Welcome to the fifteenth week of comparing the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) with the Revised English Bible (REB) for the second reading at Sunday’s Mass. This is 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, September 23rd, 2018 — Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Second Reading: James 3:16-4:3

NABRE:

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

REB:

For with jealousy and rivalry come disorder and the practice of every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is in the first place pure; and then peace-loving, considerate, and open-minded; it is straightforward and sincere, rich in compassion and in deeds of kindness that are its fruit. Peace is the seed-bed of righteousness, and the peacemakers will reap its harvest. 

What causes fighting and quarrels among you? Is not their origin the appetites that war in your bodies? You want what you cannot have, so you murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, so you quarrel and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not pray for it. Or if you do, your requests are not granted, because you pray from wrong motives, in order to squander what you get on your pleasures.

2 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: New Testament Letters (25th Sunday in OT)”

  1. I rather like the way the REB handles this passage. The NAB’s ‘spend it on your passions’ is a little vague, while ‘squander what you get on your pleasures’ makes the sinful nature a little more clear.

  2. Another sentence I really like in the REB’s rendering here is “Peace is the seed-bed of righteousness, and the peacemakers will reap its harvest.” This helps clarify the imagery so much compared to the NABRE’s “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” For whatever reason, when I read “the fruit…is sown in peace” I think about farmers planting seeds in a peaceful state of mind or in a land free from war. But to say “peace is the seed-bed of righteousness” gives a much different image. Peace is the soil in which righteousness grows.

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