Welcome to the fourth 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 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I’ve chosen the first reading (from the book of Exodus).

Sunday, September 15th, 2019 — 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14

Jerusalem Bible

Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostasised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”‘ Yahweh said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with Yahweh his God. ‘Yahweh,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.’ So Yahweh relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

New Jerusalem Bible

Yahweh then said to Moses, ‘Go down at once, for your people whom you brought here from Egypt have become corrupt. They have quickly left the way which I ordered them to follow. They have cast themselves a metal calf, worshipped it and offered sacrifice to it, shouting, “Israel, here is your God who brought you here from Egypt!”‘ Yahweh then said to Moses, ‘I know these people; I know how obstinate they are! So leave me now, so that my anger can blaze at them and I can put an end to them! I shall make a great nation out of you instead.’

Moses tried to pacify Yahweh his God. ‘Yahweh,’ he said, ‘why should your anger blaze at your people, whom you have brought out of Egypt by your great power and mighty hand? Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom you swore by your very self and made this promise: “I shall make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and this whole country of which I have spoken, I shall give to your descendants, and it will be their heritage for ever.”‘ Yahweh then relented over the disaster which he had intended to inflict on his people.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible

The LORD then said to Moses, ‘Go down at once, for your people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt have gone wrong. They have been quick to leave the way that I ordered them to follow. They have cast themselves an image of a calf, worshipped it and offered sacrifice to it, shouting, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”‘

The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people. Look how obstinate they are! So leave me now, so that my anger can blaze at them and I make an end of them! I shall make you into a great nation instead.’

Moses tried to pacify the LORD his God and said, ‘Why, LORD, does your anger blaze at your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt by your great power and mighty hand? Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom you swore by yourself and made this promise, “I shall make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven, and this whole country of which I have spoken, I shall give to your descendants, and it will be their heritage for ever.”‘ The LORD then relented over the disaster which he had intended for his people.

New American Bible Revised Edition

Then the LORD said to Moses: Go down at once because your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way I commanded them, making for themselves a molten calf and bowing down to it, sacrificing to it and crying out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are, continued the LORD to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my anger may burn against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, “Why, O LORD, should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’” So the LORD changed his mind about the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.

3 thoughts on “The Jerusalem Bible Family and the NABRE: Comparing Translations (24th Sunday in OT)”

  1. Again, this week, I see little difference between the NJB and the RNJB. In my opinion, the rewrite is a “wordsmithing” of the NJB. Thus, I think it might be worthwhile to look at the motivation for the production of the RNJB. Based on some internet surfing, the RNJB appears to be an effort to head off the movement of the English Bishops toward replacing the JB with the ESV. Thus, I would suggest that the ESV be included in these comparisons.
    The blogosphere is full of articles arguing the merits of the ESV or the JB family. Here is one: https://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/1/1276/why-you-ve-been-reading-the-story-of-martha-and-mary-wrong-and-how-the-jerusalem-bible-gets-it-right Further Henry Wansbrough himself argues against the ESV by comparing it to the RNJB. https://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/14756/lowering-standards
    IN MY OPINION, the arguments regarding a change in the lectionary probably fits into 3 categories: gender neutrality, traditional word choices, and, a preference for language usage from Victorian and earlier eras (nostalgia) as it appears to impart authority and thus superior.
    However, I would suggest that those categories, in the end, are not very substantive. These arguments do not take into account the goals of Dei Verbum which I extract here (always problematical but I do it anyway):
    “Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).
    12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.”
    In light of the above I would suggest reading this article regarding a new Jewish English translation of the Hebrew Bible https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/20/magazine/hebrew-bible-translation.html and then this quick tutorial on the Hebrew word “soul” https://www.pursuegod.org/hebrew-word-study-nefesh/ Then, I would suggest that you do a word study of the words “spirit” and “soul” in the Book of Genesis. I would compare the ESV to the RNJB, NJB, JB, NRSV, and NIV. In my study, I conclude that the ESV translation is merely a descendent of the KJV and it ignores recent scholarship that focuses on the original meaning of the writers. Interesting when you do a global search on the word “soul,” in the Old Testament, in the ESV and the NIV you can see a drastic difference in the use of the word “soul.” In the ESV “soul” appears 228 times. In the NIV “soul” appears 72 times. If you do studies on many translations you will see that, in general, the newer the translation the less times the word soul appears in the Old Testament.
    Sorry for the length of this response and for all the “homework” but I think it is important to dig deeper. Hopefully, when the revised New Testament appears in the NABRE, it will join a great Old Testament and all will be used in a new lectionary.
    Jim

    Aside: Let our translations not rigorously follow “Liturgiam Authenticum” Paragraph 27 without considering Paragraphs 20 and 21. Further, let the Motu Proprio on Liturgiam Authenticum regarding approval methodology prevail.

  2. For me the fact that it is only a minor spit polish of NJB is a good thing. A radical revision of the NJB is unnecessary, at most only a minor tune up is needed. Now, whether it changes the things that needed to be changed is another question.

  3. With the recent purchase of the Grail Psalms by the USCCB, some of the “flavor” of the Jerusalem Bible that inspired the Grail Society in the first place will soon be a mainstay of the American liturgical experience. Jim’s hard work in his comments might be met with what was mentioned in that July 18, 2019 news release ( http://www.usccb.org/news/2019/19-132.cfm):

    “In purchasing these copyrights, the bishops are following the guidelines of the Holy See’s Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, which requires that a Conference of Bishops possess all the rights necessary to promote and safeguard the accurate and appropriate use of the texts of the Sacred Liturgy.”

    The Jerusalem Bible was something new for the Church. It was a new way to translate, to no longer conform to old ways of rendering the Word of God. It opened the door to fresh ways of expression. The Grail Society in England took this to heart and were greatly inspired by it when it produced its psalter that became as important to English-speaking Catholics as perhaps the KJV became to many Protestants. If it were not for the JB, the Grail Psalter may never have been.

    But now even the Revised Grail Psalter has been revised even further with immense critical eye to detail for accuracy and a note to try to reproduce in English the cadence of what I like to call the “hoppity” rhythm of Jewish poetry. (Judaism’s “Adon Olam” prayer for the evening is such an example.)

    With all these adjustments made since the initial release of the Revised Grail Psalter, it is now known as the Abbey Psalms and Canticles. One might say this is an example of meeting the best of what a beautiful rendition has to offer with what the best that scholarship can give. (While the new text has yet to be released, I watched the bishops in some of their discussions on translation revisions a couple of years ago which was televised as part of their November conference. Their work showed great love and desire for the American Church to have nothing but the best translation possible.)

    We move ever closer now to the finale NABRE of 2025 that will be made fit for all uses, private prayer, study, and even the liturgy. You can now add the Abbey Psalms as being influenced by the JB.

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