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What is the New American Bible (NAB)?

21st Century New American Bible, NAB

Question: "What is the New American Bible (NAB)?"

New American Bible - History

Not to be confused with the New American Standard Bible, the New American Bible (NAB) is a Catholic Bible translation first published in 1970. It was specifically translated into English by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine under the liturgical principles and reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) after a long and confused history of translation, re-translation, revision and re-revision beginning in 1943 with Pope Pius XII’s encyclical letter. Shortly after the publication of the complete Bible, American bishops decided that the 1970 NAB New Testament leaned too much on paraphrasing rather than translation for general use, and so the New Testament was "revised" and published in 1986, employing dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought) translation in places for the sake of inclusive, gender-neutral language. Pope John Paul II and other Vatican officials were not happy with this version, mainly because of the inclusive language, which was mandated by liturgical guidelines issued by a committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference in 1990. Richard John Neuhaus described the confused state of affairs surrounding Roman Catholic Bible versions in 2001: “At present, three translations are approved for Catholic liturgical use: the New Jerusalem Bible, the RSV, and the New American Bible (NAB). The lectionaries and the several publishers of Mass guides, however, use only the NAB. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a wretched translation. It succeeds in being, at the same time, loose, stilted, breezy, vulgar, opaque, and relentlessly averse to literary grace.”

New American Bible - Translation method
Like all Catholic Bibles, the NAB includes the deuterocanonical (apocryphal) books. The NAB was translated from original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls for the NT and OT, with some influence from the Vulgate in the Apocrypha. As stated above, there are several versions of the NAB, some using dynamic (thought-for-thought) equivalence and some using formal (word-for-word) equivalence.

New American Bible - Pro’s and Con’s
Overall, the New American Bible is a relatively good English translation of the Bible. Very little Roman Catholic "influence" is seen in the renderings the translation makes. The inclusion of the Apocrypha, the "higher critical" background of the translators, and the inconsistency of the translation method, though, prevent us for recommending the New American Bible as a primary Bible translation.

New American Bible - Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”

Titus 2:13 – “as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ,”

Recommended Resources: How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Gordon D. Fee & Mark L. Strauss and Logos Bible Software.


Related Topics:

What is the Catholic Bible?

Why are there so many Bible translations, and which is the best?

What is the Douay-Rheims Version (DRV)?

KJV Only movement? Is the New American Bible the only Bible we should use?

Should I use a paraphrase of the Bible?



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