Welcome to the sixth week of comparing the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) with the Revised English Bible (REB) for the second reading at Sunday’s Mass. As mentioned in the introduction, this will be a chance to compare a strongly literal translation like the NABRE New Testament with a much more dynamic translation like the REB. As the translators continue to work on revising the NABRE New Testament, it also provides a chance to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the current translation (which was completed in 1986).

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018 — Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18


But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.


Once you were far off, but now in union with Christ Jesus you have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood. For he is himself our peace. Gentiles and Jews, he has made the two one, and in his own body of flesh and blood has broken down the barrier of enmity which separated them; for he annulled the law with its rules and regulations, so as to create out of the two a single new humanity in himself, thereby making peace. This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, by which he killed the enmity. So he came and proclaimed the good news: peace to you who were far off, and peace to those who were near; for through him we both alike have access to the Father in the one Spirit.

3 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: New Testament Letters (16th Sunday in OT)”

  1. I had to read this 2nd reading out loud in a Communion Service at a retirement community. Nobody understood it. It was also awkward to read. I wish I had used the Message CE for this one. Thank God for dynamic translations.

    In an unrelated note, I was doing some personal study out of the Catholic Prayer Bible and found a passage I wanted to share with a friend. I don’t own an electronic NRSV bible, so I tried to find another translation that would suffice. None would; thus, I eventually grabbed the NRSV passage from biblegateway.com.

    This made me positively wistful for my first-love NOAB study bible (now in 5th edition) which uses NRSV! Yes, I can get it in Kindle format, but it really isn’t formatted to be useful as an electronic book. So, I usually use the Catholic Study Bible which has the right formatting and great study notes. I forgot how much I love the NRSV translation, though. What’s not to love when the NRSV translating committee had the guiding mantra of “As literal as possible; as free as necessary.” That beautifully stated goal makes my heart soar!

    1. Thanks for your comment, T. I think this reading is a great example of how a literal translation of Paul can be difficult to proclaim in Church. I have a suspicion that the original readers of Paul’s letters struggled to understand his writings too, but probably not as much as we do. Whenever a person’s speech is transcribed, the grammar is far from standard, with run-on sentences, fragments, and so forth. A native speaker can often get the flow of it and understand the meaning, albeit with some difficulty.

      Unfortunately for us, we’re reading a translation of a transcription, which makes it even more difficult. I waffle back and forth on whether it’s a worthwhile trade off to translate Paul dynamically. It allows us to hear Paul in a more natural, conversational way, but it can gloss over all kinds of complexity. It’s a thorny problem. Maybe the only solution is to have both literal and dynamic translations and compare them.

      1. Or we could just use the NRSV which also does elegant justice to this reading (Eph 2:13-18), as well. I just might need to buy the NOAB ebook despite its unfortunate eRendering!

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