As Timothy reported in a recent post, the Augustine Institute has listed a standalone copy of the Gospel of Matthew on their Catholic Market website. The book will be the first installment of the brand-new Catholic Standard Version translation. The Augustine Institute plans to release more information on the translation shortly, and I’m interested to learn more. In the meantime, they have provided a few photos of the Gospel of Matthew showing the front and back cover and the text layout:
59 thoughts on “Pre-Release Photos: Catholic Standard Version Gospel of Matthew”
For reasons stated in the other thread, I’m uneasy about some of the particulars of the translation (Matthew 1:19 was brought up as an example; however, it’s worth remembering that, in its present form, the NABRE uses “righteous” and “divorce” in the text, although we’ll see if that remains the case in the 2025 edition). If the existence of this translation is purely to facilitate a future Catholic Study Bible from the Augustine Institute that couldn’t be done with the ESV-CE, then I say bring it on.
I agree! Bring it on!
Ok I just finished the AI webinar about the CSV project. The question many of you have was answered right away by Dr. Blum in that the main goal of this translation, from a business standpoint, is that copyright restrictions on other translations prevent AI from doing what they want to do, which is get into the full Bible market. This translation has plans in the next 8 years, of launching individual Gospel books, then a NT which will be in many formats, leather and their own study Bible. The whole Bible should be released by 2030, according to their plans.
Dr. Pitre discussed the different versions (RSV-CE, NRSV)not being Catholic enough and, I thought most striking, the ESV-CE as not being a real Catholic Bible as it was translated by Protestants. (The only question they did NOT answer live was mine: What happens now to the Augustine Bible in ESV-CE?) The vibe I got was that those of you tending toward the difficulty of Crossway might have been onto something.
Anyway there were translation examples and I liked all of them
“Hail, full of Grace” in Luke 1:28 and “How shall this be since I do not know man” in Luke 1:34
The stated goal was to translate from the latest texts and knowledge with a Catholic viewpoint in both OT and NT.
We shall see.
Thanks for the summary. Did they say anything about working from the ASV? A few people in the earlier thread assumed that it was based on the ASV, but I would think that ASV wouldn’t be “Catholic enough” either, if they rejected the other translations in the ASV lineage.
Completely new translation
>the different versions (RSV-CE, NRSV) not being Catholic enough
Well, as it’s been said, they might want to look back at their Matthew 1:19, because the RSV-CE definitely sounds “more Catholic” than the CSV. In fact, as I pointed out the other day, even the King James sounds “more Catholic” in this verse than the CSV. Someone should probably let them know that before they print the full NT, if being the “most Catholic” translation is truly their goal. After all, plenty of translations go back and make tweaks between the fascicle stage and the final form.
>and, I thought most striking, the ESV-CE as not being a real Catholic Bible as it was translated by Protestants.
Wow. Way to bury your own product lol. I mean, a lot of us privately, and also not-so-privately, feel this re: the ESV, but wow. Honestly, I can’t picture Ignatius calling the RSV-2CE “not a real Catholic Bible as it [the original RSV] was translated by Protestants.” If anything, this tells fans of the ESV-CE that they should probably buy from Cambridge, import the SPCK, or even import the original from India. It also tells them that, if they’re looking for a reference edition and other such editions in the future, it’s probably going to come out of the UK, too, ’cause it ain’t coming from the Augustine Institute. Like how the NRSV-CE was Anglicized by default because of Canada, the ESV-CE’s future developments will clearly become catered to the UK.
As for the whole CSV Bible… well, I guess I’ll have to ask myself in seven years if I need another translation. Presumably, by then, my rotation will still be the RSV-2CE (hopefully with the full Study Bible), Challoner-Douay, Knox, and whatever the new NABRE will be called, paired with Word on Fire’s NRSV volumes. I’ll probably also have kids to concern myself with more than translations.
Anyway, two concerns come to me immediately:
(1) I really hope they’re working on the Study Bible at the same time as the translation. Or, better yet, they already have the material done because they expected to use it with the ESV-CE. Nobody wants to wait seven years for the Bible and then another seven years for the Study Bible.
(2) The NA29 Greek New Testament is expected to arrive next year, I believe. Is the Augustine Institute privy to the latest info there, using it for the CSV? Or will this end up being the last of the translations working from the NA28, still going years after the NA28 has been retired?
And as a final separate point, though I’m not holding my breath… I really, really pray they take the LXX/DSS/Church Fathers-priority approach when translating the OT I mentioned in the other thread, but… let’s be honest, that’s still a pipe dream for those of us who really want it. So many translations have had the chance to do it, and none of them have taken it. I’d even settle for Church Fathers’ interpretations/translations of verses as footnotes. But please, we all know what the Masoretic Text says. I can open the RSV, Robert Alter, and virtually every other Bible out there and read what the Masoretic Text says. If someone wants a “Church Fathers’ Old Testament,” they’re kinda stuck searching for verse quotations in the “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” or the “Fathers of the Church” series and mentally reconstructing how the Fathers read the passages.
“I really, really pray they take the LXX/DSS/Church Fathers-priority approach when translating the OT … we all know what the Masoretic Text says.”
AMEN! This would make for such a standout Bible that is truly “more Catholic” than the Protestant-originated translations. But alas, you are right–this sadly remains a pipe dream.
I know we’ve been speculating on the other thread that AI’s new CSV translation is a revision of the ASV. But now I’m not so sure.
The speculation stems from another reader finding an online version of a CSV translation at https://catholiclibrary.org/bible/search?CSV=y;sort=bibleBook
At first, it seemed like it must be one and the same as AI’s, but a closer look shows it’s a separate effort, and the similar titles are a coincidence. The Catholic Library’s “CSV” translates every book of the Bible, whereas AI’s so far only has Matthew.
But a closer look at the Matthews available shows they are all different translations.
-AI’s Catholic Standard Version uses “begot”
-Catholic Library’s CSV uses “engendered”
-The ASV itself uses “begat”
If I’m not mistaken, it’s the Catholic Library “CSV” that claims an ASV lineage, isn’t it?
So far as I can tell, AI never makes that claim.
AI’s CSV uses a similar “begot” to the ASV’s “begat,” so they may be related.
But maybe it’s an entirely new translation too? I guess time will tell.
Because it was translated by Protestants.
Guess I’m not either, then.
Can’t wait till they find out about the See of Peter then:
“And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them.” – Dei verbum 22
Bye Augustine Institute. Immediate unfollow. That’s kind of faith supremacy makes us all ugly.
If the ESV-CE is ‘not Catholic enough’ because it was translated by Protestants, wouldn’t that reasoning also apply to the RSV, NRSV, and even the NABRE (which has Protestants in the translation group)? I think even the Jerusalem Bible (or at least the New Jerusalem) had Protestant translators too.
Indeed, this kind of reasoning seems backward, Vatican II endorsed the idea of an ecumenical Bible, translated by Catholics and Protestants working together in order to avoid theological bias. Are we seriously going to go back to the idea of a purely sectarian Bible? How about adding notes attacking Protestants by name, maybe we can add notes calling Martin Luther the antichrist. How far back are we going to go, maybe the problem is translating from the original languages, let’s go back to the Vulgate, in which case, let’s just use the Douay Rheims.
For nearly 60 years, the Church has endorsed and tried to work towards the goal of a common ecumenical Bible produced by Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox working together to produce a Bible that everyone can use. Now we’re going to abruptly abandon that noble goal?
And by the way, the CSV is a revision of the 1901 American Standard Version (or more technically the “Revised Version of 1885 Standard American Edition” which is the name actually on the title page) is a Bible translated entirely by PROTESTANTS there was not a single Catholic on that committee,
You are in fire here. Agree with you 100%. As you say, it is indeed a “noble goal”.
“You are on fire here”…..should be. Autocorrect for the defeat… 🙂
I’ve heard that even the Douay Rheims, Challoner revision more or less copied portions of the KJV, so I wonder if it’s “Catholic enough”. I guess we could all just learn Latin and read the Vulgate.
Perhaps there is something to be said for a translation that’s by and for Catholics (perhaps), but like other commenters here, I don’t see any reason to discredit good translations that have Protestant origins.
The Douay Rheims was translated in full nearly 20 years before the KJV was even authorized. The Rheims NT was published in 1582, was used by the KJV translators (even though the preface doesn’t acknowledge this), and takes several verses directly from it.
Publication of the 1609 Douay OT was delayed by several years and was not published until 1609, still before the KJV, but much too late to influence the KJV.
It is true that the Challoner revision of the 1609 DR, published in the 18th century, does use the KJV as a source, among other translations, but still employed traditional Catholic translations (e.g. ‘do penance’ rather than ‘repent’).
Sad to know I bought an ESV-CE from them. Now I see they’re dumping them cheap on Amazon for far less than I paid. I should’ve gone with SPCK’s printing of it. To me this reeks of the continuing commercialization of the holy word of the Lord. If they were concerned with restrictions on their printing of study helps along with scripture, then why didn’t they go with the RSV-2CE, which seems to have no such issues and many such study and annotated versions. They also seem to have thrown Dr. Giszczak under the bus with their declaration of the ESV-CE being wrongfully inspired somehow. As it stands, I won’t be giving the Augustine Institute any more patronage.
I am still planning to use the ESVCE from this point on. I have grown to like it quite a bit. It does far more right than wrong. And remember that AI is the exclusive distributor of the ESVCE in the US. That isn’t going to change, not matter what happens over the next eight years with the CSV. Also, the ESV is the lectionary translation in the UK and India (among others). It isn’t going anywhere. IF you want something nicer than the bonded leather ESVCE, lets see what SPCK will be doing in the coming years as well as Cambridge. And there will be a Schuyler ESV w/ Apocrypha in a year.
I plan to pick and choose different resources related to the ESV, even if they are Protestant. There is a ton out there and one can be discerning in all this. I just don’t have the patience or desire for another bible.
“the ESVCE … does far more right than wrong… It isn’t going anywhere.”
I feel the same. I find that (aside from the archaic-languaged DRC) the ESV-CE is currently the best, most formal translation available to Catholics. The next best would be the RSV-2CE, but the RSV-2CE 1) is not as word-for-word as the ESV-CE, and 2) is not as complete as the ESV-CE, as it hasn’t been updated to include the longer text of Tobit.
I would love for a Catholic-originated translation like the CSV or NAB 3.0 to match or even eclipse the ESV-CE in terms of accuracy and formal renderings–but until that happens, I will continue to use and recommend the ESV-CE, regardless of who publishes it.
I intend to continue using the ESV-CE as well. To me it’s been highly profitable to my study of scripture, by being readable but still maintaining a lot of terminology that’s important for a deeper understanding of what’s being communicated in the text. It’s also made me appreciate books of the Bible that I never really had that strong of an opinion on before. Second for me would be the RSV-2CE, but its textual basis, especially in books like Tobit, is a bit too out of date for my liking, along with a few other quirks retained from the RSV that make it less of a smooth read at times. In future I won’t be buying my editions from AI, though. While my hardcover is nicely produced, I find their marketing of the CSV to seem somewhat dubious. If they had issues with producing a study edition of the ESV-CE, one wonders why they didn’t just print separated supplemental materials, such as the ones you mentioned from Protestant sources. One would think selling two or more supplemental books keyed to the ESV-CE instead of all in one editions with scripture would be just as profitable for them.
I like the ESV, and I recently bit the bullet and bought a copy of the Augustine Institute version, although I also have the 2008 ESV w/Apocrypha published by Oxford University Press. Either version is okay with me. If the ESV CE is being abandoned I think the problem is likely Crossway putting up obstacles.
As far as the RSV, the CE2 is owned by Ignatius Press, and Ignatius Press isn’t going to license it to another publisher, and the first Catholic Edition is widely available from Ignatius Press as well, while the 1973 Ecumenical Edition is published by Oxford University Press. There is simply no value for the Augustine Institute to enter into an already overcrowded RSV market crying ‘me too!’
I have zero problems with “Yet another translation”, I currently own, I don’t even know how many different Bibles, and dozens more translations of parts of the Bible. I probably buy an average of 2-3 Bibles every year, I’m looking for new translations. Have you heard of the Evangelical Heritage translation (published in 2019)? How about the International Standard Version (2011)? Or the Common English Bible? How about the JB Phillips translation of the New Testament (last edition 1972)? How about the Kleist-Lilly New Testament (an obscure translation by two Catholic priests from 1956)? How about Jewish translations of the OT, such as the one by Robert Alter, or two Jewish Publication Society translations (1917 and 1985)? Did you know that Hugh Schoenfield (author of the infamous book ‘The Passover Plot”) published his own translation of the New Testament emphasizing the Jewish influence on the text? I own all of them, and I have read most of them all the way through.
Quite a few publishers are using the RSV-2CE now (Ave Maria Press, Ascension Press, Midwest Theological Forum to name three that come to mind). I don’t see any significant impediment to publishing bibles with the RSV-2CE. I believe the rights to the RSV ecumenical edition are still owned by the National Council of Churches (just like the RSV-CE and the NRSV). They have allowed plenty of editions of the RSV-CE to be printed, including the Scepter Daily Bible, the Dynamic Catholic Bible, etc.
I share your general view on new translations. I find them interesting and exciting in many cases. But I do find myself questioning the CSV. Maybe in time I will find it a valuable resource. But for now, I find the limited information about it underwhelming. I’m interested in translation projects that attempt something new and different — a new window into a text that reveals different shades of meaning. Maybe the CSV will do that. But the limited information we’ve heard so far sounds like it is NOT trying to do much original. I don’t see how it will add much value over the already existing translations. We have plenty of formal-equivalence translations that are slightly different from each other (RSV-CE, RSV-2CE, ESV-CE, NABRE, NCB, RNJB). If the objection is that many of these translations don’t follow traditional renderings, like “full of grace” in Luke 1:28 and “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14, the RSV-2CE already has those.
But again, the RSV CE is widely available, there is little appeal for the Augustine institute to publish yet another version. if I owned a publishing company, I would want to own my version of the Bible that was available only from my company and no one else. This is no doubt why the Augustine Institute seized on the ESV CE.
Now, it is likely (we don’t know for certain unless they say so, but knowing Crossway, it seems likely) that Crossway is a gigantic pain to deal with and they are putting up obstacles. So they may have concluded that it would be easier to create their own translation that they have complete control over, if so, it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.
I think everyone knows the story of the Christian Standard Version, which originated because the Southern Baptist Convention decided that Zondervan (owner of the US copyright of the NIV) was too much of a pain to deal with and created their own translation so they don’t have to deal with any independent company, or pay licensing fees to use it in churches. They first tried to buy the copyright to the NASB from the Lockman Foundation, but when negotiations fell apart, it decided to make its own translation.
We don’t know the real story behind the vast majority of translations, but I think “we need our own version so we don’t have to deal with a third party” is probably the real impetus for more than 90% of them. It is definitely the real reason for the existence of both the RSV and the NAB. (The RSV was authorized largely because the ASV copyright was scheduled to expire only a few years after the publication of the RSV, the ASV entered the public domain in 1957, only 5 years after the publication of the RSV)>
“I have zero problems with ‘Yet another translation'”
That is how I feel as well, though I’m mostly interested in more formal translations. My collection is mostly made up of editions of the D-R, DRC, RSV-2CE, and ESV-CE. I’m thinking about getting an NCB at some point as well. For me, the NABRE’s footnotes are too anti-Catholic, and the NRSV-CE goes too far with language castration.
The most obscure translation I own is the Literal Standard Version, which is based on the Textus Receptus. I purchased it because I wanted a “literal” translation that preserves the original verb tenses, and the LSV is the only one I know of that has an Apocrypha available as well.
I’m excited for both the CSV and the NAB 3.0, and can’t wait to see how they compare with other translations.
Actually, the LSV “Apocrypha” is huge, the full version contains 120 books. I own that version precisely because it is the only version I am aware of that has such a vast collection of books, many not accepted by any Church
What makes me laugh about this is what they are saying is that the Augustine Institute rather then the Vatican has the rite to decide what isn’t Catholic enough. As unlike an Imperator for a Bible a Lectionary has to be personally approved by the Holy See not just the Bishops Conferences of a country. If the Vatican thinks the ESV-CE is Catholic enough for use in liturgy which they have approved already in India and will likely soon approve in England,Scotland and Wales then that’s far better for me then whatever the Augustine Institute decide.
“… what they are saying is that the Augustine Institute rather then the Vatican has the rite to decide what isn’t Catholic enough.”
I don’t see it as AI saying that they know better than the Vatican about what is or isn’t Catholic enough. This is probably my bias skewing my view of the situation, but I see them as expressing how I feel on the matter:
It is okay and even good for Catholics to “adopt” and use Protestant translations like the RSV and ESV when those translations are superior to our own Catholic translations. However, it is more than a little embarrassing that Catholics don’t seem to be capable of–or perhaps interested in–producing a formally equivalent English translation that is suitable for both liturgy and private reading. The closest we have is the NABRE, which is not suitable for either–it isn’t the basis for any lectionary, and the footnotes are too seemingly anti-Catholic for the average layman.
So to me, it seems that AI is attempting to rectify this issue, and give us a translation that is both accurate and thoroughly Catholic–a translation that Catholics can be proud of. Now, for all I know, Catholic Book Publishing’s NCB may already fit this bill–I’m not familiar with the translation, but from what I have seen, at least the footnotes and commentary are much more Catholic than those of the NABRE.
Currently, my preferred translation is the ESV-CE, as I find it to be the most accurate translation available to Catholics. That being said, I would be thrilled if the CSV or NAB-3.0 turned out to be a viable replacement. If Christ’s Church is the source of salvation, shouldn’t She also be the source of the most faithful and accurate translations of His Word?
Some follow up:
I am waiting for them to email me the Zoom recording because Dr. Pitre made a comment about the NRSV that I want to check before I quote him.
There was no mention of the ASV at all. This was supposedly a brand new translation, again apparently to free themselves from copyright limitations imposed by other translations.
As for the “not Catholic enough” comments, again, it seemed Pitre threw the ESV-CV under the bus as being “beautiful and readable, but not Catholic (translated by Protestants).” That I am taking verbatim from their slide justifying a new translation. This immediately brought to my mind the question “Then why would you publish it as a Catholic Bible?” I tried to get them to talk about the ESV-CE by asking in zoom chat what is the future of this Bible but as I said apparently it was the only question not answered from the chat.
Yes, the Study Bible NT should be out by 2033. They will release Mark next year, then the other two Gospels to follow so in 4 years the whole NT will be released “in all sorts of formats, leather, etc”. A children’s NT will also be published. The full Bible again by 2033. Clearly they are positioning themselves behind this as a flagship competitor to Ignatius Press and Ascension.
To be very honest, I’m very underwhelmed by the Matthew translation. I don’t see anything “new” in fact I went into my DR-Challoner from 1949 and all there “proof quotes” for “Catholicness” were already there. I’ll stick with my DR-C Bible
I mean, I didn’t hear the webinar directly, but might we want to tone down some the knee jerk reactions here to this “Not a real Catholic Bible,” comment? The ESV-CE is my current favorite as well, and I have defended it often in online discussions from such charges, but even I have to admit, it’s low Church ecclesiology, like it’s use of ‘overseeers’ instead of ‘bishops’ to cite one example, is kinda grating sometimes. Every translation has its quirks and it doesn’t take long while reading the ESV before you’re reminded that it was done by low church evangelicals, just like it doesn’t take long while reading, say the NRSV or the NABRE before you’re reminded that it was done by more theological liberal mainliners. Maybe give these guys the benefit of the doubt here. We don’t know what kinds of assurances or carrots were dangled in front of them by Crossways before they agreed to publish the ESV-CE and then when the rubber hit the road Crossways pulled the rug out from under them. Perhaps that comment was said from a place of extreme frustration after tense negotiations failed? I mean, I CANNOT imagine this is the route they wanted to go, I mean they named the first ESV-CE they published after themselves! I don’t think that anyone can doubt that they went all in on this, so to see them take such dramatic action, it smells like duplicity from Crossway if you ask me. I just wonder what kind of challenges Catholic Truth Society is gonna have with the ESV:CE, especially with trying to print their CST Bible with the Abby Psalms, something tells me Crossway is gonna have thoughts on something like that. I wonder if the English Bishops might end up having to go with the RNJB like their Irish, Australian, and New Zeland counterparts?
I imagine that you’re right, and their comments stem from frustration with Crossway. I wouldn’t be surprised if this entire translation stems from frustration with Crossway. I could imagine AI speaking more freely in an invitation-only Zoom meeting, so hopefully, their official public announcement will tone it down a bit.
Yes, I agree. I don’t want at all to cast aspersions that AI doesn’t deserve. My sense is yes, it was frustration with Crossway that was the whole impetus for this project. They basically said as much without mentioning Crossway specifically.
As to the “not Catholic” part, in charity, I want to say I did NOT get the sense it was said in a sense of “too Protestant” but rather perhaps a sense that many of the ecumenical or Protestant translations make choices that mostly don’t reflect Catholic doctrine. And CE versions take those translations and just substitute the occasional Catholic phrase in lieu of another interpretation (like “Highly Favored” becomes “full of grace”).
I think AI wants to start anew and translate the Bible in a way so the OT and NT are “sewn together” in light of Catholic doctrine. PLUS to have their own study aids and materials.
I really doubt that Dr Pitre is saying “they are too Protestant” but rather “could be better translated as a whole for Catholics”.
“I think AI wants to start anew and translate the Bible in a way so the OT and NT are “sewn together” in light of Catholic doctrine… I really doubt that Dr Pitre is saying “they are too Protestant” but rather “could be better translated as a whole for Catholics”.”
Exactly! I see nothing wrong with wanting to have a Catholic-originated translation that is faithful, formal, and accurate to the words of Scripture. I say it’s about time that we produced a Catholic translation (newer than 1750) that the Church can really be proud of!
The second photograph above, showing a double-page spread, reveals the surprising fact that there are only about 30 lines to the page. That is very unusual in Bible printing, isn’t it? Even in Bibles printed, like this one, in a single-column format, I would expect to see at least 40 lines to the page, quite often 45 or more.
Does this photograph possibly show a large-print edition, rather than the standard type size? The generous spacing between lines similarly suggests that this is not a reader’s edition of the usual kind.
Translated with the participation of Protestants is not the same as translated only by Protestants.
AI’s remarks here are simply duplicitous.
Trashing their own ESV-CE as “not a real Catholic Bible” in order to cash in on their new pet translation?
All the while still stumping for the ESV-CE as “The most beautiful and readable Catholic translation of the Bible” at https://www.catholicbible.org/
In one stroke, AI has revealed itself to me to be as sectarian and as duplicitous as Crossway itself. Perfectly suited bedfellows.
Thankfully, my esteem for the ESV-CE doesn’t rely on either of them. If anyone gets credit for the translation, it’s the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India. “Protestant” origins or not, between the UK and India (the world’s most populous democracy), it’s now likely the single most-heard translation in English lectionaries.
If that doesn’t make it a “real Catholic Bible,” then what are any of us doing here?
Not to mention it’ll also be the translation used in Scotland. Last I heard, Australia and New Zealand are going to use it, too. Ireland is still on the fence, as they’re still considering the RNJB.
You’ll be happy to know that the Catholic Truth Society plans on publishing their own ESV-CE, once it’s adopted for the lectionary. It’s supposed to include the Abbey Psalms, too.
Thanks for mentioning the Indian bishops. Mark’s book does a nice job commending them for their part in making the ESVCE a reality. And as one who is married to an Indian Catholic convert, with our three children of Indian ancestry, I love the connection with India.
I hope the whole “real Catholic Bible” comments was either taken out of context or maybe poorly stated. With everything the Church has done to bring about a greater closeness with non-Catholic Christians, I would be highly disappointed if that is the route AI is going. I will also add that both the ESVCE and RSVCE have beautiful introductions explaining the ecumenical connections.
It’s my understanding that the work for the ESV lectionary for the UK is ongoing, ie not yet complete?
I might wonder if the Catholic Truth Society might run into similar difficulties with Crossway that the Augustine Institute apparently has and use whatever influence they have with the UK hierarchy to encourage them to pursue the the RNJB lectionary with their Irish, Australian, and New Zealand counterparts instead? I mean, last I heard CTS was planning on printing the ESV:CE with the Abby Psalms? I would be willing to bet Crossway is gonna have some thoughts on that.
Look, I like the ESV:CE, it’s currently my primary translation, but if they’re gonna be such pains in the butt to work with, I don’t blame other hierarchies who want to go with other translations instead, like the American Bishops with the NABRE or a lot of the non UK English speaking conferences with the RNJB. I think it’s a real shame, but it seems to me that if Crossway hadn’t been so bone headed they could have been THE English Catholic bible outside the US. Doubleday’s rush to create the RNJB always struck me as something of a desperation move to preserve the royalties they were gettting for all those JB lectionaries they were about to loose, but now they’re efforts look practically prophetic!
I really don’t think this is where Augustine Institute wanted to end up. This also seems like another desperation move forced on them by Crossway. I know there’s a lot of anger on here right now towards AI, but really I place the blame for this squarely at the feet of Crossway, and really, I know it probably shouldn’t, but I really does impact my experience of the ESV:CE knowing that the creators of the translation seem to have some real hang ups about working with Catholics.
I am endlessly fascinated by this trend of small-to-medium Catholic publishers creating their own bespoke translations of the entire Bible from scratch, seemingly just because they want to escape from under the thumb of other publishers and have full control over copyright, royalties, future projects, etc. First it was Catholic Book Publishing Corp with the New Catholic Bible, and now the Augustine Institute with the Catholic Standard Version. If you had asked me 10 years ago, I imagine I would have said “Of course a small Catholic publisher isn’t going to translate the ENTIRE BIBLE! The New Testament, maybe. But translating the entire Bible is way too laborious and expensive.” Yet here we are.
In general I don’t think I’m happy about this trend. It definitely smacks of a certain corporatization. Like, why do all these new, rather similar Catholic translations exist? Because of some pressing evangelical need? No, because every publisher wants full control and they’re sick of working with each other. Oh.
To be charitable, though, I’ve never had to work with the USCCB or Crossway to try and bring to life all the great future projects I’m envisioning. Maybe if I had, I’d be willing to saw my own leg off to escape the bear trap too.
“this trend of small-to-medium Catholic publishers creating their own bespoke translations of the entire Bible from scratch … definitely smacks of a certain corporatization. Like, why do all these new, rather similar Catholic translations exist? Because of some pressing evangelical need? No, because every publisher wants full control and they’re sick of working with each other. Oh.”
I wonder if comes down to the question of whether we should even be copyrighting translations of the Bible to begin with. Should the USCCB and all of these publishing companies go the way of Ronald L. Conte Jr.’s CPDV and just open the floodgates of the Word of God? It seems to me that translating the Scriptures is something the Church should do as a gift to the people, not as a way to make money.
Actually, the LSV “Apocrypha” is huge, the full version contains 120 books. I own that version precisely because it is the only version I am aware of that has such a vast collection of books, many not accepted by any Church
Yes, Bible translations should be copyrighted, for at least two reasons.
1. Translating the Bible is expensive and if publishers can’t get an ROI out of it, they won’t bother, plus it is a Biblical principle that “the worker deserves his wages”, you can’t expect a team of dozens of people to put in 15-20 years of work for no pay, we can’t reasonably expect professionals and experts to volunteer their time, there are many other things they could be doing
2. We have actual experience which shows that not copyrighting a Bible translation can be bad, and the ASV is an example of this.
The ASV originated with the English Revised Version of 1881, A team of American scholars was invited to England to participate, but all its suggestions were ignored. When the RV was published in 1881, the American team’s suggestions were listed as an appendix in the back. As part of the agreement, the Americans could publish their own version, but only after 20 years. But since the American suggestions were already available in the ER, and due to the copyright law that existed at the time, the RV was not protected by copyright in the United States. So, many publishers took the RV, made the changes that were listed in the appendix, and published it, this happened almost immediately after the publication of the RV. And some made many more changes to the text than that, resulting in multiple versions floating around, many of them with quite dubious changes.
When the “English Revised Version Standard American Edition” (later called simply “The American Standard Version”) was officially published in 1901, the text was copyrighted to prevent the kind of alterations that were rife from 1881-1901.
When a Bible isn’t copyrighted, people can change it, and the changes are not necessarily good and could reflect poorly on the translators who worked hard on the real version.
No, copyrighting a translation is the right thing to do.
“Bible translations should be copyrighted … When a Bible isn’t copyrighted, people can change it, and the changes are not necessarily good and could reflect poorly on the translators who worked hard on the real version.”
You make a great point here, and the ASV is a great example–I see now that we definitely need at least some level of copyright to protect the integrity of the translation. So what if the translation was copyrighted, but no licensing or royalty fees were charged? So for instance, the USCCB could copyright the NABRE, but then allow all Catholic publishing companies to publish it for free, as long as they make no alterations to the original translation.
“Bible translations should be copyrighted … Translating the Bible is expensive and if publishers can’t get an ROI out of it, they won’t bother, plus it is a Biblical principle that ‘the worker deserves his wages’, you can’t expect a team of dozens of people to put in 15-20 years of work for no pay …”
Very good points! So in my world, the USCCB (or other official Church bodies) would fund all new translation projects, paying all of the translators and covering all costs, and then they would allow Catholic publishers to publish the translation for free, which would allow the publishers to charge less and still make a good profit. It seems odd to me to have Catholic publishing companies initiating translations of the Bible separate from the hierarchy of the Church. I would think that translations should be called for and funded by the Church, with the only ROI in mind being the conversion of souls. The USCCB would then work with the other English-speaking Bishops Conferences to produce a translation that can be used for all English lectionaries (rather than outsourcing to Protestants by using the RSV, NRSV, ESV, etc.).
It’ll never happen, but a guy can dream!
But the main reason the bishops commissioned the NAB was to have a Bible that could be a source of revenue not just from print (and now e-book and audiobook) sales but also from licensing fees. I don’t believe the licensing fees are outrageously high, and I don’t think the Catholic publishers who choose to use other translations such as the RSV or NRSV don’t do so because the fees are high but because they prefer that translation for whatever reason.
What I do wish is that they would allow the NAB to be printed with different notes than the standard ones. It is in Canon Law that CatholicsBibles should be published with explanatory notes, but there is no reason there cannot be some flexibility about the specific notes. Commentaries like the Little Rock Study BIble or the Didache Bible become unnecessarily bulky due to the requirement to publish two sets of notes.
I’m skeptical that the main reason for the NAB was to have a Bible that could be a source of revenue for the USCCB. I thought the NAB grew directly out of the Confraternity Version. The USCCB was in the process of completing the Confraternity Old Testament translation from the Latin Vulgate in the 1940s when Pope Pius XII issued Divino Afflante Spiritu which encouraged translations from the original languages rather than Latin. At that point, the USCCB abandoned the Confraternity Version and began work on the NAB.
“I’m skeptical that the main reason for the NAB was to have a Bible that could be a source of revenue for the USCCB. I thought the NAB grew directly out of the Confraternity Version.”
NAB is really just a renaming of the Confraternity Editon. When you’re talking about a translation that has been in a state of almost constant revision for close to 90 years, or over the course of about 5 or 6 generations of bishops, it becomes difficult to assess the motives of any one generation, let alone a general motive held by all of them.
Originally authorized in 1937 (the same year as the RSV coincidentally), the project has grown and evolved quite gradually over the last 86 years.
The original plan was simply to make a moderate revision of the 1899 Douay Rheims and it isn’t clear why the bishops thought this would be necessary. Surely, it could not have been the intention for it to be read during Mass, because before Vatican II, the Bible was read in Latin during Mass.
However, by the time the entire Bible was finally published in one volume in 1970, it was re-named the “New American Bible” both to downplay the Catholic connection in the hopes that it might be adopted by some Protestants (which never happened) and to emphasize a bit of nationalistic pride in its being the first authorized Bible translation to be done entirely by American scholars (the RSV doesn’t count because it is a revision of a text that originated in the UK, the NAB is the first translation completely from scratch to be made by Americans) it was clear that the project had evolved.
It is not clear to me, certainly not from anything in the Preface to the 2011 edition, exactly when the NAB (or more accurately a slightly revised text based on the NAB) became the only Bible that could be read in Catholic Churches in the United States, but it is clear that whatever reason the bishops might have given for this decision is that they own it and can make money from it. There is simply no other explanation for the bishops to stick with this translation for so long
I like the NAB, overall, although I’m not a fan of the notes, even I have to admit that if not for the fact that churches in the US HAVE TO use it even though the Vatican has actually rejected it for use during Mass (which is why I said the lectionary is ‘based on’ the NAB but is not actually the NAB) it wouldn’t get 1/10 of the sales it gets, and despite the noble intentions in 1970, it has never been used by Protestants and is just a Catholic ghetto Bible, like the Douay Rheims before it, except that unlike the DR it is nonexistent outside the US.
My expectation is that they will continue to publish their various editions of the ESVCE for years to come since they have the exclusive rights contract with Crossway to publish in the US. That isn’t going to change. The bonded leather edition, while perhaps $15 too expensive, is still a handy, well-made, and all-around good reading Bible. The textual and OT references in the NT notes are helpful. The maps supplied while not extensive, are superior to the black/white ones of the Cornerstone and the rather disappointing ones found in the RSV2CE. I plan to order 100 paperback editions for my incoming freshmen class next school year. There are plenty of ESV-related resources that can be purchased, even if they are not Catholic-specific. It’s taken me a while, but I think it is an overall superior translation to the RSVCE, even with some of the low ecclesiological renderings in the NT. It consistency in translation makes it great for study. The way it incorporates inclusive language I think is the best model of all the modern translations. And I want a text that is accurate to the original languages, not adjusted to conform to any theology or tradition. (Now of course no translation does that perfectly, but I think the ESV largely succeeds in this.) If I want a premium edition with the deuteros, it will only be a year or so until the Schuyler ESV w/ Apocrypha is published. And the Diadem already exists.
As for the CSV, I really can’t stomach waiting around 8+ years for this. The never ending ICSB saga and the anticipated 2025 deadline for the NABRE revision (or whatever it will be called) has sapped any desire for me to wait around for anything. I’ll be in my mid-fifties in 10 years! 🙂
I am content with the ESVCE and will be going forward with it. It has been a great help to my biblical Greek studies this past year and the resources keyed to it are abundant.
At least the NAB is and has been for 50+ years, a complete translation. it is a translation that has been in a state of near-constant revision for over 80 years, but it is a full Bible. It can, of course, always be made better. But we don’t have to wait 8 years for a full Bible, we have one now.
I am nowhere near as hostile to the idea of “yet another translation” as many here, especially a new Catholic translation. I mean, the evangelicals have dozens of Bibles to choose from, the ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, ISV, KJV, NKJV, NLT, and literally dozens of other niche and partial translations.
As Catholics, we have for decades had a much more limited array of choices, either the NAB, Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, Christian Community Bible, or the Douay Rheims. Or we could accept the “Catholic Version” of a Protestant translation like the RSV, NRSV, or GNT, Now, in the last 5-10 years, the number of Catholic options has exploded, including not just Catholic versions of Protestant translations like the ESV , CEB and NLT, but also new translations created expressly for Catholics including the New Catholic Bible and now apparently a Catholic Standard Version, and re-publication of the Knox translation of the Vulgate, as well as several partial translations including new translations of the Septuagint, and translations of individual books such as Mark and John. This is a new golden age for Catholic Bibles. However, I have zero interest in collecting a CSV that will be published one book at a time. I’ll wait until the full Bible is released.
“I am nowhere near as hostile to the idea of “yet another translation” as many here, especially a new Catholic translation. I mean, the evangelicals have dozens of Bibles to choose from … As Catholics, we have for decades had a much more limited array of choices … Now, in the last 5-10 years, the number of Catholic options has exploded … This is a new golden age for Catholic Bibles.”
AMEN! CSV? NABRE-3.0? Bring ’em on! Why not have Catholic translations of Scripture that we can be proud of?
(Should we consider the CEB to be a Catholic Version, even though it lacks an /imprimatur/ and doesn’t have any official Church approval? Then again, The Living Bible garnered an /imprimatur/, so perhaps the point is moot.)
I fully agree with you. I’m sticking with the ESV-CE as my main Bible, as well as the Douay and the NABRE (once the NT revisions are finished and approved for liturgical use). Beyond these three I have no need for another translation. I think one is better off learning Hebrew, Greek, and Latin than amassing a jillion different translations.
The ESV-CE is useful for both study and lectio divina. I prefer using outside sources and secondary scholarship anyways, instead of having condensed commentary in the Bible itself. Plus, the NABRE already comes with excellent introductions and scholarly footnotes. I don’t mean this as a pejorative, but those people who think the NABRE notes are “heretical,” well, I don’t think they have been educated beyond the high school level, if that. Anyone who has been taught how to read well, that is, to read critically will not see anything that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals in the NABRE. Sure, there’s opinions you’re free to disagree with, but nothing heretical.
Can I get a refund on the Augustine Bibles I have already purchased?
Good info here, much appreciated. Did they say anything as to what manuscripts they were translating from for the NT or the OT? Can we please get an english Catholic translation of the OT from the Septuagint? Why is this not the norm?? If most of the NT quotes from the OT match the Septuagint, why bother doing yet ANOTHER ‘new’ translation from the Masoretic???
A couple of the endorsements for Mark’s book makes me wonder more about whether AI can declare what a truly Catholic translation is:
“The most prominent Catholic translation in the English-speaking world after the Protestant Reformation was the Douay-Rheims Bible, published in 1582. Since then, Catholics have been diligent in producing any number of various English versions through the centuries. Dr. Giszczak, in Bible Translation, leads us through that journey and directs us to the elegance and clarity of the ESV Catholic Edition. I urge every interested Catholic to follow the journey. You will not be led astray!” –Most Reverend Michael J. Byrnes, S.T.D., Archbishop of Agaña, Guam
“If the Word of God in Scripture is infallible, the same cannot be said of those who translate God’s Word. Agenda-driven translations have vandalized the verity of Scripture so that the devil can often be found in the detail in which one translation differs from another. Mark Giszczak shows with lucid and accessible scholarship that the ESV Catholic Edition is the most authentic of all the modern translations of the Bible.” –Joseph Pearce, author of Catholic Literary Giants: A Field Guide to the Catholic Literary Landscape
The notes of the NAB always end up being an issue. I do believe that in a recent FB live, Mary Sperry said that they were looking into offering the revised NAB (2025) in two editions, one with full notes and the other with very basic ones.
(And they are looking at renaming it as well.)
Renaming the NAB would be a mistake, how is anyone going to know what it is if it is given a new name? Just do what the NASB does and add the year of the most recent revision to the title, “NABRE 2025” or they can do what they did from 1986-2011 when it was called “New American Bible with revised New Testament”, call it “New American Bible Revised Edition with Revised New Testament” or something similar, but the title “New American Bible” needs to remain, I can’t recall a translation changing its name, the only example I can think of is when the “Holman Christian Standard Bible” was renamed simply “Christian Standard Bible”, same name, just shorter.
“I can’t recall a translation changing its name”
I can. It happened in 1970 when the Confraternity Bible became the New American Bible.
That’s not really a name change though, Confraternity Bible was not really the name it was just the name of the organization that sponsored it, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, an obvious kind of placeholder before they could come up with a name “This is the Bible made by the CCD”
“Confraternity Bible was not really the name”
It essentially was. We’ll never know if that would’ve been permanent for the reasons you’ve said, but it definitely was the name for its existence being promoted and sold. Check out all those St. Joseph’s Daily Missals from the late 50s/early 60s that say “Confraternity Version” on the title page: “Confraternity Version: Word-for-Word as Read from the Pulpit”. Not to mention all the New Testaments and Douay-Confraternity Bibles that would either have “Confraternity Version” printed on the cover or spine, and on the title page, clearly and boldly, contrasted with the “Douay Version” for the Old Testament. While sometimes I see the Douay-Confraternity Bibles called the “New Catholic Edition” and even “New American Catholic Edition” to foreshadow the eventual NAB name, in the vast majority of cases I’ve seen and owned, it was simply called the “Confraternity Version”. I don’t think it’s unfair to say the transition from the CV to the NAB is comparable to the HCSB to the CSB. In both cases, you can very clearly see the older was the base for the newer. The NAB ’70 could hardly be described as wholly disconnected from the CV, especially when reading the NAB ’70’s Old Testament. Even today, you can read a section of the CV and then the same section in the NABRE and see the influence is still there.
I’ve seen several copies dating from the original in 1941 NT up to the publication of the full Bible in 1970, and I’ve never seen one that says “Confraternity Version”, all I’ve seen are ones that say either “Confraternity Bible” or “Confraternity Edition” and there is often a further description after “Confraternity”, “New American Catholic Bible” that sort of thing. It is clear they didn’t really know what to call it, and were gradually expanding the name until it became too long and unwieldy, “New American Catholic Bible Confraternity Edition” was too long so they shortened it.
But Confraternity could never have been the final name anymore than “Holman Publishers Bible” could have ever been the final name of the CSB.
And I just looked at my copy of the 1941 edition, and what it says on the title pages is “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Translation of The New Testament”
Clearly, something this long and cumbersome could not have been intended to be the actual name of the translation.
This article has been very enriching even though I don’t have much interest in Evangelical translations or counterparts of it since I think there’s a difference between a sectarian schismatic and an ecumenical schismatic, I personally think this case with AI and Crossway that the ESV-CE is much more associated with the sectarian kind of Protestants who disdain Catholic tradition, that’s just a personal bias of mine though.
I find it immensely helpful reading about the case with the D-R-Confraternity-NAB being a uniquely American biblical tradition, it makes me a little more confused as to why the NAB isn’t just a “definitive” translation yet and why it can’t just be “complete” even though that’s not necessarily a thing with translations.
I really like what Biblical Catholic said about using a common Bible as informed by the Vatican II and Dei Verbum, we should all avoid a Catholic “fundamentalism.” So, if Saint Jerome brought us the Vulgate, then it seems like us Catholics need to develop on this idea of a Vulgate, (common), English Bible for Catholics and not create more translations that confuse and divide Catholics nor exclude Protestant or Orthodox scholarship because they aren’t Catholic. To me, there’s only three English translations of the Catholic Bible that really live up to being a “common” Bible that is suitable for Liturgy and private reading and those are: NJB-RNJB, NRSV-CE, and NAB-RE…
Should a person read a handful of say, these three translations (this is my personal challenge here) OR should a Catholic, choose a favorite of these more-or-less “mostly liturgically friendly” Bible translations(?)
I am leaning towards relying on the NJB since I think it takes a middle ground in terms of Catholic ecumenical involvement and originality, it has been headed by a very reputable Catholic biblical scholar Henry Wansbrough and the copyright owner is not a sectarian nor some biased/unitary entity.
I say NJB because I like the use of Y____h instead if LORD, but someone please educate me on this because I want to know more about whether it’s more true to Catholic biblical understanding to translate it that way, regardless NJB-or-RNJB are LITURGICAL (Irish, Australia, New Zealand, hopefully England) and it’s not sectarian either.
If Bishop Barron thinks the NRSV-CE is “wonderful” then should we Catholics trust his judgement? Lastly, is it just a bad omen that the NAB is so disagreed upon across Catholic circles and is in a constant limbo of revision and a strange history?
Perhaps one could just give up and buy a NCB (Catholic Book Pub Corp) since it’s new and has good notes, and read it every day and ignore the battle between different Catholic translations.