As we begin a new liturgical year (and year C of the lectionary cycle), I’d like to shift the focus of the weekly comparison post between the REB and NABRE to the Old Testament. For the past six months, I’ve featured the REB’s translation of the second reading at each Sunday’s Mass, showing how the REB translates the New Testament letters. Somewhat surprisingly, as Biblical Catholic recently commented, the REB is often closer to the NABRE than I would have expected. I’m interested to do a similar comparison for Old Testament readings.

In the course of my own informal, unscientific reading, I’ve noticed a marked difference between the REB’s Old Testament and New Testament translations. The New Testament is translated in flowing, conversational English, while the Old Testament retains a more formal style. I’ve found it easier to read than the NRSV, but in many cases, the two are surprisingly similar. 

This will also provide a chance to explore the NABRE revised Old Testament in greater detail and note how it differs from the Lectionary reading at Mass. I have far less experience with the NABRE Old Testament than I do with the 1986 NABRE New Testament. I’m excited to embark on a new set of comparisons!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 — First Sunday of Advent (Year C) First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16


The days are coming—oracle of the LORD—when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days, at that time, I will make a just shoot spring up for David; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; this is the name they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.”


The days are coming, says the LORD, when I shall bestow on Israel and Judah all the blessings I have promised them. In those days, at that time, I shall make a righteous Branch spring from David’s line; he will maintain law and justice in the land. In those days Judah will be kept safe and Jerusalem will live undisturbed. This will be the name given to him: The LORD our Righteousness.

5 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: Old Testament (1st Sunday of Advent)”

  1. Two, items of interest. First, this passage does not exist in the Septuagint, and hence, not in the Greek Orthodox English language Bibles. The note in the NABRE indicates that it might have been added by an “inspired” writer at a later time then the dates of the Septuagint. Second, we see the difference in the application of the word “Justice” and “righteous” for the same Hebrew word. My experience, in general, is that Bibles in the Latin tradition will use “justice” and in the Protestant tradition will use “righteous” both in the New and Old Testament. Is it theologically meaningful? I don’t think so.

    As an aside. Take a look at verse Jeramiah 33:16b in the NIV. I think this is a case of wishful translation. It is what we all want it to say but it is not what it says; that is:

    “his is the name by which it will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’”

    1. Mr. Jim has already pointed out the translations differ in the use of “justice” and “righteous”. It reminds of Ronald Knox’s “On Englishing the Bible”, where he laments using the word “righteousness” automatically for some Hebrew word or other.

      As far as “The Lord Our Righteous Savior” goes, translating that as “the LORD” (all caps!) is probably brow-raising enough, imo.

    2. Interesting point regarding “justice” vs. “righteousness”, Jim. I’ve noticed that various translations like to use “righteousness”, but I never connected it with a Catholic vs. Protestant distinction.

  2. I’m at my computer so I don’t have my printed bibles at hand and I found this passage confusion until I read the Knox version.

    1. Here’s the rendering from the Knox version for reference:

      Behold, he says, a time is coming when I will make good my promise to Israel and Juda; the day will dawn, the time be ripe at last for that faithful scion to bud from David’s stock; the land shall have a king to reign over it, giving just sentence and due award. When that time comes, Juda shall find deliverance, none shall disturb Jerusalem’s rest; and the name given to this king shall be, The Lord vindicates us.

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