The Mystery of the Missing Verses: What has the "New American Bible" done with Jeremiah 11:19-23?

Like his namesake, Peter Holmes is a bit of a blood hound–or is that a terrier?–when it comes to a mystery. And here’s the current one: The “Missing Verses” from Jeremiah in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops own translation, the “New American Bible”.

The mystery is the complete ommission of Jeremiah 11:19-23 in absolutely every edition of the New American Bible.

You can check it out yourself in any print edition of the NAB, or in the USCCB’s own online version, or even on the Vatican’s website, where the “English” translation provided is the NAB.

To add to Peter’s list of other versions in which these verses ARE included, the Vatican’s own Italian and Latin versions of the bible (the only other two languages they carry on their site) have the missing verses.

This is not a case of simply different ordering or numbering (as this article addresses). Nor, as Peter points out, is it a case of disputed textual authenticity. The verses are simply omitted. With no explanation.

Fr Richard John Neuhaus (yes, I know I have been going on about him lately, but he is so helpful in these matters) has very definite opinions about the NAB. But even he hasn’t twigged to this one.

So? What gives? And is Holmes the first person ever to notice this?

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12 Responses to The Mystery of the Missing Verses: What has the "New American Bible" done with Jeremiah 11:19-23?

  1. Past Elder says:

    Good God, why would anyone even half way serious about reading the Bible even bother with the NAB?

    Neuhaus does an excellent job of pointing out some of its faults.

    If the Bible is the lexicon of the Church and the liturgy the grammar of the Bible, as he references Wilken, why would there NOT be a terrible beating, as he puts it, of the lexicon to complement the terrible beating this same church gave the grammar?

    The “blunting of literary sensibilities” should indeed not be a price for becoming Catholic. Unfortunately though, it is the least of them, and his wish for “real reform” arises from not understanding the nature of that to which he converted.

    It meant exactly what it did in both the lexicon and the grammar and it is no co-incidence, they are essentially related and derived from the same sources, who were entirely clear on what was being done.

    Why curse the darkness to prevent getting used to it? Just get out of it, into the light!

    FWIW, I use the ESV myself (Concordia Edition of course!), along with the Hertz Chumash.

  2. Peregrinus says:

    Meanwhile, returning to the question raised . . .

    I have posted a comment on Peter’s blog, pointing out that I have found an online NAB (at which does contain the missing verses.

    This suggests that the “canonical” text of the NAB (that should get a rise out of PE) does have these verses, but they are routinely omitted in many copies.

    The only explanation I can think of is that they were originally omitted in a typographical error, and the error has been repeated and perpetuated by too much cutting-and-pasting and not enough proofreading in the preparation of later editions.

    The missing verses are not employed anywhere in the Catholic lectionary, which may help to explain why the error has gone unnoticed and uncorrected.

  3. Peter says:

    I’m afraid my client (in the bookstore) specifically noted the verses missing when they followed a set reading. I presumed it was the Office or an abriged ‘daily prayer’. Perhaps I was wrong and this reader has a different set of readings?

  4. Peregrinus says:

    I should perhaps have said that the verses are not employed in the Catholic Sunday lectionary. They may be employed in the weekday ectionary or in the Divine Office.

    They (or part of them) are employed in the Revised Common Lectionary (25th Sunday in Ord Time, Yr B) but I don’t suppose Protestant denominations following the RCL are likely to use the NAB.

  5. Anonymous says:

    These verses are not missing.
    As the Preface to the NAB notes,”In some instances in the Book of Job, in Proverbs, Sirach, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zechariah there is good reason to believe that the original order of lines was accidentally disturbed in the transmission of the text. The verse numbers given in such cases are always those of the current Hebrew text, though the arrangement differs.” Jeremiah 11 is one of these dislocations. You will find verses 19-23 of Chapter 11 between verses 6 and 7 of Chapter 12.

  6. Christine says:

    Oh wonder of wonders, I find myself agreeing, in toto with Past Elder !!

    The NAB is woefully lacking in literary style. I do use it to follow the daily lectionary vis a vis the liturgical year but in my private reading, never.

    I agree that the ESV is an excellent version and hope that a future edition will include the entire Catholic canon.

    And Father Neuhaus — love the way he writes. He’s the man!

  7. Schütz says:

    Well, well, well. Mirabila dictu. There they are, between between verses 6 and 7 of Chapter 12, as Anon has helpfully pointed out. Not missing after all. Just lost.

    So the conclusion is that the NAB has made an editorial decision unique among all bibles in whatever language including the standard texts in the original languages.

    Doesn’t seem very Catholic to me. Thank God we are not saddled with it here in Australia.

    I guess the reason the Vatican website uses this ridiculous version is because a bunch of bishops in the States own the copyright. Not a very good reason, as far as I can tell.

  8. Peregrinus says:

    “So the conclusion is that the NAB has made an editorial decision unique among all bibles in whatever language including the standard texts in the original languages.”

    Surely the whole point of a new edition is precisely so that you can revisit editorial decisions made made in other editions, and change some of them?

    I have no problem at all with the NAB – or any other edition – making a decision of this kind, so long as there is no pretence that their decision has some kind of canonical infallibility which gives it a greater validity than decisions made in other editions.

    It would be helpful, though, if there were a footnote at the place where the reader might expect to find transposed verses, saying to where the verses have been transposed.

    “I guess the reason the Vatican website uses this ridiculous version is because a bunch of bishops in the States own the copyright. Not a very good reason, as far as I can tell.”

    I think the whole Vatican website is a US-sponsored and provided initiative.

    The other popular (with Catholics) English translations are the RSV-CE and the Jerusalem Bible. The RSV is not available on-line anywhere, presumably as a result of a policy decision by the copyright holders (National Council of the Churches of Christ USA). The JB (which has a few unique editorial decisions of its own) is very difficult to find online, and I assume that this too reflects a decision on the part of the copyright holders (Darton Longman & Todd). I think it likely that neither of these translations were available to the Vatican Website.

  9. Past Elder says:

    I had thought — and admittedly my information may be out of date as I absent myself insofar as possible from daily Catholic life — that the US bishops had approved several, four I think, versions for use in worship services: the NAB of course, the JB, the RSV-CE and one other I can’t think of, maybe the New English Bible I haven’t heard of in years but I think the RCC was in on in Mother England.

    Certainly Der Schuetzmeister is right that, even if they are approved, you won’t hear them used much, with pride of place given to the NAB. It was their baby from the get-go, through the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. My first bible was given to me in the late 50s by a priest for whom I often served Mass, the Challoner version then common, with such of what became the NAB as had been done. I still have it.

    But what a hoot to agree with Christine! The NAB is bloody awful. But I doubt the agreement is really in toto — that the mangling of Scripture went hand in hand with the mangling of the liturgy!

    This whole verses lost and restored thing reminds me of Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the KJV — why don’t you guys try that! BTW, some of us Lutherans would like to see an ESV with Apocrypha.

  10. Christine says:

    It’s my understanding that the true “apocryphal” books are the spurious writings that were floating around in the early years of the Church that didn’t make the canon. The books that Protestants call “apocryphal” are a normal part of the Catholic/Orthodox canon and are integrated into the Old Testament as such.

    Nota bene:

    The apocrypha have been variously included and omitted from bibles over the course of the centuries. Protestant churches generally exclude the apocrypha (though the King James version of 1611 included them). The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches include all of the apocrypha (except for the books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh), but refer to them as “deuterocanonical” books. In this context, the term “apocrypha” generally refers to writings entirely outside of the biblical canon and not considered inspired (such as the Gospel of Thomas). These same books are referred to by Protestants as the “pseudoepigrapha.”

  11. Past Elder says:

    Well, I guess it’s like Chesterton said, error is never so wrong as when very nearly right.

    Yes, that’s the general RCC illusion about why they have the
    “real” OT canon. Just a few points from reality:

    There is no such thing as a Catholic/Orthodox canon. Despite the Roman illusion that it’s really the same as everything else — if you really want to be Protestant or Orthodox you have to be Catholic — the Orthodox churches do not use the same OT canon as the Roman church, and not even the same canon among themselves. While all are based on the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Bible which Protestants use, the lists are not identical.

    Deuterocanonical would refer to those books of the Septuagint not in the Hebrew Bible the Roman church accepts and apocrypha to those books of the Septuagint it rejects but which meet with varying acceptance or reection in Eastern churches, and in no case refer to the Gospel of Thomas or things of that nature.

    The only English Bible I have seen that includes all the books accepted as part of the OT by all Western and Eastern churches is a study edition by the New English Bible I haven’t seen in years.

  12. Christine says:

    I merely used “Catholic/Orthodox” as shorthand for the books that Protestants who go by the Hebrew canon don’t include in their Bibles (with some exceptions). The Ecumenical Oxford RSV and NRSV Study Bibles include them.

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