Welcome to the third in a series of posts comparing the Jerusalem Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible and the Revised New Jerusalem Bible for one of the readings at each Sunday’s Mass. For today, the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, I’ve chosen the first reading (from the book of Wisdom).

Sunday, September 8th, 2019 — 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
First Reading: Wisdom 9:13-18B

Jerusalem Bible

‘What man indeed can know the intentions of God?
Who can divine the will of the Lord?
The reasonings of mortals are unsure
and our intentions unstable;
for a perishable body presses down the soul,
and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.
It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth,
laborious to know what lies within our reach;
who, then, can discover what is in the heavens?
As for your intention, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from above?
Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened

New Jerusalem Bible

‘What human being indeed can know the intentions of God?
And who can comprehend the will of the Lord?
For the reasoning of mortals is inadequate,
our attitudes of mind unstable;
for a perishable body presses down the soul,
and this tent of clay weighs down the mind with its many cares.
It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth,
laborious to know what lies within our reach;
who, then, can discover what is in the heavens?
And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom
and sent your holy Spirit from above?
Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened

Revised New Jerusalem Bible

‘What human being indeed can know the plans of God?
And who can comprehend the will of the Lord?
For the reasoning of mortals is weak,
our plans prone to failure;
for a perishable body presses down the soul,
and this tent of clay weighs down the mind with its many cares.
It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth,
hard to comprehend what lies within our reach;
who, then, can trace what is in the heavens?
And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
Thus have the paths of those on earth been set right

New American Bible Revised Edition

For who knows God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the Lord intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
and uncertain our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
and the earthly tent weighs down the mind with its many concerns.
Scarcely can we guess the things on earth,
and only with difficulty grasp what is at hand;
but things in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who can know your counsel, unless you give Wisdom
and send your holy spirit from on high?
Thus were the paths of those on earth made straight

4 thoughts on “The Jerusalem Bible Family and the NABRE: Comparing Translations (23rd Sunday in OT)”

  1. “Mortals” is such an atrociously bad word choice, why can’t these translators see that? It sounds like dialogue from an episode of Bewitched or a Piers Anthony novel or an issue of Marvel Comics. In modern English, the words ‘mortals’ is used to distinguish human beings and other creatures that die from ‘immortals’ such as dwarves, elves, or wizards, or Galactus. It is not a word that sounds like a good word choice in any context except a work of fantasy.

  2. Marc,
    Thanks for posting this series. So far, for me, I see no reason to jump out and purchase the Revised New Jerusalem Bible. I would suggest again, so far, that it is not much more than a “clean-up” of the English of the previous edition/s. To me, the power of the JB family is their readability and the notes in the full editions. I will continue to read your posts and keep an open mind (it seems I suffer from the theory that you cannot have too many Bibles and will probably end up purchasing the new edition.)

    As an aside, I find the lectionary selection of verses to be wanting in context. This is a prayer by Solomon requesting Wisdom. Thus, to see that, you would need to add verses 7 and 8: 7 You have chosen me to be king over your people, to be judge of your sons and daughters. 8 You have bidden me build a temple on your holy mountain, and an altar in the city where you have pitched your tent, a copy of the holy Tent which you prepared at the beginning. (NJB) Without these two verses a somewhat obscure reading is even more obscure.

  3. This is an excellent series. If I could nitpick…I wouldn’t mind seeing an NRSV in there too. Your past comparisons had me clearly favoring one translation over the other, but today’s reading from Wisdom is interesting in that I would rather pick individual verses and do a mashup.

  4. Jim, not only are the lectionary selections often badly out of context, but the editing of the passages is often dishonest to the point of reversing the meaning of the passage when read in context. For example, the parable of the talents, in the short version, edited to remove all the threats so that it sounds like it teaches universalism.

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