Back in 2017, the National Council of Churches (NCC) entered an agreement with the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) to revise the New Revised Standard Version. The original announcement was printed on page 7 of the 2017 SBL annual report here. There are three broad goals for the revision:

  • Incorporating new insights from text criticism and philology
  • Improving the textual notes and ensuring that notes consistently identify text-critical issues.
  • Improving style and rendering, consistent with the NRSV’s original translation philosophy: “as literal as possible, as free as necessary.”

Since the original announcement, it’s been difficult to track down any notable updates or news. I recently did some digging and found this job listing for section review leaders on the NRSV revision project. The original announcement listed the members of the editorial board. It appears that the section review leaders will work at an intermediate level, interfacing with scholars who are working on each individual book and making recommendations to the NCC Advisory Committee and publication staff.

This job description provides a lot more background information on the revision process. For anyone who is interested, I highly recommend taking a look. Here are a few details:

  • The working name for the new translation is the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition of the Bible (NRSV-UE).

There are six goals listed for the NRSV-UE:

  • Allow for normative interpretations of Christian faith and practices
  • Provide space for diverse forms of expression and belief
  • Honor the written traditions of the biblical Hebrew community and New Testament Church as the people of God
  • Recognize the life and centrality of Jesus Christ, the testimony of the prophets, and the teachings of the apostles in the scriptures as part of the witness to the traditions of revelation
  • Provide for ways to encourage individual and communal usage of scripture in prayer and spiritual practices, learning and liturgy, worship and witness in Christian faith communities
  • Affirm God’s will for unity while respecting the diversity of experiences, traditions, and visions presented in the Scriptures

15 thoughts on “Following the Trail of Breadcrumbs for the Upcoming NRSV Revision”

  1. I wonder if you know about the NRSV revision like it’s just only 66 books going to be revised or will it be with the deuterocanonical books/ Apocrypha books going to be revised? I think the current NRSV is still a good translation it don’t need a revision. Probably it’s all about the money

    1. It looks like the revision will cover the entire Bible, including the Apocrypha (with 3rd and 4th Maccabees and the other books in the Catholic Apocrypha which are present in the original NRSV). I agree that the current NRSV is quite good. I hope the revision builds on its strengths.

    2. There are in fact many places in the NRSV where the wording is awkward due to excessive reliance on inclusive language. In particular, the use of the word “mortals” instead of “men” makes it sound like an episode of “Bewitched”, or a fantasy novel. It is certainly not natural language. Not that I expect an update to address thosr problems, it is more likely that they will up the ante on inclusive language, rather than tone it down in favor of increased clarity.

  2. That’s fantastic! It’s good to know that they will revise all books include with the deuterocanonical books/ Apocrypha. I think it’ll be good for the ecumenism etc. Cheers

  3. Curious to see if it will be enough of a re-translation that it will require a new imprimatur for a Catholic edition, or if it will be deemed a mere editorial revision like the RSV-2CE.

    If it’s the former, it may be a LONG while before we see a Catholic edition.

  4. Thanks for sharing, James! These look like nice editions. I’m guessing that they will be the old NRSV, since the job listing linked above specifies that section review comments are due by May 21, 2021. I wouldn’t expect to see the NRSV-UE in print until the end of 2021 at the earliest.

  5. Given that they are only taking about two years to make revisions, it seems it will only be a very modest update, meaning a new imprimatur will probably not be necessary.

  6. I hope the footnotes in the NT noting the “faith of Christ” will update to “the faithfulness of Christ.” Examples are Roman’s 3:22,26; Galatians 2;20.

  7. It appears the the current NRSV relies more on Masoretic text, rather than Septuagint, for its Old Testament, as evidenced in Isaiah 7:14 regrading the Virgin.

    This is what bothers me about the NRSV because it seems to be more the product of liberal scholarship, and fronds more upon Masoretic text.

    Additionally, much of the text of the NRSV seems rather plain and unremarkable, as if describing some things dispassionately.

  8. I’m not Catholic. I use the 1971 edition of the RSV in my preaching and teaching. While the 1989 NRSV has some good points, overall, it is inferior to the RSV in terms of both accuracy and linguistic style. So I don’t have high hopes for the forthcoming NRSV revision. When completed, will it still be called the NRSV, or will it be marketed as a new version as the NRSV is different from the RSV?

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