New American Bible Revised Edition

New American Bible Revised Edition
Full name New American Bible Revised Edition
Abbreviation NABRE
Complete Bible
March 9, 2011
Derived from Confraternity Bible, New American Bible
Textual basis OT (2011 revision): Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with Dead Sea Scrolls and minor Septuagint influence.. Deuterocanonicals: Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls, and some Vulgate influence. NT: (1986 revision): "UBS3," the third edition of United Bible Societies' Third Edition Greek New Testament, and consultations of Novum Testamentum Graece 26th edition, i.e., "NA26."
Translation type Formal equivalence (from the Preface), moderate use of dynamic equivalence.
Reading level High School
Copyright United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) is an English-language translation of the Bible. It is the first major update to the New American Bible text in over 20 years. The New American Bible was first published in its entirety in 1970,[1] sponsored by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

Revisions to the New Testament, the work of thirteen translators and five editors, began in 1978 and finished in 1986. The Old Testament revisions began in 1991 with the Psalms, completed by 30 translators and 6 editors. Revisions to the remaining books of the Old Testament began in 1994 by forty translators and eight editors. The Psalms were again revised between 2009 and 2010 by an additional seven translators and two editors.[2]

The fully revised Old Testament was formally approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010. The 1986-edition of the New Testament and the newly revised Old Testament were released together on March 9, 2011 as the New American Bible Revised Edition.

Details of revision history prior to beginning of revision on the Old Testament in 1994 can be found here: New American Bible.

Scriptural sources

New Testament sources are predominantly "UBS3" and "NA26," as further explained below:

Sourcing: "The Greek text followed in this translation is that of the third edition of The Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo Martini, Bruce Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, and published by the United Bible Societies in 1975. The same text, with a different critical apparatus and variations in punctuation and typography, was published as the twenty-sixth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece in 1979 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. This edition has also been consulted. When variant readings occur, the translation, with few exceptions, follows the reading that was placed in the text of these Greek editions, though the occurrence of the principal variants is pointed out in the notes."[3]
Old Testament Citations: "...Insofar as possible, the translation of such Old Testament citations agrees with that of The New American Bible Old Testament whenever the underlying Greek agrees with the Hebrew (or, in some cases, the Aramaic or Greek) text from which the Old Testament translation was made. But citations in the New Testament frequently follow the Septuagint or some other version, or were made from memory, hence, in many cases the translation in the New Testament passage will not agree with what appears in the Old Testament. Some of these cases are explained in the notes."[4]

Old Testament major sources come by way of the New American Bible; specifically Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Other source details, such as Codex Sinaiticus, are as described below:

"Where the Old Testament translation supposes the received text—Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, as the case may be—ordinarily contained in the best-known editions, as the original or the oldest extant form, no additional remarks are necessary. Where the translators have departed from those received texts, e.g., by following the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic text, accepting a reading of what is judged to be a better textual tradition, as from a Qumran manuscript, or by emending a reading apparently corrupted in transmission, such changes are recorded in the revised edition of the Textual Notes on the New American Bible. Additional information on the textual tradition for some books may be found in the introduction to the book in the same Textual Notes.
"In particular, important manuscripts from Cave 4 of Qumran, as well as the most useful recensions of the Septuagint, have been consulted in the preparation of 1 and 2 Samuel. Fragments of the lost Book of Tobit in Aramaic and in Hebrew, recovered from Cave 4 of Qumran, are in substantial agreement with the Sinaiticus Greek recension used for the translation of this book. The lost original Hebrew text of 1 Maccabees is replaced by its oldest extant form in Greek. Judith, 2 Maccabees, and parts of Esther are also translated from the Greek. The translation of The Wisdom of Ben Sira is based on the original Hebrew as far as it is preserved, with corrections from the ancient versions; otherwise, the Greek of the Septuagint is followed. In the Book of Baruch the basic text is the Greek of the Septuagint, with some readings derived from an underlying Hebrew form no longer extant. In the deuterocanonical sections of Daniel (3:24–90; 13:1–14:42), the basic text is the Greek text of so-called Theodotion, occasionally revised according to the Greek text of the Septuagint."[5]

Need for revision

In a press statement, the USCCB cited three reasons for the necessity of revising the Old Testament.[6]

First, the new translation aims to utilize modern scholastic advances in biblical study and adapt to changes in linguistics in order to render a more accurate translation in contemporary English.

Second, the new translation takes advantage of recently discovered ancient manuscripts like the Dead Sea Scrolls which provide better access to the historical textual tradition.

Third, the new translation uses the best manuscript-translating traditions available in order to translate more literally and accurately than previous translations. The press statement claims that the New American Bible Revised Edition will in many ways be a more literal translation than the original New American Bible. The Psalms, in particular, received special attention to provide a smooth, rhythmic translation which both retains the concrete imagery of the original Hebrew and also provides for easy singing or recitation.

a new 2014 NABRE published by World Catholic Press

Old Testament

In August 1990, the Catholic Biblical Association passed a resolution urging revision of the Old Testament of the New American Bible.[7] In 1994, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to pass the resolution and form a steering committee/editorial board to direct the revision. The editorial board for the majority of the Old Testament consisted of 8 editors and 40 translators. In 2002, the Old Testament (excluding the Psalms) was completed and sent to the Subcommittee for the Translation of Scripture Text (previously, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations) to see if it was a suitable Catholic translation. In September 2008, the last book (Jeremiah) of the Old Testament was accepted by the Subcommittee.

In November 2008, the Old Testament (including footnotes and introductions) was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, they would not allow it to be published with the 1991 Psalms. A final revision of the NAB Psalter was undertaken using suggestions vetted by the Subcommittee for the Translation of Scripture Text and stricter conformity to Liturgiam Authenticam.[7]


The Psalms have been the most controversial book of the Old Testament during the course of the revisions leading up to the publication of the New American Bible Revised Edition. The controversy is related to the adaptation of the New American Bible text's use in the official liturgy of the Catholic Church in the United States.

The first revision of the Psalms in 1991 was rejected for liturgical use by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican because of the extensive application of gender-neutral language in the text.

Example: “Happy is the man” (Ps. 1:1); a literal translation of the Hebrew Esher-i Eieesh, which was the translation used in the original 1970 NAB and the 1986 RNAB—was replaced by the horizontally gender-neutral “Happy those” in the 1991 revision. This particular phrase has reverted in the 2010 Psalter to the traditionally worded, gender-specific "Blessed is the man."

The current liturgical text of the Psalms was modified under the supervision of the a Congregation of the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for use in the Roman Catholic liturgy in 2000. The Vatican Congregation accepted some use of gender-neutral language, such as where the speaker is speaking of one of unknown gender (rendering "person" in place of "man"), but rejected any changes relating to God or Christ.

The newly revised Psalms found in the New American Bible Revised Edition follows the guidelines of Liturgiam Authenticam, a document issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline[8] of the Sacraments. Throughout the new translation of the Psalms, the use of gender-neutral language has been limited and appropriate gender-specific pronouns used in conjunction with the original Hebrew.[9]

The difficulty of translating the book of psalms is a Church dilemma dating back to St. Jerome who translated the Psalms from Greek and Hebrew into Latin and made multiple revisions thereof. It continues today in part because the Psalms form the backbone of the prayer life of the Church, so it is important to have a melodic and smooth text while maintaining fidelity to the underlying original language texts.

Changes to vocabulary

One of the more important changes found in the New American Bible Revised Edition is the substitution of various words and phrases for language which carries a modern connotation which is quite different from the original suggested meanings. Examples include changing "cereal" to "grain" and "booty" to "plunder."[9]


New American Bible New American Bible Revised Edition
Leviticus 2:1--"When anyone wishes to bring a cereal offering to the LORD, his offering must consist of fine flour." Leviticus 2:1--"When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, the offering must consist of bran flour."
Isaiah 49:24-2--"Thus says the LORD: Can booty be taken from a warrior?" Isaiah 49:24-2--"Can plunder be taken from a warrior [?]"

Similarly, "holocaust" has been changed to "burnt offering". The word "holocaust" in modern English has become used almost exclusively to refer to the attempted genocide of the Jewish people during World War II. In order to capture the biblical meaning, the translators chose the phrase "burnt offering" to replace "holocaust" throughout the text in reference to sacrifices made to God.[10]

Sample changes

New American Bible New American Bible Revised Edition
Joel 3:1-5

Then afterward I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind.
Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions;
Even upon the servants and the handmaids,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
And I will work wonders in the heavens and on the earth,
blood, fire, and columns of smoke;
The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood,
At the coming of the Day of the LORD, the great and terrible day.
Then everyone shall be rescued who calls on the name of the LORD;
For on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant, as the LORD has said,
And in Jerusalem survivors whom the LORD shall call.

Joel 3:1-5

It shall come to pass
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even upon your male and female servants,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
I will set signs in the heavens and on the earth,
blood, fire, and columns of smoke;
The sun will darken, the moon turn blood-red.
Before the day of the LORD arrives, that great and terrible day.
Then everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD will escape harm.
For on Mount Zion there will be a remnant, as the LORD has said,
And in Jerusalem survivors whom the LORD will summon.

Sirach 51:1-4a

I give you thanks, O God of my father;
I praise you, O God my savior!
I will make known your name, refuge of my life;
you have been my helper against my adversaries.
You have saved me from death, and kept back my body from the pit,
From the clutches of the nether world you have snatched my feet;
you have delivered me, in your great mercy
From the scourge of a slanderous tongue,
and from lips that went over to falsehood;
From the snare of those who watched for my downfall,
and from the power of those who sought my life;
From many a danger you have saved me,
from flames that hemmed me in on every side.

Sirach 51: 1-4a

I give you thanks, Lord and King,
I praise you, God my savior!
I declare your name, refuge of my life,
because you have ransomed my life from death;
You held back my body from the pit,
and delivered my foot from the power of Sheol.
You have preserved me from the scourge of the slanderous tongue,
and from the lips of those who went over to falsehood.
You were with me against those who rise up against me;
You have rescued me according to your abundant mercy
From the snare of those who look for my downfall,
and from the power of those who seek my life.
From many dangers you have saved me,
from flames that beset me on every side.

Gender-neutral language

In general, gender-neutral language is language that is formulated to specifically include women by avoiding generic masculine forms such as he/him/men/man. The New American Bible Revised Edition has translated all references to human beings using gender-neutral words or phrases because male pronouns are sometimes understood in North American English to be gender-specific. Gender-neutral language is the rule except where the use of gender-neutral language would create awkward phrasing. One of the most common concerns among more conservative Catholics awaiting the release of the New American Bible Revised Edition was whether or not the Bible would be translated with so-called "horizontal" and/or "vertical" non-gendered language. Modern liturgy and Bible scholars make a distinction between "horizontal" non-gendered language—those words and phrases that refer to relationships between human beings—and "vertical" non-gendered language—words and phrases that denote the relationship between human beings and God. Some Protestants and Catholics find neither form of gender-neutral editing acceptable.[11] Vatican norms for translation of the Bible include that, "The translation of scripture should faithfully reflect the Word of God in the original human languages, without 'correction' or 'improvement' in service of modern sensitivities."[12] and do not support improving the Bible to be in line with public sentiment.

Horizontal gender-neutral language

As it relates to Bible translations, "horizontal" gender-neutral language translates gender-specific pronouns and words like "man" and "mankind" to gender-neutral pronouns such as the grammatically controversial singular they or "you" for "he." Other examples are "people" for "men" and "brothers & sisters" for "brethren." Thus, a particular passage in scripture might be rendered with gender-neutral language to avoid any sense that the teaching in the passage is for men only, rather than for men and women alike.[13]

According to a press backgrounder released by the USCCB, the New American Bible Revised Edition "reflects the original meaning of the texts. Much of the original material, especially in the narrative books, was gender specific and remains so."[9]

Vertical gender-neutral language

Whereas horizontal non-gendered language is generally viewed as an understandable adaptation in light of modern gender sensitivity, "vertical" neutral language—any pronoun or referent to the Christian God—is considered a break from both tradition and Christian revelation. The Catholic Magisterium has made it clear that any gender-neutral language in reference to any of the three persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, or Holy Spirit—is unacceptable. According to Catholic faith, "traditional masculine language for God...belongs to the deposit of divine revelation and may not be replaced [with gender-neutral or feminine language]." [14] This is so especially in light of the Church's ancient tradition, and of the teaching regarding Jesus Christ's incarnation as a specifically male person.

The USCCB stated in its press backgrounder that "all references to God retain the traditional use of masculine pronouns" in the New American Bible Revised Edition.

Completed revision release and use

In January 2011, the USCCB announced that the fourth edition of the NAB would be published on March 9 of that year.[15] To be known as the "New American Bible, Revised Edition" or NABRE, the fourth edition of the NAB includes the newly revised Old Testament and re-revised Psalms, and the revised New Testament from the 1986 second edition. While the NABRE represents a revision of the NAB towards conformity towards Liturgiam Authenticam, there have not been any announced plans to use the NABRE for the lectionary in the United States. The USCCB announced the approval is for "private use and study" while masses will continue to use a lectionary taken from "an earlier, modified version of the NAB translation." [15]

Among press coverage on the release of the New American Bible Revised Edition on March 9, 2011 were interviews on local news channels, national news coverage by NPR[16] and NBC,[17] as well as a variety of articles by online journals and publications.

Licensed publishers of the NABRE


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "paragraph #20". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  4. ^ "paragraph #22". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  5. ^ "final two paragraphs thereof". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  6. ^ "(Office of Media Relations) Revised Edition of New American Bible Approved for Publication, Will Be Available in Variety of Formats March 9". USCCB. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  7. ^ a b Chronology for the New Revision of the New American Bible Old Testament [1]
  8. ^ "Liturgiam authenticam". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^ "CNS STORY: Revised Bible provides 'more clarity, more detail' for today's Catholic". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  11. ^ "Inclusive Language Balancing Act Ideology Threatens to Topple True Translation by K.D. Whitehead". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  12. ^ """Vatican Translation Norms Reject "Inclusive Language. 
  13. ^ The New York Times . 
  14. ^ United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Doctrine, "Response to Observations by Sr. Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., Regarding the Committee on Doctrine's Statement about the Book 'Quest for the Living God'" (October 11, 2011), p. 4
  15. ^ a b USCCB news release: "Revised Edition of New American Bible Approved for Publication, Will Be Available in Variety of Formats March 9", January 6, 2011 [2]
  16. ^ Weekend Edition Sunday (2011-03-06). "U.S. Catholic Church Rolls Out New Bible Translation". NPR. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  17. ^

External links

  • Meet the 'New' New American Bible [3]
  • Q&A About the NABRE [4]
  • U.S. Catholic Church Rolls Out New Bible Translation [5]
  • Why do we need a new translation? The Bible hasn’t changed, has it? [6]
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