14 July 2021, The Tablet

Church leaders endorse ‘more inclusive’ Bible translation

LECTIONARY / Amri recommends RNJB for its ‘accessible, user-friendly and memorable’ text

Church leaders endorse ‘more inclusive’ Bible translation

Amri said: “We advocate the use of language that is inclusive of women rather than excluding.”
Sergio Azenha / Alamy

The possibility of the Irish Catholic Church choosing to use an inclusive Bible text for its lectionary appears increasingly likely.

The executive of the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (Amri) has recommended that the Irish episcopal conference use the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB).

The association, which represents 150 religious organisations, missionary societies and apostolic groups in Ireland, with almost 7,000 members, paid tribute to the bishops’ willingness to consult widely over the issue. The Tablet understands the Irish bishops are considering the RNJB.

In its submission to the consultation, Amri said: “As hearers of the Word, we allow the Scriptures to influence and nourish us. It is therefore important to us that we have a reliable and inclusive language text which is both attractive, accessible, user-friendly and memorable.”

The group warned that a lectionary translation using archaic expressions and exclusionary language would be a barrier for all, but especially to those for whom English is not their first language.

Amri also sets out a number of comparisons between the English Standard Version (ESV), the Catholic Edition of which is to be used in the new lectionary in England and Wales and Scotland, and the RNJB in its submission, to emphasise its concerns.

It criticised the ESV translation of the Deutero-canonical books as “a very light redaction of the old RSV of many years ago. There are one or two adjustments per chapter; in other words, this is not a new translation at all but a rather lazy reprint. The same may be said generally of the ESV. It is, in effect, the RSV with ‘and’ taken out and not much else. English, as it is spoken, has moved on.”

David Rose, secretary general of Amri, said that Amri’s executive and staff consulted with a Scripture scholar and then came to its conclusion. “The random sample comparisons between both versions in our submission, for example on the Letters of St Paul, illustrate the point that the Revised New Jerusalem Bible is probably a more accurate translation and definitely more inclusive in its use of language.”

He added that the “existing reality is recognising the equality of women and Amri as a church leadership body tries to reflect this in the Church where possible. So we advocate the use of language that is inclusive of women rather than excluding.”

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