The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference held its Spring General meeting last week, and they discussed revising the Lectionary for Mass. Last year, the bishops of England, Scotland, and Wales selected the English Standard Version — Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) for a new lectionary to replace the current Jerusalem Bible lectionary that has been in use for multiple decades. The Irish Bishops are considering the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB). Here is a link to a press release from the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference. They are seeking feedback and comments from Irish Catholics on the proposed change.

24 thoughts on “Irish Bishops are Considering RNJB for New Lectionary”

  1. Interesting, I will say whatever flaws the RNJB has, it will probably be more amendable to edits than the RSV.

    1. That’s a difficult question to answer. The ESV-CE is considered more “literal” and “word-for-word,” but the RNJB is a bit more conversationally smooth in English while still being accurate. The RNJB is more similar to the JB, which is currently used in the Irish lectionary. For a lectionary, my personal opinion is that the RNJB would be a better choice. A literal translation like the ESV-CE is good for study, but for reading aloud at Mass, I think the RNJB would be superior.

  2. Given that the Vatican rejected the NJB for the liturgy, and the NRSV doubles down on the things that led to that rejection, this may prove to be a fruitless effort.

    1. Why? Both the U.S and Canadian Lectionaries use inclusive language. The RNJB is not the NRSV or NJB and could also be edited further.

      Also the CDW isn’t exactly the same now. And MAGNUM PRINCIPIUM is the law of the land.

      1. That was a weird autocorrect, it should be RNJB. The NJB was rejected for a number of reasons, and the RNJB not only doesn’t correct the features that led to the rejection but it actually doubles down on those features. I know Pope Francis is basically the John Spong of Catholicism, but still, even given his overt hostility to orthodox or traditional Catholicism, I don’t think he is quite liberal enough to reverse all the directives that led to the rejection of the NJB, I think that is a bridge too far even for him.

        1. Is there any record of why the NJB was rejected? And I must say, I’m quite puzzled by your comment that the RNJB doubled down on the features that led to the NJB being rejected. What features? The RNJB was revised with the goal of bringing it closer to the norms in Liturgiam Authenticam. Now that the Church’s approach to translations has been relaxed slightly with the promulgation of Magnum Principium, I think it’s entirely reasonable to think the RNJB could be approved — at most with very minor revisions.

          In my view, the NJB has been unfairly maligned and dismissed by many Catholics. Its use of inclusive language is moderate compared to the NRSV. The Congregation for Divine Worship eventually approved the NRSV lectionary for liturgical use in Canada, so I think the RNJB could certainly be approved.

          1. Marc, I agree with your view of the NJB being unfairly maligned and dismissed. It’s recognized in biblical scholarship (Catholic and Protestant) as an excellent translation, albeit more on the dynamic side than, say, the RSV or NRSV, and it’s definitely no paraphrase. It’s certainly a significant improvement in terms of accuracy over its predecessor, the JB. In the same way, the RNJB, in my view, is an improvement over the NJB. It is more literal without being wooden. It is certainly not as literal as the RSV, etc., but it comes close. We see this for instance in the letters of Paul and the RNJB’s use of “flesh” rather than the NJB’s “self-indulgence.” (I actually like the former approach in this case.) We also see Mary being “full of grace” in the Gospel of Luke, which admittedly is a debatable translation choice.

        2. ” I know Pope Francis is basically the John Spong of Catholicism”… that is not true :).

          I guess it would be helpful to know what sort of problems you are specifically referring to in the RNJB? I assume it is primarily inclusive horizontal language. The Vatican previously okayed that, at least in principal. The NABRE uses it as does the lectionary for Canada.

          Though I personally think some of the RNJB constructions involving inclusive language are odd, and I dislike other stylistic features, I don’t think this will be an issue with the powers that be, and if they are, they could probably be more easily edited.

          My personal choice for a lectionary would be the RSV-CE 2nd (perhaps edited with some mild inclusive language), or a more edited ESV-CE or NRSV-CE.

          But with the NRSV-CE, the Vatican kept changing goal posts with requests for edits. The RSV-CE 2nd edition never took off, perhaps because of lack of inclusive language? Well the ESV-CE is fine, but some of translation choices bother me, particularly in terms of ecclesiology.

          1. Just a point of order here, the RSV2CE was accepted as the sole lectionary for the Anglican Ordinariates, and I believe it was also accepted as the English language lectionary for some African diocese.

            And my understanding for those acceptances was that the RSV2CE was pretty much accepted “as is” in that the lectionary readings more or less match exactly what you would read if you looked up the same passages in any RSV2CE Bible you pulled off the shelf, (aside from say the insertion of a preparatory “The” when the lectionary starts its reading in the middle of a passage and other minor things like that). This is not something that could not be said about the NAB and the NRSV lectionaries, and it sounds like something that won’t be true of the ESVCE lectionary either. I don’t know if anyone else cares about that kind of thing, but it’s always impressed me about the RSV2CE and it’s lectionary, that it was able to receive approval for use in the liturgy “as is,” though I guess that shouldn’t be surprising seeing as my understanding of the history of the RSV2CE is that it began life as an ad hoc revision to the original RSVCE to obtain approval from the Vatican as a lectionary and was only later compiled into a full Bible.

          2. I agree Pope Francis is NOT the John Spong of Catholicism. He is Peter, the Rock on which Jesus builds His Church!

        3. Biblical Catholic,
          1. The NJB was rejected by whom?
          2. Pope Francis is the John Spong of Catholicism?
          3. How exactly is the Pope hostile to orthodoxy or traditionalism?
          4. What makes you think that the Pope would even reverse “directives” that went against the NJB for liturgical use?

        4. I suggest limiting the discussion to the NJB and RNJB. This is not the forum to engage in debates about Pope Francis.

          1. Is this Catholic Bible Talk or sedevacantists talk? Pope Francis and those who came before him and will follow him MATTER!

  3. This looks a little like particularism, although the RNJB has pre-V2 ancestry with a French text of the ’50s with the Jerusalem Bible pre-dating the New Mass like a few years. It has a familiarity, and a revision should reinforce and improve on that. If that is how they go, there will be some good and bad, but the good should outweigh the bad.

  4. “Pope Francis is basically the John Spong of Catholicism.” That is the funniest sentence (or sentence fragment) that I have read so far in 2021. Hah!

    1. Likely when enough people purchase the current edition so that they can be assured that there is a market for a new edition.

  5. How does the RNJB render 1 Cor 13?
    Does it dare to say “Charity” or does it stick with “Love?”

    Does ANY modern Catholic translation opt for “Charity?”

      1. From what sample texts I can find online, it seems only the Douay and Knox render it (from the Vulgate) as “charity.”

        Suddenly interested in Knox. 🙂

        [Although I still can’t find samples of the New Catholic Version from Catholic Book Publishing.]

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