Welcome to the twelfth week of comparing the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) with the Revised English Bible (REB) for the second reading at Sunday’s Mass. This is 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, September 2nd, 2018 — Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Second Reading: James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27


All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


Every good and generous action and every perfect gift come from above, from the Father who created the lights of heaven. With him there is no variation, no play of passing shadows. Of his own choice, he brought us to birth by the word of truth to be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.

Meekly accept the message planted in your hearts, with its power to save you.

Only be sure you act on the message and do not merely listen and so deceive yourselves.

A pure and faultless religion in the sight of God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in trouble and to keep oneself untarnished by the world.

2 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: New Testament Letters (22nd Sunday in OT)”

  1. As much as I understand the reasons why the NABRE is translated in the way it is, I prefer the REB, particular when reading short passages aloud, as one does in church. It is almost too bad that this hasn’t been adopted for the lectionary. When I try to read the NABRE aloud, I often have to stop and think to give it the right intonation.

  2. This is a good example of the motivation behind the currently underway revision of the NAB NT. When I read the REB version of the first paragraph, my thoughts were “oh, that’s what James meant”.

    Comparing translations is useful but can have peculiar results. In the Old Testament NABRE there are times when I reach for other translations right away in order to get a better understanding of the passage. There have been other times, most recently in Sirac, when I liked the NABRE better than the RSV-2CE, NRSV, or the Jerusalem Bible. No one translation is ideal in every chapter.

    Marc, thanks for the comparison. Let’s hope the NABRE 25 NT is a big step toward clarity.


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