11 February 2021, The Tablet

The lectionary fiasco


The lectionary fiasco

The ESV-CE, the New International Version, The New Jerusalem Bible and the 1966 Jerusalem Bible

 

One of the world’s leading Catholic theologians and biblical scholars is astonished by the decision to withdraw The Jerusalem Bible from liturgical use and to replace it with a dated translation marred by poor scholarship and the use of sexist language

Some Catholic bishops of England and Wales and of Scotland are ­cherished friends from our days together in Rome and elsewhere. That makes their decision to impose the use of the English Standard Version: Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) in the lectionary without any meaningful consultation even more puzzling and painful. The bishops have announced that The Jerusalem Bible used in the readings at Mass for over 50 years will be replaced not with The Revised New Jerusalem Bible published last year but with the ESV-CE – a translation produced by conservative evangelical scholars and published in the United States in 2001, with modifications approved by the bishops’ conference of India in 2018.

Evangelicals themselves, as John Barton pointed out in The Tablet two weeks ago, tend to prefer the New International Version (NIV). They find the language of the ESV “rather archaic”.

When they explained and defended their choice of the ESV in a statement on 21 January, the bishops claimed that it embodies the “qualities the Church seeks when considering the translation of Scripture”. These qualities are, they said, first, “the evaluation and use of source material”; second, “accuracy of translation which conveys the meaning of the biblical authors”; and, third, “dignity and accessibility of language needed for a worthy proclamation of the Word of God”.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading


Register for free to read this article in full


Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login



User Comments (3)

Comment by: ced
Posted: 14/02/2021 18:42:00
Is it too late for the bishops to change their minds? The Bishops are free to choose the translation that makes the most sense for their peoples, are they contractually free to make a better option?
Comment by: ced
Posted: 14/02/2021 18:30:36
Is it too late for the bishops to change their minds? The Bishops are free to choose the translation that makes the most sense for their peoples, are they contractually free to make a better option?
Comment by: amfortas
Posted: 11/02/2021 18:14:31
The RSV, NRSV and RNJB all render Romans 5:9 as "wrath of God" ("God's anger in the JB), although the NRSV has a footnote telling us that the Greek reads simply "the wrath". So why single out the ESV for particular opprobrium? Why not take Henry Wansbrough, whose RNJB is often touted as a worthy candidate for the lectionary, to task? I remember my lesbian feminist NT tutur insisting on the RSV above the NRSV for accuracy. She always insisted that we shouldn't hide from the patriarchal nature of the text.