As a follow-up to Bob’s excellent comparison between the 1970 and 1986 NAB NT readings for the Easter Vigil, I thought it would be interesting to compare the Confraternity New Testament with the 1970 NAB to see how close or different they are. In theory, the two translations could exhibit discrepancies, since they began from differing original texts. The Confraternity New Testament was primarily a translation of the Latin Vulgate with reference to the Greek manuscripts. The 1970 NAB was translated entirely from the Greek. Here are the Easter Vigil Epistle and Gospel readings from each translation for comparison:

Epistle: Romans 6:3-11

Confraternity Version:

Do you not know that all we who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? For we were buried with him by means of Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ has arisen from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be so in the likeness of his resurrection also. For we know that our old self has been crucified with him, in order that the body of sin may be destroyed, that we may no longer be slaves to sin; for he who is dead is acquitted of sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ; for we know that Christ, having risen from the dead, dies now no more, death shall no longer have dominion over him. For the death that he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life that he lives, he lives unto God. Thus do you consider yourselves also as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

NAB 1970:

Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. If we have been united with him through likeness to his death, so shall we be through a like resurrection. This we know: our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed and we might be slaves to sin no longer. A man who is dead has been freed from sin. If we have died with Christ, we believe that we are also to live with him. We know that Christ, once raised from the dead, will never die again; death has no more power over him. His death was death to sin, once for all; his life is life for God. In the same way, you must consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

Comments:

There are many differences here. A few that stand out to me are the Confraternity Version’s penchant for beginning sentences with “for” and “but.” The 1970 NAB systematically avoids constructing sentences like this. The Confraternity Version also uses slightly more formal language than the 1970 NAB, with words like “unto” and “thus.” There are many differences in word order, and also a systematic difference in verb tense. The Confraternity Version uses past perfect tense verbs like “have been baptized” and “has arisen,” while the 1970 NAB uses “were baptized” and “was raised.” The sheer amount of bold text in these selections is consistent with the idea that the 1970 NAB was a new translation from a different original text and not a revision of the Confraternity Version.

Gospel: Luke 24:1-12

Confraternity Version:

But on the first day of the week at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled back from the tomb. But on entering, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, while they were wondering what to make of this, that, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling raiment. And when the women were struck with fear and bowed their faces to the ground, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he spoke to you while he was yet in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.”

And they remembered his words. And having returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven, and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, and the other women who were with them, who were telling these things to the apostles. But this tale seemed to them to be nonsense, and they did not believe the women.

But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid there; and he went away wondering to himself at what had come to pass.

NAB 1970:

On the first day of the week, at dawn, the women came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled back from the tomb; but when they entered the tomb, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were still at a loss over what to think of this, two men in dazzling garments stood beside them. Terrified, the women bowed to the ground. The men said to them: “Why do you search for the Living One among the dead? He is not here; he has been raised up. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee—that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.With this reminder, his words came back to them.

On their return from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but the story seemed like nonsense and they refused to believe them. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. He stooped down but could see nothing but the wrappings. So he went away full of amazement at what had occurred.

Comments:

Some similar differences emerge in this passage from the Gospel of Luke. The Confraternity Version uses formal language like “come to pass” and “arose” (as in “Peter arose and ran to the tomb”). It also continues its pattern of beginning sentences with “but” and “and,” while the 1970 NAB scrupulously avoids this.

There are a couple of obvious places where the 1970 NAB attempts to rephrase the text to clarify the meaning. It reads “with this reminder, his words came back to them,” while the Confraternity only says “And they remembered his words.” A second example appears when Peter runs to the tomb. The 1970 NAB says “He stooped down, but could see nothing but the wrappings” while the Confraternity says “stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid there.”

Overall, it strikes me that the two translations are more similar to each other in this passage from Luke than the previous reading from Romans, but there are still many differences that would be wholly consistent with independent groups of translators who were not attempting to revise an earlier text.

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