According to the short, one-page introduction to the New Catholic Bible (NCB), the goal of the translators was to “render as perfectly as possible a translation of literal or formal equivalence. Numerous translations were consulted and decisions were made by consensus according to accepted principles of textual criticism.” What does this mean in practice for an English-speaking reader? And how does this new translation compare with the one we commonly hear at Mass (the NABRE in the United States)?

Based on a thorough review of Luke and Galatians, as well as reading sections of the Old Testament, this translation is generally easier to read than the NABRE. There are fewer run-on sentences and awkward turns of phrase. On the other hand, it uses words and phrases that are similar enough to the NABRE that it doesn’t draw attention to itself. It is quite possible to sit down and read extended sections in this Bible, while wondering how it reads so smoothly compared to the NABRE.

My verse-by-verse comparisons in Luke and Galatians (and spot checks in the Old Testament) revealed several broad features that distinguish the NCB’s style from the NABRE. In the following section, I’ll be using the word “formal” to refer to a word-for-word translation style that preserves Greek idioms and “dynamic” to refer to sense-for-sense translation that attempts to find equivalent English idioms and phrases, rather than preserving the original words and grammar in Greek.

1. The NCB is more dynamic than the NABRE when it comes to grammar and sentence construction. It breaks apart run-on sentences in Galatians and adds connecting phrases to improve the flow between sentences in Luke. The NABRE repeatedly begins sentences with “and,” “but,” “now,” “then,” and “for” (consistent with the original Greek), while the NCB rearranges sentences and uses a wider range of vocabulary (like “however,” “as a result,” etc.) The NABRE also stacks multiple prepositional phrases and dependent clauses at the beginnings of sentences, resulting in tortuous grammar. The NCB rearranges sentences to sound more natural.

2. The NCB often substitutes a person’s name instead of “he” or specifies “the crowd” or “the disciples” instead of “they,” while the NABRE uses “he” and “they” frequently and leaves it up to the reader to infer who the words refer to.

3. The NCB New Testament is more dynamic than the NABRE in choosing words and phrases that clarify the meaning of the Greek, rather than preserving the original Greek idioms and phrases. In a few cases, this produces a phrase with a narrower meaning than the corresponding phrase in the NABRE, which can be ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations. As a rule, this is not widespread and extensive, but it is definitely noticeable. One virtue of this approach is that it makes St. Paul’s letters easier to read.

4. On the other hand, the NCB Old Testament is not noticeably more dynamic than the NABRE in the passages I’ve checked. In some places, it chooses a slavishly literal rendering compared with an interpretive rendering in the NABRE, and in others, it chooses something more dynamic.

5. The NCB is wordy. This is not noticeable when reading the NCB on its own, but in a verse-by-verse comparison, there are a surprising number of cases when the NABRE is more concise and uses pithier, punchier wording than the NCB. This is not universal. In some cases the NABRE is wordier, but on average, the NCB uses more words to say the same thing.

6. The NCB allows New Testament tradition and theology to influence its translation choices in the Old Testament.

7. The NCB uses less inclusive language than the NABRE, but it still uses some. Overall, the NABRE uses a very moderate amount of inclusive language, and in some cases, the NCB uses “men” and “he” when the context is clearly not limited to males.

Here are examples of each of these seven qualities:

Grammar and Sentence Construction

The introduction to the 1986 NAB New Testament states: “The editors have consequently moved in the direction of a formal-equivalence approach to translation, matching the vocabulary, structure, and even word order of the original as closely as possible in the receptor language.” This can produce stilted grammar and sentence construction in English. The NCB uses broader vocabulary and rearranges sentences to improve the flow in English. Here are some examples:

Luke 2:4
NCB: Joseph therefore went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem…
NABRE: And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem…

Luke 3:15
NCB: As the people began to experience a feeling of expectancy, they all wondered in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.
NABRE: Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah.

Luke 6:13
NCB: Then, when it was daylight, he summoned his disciples and chose twelve of them…
NABRE: When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve…

Luke 7:2-3
NCB: A centurion who dwelt there had a servant whom he regarded highly and who was ill and near death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to ask him if he would come and heal his servant.
NABRE: A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave.

Luke 8:32-33
NCB: Now on the mountainside a herd of pigs was feeding, and they pleaded with him to let them go into the pigs. He allowed this. The demons then came out of the man and entered the pigs. Thereupon the herd charged down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
NABRE: A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them. The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

Luke 8:50
NCB: When Jesus heard this, he said…
NABRE: On hearing this, Jesus answered him…

Luke 9:39
NCB: A spirit seizes him and with a shriek suddenly throws him into convulsions until he begins to foam at the mouth. It hardly ever leaves him, continually torturing him.
NABRE: For a spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams and it convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it releases him only with difficulty, wearing him out.

Luke 11:7
NCB: …and the friend answers from inside: “Do not bother me…”
NABRE: …and he says in reply from within, “Do not bother me…”

Luke 24:19
NCB: When he asked “What things?” they replied, “The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth…”
NABRE: And he replied to them, ‘What sort of things?’ They said to him, ‘The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene…

Galatians 2:14
NCB: You are a Jew, yet you are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How then can you require the Gentiles to live like Jews?
NABRE: If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

Galatians 3:5
NCB: Does God give you the Spirit and work mighty deeds among you because you have kept the Law or because you believed what you have heard?
NABRE: Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?

Galatians 4:3
NCB: This is also true of us. As long as we were children, we were enslaved to the forces of this world.
NABRE: In the same way we also, when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world.

Substituting Names or Specifiers for “he” and “they”:

Luke 1:56
NCB: Mary remained with Elizabeth for about three months…
NABRE: Mary remained with her about three months…

Luke 9:34
NCB: …the three disciples became frightened as they entered the cloud.
NABRE: …they became frightened when they entered the cloud.

Luke 9:43
NCB: Amid the astonishment of the crowds at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples…
NABRE: While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples…

Luke 9:51
NCB: As the time drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus resolutely set his sights on Jerusalem…
NABRE: When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem

Translation Choices that Interpret or Clarify Meaning in the New Testament

Luke 1:43
NCB: And why am I so greatly favored that the mother of my Lord should visit me?
NABRE: And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Luke 1:65
NCB: All their neighbors were filled with awe…All who heard them were deeply impressed
NABRE: Then fear came upon all their neighbors…All who heard these things took them to heart

Luke 7:37
NCB: A woman of that town, who was leading a sinful life, learned that Jesus was a dinner guest in the Pharisee’s house.
NABRE: Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.

Luke 9:4
NCB: Whatever house you enter, stay there until you depart from that area.
NABRE: Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.

Luke 10:40
NCB: But Martha was distracted by her many tasks. So she came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me.”
NABRE: Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

Luke 11:17
NCB: …a house divided against itself will collapse.
NABRE: …house will fall against house.

Luke 12:35
NCB: Fasten your belts for service and have your lamps lit.
NABRE: Gird your loins and light your lamps
(Interestingly, the NCB translates this expression literally in 2 Kings 18:46: “The hand of the LORD was upon Elijah, and he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”)

Luke 18:34
NCB: Its meaning remained obscure to them…
NABRE: …the word remained hidden from them…

Galatians 1:1
NCB: Paul, an apostle — commissioned not by human authority or by any human being, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father…
NABRE: Paul, an apostle not from human beings nor through a human being but through Jesus Christ and God the Father…

Galatians 1:15
NCB: …God, who had set me apart even before my birth, called me through his grace…
NABRE: …[God], who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace…

Galatians 2:6
NCB: As for those who were regarded as men of importance—whether or not they actually were important makes no difference to me, nor does it matter to God—these men did not add anything further to my message.
NABRE: But those who were reputed to be important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those of repute made me add nothing.

Galatians 3:15
NCB: Brethren, allow me to give you an everyday example. Once a human will has been ratified, no one can make further additions to it or set it aside.
NABRE: Brothers, in human terms I say that no one can annul or amend even a human will once ratified.

Galatians 4:17
NCB: Others are seeking to curry your favor, but they are not sincere. They are attempting to alienate you from us so that you may make them the sole object of your attention.
NABRE: They show interest in you, but not in a good way; they want to isolate you, so that you may show interest in them.

Galatians 6:12
NCB: It is those who want to gain human approval who are trying to compel you to be circumcised…
NABRE: It is those who want to make a good appearance in the flesh who are trying to compel you to have yourselves circumcised…

Literal and Dynamic Renderings in the Old Testament

Genesis 4:1
NCB: Adam was intimate with Eve his wife and she conceived and bore a son named Cain.
NABRE: The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain
(Here, both translations choose an English equivalent to the Hebrew “knew his wife,” but the NCB’s rendering seems better. The NABRE’s choice is overly clinical.)

Genesis 4:11
NCB: Now may you be cursed far from the soil that drank the blood of your brother that you have shed.
NABRE: Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
(A combination of literal and dynamic renderings in both the NCB and NABRE for this single verse)

1 Samuel 1:13-16
NCB: Hannah was praying in her heart so that only her lips were moving; her voice could not be heard. Eli, therefore, thought that she was drunk. He said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Get rid of your wine!” Hannah answered, “Oh no, my lord! I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking either wine or liquor. I have been pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not account your handmaid to be a daughter of Belial. I have been speaking out of the abundance of my difficulties and my grief.”
NABRE: …for Hannah was praying silently; though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli, thinking she was drunk, said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Sober up from your wine!” “No, my lord!” Hannah answered. “I am an unhappy woman. I have had neither wine nor liquor; I was only pouring out my heart to the Lord. Do not think your servant a worthless woman; my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”
(Here, it appears that the NCB is choosing more literal phrases than the NABRE in each bold instance)

1 Kings 21:21
NCB: Behold, I will bring disaster down upon you. I will consume your descendants and I will cut off from Ahab all of those who pee against the wall, whether slave or free.
NABRE: I am bringing evil upon you: I will consume you and will cut off every male belonging to Ahab, whether bond or free, in Israel.
(Here, the NCB begins with an interpretive rendering which clarifies that the prophecy is talking about Ahab’s descendants, before using a slavishly literal rendering, which is relegated to footnotes in a wide variety of other translations.)

Wordy Translation Choices

Luke 2:1-2
NCB: In those days, a decree was issued by Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken throughout the entire world. This was the first such registration, and it took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
NABRE: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
(Extra words in bold)

Luke 7:41-43
NCB: “There were two men who were in debt to a certain creditor. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other owed fifty. When they were unable to repay him, he canceled both debts. Now which one of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I would imagine that it would be the one who was forgiven the larger amount.”
NABRE: “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

Luke 11:21-22
NCB: When a strong man is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when someone who is stronger than he is attacks and overpowers him, he carries off all the weapons upon which the owner relied and distributes the plunder.
NABRE:When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils.

Luke 19:15
NCB: …to ascertain what profit they had made through their trading.
NABRE: …to learn what they had gained by trading.

Luke 20:5
NCB: The question caused them to discuss it among themselves, saying…
NABRE: They discussed this among themselves, and said…

Galatians 1:10
NCB: Does it now appear to you that I am trying to gain the approval of human beings, rather than the approval of God? Am I seeking to please people?
NABRE: Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people?

Galatians 2:7-8
NCB: On the contrary, they realized that I had been entrusted with preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with preaching the gospel to the circumcised (for the one who worked through Peter in his mission to the Jews was also at work in me in my mission to the Gentiles).
NABRE: On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised, for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles.

Galatians 4:19-20
NCB: You are my children, and I am experiencing the pain of giving birth to you all over again, until Christ is formed in you. I truly wish that I could be with you now and be able to alter my approach to you, because I do not know what to think about you.
NABRE: My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you! I would like to be with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed because of you.

Galatians 4:24
NCB: These women represent two covenants. One covenant is given on Mount Sinai and bears children who are born into slavery; this is Hagar.
NABRE: These women represent two covenants. One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar.

Allowing New Testament Theology to Influence Old Testament Translation Choices

Isaiah 7:14
NCB: The virgin shall be with child, and she will give birth to a son, and she will name him Emmanuel.
NABRE: …the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.

Ezekiel 37:9
NCB: Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the Spirit. Prophesy, son of man, and say to the Spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe into these slain so that they may live.”
NABRE: Then he said to me: Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man! Say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.
(the Hebrew word can mean either “spirit,” “breath,” or “wind” according to the NABRE notes, but using a capitalized “Spirit” here suggests the Holy Spirit, who was not revealed definitively until the New Testament.)

Less Inclusive Language

Luke 6:35
NCB: Rather, you must love your enemies and do good to them, and lend without expecting any repayment. In this way, you will receive a great reward. You will be sons of the Most High…
NABRE: But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High…

Luke 8:8
NCB: He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
NABRE: Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.

Luke 9:25
NCB: What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
NABRE: What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?

Luke 12:5
NCB: Be afraid of the one who, after he has killed, has the authority to cast into Gehenna. I tell you, fear him!
NABRE: Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

Luke 16:15
NCB: That which is highly esteemed in the eyes of men is detestable in the sight of God.
NABRE: …what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.

42 thoughts on “In-Depth with the New Catholic Bible (Part 2 — Translation)”

  1. Thanks for the detailed and insightful review Marc. I’m liking the NCB. At least in the NT it seems better than the NABRE, in the snippets you shared. It feels like the NCB is what the NAB NT revision tried to be: somewhat literal, but still clear and pleasing to the average parishioner.

    Can you share some examples of classic, well known OT poetry? Ie bits of Psalms 1, 23, 51, things like that?



    1. Sure, Steve. I’ve read through a selection of psalms in the NCB, and I’ve enjoyed them. They easily lend themselves to prayer for me. Their sentences do not seem overly flowery, but the language is also formal and not jarring. On the other hand, I still notice some wordiness, compared with the Grail Psalms (which I’m used to from the Liturgy of the Hours). Here are some examples:

      Psalm 1:1-2:
      Blessed is the man
      who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
      nor stand in the way of sinners,
      nor sit in the company of scoffers.
      Rather, his delight is in the law of the LORD
      and on that law he meditates day and night.

      Psalm 23:1-4a:
      The LORD is my shepherd;
      there is nothing I shall lack.
      He makes me lie down in green pastures;
      he leads me to tranquil streams.
      He restores my soul,
      guiding me in paths of righteousness
      so that his name my be glorified.
      Even though I wander
      through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil

      Psalm 51:3-4:
      Have mercy on me, O God,
      in accord with your kindness;
      in your abundant compassion
      wipe away my offenses.
      Wash me completely from my guilt,
      and cleanse me from my sin.

      Psalm 63:7-9:
      I think of you while I lie upon my bed,
      and I meditate on you during the watches of the night.
      For you are my help,
      and in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
      My soul clings tightly to you;
      your right hand holds me fast.

      I would note that many of the NCB Psalms follow a traditional rendering where there is a well-known textual difficulty or they allow later theology to influence the translation. A few examples:

      Psalm 22:17b: “They have pierced my hands and my feet” — this is a very difficult passage to translate, with many textual variants. The Hebrew Masoretic Text reads “Like a lion, my hands and my feet,” and the Septuagint reads “they dug my hands and feet” where “dug” is a word that means “to burrow in the ground, to dig.” (details from the NET Bible notes) A very hard verse to translate, but the NCB has chosen the traditional rendering here.

      Psalm 23:6b: “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever and ever.”

      Psalm 139:24b: “…guide me on the way to eternity.”

  2. Great rundown, Marc. The NCB has never done a good job communicating what makes it distinctive and special–if it has made any attempt at all–but I know have a very clear idea of what makes this translation distinctive.

    If I didn’t know any better I would think this was a revision of the NAB(RE) to make it more liturgically acceptable.

    1. Catholic Book Publishing Company has, at this time, no specific plans, for other editions. In my last conversation with CBPC, in January, I was told that there are plans for a digital edition, and for smaller font editions possibly in the future. Yet, nothing in regard to a date.

      A caveat: Obtaining information from Catholic Book Publishing Company is sometimes like obtaining the key to a treasure map from a reluctant miner! Possible, but quite difficult!


      1. After reading through all this wonderful information I decided to buy a book copy of this translation.
        I found a wonderful “Saint Joseph Edition- New Catholic Bible” that has become my Bible of choice.
        This translation has also got me back to reading the Bible itself more and more each day which is good for me to do. After all I am a retired professor of Biblical Theology (Th.D).

        Thank You all again for a GREAT resource here online!
        Br. William C Th.D.

  3. It sounds to me like we Catholics finally may have an equivalent to the NIV translation that’s not overly formal and not too dynamic. I only own the NT but I like what I’ve read very much. I can’t wait for other editions to be released. Come on CBPC get to it…

  4. Marc, This is fantastic. Thanks for all the work you put into it. I’ve been enjoying the NCB very much, but it reminds me that no translation is the perfect fit. I think it reads so much smoother than the NABRE, which I find clunky in places (though in others, especially in the letters of Paul, I like it a lot). I’ve always thought the New Jerusalem Bible and the recent Revised NJB do a better job than the NABRE when it comes to utilizing moderate inclusive language that doesn’t obscure the meaning of the text.

    I was surprised to find in your comparison that I preferred the more literal parts of the NABRE in places. I appreciate it when translations retain the idioms, even if they are a bit obscure to the modern ear (such as with girding the loins).

    I’m using the ESV Catholic edition more than anything right now because I appreciate the literalness. For example, I’ve always appreciated that the ESV and RSV describe the prodigal son’s conversion experience (cf Luke 15) this way: “he came to himself,” rather than the typical “he came to his senses” of so many newer versions, including the NABRE and the NCB. “He came to himself” captures the depth of change better. Isn’t the return from sin much more aptly described as a coming to oneself? A reintegration, a making whole that which was scattered by sin? I also prefer how they describe that Jesus “opened his mouth” as he began the Sermon on the Mount (cf Matthew 5), rather than the more common, modern, “he began to speak.” There’s a deeper meaning to the former expression, especially considering that in the previous chapter Jesus tells the Tempter that human beings live by every word that comes from the mouth of God (in the temptation scene).

    But back to the NCB. I like the natural flow of the text, and it seems accurate from what I’ve read so far. It does a nice job with the psalms, too. For the word “know” in the sense of sexual intimacy, it uses “intimate” to describe what’s described in the NABRE as “intercourse,” which may be accurate, but boy does it lack the poetry. (I wish all would just use “know,” as do the ESV, RSV, and NRSV, and assume we can figure out what it means). The notes seem solid, and I prefer them by a longshot to those of the NABRE, especially for the New Testament.

    The Bible is big and bulky. I wish they had a medium-sized edition, as they have for the NABRE. And it’ll never happen, but I wish they had a genuine leather edition (premium would be better, and even less likely). The type on the CBPC bibles isn’t at all elegant, but I don’t mind it. It’s easy to read. I appreciate the supplements, even if some of the paintings are cheesy old school. I’m glad I have it overall.

  5. Great comparison, thank you. Surprisingly, I prefer how the 1986 NT reads in most of your examples, except where it errors on the side of terrible inclusive language choices (like “human beings”). This does cement my feeling that whenever the re-re-re-re-re-revised NAB is finished in ~2025 it will have been worth the long wait. The 2011 Old Testament is certainly the best modern translation I’ve come across (even though there are some clumsy phrases like “had intercourse with”). The New Catholic Bible doesn’t seem to offer much besides less inclusive language, which, while a good thing, isn’t unique and can be found in numerous other Catholic Bibles.

    1. I don’t think it matches the REB’s beauty and flow. I enjoy reading St. Paul’s letters in the REB, because the language flows so incredibly well. The REB translators managed to render Paul in a very conversational style that is a joy to read. On the other hand, the REB substitutes explanatory terms like “unspiritual nature” for “flesh” in Paul’s letters, while the NCB keeps the flesh/spirit contrast in place.

      Here’s a great example illustrating the difference between the two in Galatians 5:13-15:

      NCB: Brethren, you were called to freedom. However, make sure that you do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Instead, serve one another in love. For the entire Law can be summed up in a single commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you continue biting and tearing one another to pieces, at least be on your guard lest you be consumed by one another.

      REB: You, my friends, were called to be free; only beware of turning your freedom into license for your unspiritual nature. Instead, serve one another in love; for the whole law is summed up in a single commandment: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ But if you go on fighting one another, tooth and nail, all you can expect is mutual destruction.

  6. The comparison to the NIV from Leighton seems apt.

    Like Leighton, I too have been reading from the ESV-CE lately, for the same reasons. I appreciate the literalness in certain cases, for example “he came to himself.” I’m willing to work a little harder to understand those bits because the payoff in added nuance is worth it to me. At the same time, I appreciate that the ESV improved parts of the RSV that were arbitrarily hard to understand, because it used old or awkward English. The ESV-CE strikes a good balance for me.

    But that’s just me. It sounds like the NCB would be a great translation for many, maybe even a majority of Catholics. I know I’m going to get a copy.

    Thanks again for the great review Marc – keep em’ coming!

    (Digression: the rebound ATC font is too small for me. That keeps me from reading the ESV-CE for long stretches. I may pick up the Augustine ESV-CE for the bigger font. It is bigger right?)


    1. I own both and yes the Augustine ESV-CE is a slightly larger font. My 54 year old eyes can read it without any major issues. The ATC ESV-CE is too small for me.

  7. Thank you sir, for this highly anticipated analysis! As a “Bible nut” myself, I am excited whenever a new translation is released and, as many others have noted, I am amazed that CBP seems to have kept this one quiet. I used to work in a Catholic bookstore and I had to search to find any info on it!

    Be well and keep up the good work.

  8. The text seems wonderful.

    But I’ll *always* defer to an approved translation that has a Protestant readership too for the sake of credibility when quoting online. My go-to will remain the RSV-2CE, but I’m a fan of the ESV-CE and NLT-CE too. Even the RNJB would enjoy more ecumenical street cred, at least with mainline Protestants.

    -the bindings are UGly
    -do they print any that AREN’T giant type editions? << Says a lot about who they think their market is

  9. One thing I forgot to mention is that the NCB uses the term “netherworld” in both the Old and New Testaments. For example, Psalm 139:8: “If I take my rest in the netherworld, you are also there.” And Luke 16:22-23: “The rich man also died and was buried. In the netherworld, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham, far off, and Lazarus by his side.”

    1. Good catch! This sure looks like a typo. For those who don’t have a copy, the NCB’s translation of Acts 18:25 is: “and he had been instructed in the Way of the Lord. Filled with spiritual fervor, he spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he had experienced only the baptism of God.” Every other English translation I can access at the moment refers to the baptism of John in this verse, not the baptism of God. The NET Bible’s notes do not mention any textual variants here either.

    2. Oh, no! That’s (Acts 18:25) a GLARING mistake! It drives me crazy when they miss that sort of thing.

      To Christopher’s point, I hadn’t considered it, but yes, the fact that this bible is only available in giant type does indeed say something about the anticipated audience. Ouch.

      Hopefully, this translation will gain enough readership that they’ll find it worthwhile to publish a medium edition. I’m not holding my breath because aside from us Bible-nuts, who else even knows about it?

  10. Christopher,

    I’ve been reading the RSV-2CE lately. The ESV-CE spoiled me and made it hard to go back to the archaic language in the RSV, but the font in my copy is too small for me. The regular Ignatius 2CE works: it reads nice, the font size is just big enough for me, and the font and paper combination is very pleasing to my eye. I’m enjoying reading from it.


    1. Yeah. If it were my preference alone, I’d probably default to ESV-CE, although there’s really no edition with acceptable study notes.

      But I stick with the 2CE as an ordinariate member because it’s the text we use for our mass lectionary.

        1. I just bought the ‘Bible in a Year’ from Augustine Institute. Cheaper than the ‘Great Adventure Bible’ (and in stock) with great support. It’s 29 bucks on Amazon.

  11. Re “render as perfectly as possible a translation of literal or formal equivalence. Numerous translations were consulted and decisions were made by consensus according to accepted principles of textual criticism.” —

    Did they translate from the original Hebrew and Greek, while comparing with other translations? Or did they translate from other translations, eclectically? Iow is this a translation of translations, or a translation from the original languages?

  12. Thanks for the psalm quotations Marc. I missed them earlier. I like what I see here. The NCB does seem like a better NABRE, at least in terms of the style. “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (NCB) sounds more natural in contemporary English than “In green pastures he makes me lie down.” Biblehub interlinear indicates that the NABRE word order follows the original Hebrew more closely.

    “So that his name may be glorified” is longer than “for his name’s sake” but is more clear perhaps? That’s another example of the NCB being just a bit wordier as you said.

    Overall I really like it – formal but not flowery, clear, and natural sounding.

    I do worry that this may be a low budget operation. Will the typos get fixed? Are there lots more typos waiting to be discovered?

    1. My guess is that the typos are relatively rare. I read Luke and Galatians VERY carefully, and I didn’t find a single typo in those books. It’s hard to know if CBPC will consider it worthwhile to correct the typos that exist. If it means redesigning pages and altering typesetting, they might decide that it isn’t worthwhile.

  13. I want to like the New Catholic Bible. But, its translators err too often in the direction of interpreting the text, rather than translating it.

    For example:
    * Lk. 14:16: Yes, “deipnon” can mean: “banquet”. So, no problem. But, the Greek says, “big, large, great”. The N.C.B.’s translation, “sumptuous”, seems to me to extend the meaning beyond what the text says.
    * Gn. 1:5: “This was the evening and the morning of the first day”. This seems to be based on the King James version: “And the evening and the morning were the first day”. But, why? The Hebrew simply states: “There was evening and there was morning. Day One”. Also, the N.C.B.’s rendtion just sounds weird.

    They also drop out words unnecessarily.

    For example:
    * Lk. 14:2: “In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy . . . ” Where is the “behold” at the start (literally): “And, behold, there was some man with dropsy sitting infront of Him”.

    As for the notes, they are okay, though . . . : Ps. 93 is called a “Psalm of the Kingdom”. I have only heard this type of Psalm called an “Enthronement Psalm”. Maybe, this is new terminology (?). Also, both the N.C.B. and N.A.B.R.E. mistranslate Ps. 93:1 as: “The Lord is king”. Fail! The Hebrew says: “The Lord rules [lit., has ruled]”. The latter translation, at least, admits to its mistranslation in the notes; the former does not.

    As I say above: I WANT to like the N.C.B. But, frankly, I do not trust the translation. I want a translation that is both readable and accurate. The N.C.B. just does not seem to be that translation. Maybe, in the future — but, not now.

  14. I found out about this translation when looking for a New Testament audiobook. For the record, the recording of the NCB NT is great! Anyway… I’ve been thumbing through the translation a little, and noticed a couple of things of interest to manuscript nerds. First, the NCB uses the Greek II recension of Tobit (the longer Sinaiticus version), correcting one of the few weak points of the RSV-2CE (which uses the shorter Greek I text). Second, the NCB utilizes Papyrus 66 for the Gospel of John, emphasizing the Divinity of Christ in John 1:19. Also, the NCB corrects the infamous (yet easy to read-around) RSV translation of Genesis 22:18 (NCB reads: All the nations of the earth shall be blessed through your descendants). I suppose using the more-literal “seed” rather than “descendants” would better-emphasize the Christological dimension more, but I think it’s a pretty obvious Messianic prophecy…

    So, those are just a couple of things I noticed. The NCB is sort of like an in-house unapologetically-Catholic ESV that doesn’t have cringy renderings of Genesis 3:16 and 1 Tim 3:15. It uses newer manuscript evidence than the RSV-2CE, though it loses a touch of the KJV “majesty” that is retained in the RSV-OG, CE, and 2CE. That being said, it stands firmly in the line of the Tyndale-KJV tradition in terms of employing traditional renderings (In the beginning was the Word, etc.). So, it’s sort of an interesting cross of the Catholicity and reliability of the RSV-2CE, the manuscript superiority of the ESV, and the readability and overall pleasantness of the NIV. It’s too bad the marketing on this translation is so poor, because this could really be a popular text! I might be spending some good time with this translation in the coming months (or years!).

  15. In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t recommend Catholics to use Protestant translation like from the KJV-RSV line of tradition.
    I think it should be of utmost importance to be supporting a translation like the NCB which is a very fresh and more “thoroughly” Catholic translation, and as an alternative to the NAB-RE (especially if you don’t like it’s textually critical notes). Tell this to Trent Horn or Jimmy Akin who use the RSV-2CE, I just don’t agree we Catholics should be using Protestant-based Bibles just for the sake of ecumenism or academic recognition. I see something wrong with subscribing to the things that don’t respect Catholic theology and teaching, for example the fact that a Protestant translation doesn’t contain the 7 extra books that we Catholics hold to be fully Sacred Scripture, it’s actually pretty sad.
    I’ll only use a Bible that I know is Catholic because to me it’s important that I support the Catholic Bible publishers who’s business is threatened from this mix of individual preference in choosing a Catholic Bible to read among us laity.

    1. R. Grant Jones has an analysis video of this Bible his YouTube channel, where he details the particular character of the translation. Looks to be Masoretic with significant LXX influence for the OT. For the new, it’s clearly a “critical text” translation, but it veers much closer to the Majority Text (Robinson-Pierpont) than most eclectic texts do. Something I really appreciate about the NCB is that the “disputed” verses are bracketed, but left in the main text. This is especially noticeable in Sirach. (For what it’s worth, that’s actually a reason I love the NKJV: it’s not a critical text translation, but the notes tell you any time there’s a significant variant. Here’s hoping for an edition with Deuterocanon at some point…)

      1. I honestly don’t see why Thomas Nelson can’t easily do an “NKJV with Apocrypha” edition. All they’d really need to do is copy and paste the deuterocanonical book texts from their Orthodox Study Bible and call it a day.

      2. Fascinating! I had no idea the NCB had these characteristics, though now that you mention it, I feel like I did notice a certain deference to older translators in the text, though I couldn’t put my finger on why I had that impression.

        The NCB is really something unique in the Catholic Publishing world! It’s a shame it’s flying so far under the radar! I’d be willing to bet half the people who bought it probably thought it was a NAB and probably still do as it sits on their shelf collecting dust.

      3. I still refer to my NKJV for that reason. It’s amazing so few translations caught on to that very helpful feature!

  16. can anyone tell me what the difference is between the catholic truth societies new catholic bible and this one thank you

    1. They are two different translations. The CTS new Catholic Bible uses the Jerusalem Bible translation with the Grail psalms. It was designed to be similar to what Catholics in the UK heard in scripture readings at Mass (the Lectionary in the UK used to be based on the Jerusalem Bible with the Grail Psalms).

      The New Catholic Bible (NCB) which I reviewed in this post is a new translation published by Catholic Book Publishing Corp. It is not used in the liturgy, but it has been approved by the Church for private reading and devotion.

      1. The CTS NCB also removed the original JB’s extensive notes and replaced them, to my knowledge, essentially with the notes that would become part of the RNJB.

  17. You missed a crucial comparison verse which is actually the biggest mistranslation example, and the NABRE follows the traditional blunder rather than correcting as the NJB, NCB have done. Gal 3:21

    (NCB) If the Law that had been given had the power to bestow life, then righteousness would have come through the Law.
    (NJB) If the Law that was given had been capable of giving life, then certainly saving justice would have come from the Law.

    NABRE maintains the traditional “if a law had been given”, which falsely implies that either the Moses law was never given, or that it was never able to give life; in this case, God is demonstrated as a deceiver. This is the Marcionite and Valentinus gnostic interpretation of the Greek ei gar edothe nomos ho dynamenos. The right translation should be “if the given law is(still) able to give life” (compare 2:21) a present tense temporal inability due to being rendered inoperable, since the whole argument in repeated points has been that the law is no longer able to impart life after the coming of the promised seed, the superior grace covenant which abolished the law. The law was not defective, neither man was defective in ability to obey the law. These gnostic interpretations that Jerome started all imply blasphemous claims against God and give way to the gnostic/protestant lawlessness faith alone doctrines. Kindly write articles on this issue to urge NAB committee to correct the blunder and even add a detailed footnote. I can write a lot more on this and would love to send them an email, but not sure if it even will reach them.

  18. Years have passed since the initial, excellent analysis conducted by our host. And I am disappointed that Catholic Book Publishers has apparently fell asleep on this translation. Yes, they have introduced a few more editions. But despite a website remodel, they still seem unwilling to discuss the NCV! Why no “from the translators” article? Why no revealing who did the translation? I emailed them regarding the typos and they didn’t even respond.

    I want to like this translation, and have picked up a copy, but it irks me that the NCV is so draped in mystery.


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