The U.S. bishops have announced a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy.
“The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14.
As he addressed his brother bishops at the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Cardinal Wuerl pointed to the central role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church.
He explained that the bishops’ committees on Divine Worship and Doctrine have both expressed a desire for a single translation, suitable for all pastoral applications, including individual prayer, study and devotional use, along with liturgical proclamation.
The new translation would “provide us one source of language when we speak the Word of God,” he said.
The process of creating the new translation will take “a long time” and will consist of numerous lengthy steps, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged.
The New Testament translation was last revised in 1986. By way of comparison, the translation portion of revising the New American Bible’s Old Testament began in 1994 and was finished in 2001.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine will work with the Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts, to undertake the revision, he said. The group will “look at those texts to see that they are going to be able to be used for proclamation as well as for ordinary use.”
This work will utilize the same principles that guided the recent revision of the Old Testament in the New American Bible, as well as translation norms for Sacred Scripture, he added.
“The Biblical scholars responsible for the revision will be sensitive then to the pastoral, the doctrinal, the liturgical considerations” as they work to produce a draft, which will then be presented “for review and preliminary approval” by the the Scripture translation subcommittee, the cardinal said.
The committees on worship and doctrine will then have an opportunity to review the texts.
Ultimately, the body of bishops “will be asked to approve the completed Biblical text for liturgical use,” so that it can then be submitted to Rome for the Vatican’s “recognitio,” after which the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference can grant it the “imprimatur.”
At that point, Cardinal Wuerl said, the revised translation of the New American Bible “will be able to be used in the lectionary at Mass.”
“So the end product will be one translation that we will all be using,” he explained, and all of the faithful will be “hearing the same words when we refer to specific texts.”
“That translation will be used in the liturgy, it will be used in study, it will be used in personal devotion, it will be used when we’re simply reading the text,” the cardinal said.
He emphasized that although the process will take a long time, it is currently an ideal time to begin, now that “we have all the pieces in place.”