This is the first in a two-part series on the Confraternity Version — the predecessor of the New American Bible.
Several years ago, I found a used Confraternity Bible (copyrighted in 1963) in a Catholic gift shop. It caught my eye, because my home parish was using a Stations of the Cross prayer book with quotations from the Confraternity Version during Lent. I referred to it occasionally, but it soon fell into disuse. I dug it out a few days ago and began reading the preface. I quickly realized that I had some misconceptions about the Confraternity Version.
I used to think that the Confraternity Version was translated from the Latin Vulgate, and after Pope Pius XII released the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, which commended translations from the original languages, the translators abandoned the project and began working on the New American Bible. The preface to the Confraternity Version clarifies that the Old Testament was translated from the original languages, however. Pope Pius XII issued Divino Afflante Spiritu in 1943, just after the Confraternity New Testament was translated from the Latin Vulgate. Thus, the Confraternity Version is an interesting mix — the New Testament was translated from the Vulgate, and the Old Testament was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek.
In addition, The Old Testament was never finished, even though the translators were working on it for roughly 20 years. The 1963 edition I have contains the Confraternity translation of the first eight books (from Genesis to Ruth), the seven books of poetry and wisdom (from Job to Sirach), and the eighteen prophetic books. The remaining historical books were reprinted from the Douay-Challoner version. As I understand it, much of the Confraternity Old Testament became the basis of the 1970 NAB Old Testament.
In the next part, I’ll discuss my impressions of the translation and notes.