Welcome to the continuing series comparing the Revised English Bible (REB) with the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) for the first reading (usually from the Old Testament) at each Sunday Mass. This series complements the comparisons earlier in 2018, which focused on the New Testament letters. I’m interested in exploring whether the REB’s translation style differs between the Old and New Testaments.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019 — First Sunday of Lent (Year C)
First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:4-10

NABRE:

The priest shall then take the basket from your hands and set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God. Then you shall declare in the presence of the LORD, your God, “My father was a refugee Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as a resident alien. But there he became a nation great, strong and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing harsh servitude upon us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, and the LORD heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression. Then the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders, and brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Now, therefore, I have brought the first fruits of the products of the soil which you, LORD, have given me.” You shall set them before the LORD, your God, and you shall bow down before the LORD, your God.

REB:

The priest will receive the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God. Then you must solemnly recite before the LORD your God: ‘My father was a homeless Aramaean who went down to Egypt and lived there with a small band of people, but there it became a great, powerful, and large nation. The Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us; they imposed cruel slavery on us. We cried to the LORD the God of our fathers for help, and he listened to us, and, when he saw our misery and hardship and oppression, the LORD led us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying deeds, and with signs and portents. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Now I have brought here the firstfruits of the soil which you, LORD, have given me.’ You are then to set the basket before the LORD your God and bow in worship before him.

2 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: Old Testament (1st Sunday of Lent)”

  1. It is interesting how the two translations differ in their rendering of Deuteronomy 26:5. First, 3 translations.

    NABRE: Then you shall declare in the presence of the LORD, your God, “My father was a refugee Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as a resident alien. But there he became a nation great, strong and numerous.

    REB: Then you must solemnly recite before the LORD your God: ‘My father was a homeless Aramaean who went down to Egypt and lived there with a small band of people, but there it became a great, powerful, and large nation.

    Today’s Lectionary: Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. But there he became a nation great, strong, and numerous.

    Let’s first look at “homeless”. and “wandering” and “refugee;” and second “resident alien,” and “alien” and “?.”

    First, I think “homeless” in the REB is misleading and “”refugee” in the NABRE is a little strong as it implies some entity is driving Jacob away. While a refugee can be someone fleeing hunger; it is not at the top of the definition. Some translations take the Hebrew root word “oved” to be “perishing” which makes sense as Jacob and his household would have died of starvation if they had not gone to Egypt.

    Second, in terms of “resident alien” used in the NABRE, the REB with its simplified language loses all focus that the great nation is living as foreigners in Egypt is lost. Some translations use the word “sojourner” to indicate the foreign status of the people. However, I think in today’s language that is misleading as “sojourner” implies a traveling status not a resident status.

    Is there confusion here? I don’t think so; as we understand it well as we read this passage in the context of Genesis and Exodus.

    Try this to look at many of the English translations of Deuteronomy 26:5 try this link: https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Deuteronomy%2026:5

  2. I think the NABRE is being a little political there, using a loaded word like ‘refugee’

    One of the most interesting choices of the REB, (I think it was the REB, although I might be thinking of the NEB) which described Potiphar as a ‘eunuch.’ If Potiphar actually was a eunuch, then Potiphar’s wife lusting after Joseph suddenly makes a lot more sense.

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