Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alternative Bible Translation O.K.?

Question: I was thinking about using the Douay Rheims Bible [DR] for our Bible study at church. The main reason I want to use it is that it's set up great in my opinion, with footnotes instead of endnotes, scripture references, good size etc. PLUS it's a great translation. Should I just keep using my RSV-CE [Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition]? Most everyone in the Bible Study uses the NAB [New American Bible], but I'm just not the biggest fan of it so I've always used the RSV-CE, but I was just thinking about using my DR.

Answer: I think it is basically a good idea. I lead Bible studies at our parish and we predominately use the NAB because, right now, we are doing a study of the Sunday readings (the readings at Mass in the U.S. are mostly based on this translation) and because most of the group owns a NAB (my personal translation of preference is the RSV-CE). Since no translation is perfect, however, it is always helpful to have an alternate translation on hand to make an occasional comparison. I often supply an alternate reading of a particular verse when I think it will make things clearer or to bring out a deeper understanding of it. There are only two possible downsides to you using a different translation from everyone else: [1] If the group gets confused when it is your turn to read and you have to interpret the sometimes archaic language in the DRV, and [2] if you get frustrated because everyone elses reading is different from yours. Worse case scenario is if a showdown results over whether the group should insist on only one translation. Feelings get hurt that way.If you have any doubts and if you are not the leader of the group (and presuming the group has a leader) I would check with him or her first.

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