Welcome to the eleventh 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 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, I’ve chosen the first reading (from Wisdom). I do not have a copy of the English Standard Version which includes the deuterocanonical books, so I have omitted the ESV from this week’s comparison. If any of you have the ESV-CE or an edition of the ESV with Apocrypha, feel free to comment on the ESV’s rendering of this passage as it relates to the JB/NJB/RNJB and the NABRE.

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 — 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
First Reading: Wisdom 11:22-12:2

Jerusalem Bible

In your sight the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales,
like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.
Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things
and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent.
Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence,
for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.
And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist,
how be conserved if not called forth by you?
You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life,
you whose imperishable spirit is in all.
Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend,
you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned,
so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you, Lord.

New Jerusalem Bible

The whole world, for you, can no more than tip a balance,
like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.
Yet you are merciful to all, because you are almighty,
you overlook people’s sins, so that they can repent.
Yes, you love everything that exists,
and nothing that you have made disgusts you,
since, if you had hated something, you would not have made it.
And how could a thing subsist, had you not willed it?
Or how be preserved, if not called forth by you?
No, you spare all, since all is yours, Lord, lover of life!
For your imperishable spirit is in everything!
And thus, gradually, you correct those who offend;
you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned,
so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you, Lord.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible

For you the weight of the whole world in the scales
is like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.
You are merciful to all because you are almighty,
you overlook people’s sins so that they can repent.
For you love all that exists,
you loathe nothing you have made;
if you had hated something, you would not have made it.
How could a thing endure had you not willed it?
Or how be preserved if not called forth by you?
No, you spare all, since all is yours Lord, lover of life!

For your imperishable spirit is in everything!
And thus, little by little, you correct those who offend;
you admonish by reminding them of how they have sinned
so that freed from evil they trust in you, Lord.

New American Bible Revised Edition

Indeed, before you the whole universe is like a grain from a balance,
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.

But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for you would not fashion what you hate.
How could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O Ruler and Lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things!

Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing,
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, Lord!

2 thoughts on “The Jerusalem Bible Family and the NABRE: Comparing Translations (31st Sunday in OT)”

  1. I am not familiar with the source for the family of Jerusalem Bible readings. The renditions seem to read as loose paraphrases and only semblances of the actual Greek text by comparison to the NABRE.

    The book of WIsdom was composed about 50 years before the birth of Christ, give or take, written in Alexandria, Egypt, and almost instantly became a part of the Alexandrian Septuagint. One can read the source text today in any LXX text.

    From the start, the Jerusalem translations render “ὅτι ὡς ῥοπὴ ἐκ πλαστίγγων ὅλος ὁ κόσμος ἐναντίον σου” of Wisdom 11.22a as if the text is speaking of dust or measuring the world upon scales. The latest addition to the Jerusalem Bible family seems to ignore the expression completely and merge it into the rest of the text.

    The NABRE does what other translators do, namely recognize that the author of Wisdom is speaking of a type of weight used on ancient scales, a tiny piece or particle called in English a “grain.” Thus the rendition of Wisdom 11.22 in the NABRE as it reads in the LXX:

    “Indeed, before you the whole universe is like a grain from a balance,
    or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.”

    The footnote in the NABRE mentions the same that the “grain” is “a tiny particle used for weighing on sensitive scales.” The author of Wisdom is comparing the cosmology of Hellenism that was now popular in Jewish life, replacing the old Mesopotamian views, as claiming that all of creation–the universe–could not even do the job of the tiniest weight of a scale and move it in comparison to the greatness of the Lord.

    Why would being so precise about this opening statement be important? As the footnote in the NABRE explains, “the combination of divine mercy and power is an unusual paradox, but” as Wisdom 12.18 declares: “Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, / and with much lenience you govern us.”

    The picture drawn of God is that while such a Lord should be so removed due to transcendence, instead our Lord has that much love and mercy for us by measure, and more.

    There is great beauty and much accuracy in the Jerusalem Bible family, but far more precision in the NABRE, not only in the recent Old Testament revision but in its past readings as can be seen in the Lectionary presentation for this Sunday.

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