Welcome to the continuing series comparing the Revised English Bible (REB) with the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) for the first reading (usually from the Old Testament) at each Sunday Mass. This series complements the comparisons earlier in 2018, which focused on the New Testament letters. I’m interested in exploring whether the REB’s translation style differs between the Old and New Testaments.

Sunday, January 6th, 2019 — Epiphany of the Lord

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6


Arise! Shine, for your light has come,
    the glory of the LORD has dawned upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth,
    and thick clouds, the peoples,
Upon you the LORD will dawn,
    and over you his glory will be seen.
Nations shall walk by your light,
    kings by the radiance of your dawning.

Raise your eyes and look about;
    they all gather and come to you—
Your sons from afar,
    your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall see and be radiant,
    your heart shall throb and overflow.
For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you,
    the wealth of nations shall come to you.
Caravans of camels shall cover you,
    dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All from Sheba shall come
    bearing gold and frankincense,
    and heralding the praises of the LORD.


Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for your light has come;

and over you the glory of the Lord has dawned.
Though darkness covers the earth
and dark night the nations,
on you the Lord shines
and over you his glory will appear;
nations will journey towards your light
and kings to your radiance.
Raise your eyes and look around:
they are all assembling, flocking back to you;
your sons are coming from afar,
your daughters walking beside them.
You will see it, and be radiant with joy,
and your heart will thrill with gladness;
sea-borne riches will be lavished on you
and the wealth of nations will be yours.
Camels in droves will cover the land,
young camels from Midian and Ephah,
all coming from Sheba
laden with gold and frankincense,
heralds of the Lord’s praise.

2 thoughts on “REB vs. NABRE: Old Testament (Epiphany of the Lord)”

  1. I like the REB better, and I think the casual reader will be able to make more sense of the passage from the REB translation than the NABRE.

  2. I like both translations in this case. The NABRE’s language seems more memorable to me, but I like the REB’s clarity. The REB adds subtle details that help reveal the meaning. A good example is the sentence near the end of the passage, where the NABRE says: “Caravans of camels shall cover you…” Every time I read it, this seems out of place. I’m often envisioning either Jerusalem or the people of Israel when I read the foregoing verses, so I’m confused when I read this. Caravans of camels will cover the people of Israel? The REB clarifies: “Camels in droves will cover the land…”

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