I just received a copy of the New Catholic Bible in black DURA-LUX (imitation leather) binding (St. Joseph Edition) from Catholic Book Publishing Company. Today, I’ll give a brief look at the bible’s construction, printing, and contents. Over the next week or two, I’ll be reading through sections of it to get a better sense of its language style and notes. Although the New Testament and Psalms have been available for a few years now, this is the first time I’ve spent any quality time with this translation, so I’ll be looking at the Gospel of Luke, Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and some selections from the Old Testament.

The New Catholic Bible (NCB – top) and the New Oxford Annotated Bible 4th edition (NOAB – bottom).

This is a large bible — a bit larger than the recent genuine leather editions New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th and 5th editions). Overall, it’s similar in size to most study bibles on the market. It is smaller than the NAB Family Bible also published by Catholic Book.

The New Catholic Bible (NCB – top) and the New Oxford Annotated Bible 4th edition (NOAB – bottom)

The NCB features a 1/4-inch single-sided ribbon, gold gilded pages, and a DURA-LUX imitation leather binding, which has a very nice feel. This is a similar imitation leather to the Great Adventure Catholic Bible from Ascension Press. The binding is sewn using the same style as most books from Catholic Book Publishing Company: the signatures are small, and the folded sections are difficult to discern except at the very edge of the spine. This makes for a very even appearance from the spine to the edge of the pages when the book is closed.

The print is large, clear, and easy to read from a comfortable distance. As with most giant-print bibles, the page layout is not especially elegant, and the large print tends to look cramped or packed onto the page without much white space. It is exceptionally easy to read, though, and many readers will appreciate its practicality.

The footnotes are printed at the end of each biblical book, rather than the bottom of the page, so referring to notes will require some flipping back and forth. On the other hand, it can potentially allow for less distraction when reading extended passages of scripture. If the notes are not on the same page, it is easier to keep reading, rather than flipping to look at each note!

Similar to other St. Joseph editions from Catholic Book, this bible features inserts with color illustrations, as well as full-color informational pages. The layout of the information inserts is well-designed and attractive.

The front matter displays the nihil obstat and imprimatur for both the Old and New Testaments. It also contains an official canonical rescript from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

I’m looking forward to spending time with this translation over the next several days!

14 thoughts on “First Look: New Catholic Bible (NCB) from Catholic Book Publishing Company”

  1. Thanks for the review! Looking forward to seeing how this compares to the NABRE. From what I have seen thus far I would rather give a new Catholic (or anyone in general) a NCB, and hopefully the corresponding value editions are forthcoming.

    This giant print edition looks very nice though. The style and type on the spine reminds me of Catholic Bibles from the 50s-60s. I wonder how well the dura-lux will hold up. The synthetic covers are really a mixed bag. I have seen some hold up well and others not as well. I haven’t seen any made in recent years crack or chip, so that is a good sign!

  2. I have been using the NCB’s New Catholic Version in New Testament form for a few years now (St. Joseph Illustrated Study Edition by Catholic Book Pub.) and I have to say that it can easily be called the NABRE with slight translation differences.

    IF the new entire NCB is the same as the prior NT editions, then quite often the introductions and footnotes tend to be way more in line with traditional Catholic theology and tradition such John easily held to be author of the 4th gospel; Annunciation uses “Hail, full of grace” and notes to it are solid; Mt 16 upholds Peter’s primacy as leader and popes as successors.

    What is curiously and sadly lacking and disappointing to me is that the Eucharist never gets real Catholic attention or teaching in the footnotes for at any of the Last Supper synoptic accounts. These notes could easily be used by many Protestant Christians in this regard. And most surprisingly not even in John 6 will you find even just ONE little use or mention of the word “Eucharist” let along any eucharistic teaching. I was quite astonished considering how solid much of the intros and other footnotes are.

    Not sure what I will do at this point. Probably just pass on adding yet another Bible to my library.

  3. I have been doing some reading of the NCB. Commenting on the actual translation, it reads somewhere between the New American Bible and the NRSV.

    While it is true that the NCB is advertised as not being a “gender-neutral” translation, this does not mean that the text is free from all inclusive-language (for instance, Luke 1.48 uses “servant” instead of “handmaiden”–the Greek is feminine).

    But in most every spot where you would expect a Catholic Bible to have controversy (i.e., Isaiah 7.14 and Luke 1.28, etc.), the NCB renders things along the lines of traditional Catholicism. There is generally never any rocking of the boat.

    The highlight of the translation is not the translation itself. That part is often a bit “mamby pamby.” It lacks any type of character or substance that makes it stand out of from being anything more than bland.

    The renderings at time show little attempt to do anything but give words on a page so that there will be something to offer lengthy commentary in the footnotes–and this is where the NCB shines. The commentary is the number one reason anyone would want this Bible. It is rich with a balance of historical-critical and traditional Catholic teaching.

    But in the GIANT TYPE version, where the footnotes are placed at the end of the book and you are forced to read the books alone–except for the Psalter, you are often left reading a text that sometimes reads as if were designed to exist for the sake of the commentary alone. It just isn’t that good.

    One can compare the NCB reading as offered in your photo of Genesis 43.19-30 with the NABRE. Notice how well the NABRE flows. The NCB is stunted in many places–to illustrate in just one place, vss. 21-22 where the word “brought” gets used three times so close together that it feels like you are tripping over the word.

    I happen to be a fan of Rev. Jude Winkler, but when I opened the NCB up to Genesis 1 and came to verse 11 and saw a typo (missing the closing quote marks to God’s words), I felt it was a bad omen. It wouldn’t be noticeable in a smaller printing–but in a large print Bible–OUCH! (There was a similar typo in last year’s New Testament NCV printing where an entire verse was missing from one of Paul’s epistles too–yeech!)

    Again, the footnotes are what make up this Bible. It’s a marvelous work. The Psalms are an outstanding translation on their own. Because so many people are confused with the NABRE footnotes expecting them to be commentary (they are not–they are a critical apparatus), the New Catholic Bible is what you would get or give to the person who wants a Catholic Bible who wants a copy of the Scriptures with a dependable Catholic commentary built-in. The problems are tiny compared to the commentary. It’s delicious.

  4. “Servant” instead of “handmaiden” hardly seems like a bow to inclusive language, it is simply a substitution of a modem word which is on common use for an older, somewhat old fashioned word that is no longer in common use. Granted, I don’t think there is anything wrong with using slightly old fashioned words that aren’t in common use, for example, I prefer “behold” to “look at”, but it is really a question of translation philosophy, and the NCB definitely has a philosophy that prefers more modern words.

    1. You misunderstood me.

      I gave but a sample of the many times the NCB uses inclusive terminology by offering but one verse, however the NCB does this repeatedly.

      And it is not that the word “behold” is chosen as a rendering that I meant to point out. It was that a word was repeated over and over and over again in close proximity. The original Hebrew doesn’t demand such a translation.

    1. I would urge patience in dealing with fellow commenters, Biblical Catholic. Carl contributed valuable impressions of the NCB in this thread, and even if he misunderstood your comment, I urge you and all readers to be constructive in your contributions, rather than destructive.

  5. The terminology of “inclusive language” is debatable and will vary in meaning depending on the context. I think the NCB translators didn’t go to extreme lengths to make all instances gender neutral, such as changing singular and masculine pronouns to plural, but one could arguably say it has more “inclusive language” than the RSV, for example. There are a lot of examples to consider in both testaments.

    I really enjoy hearing everyone’s perspective on these translation issues. Everyone has something to add which is why I enjoy my parish Bible study so much! Carl, you have a really cool story, I must say. I am a fan of Phantom of the opera as well and I hope your 3D project is successful! I missed the 3D TV on the US commercial market, but I might have to look at upgrading my projector! 😉

  6. I received my black Dura-lux edition. It’s a very nice one. I hope at some point they’ll release a smaller one, such as the medium size NABRE, but this will do nicely, especially for devotional reading or teaching and proclamation in a group setting when it’s a distraction to have to put on reading glasses.

    Having had the NCV psalms and NT, I have enjoyed the notes and have found them more helpful than the NABRE notes. The text is better, too, in my opinion— not as clunky (cf. Matthew 19:6 for comparison).

    The layout of the Bible is typical St. Joseph edition. Same cheesy paintings within, etc., but I like all the inserts and helps. Overall I’m very pleased with this Bible. I love that CBP Co. still does signature sewn bibles. Even with their limited cover options, they seem to get the importance of quality.

    Since they don’t do genuine or premium leather Bibles, I figure this edition is a good candidate for a Leonard’s Books rebinding with premium leather. They do very good work.

  7. I noticed that all the people who approved this version are in the Philippines. So, I can I safely assume this is meant for the Philippine market?

    1. It is meant for the entire English speaking world, the only reason they went to the Philipines for approval is that they seem to be the only bishops in the English speaking world who are interested in new translations. This is also where the New Living Bible Catholic Edition was approved.

      1. The New Living Translation Catholic Edition (and the ESV-CE) was actually approved by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

      2. I am curious as to who paid for this project. It is odd to put together a new translation and have so little information about who is behind it.

  8. That is correct my point however is that they couldn’t have gone to the American bishops because the American bishops are so wedded to the NABRE but they have no interest whatsoever in even looking at another translation. The bishops of England and Canada you don’t seem to care at all or else they’re so preoccupied with the issue of the lectionary if they don’t have time for anything else. Australia and New Zealand? You get nothing from them but the sound of crickets when asking about new translations.

    It seems the third world has taken up the responsibility that the first world has given up.

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