Welcome to the seventh week of comparing the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) with the Revised English Bible (REB) for the second reading at Sunday’s Mass. As mentioned in the introduction, this will be a chance to compare a strongly literal translation like the NABRE New Testament with a much more dynamic translation like the REB. As the translators continue to work on revising the NABRE New Testament, it also provides a chance to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the current translation (which was completed in 1986).
Sunday, July 29th, 2018 — Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
I implore you then — I, a prisoner for the Lord’s sake: as God has called you, live up to your calling. Be humble always and gentle, and patient too, putting up with one another’s failings in the spirit of love. Spare no effort to make fast with bonds of peace the unity which the Spirit gives. There is one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope held out in God’s call to you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
2 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: New Testament Letters (17th Sunday in OT)”
This passage is a prime example of the dilemma I face with dynamic translations. On the positive side, the REB is notably easier to read than the NABRE while retaining the same message. On the other hand, it sure looks like the REB edited Paul’s grammar to make it easier to read. It changes Paul’s passive verb to an active one and recasts his descriptive nouns as adjectives. For example, “as you were called to the one hope” becomes “as there is one hope held out in God’s call to you,” and Paul’s list of nouns “with all humility and gentleness, with patience” becomes “Be humble always and gentle, and patient too.” These are minuscule differences if one is mainly concerned about preserving meaning, but how much liberty should a translator take?
A degree of interpretation is probably inevitable when attempting to translate anything, but the degree of interpretation should not be extreme. Some translations, such as the New Living Translation or the NIV, exercise a degree of interpretation so extreme that at times I think it would be accurate to say that they are lying about what the original text says. This is especially true in the case of Paul’s epistles.