Having taught scripture for years and years, I still get asked by Catholics which version of the scriptures they should buy for the purposes of bible study. I always tell them: New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (alternatively: New Jerusalem Bible). If you have the old Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition, well and good, but the NRSV is standard throughout the English speaking world today. It is a scholarly, comparitively accurate, descendant of the original King James Version, and stands in the same grand literary tradition, so its English is good too.
My friend, Peter, who also teaches scripture to Catholics, will disagree violently, and protest that the Vatican has specifically banned this translation from being read in Mass–not only because of its use of inclusive language for human beings (God remains in the masculine) but because of other “inaccuracies”.
And another newsflaish: There ARE inaccuracies in the NRSV–but then there are inaccuracies in every translation of the bible, and in general the NRSV has fewer than many of the others. There is no “perfect translation”, only better translations and worse translations, and translations more or less suitable to particular uses (eg. Reading at Mass might require a different translation than for personal reading which in turn might require a different translation from the one you use for in depth bible study).
Personally, I cannot stand the translation we use for Mass here in Australia (the original Jerusalem Bible with the “Yahweh’s” wisely replaced with “Lord’s”). I wonder if it were presented to the Vatican today whether it would pass muster at all. The language is dreaful and inaccuracies abound. Fr Neuhaus has similar gripes about the NAB used by the Churches in the United States.
Here’s the story folks: From time to time the Holy See comments on scripture translations in regard to requests from Bishops Conferences for approval of lectionaries. But the Holy See has never ever done a complete systematic comparitive survey of English translations of Holy Scripture with the aim of recommending:
1) those approved for reading in the Liturgy
2) those recommended for devotional reading
3) those recommended for accurate bible study
So occasionally they will reject a certain translation for a certain reason for use in a certain circumstance (ie. in the liturgy). This is not the equivalent and should not be taken as the equivalent of:
1) condeming the translation in question as unsuitable for every purpose
2) saying that the translation in question is worse than other translations upon which they have not commented
3) saying that translations that were approved for use in the liturgy in the past (and still currently used) would actually pass the test of Liturgicam Authenticam if they were resubmitted today.
I for one will be very happy when the NRSV is approved for use in Australia. I will be even happier when the NRSV of the psalms replaces the appalling Grail Version that the English speaking churches have been lumped with for all these years in our liturgy and Divine Office.