NAB you listened to during the liturgy, and then read the Douay-Rheims and New Jerusalem translations without needing to go fetch a separate Bible, or even page through to a different section in the Catholic Comparative New Testament. They are all grouped together for ease of use!
In addition to the easy-to-read layout, the Catholic Comparative New Testament contains the preface to each of the eight translations, as well as an introduction to the comparative volume with ideas for how to use the Comparative New Testament.
About the Eight Translations Utilized
The Douay-Rheims Bible – This is oldest English translation of the Catholic Bible available. It was translated from the Latin Vulgate Bible between 1582 and 1610. It is sometimes compared to the King James Bible (a Protestant Bible) because it contains the early modern English language and uses the terms “thee,” “thou,” and so forth. Because of this, it can be challenging for some to read.
Revised Standard Version (RSV) – This is considered by many scholars the best and most accurate English translation. It is approved for liturgical use in the U.S. and most Catholic bible study programs utilize this translation.
New American Bible (NAB) – This is the most common and popular Catholic Bible in the U.S. today. It is also approved for liturgical use and it is the translation used in the Mass. This translation employs a more modern, accessible language, intended to be understandable at the 8th grade reading level.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) – This is an updated version of the RSV. It was approved in the early 1990s for Catholics to use. However, due to the adaptation of the language to make it gender-neutral, placing the importance of political-correctness over the value of retaining the original tradition, it is not a preferred translation.
The Jerusalem Bible – This translation was published in the 1960s, as a response to Pope Pius XII’s encyclical encouraging the translation of Scripture from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, rather than the Latin Vulgate. The translation uses a literal approach but also reflects a modern scholarly approach. The Bible renders the Tetragrammaton as Yahweh.
The Good News Translation – This translation was born out of the urging by Vatican II that “easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all Christian faithful” as well as requests by people, especially in Africa and the Far East, for a Bible that was accessible to non-native English speakers. It was quite popular from the late 1960s through the 1980s, but many prefer the more literal translations, believing that the more simplified language of the Good News Bible weakens or undermines the emphasis of certain events and doctrine.
The New Jerusalem Bible – This translation is very similar to the first Jerusalem Bible, but is updated with some gender neutral language, such as “neighbor’s spouse,” as opposed to “neighbor’s woman.” This detracts some Catholics from using this translation; however it employs far fewer language changes than the NRSV. The changes are limited particularly to masculine preferences as in the example given, unlike some other modern translations like the NRSV, which opt to neutralize nearly all uses of “brothers” or “man.” This edition is currently under revision, which may include changing the use of “Yahweh” back to “Lord.”
The Christian Community Bible – This is a more recent translation of the Bible that uses a more contemporary language style. It is more common in some third world countries where it has been translated from the Greek and Hebrew into the language of the people, particularly aimed at helping less-educated people to be able to understand the scriptures. The translation into contemporary English is intended to be accessible to people for whom English is a second language, and for whom translations such as the Douay-Rheims are difficult to delve into.
‘Word for Word’ and ‘Thought for Thought’ Translations
The eight translations are informally grouped into two sets of four, the “Word for Word” and the “Thought for Thought” translations.
From the inside book cover:
“The Douay-Rheims, RSV, NAB and NRSV are called formal equivalent translations (popularly referred to as “word-for-word” translations).This means that scholars rendered the New Testament’s Aramaic and Koine Greek into English that is as close as possible to its original meaning. The result is a translation that is particularly valuable for careful analysis of the text.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Bible, Good News Translation, New Jerusalem Bible and Christian Community Bible represent the “thought-for-thought” school of Bible translation (technically described as dynamic or functional equivalent).This method places the priority on the intended meaning of the original vocabulary, adapting it to English syntax and grammar. Such a translation tends to be easier to read and understand.”
Uses for the Catholic Comparative New Testament
The Catholic Comparative New Testament is a valuable resource for anyone. Deacons or Priests could make use of the various Catholic translations in preparing a homily for Mass. Teachers could use the text as a teaching aid in the classroom. It would also make an excellent resource for a seminarian as well as for any Bible study group studying the New Testament. You can also use the Catholic Comparative New Testament in personal, private prayer and Bible study or reflection. It should be noted however, that this book is not a Bible study program on it's own. As a reference tool, it provides some suggestions for use in the introduction, but if you are looking for a guided study program, you will need to research a Bible study resource to use with this text.