The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference held its Spring General meeting last week, and they discussed revising the Lectionary for Mass. Last year, the bishops of England, Scotland, and Wales selected the English Standard Version — Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) for a new lectionary to replace the current Jerusalem Bible lectionary that has been in use for multiple decades. The Irish Bishops are considering the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB). Here is a link to a press release from the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference. They are seeking feedback and comments from Irish Catholics on the proposed change.

32 thoughts on “Irish Bishops are Considering RNJB for New Lectionary”

  1. Interesting, I will say whatever flaws the RNJB has, it will probably be more amendable to edits than the RSV.

    1. That’s a difficult question to answer. The ESV-CE is considered more “literal” and “word-for-word,” but the RNJB is a bit more conversationally smooth in English while still being accurate. The RNJB is more similar to the JB, which is currently used in the Irish lectionary. For a lectionary, my personal opinion is that the RNJB would be a better choice. A literal translation like the ESV-CE is good for study, but for reading aloud at Mass, I think the RNJB would be superior.

  2. Given that the Vatican rejected the NJB for the liturgy, and the NRSV doubles down on the things that led to that rejection, this may prove to be a fruitless effort.

    1. Why? Both the U.S and Canadian Lectionaries use inclusive language. The RNJB is not the NRSV or NJB and could also be edited further.

      Also the CDW isn’t exactly the same now. And MAGNUM PRINCIPIUM is the law of the land.

      1. That was a weird autocorrect, it should be RNJB. The NJB was rejected for a number of reasons, and the RNJB not only doesn’t correct the features that led to the rejection but it actually doubles down on those features. I know Pope Francis is basically the John Spong of Catholicism, but still, even given his overt hostility to orthodox or traditional Catholicism, I don’t think he is quite liberal enough to reverse all the directives that led to the rejection of the NJB, I think that is a bridge too far even for him.

        1. Is there any record of why the NJB was rejected? And I must say, I’m quite puzzled by your comment that the RNJB doubled down on the features that led to the NJB being rejected. What features? The RNJB was revised with the goal of bringing it closer to the norms in Liturgiam Authenticam. Now that the Church’s approach to translations has been relaxed slightly with the promulgation of Magnum Principium, I think it’s entirely reasonable to think the RNJB could be approved — at most with very minor revisions.

          In my view, the NJB has been unfairly maligned and dismissed by many Catholics. Its use of inclusive language is moderate compared to the NRSV. The Congregation for Divine Worship eventually approved the NRSV lectionary for liturgical use in Canada, so I think the RNJB could certainly be approved.

          1. Marc, I agree with your view of the NJB being unfairly maligned and dismissed. It’s recognized in biblical scholarship (Catholic and Protestant) as an excellent translation, albeit more on the dynamic side than, say, the RSV or NRSV, and it’s definitely no paraphrase. It’s certainly a significant improvement in terms of accuracy over its predecessor, the JB. In the same way, the RNJB, in my view, is an improvement over the NJB. It is more literal without being wooden. It is certainly not as literal as the RSV, etc., but it comes close. We see this for instance in the letters of Paul and the RNJB’s use of “flesh” rather than the NJB’s “self-indulgence.” (I actually like the former approach in this case.) We also see Mary being “full of grace” in the Gospel of Luke, which admittedly is a debatable translation choice.

        2. ” I know Pope Francis is basically the John Spong of Catholicism”… that is not true :).

          I guess it would be helpful to know what sort of problems you are specifically referring to in the RNJB? I assume it is primarily inclusive horizontal language. The Vatican previously okayed that, at least in principal. The NABRE uses it as does the lectionary for Canada.

          Though I personally think some of the RNJB constructions involving inclusive language are odd, and I dislike other stylistic features, I don’t think this will be an issue with the powers that be, and if they are, they could probably be more easily edited.

          My personal choice for a lectionary would be the RSV-CE 2nd (perhaps edited with some mild inclusive language), or a more edited ESV-CE or NRSV-CE.

          But with the NRSV-CE, the Vatican kept changing goal posts with requests for edits. The RSV-CE 2nd edition never took off, perhaps because of lack of inclusive language? Well the ESV-CE is fine, but some of translation choices bother me, particularly in terms of ecclesiology.

          1. Just a point of order here, the RSV2CE was accepted as the sole lectionary for the Anglican Ordinariates, and I believe it was also accepted as the English language lectionary for some African diocese.

            And my understanding for those acceptances was that the RSV2CE was pretty much accepted “as is” in that the lectionary readings more or less match exactly what you would read if you looked up the same passages in any RSV2CE Bible you pulled off the shelf, (aside from say the insertion of a preparatory “The” when the lectionary starts its reading in the middle of a passage and other minor things like that). This is not something that could not be said about the NAB and the NRSV lectionaries, and it sounds like something that won’t be true of the ESVCE lectionary either. I don’t know if anyone else cares about that kind of thing, but it’s always impressed me about the RSV2CE and it’s lectionary, that it was able to receive approval for use in the liturgy “as is,” though I guess that shouldn’t be surprising seeing as my understanding of the history of the RSV2CE is that it began life as an ad hoc revision to the original RSVCE to obtain approval from the Vatican as a lectionary and was only later compiled into a full Bible.

          2. I agree Pope Francis is NOT the John Spong of Catholicism. He is Peter, the Rock on which Jesus builds His Church!

        3. Biblical Catholic,
          1. The NJB was rejected by whom?
          2. Pope Francis is the John Spong of Catholicism?
          3. How exactly is the Pope hostile to orthodoxy or traditionalism?
          4. What makes you think that the Pope would even reverse “directives” that went against the NJB for liturgical use?

        4. I suggest limiting the discussion to the NJB and RNJB. This is not the forum to engage in debates about Pope Francis.

          1. Is this Catholic Bible Talk or sedevacantists talk? Pope Francis and those who came before him and will follow him MATTER!

  3. This looks a little like particularism, although the RNJB has pre-V2 ancestry with a French text of the ’50s with the Jerusalem Bible pre-dating the New Mass like a few years. It has a familiarity, and a revision should reinforce and improve on that. If that is how they go, there will be some good and bad, but the good should outweigh the bad.

  4. “Pope Francis is basically the John Spong of Catholicism.” That is the funniest sentence (or sentence fragment) that I have read so far in 2021. Hah!

    1. Likely when enough people purchase the current edition so that they can be assured that there is a market for a new edition.

  5. How does the RNJB render 1 Cor 13?
    Does it dare to say “Charity” or does it stick with “Love?”

    Does ANY modern Catholic translation opt for “Charity?”

      1. From what sample texts I can find online, it seems only the Douay and Knox render it (from the Vulgate) as “charity.”

        Suddenly interested in Knox. 🙂

        [Although I still can’t find samples of the New Catholic Version from Catholic Book Publishing.]

    1. That’s a good pick up Chris the only other translations are KJV and i think you mentioned Knox along with DR . This is a big deal as described in the CCC 1822-1829.In 1 corinthians 13 the word charity just sounds and fits better than love . Love gets thrown around and missed used a lot .

  6. FWIW, having been praying with the ESV-CE for the past few months, I got my own copy of the RNJB yesterday and am really enjoying it.

    I like the writing style: less rigid and more natural than the RSV lineage, while still inspiring trust that I’m reading a formal translation.

    I really like the layout: full-page, and with a feature I haven’t seen before – italicizing specific words and phrases when the NT quotes an OT reference in its body.

    1. Ditto, I’ve always liked all the Jerusalem Bibles: JB, NJB, and RNJB. I also enjoy reading commentary by Hans Wansbrough, some of which are available on

      1. I don’t know. I got one of those copies of the RNJB single column and used it as my “Bible in a year,” in that I set the goal a few years back to read through one Bible translation every year.

        My first ever attempt to read the Bible cover to cover was with the NJB, oh gosh, about 15 years ago. I didn’t make it, but I did recall loving the flow and the ease of reading of the translation, it was so different from the NAB that I tired first, and the RSV:CE that I ended up actually finishing later.

        I’d say that overall I found that the RNJB improved a lot of things I already liked about the NJB, and eliminated a lot of things that used to bother me about it (especially the use of the Divine Name, I was very grateful that was not done in the RNJB).

        But I’d say that Wansbrough‘a notes were a real mixed bag for me. Sometimes I was extremely impressed with how brief yet illuminating he could be with his commentary, completely reorienting my views on passages I’ve read dozens of times before in just a sentence or two. Other times his commentary took me completely out of my prayerful reading of scripture by explicitly calling some passages sexist and or otherwise morally deficient. And I don’t think he was necessarily wrong in every instance he did this, I think a case could be made, for some of those passages, it just wasn’t what I wanted to read about when I’m trying to pray with scripture. It also just felt a little weird that he seemed to be so at ease with judging scripture by his own modern standards. Anyway, again I’m not saying that’s indefensible in some instances, but it felt like the kind thing that should be part of an extensive academic commentary, like say the New Oxford Annotated Bible, and not a few lines at the bottom of a Bible that I assume was aimed at a broader readership.

        Just my two cents.

        1. I recognize what you mean, but it doesn’t bother me so far.

          For instance, I don’t find the concept of imprecatory psalms out of keeping with the Christian spirit, or something to apologize for. From his comments, it would appear he expected his readers to disagree. Still, when he talked about violent imagery that now seems out of keeping in today’s “more sensitive” times, it “took me out” of the analysis. Still, he then addresses it in a historical overview of the way the Church has interpreted Psalms over the years – allegorical, moral, historical-critical readings, and I didn’t feel “judged.”

          Also, to your point of his notes at times “taking you out of a prayerful reading,” it’s worth noticing: he repeatedly reminds the reader this translation is primarily designed to be read aloud.

          [See this interview we set up with him on Timothy’s precursor to this blog:

          I remember in grad school learning about how “silent reading” is a comparatively recent innovation, and that all of ancient history up through at least the early Renaissance, “reading” was always something done ALOUD… even when alone. To run a finger along a text automatically meant speaking what was written.

          I find this translation really lends itself to that way of reading again, and I’m speaking it to myself in my early prayer time, rather than just silently digesting.

          Not evaluating your statement. Just making a related observation.

          Lastly, today’s psalter was an acrostic psalm. As a poet, I was REALLY impressed that his introduction addressed the metrical schemes in Biblical Hebrew (comparing it to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sprung rhythm) and that this translation (from the New Grail Psalter) actually tracked the Hebrew alphabet that began each couplet.

  7. I think it’s necessary that Catholics adopt the Lectionary translation from a publisher/copyright that at least maintains an inter confessional or nonsectarian attitude. It’s downright weird for Catholics to all of a sudden begin using an Evangelical Protestant (sectarian) translation for the basis of their Catholic edition to use in a Lectionary. I’m starting to re-examine the NJB since it has a wider acceptance in the English speaking world than does the NAB-RE. Whereas the RSV-CE is just plain hard to read and the original (IB) is out of print. I don’t like the idea that the second edition of it doesn’t explain what was modified in it, nor does Ignatius Press host any other translation aside from the new ESV-CE which I disagree with entirely.
    If the (adapted) JB was fit for proclamation in England then certainly the NJB and RNJB are fit for study since they improve on their literalness. Overall the history of the JB-NJB-RNJB is admirable compared to both the Authorized Version line and Confraternity-NAB line of traditions.
    How much less “literal” is the NJB compared to the NAB-RE anyway? If anything the RNJB is the more global equivalent to the American NAB-RE.

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