In June, I reported on my quest for more details regarding the New Living Translation – Catholic Edition(NLT-CE) and the English Standard Version – Catholic Edition (ESV-CE). The press releases for both translations stated that a team of scholars reviewed the bible text and made revisions. I’m very interested to know what verses they revised and how extensive the revisions were.
From my perspective, these Catholic editions have great potential as a meeting point between Catholics and other denominations. After all, the ESV and NLT are two of the most widely used translations among American protestants. But as long as the revisions remain unidentified and unreported, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over them. Which verses were changed? If I quote a verse from the NLT-CE, will someone with an NLT bible have the same language?
I’m frustrated by the lack of transparency. ATC Publishers assured me that they plan to release full documentation of all changes in the future, but they have no set timetable for doing so. In the meantime, I decided to reach out to the copyright holders of the NLT (Tyndale House Publishers) and the ESV (Crossway) to seek more information. Since they gave permission to publish these Catholic editions, perhaps they have details on the changes. Both publishers allowed me to share their responses on the blog.
I was excited to receive the following response from Tyndale:
The changes suggested by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India were reviewed by Tyndale and incorporated into the 2015 edition of the translation for all Bibles, Catholic and Protestant. Going forward any NLT with a copyright of 2015 incorporates these changes. We were very pleased with the suggestions made by the Conference and felt the suggested changes made the NLT better.
This is joyous news! It means that the NLT is now in a similar category to the NRSV: the only difference between Catholic and protestant versions are the deuterocanonical books. The translation is identical!
Crossway offered less information. It sounds as though they do not have a list of changes, and they were less involved in the review process:
Two years ago, Crossway was approached by Roman Catholic leadership in India about adopting the ESV into Catholic church life and liturgy. After careful consideration, we were glad to license the ESV for publication by an Indian publishing house, supplying Bible readers in this part of the world with a sound translation. Though it is not our calling to publish resources for the Catholic church, we are grateful for this opportunity to support their desire to provide an essentially literal and academically current translation of the Bible. We remain as committed as ever to publishing gospel-centered resources in the historic stream of the Reformation.
This response does not bode well for anyone hoping to see the ESV-CE published in the United States. Crossway appears resistant to publishing materials for a Catholic audience. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that they will license the ESV-CE to another publisher for printing.
In summary, we are still in the dark about the exact changes that the teams of scholars recommended, but in the case of the NLT, we now know that the Catholic edition is identical to the protestant edition (except for the extra deuterocanonical books). Knowing that, I am satisfied with not having a list of changes. But the ESV-CE remains uncertain.