Replace the New American Bible with the Douay-Rheims Bible in the Catholic Church

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The undersigned respectfully petition the bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to remove the New American Bible (NAB) translation from the USCCB website and to reinstate a translation based on the Vulgate, such as the Douay-Rheims Bible (DR) for all readings and gospels for masses in the United States.

The undersigned acknowledge that that the Catholic Church is not, and should not be a democracy. This petition is not intended in any way to be a demand. We are signing this petition only to bring this matter to the attention of our bishops.

The Fourth Session of the Council of Trent said: “The same holy council …ordains and declares that the old Latin Vulgate Edition, which, in use for so many hundred years, has been approved by the Church, be in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions held as authentic, and that no one dare or presume under any pretext whatsoever to reject it.

Unfortunately, the NAB is not based on the Vulgate, which was translated by St. Jerome. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “…scholars are practically agreed as to the competence of St. Jerome for the work given him by Pope St. Damasus. He, moreover, had access to Greek and other manuscripts, even at that time considered ancient, which are not now known to exist; he could compare dozens of important texts, and he had Origen's ‘Hexapla’ and other means of determining the value of his material, which we do not possess.”

It is impossible for any Bible translation to improve upon the Vulgate. Unfortunately, a poor attempt to do so was attempted with the NAB, which was first published in 1970. Since then the readings and gospels at mass in the United States have been based on this new translation.

Pope Pius XII restated an ancient belief of the Church “’Lex orandi, lex credendi’ - the law for prayer is the law for faith.’” Mediator Dei

The Church has always believed that how we pray affects what we believe.

The Gospels and readings read at mass are how we pray. They affect how we believe.

Unfortunately many of the translations in the NAB undercut Catholic theology. Many of the footnotes dismiss the historicity of the sayings and events in scripture.

This most certainly affects the way we pray. It accordingly affects the way we believe.

Among the many problems with the NAB are that the numbering of the Psalms were changed from the traditional numbering. Also, two of the Books of Kings were renamed to Samuel. The spelling of proper names were changed.

Biblical Criticism

According to the preface to the NAB on the Vatican’s website, “In view of the relative certainties more recently attained by textual and higher criticism, it has become increasingly desirable that contemporary translations of the sacred books into English be prepared in which due reverence for the text and strict observance of the rules of criticism would be combined.”

However, Biblical Criticism is condemned by the magesterium of the Catholic Church.

According to Pope St. Pius X, “It is quite clear that the criticism We are concerned with is an agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist criticism. Hence anybody who embraces it and employs it, makes profession thereby of the errors contained in it, and places himself in opposition to Catholic faith.Pascendi Dominici Gregis

Pope St. Pius issued another encyclical, Lamentabili Sane, which was a syllabus of errors of modernists and Biblical criticism.

1. For example the DR says, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again.” Matthew 16:21

However, for this verse the NAB footnote says: “Neither this nor the two later passion predictions (Mt 17:22–23; 20:17–19) can be taken as sayings that, as they stand, go back to Jesus himself. However, it is probable that he foresaw that his mission would entail suffering and perhaps death, but was confident that he would ultimately be vindicated by God.”

Incredibly, the NAB footnote says that Jesus didn’t really say what is attributed to Him in the Gospel.

This is despite a dogmatic encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, which said, “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred.” Providentissimus Deus

2. Nonetheless here’s another example of the NAB doing just that. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, the Blessed Mother speaks the Magnificat: “And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.” Luke 1:46-55

The Challoner notes say, “Shall call me blessed: These words are a prediction of that honor which the Church in all ages should pay to the Blessed Virgin.”

It is extremely unfortunate that the NAB footnote suggests that Mary never even said the Magnificat and that it was a literary device by St. Luke, “Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God’s favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.” NAB footnote

4. The DR says,  “And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.”

In stark contrast,the NAB says,“So there are three that testify” 1 John 5:7. Why the change? Biblical criticism!

Translations Contrary to Catholic Teaching

1.The DR says, “And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.” Genesis 1:2

This verse has always been cited as an insinuation of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity in the Old Testament.

However, the NAB translation avoids mentioning the Spirit of God and any insinuation of the Holy Trinity, and says, “And the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters” Genesis 1:2

2. For an even more scandalous example, the DR says: “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.“ Luke 1:28

However the NAB outrageously says, “And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

In doing this, the NAB undercuts the scriptural basis of the Hail Mary: One of the most important prayers in Catholicism.

3. For another example, in Isaias the DR  says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel.” Isaias 7:14 

However, the NAB says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Instead of translating using the word “virgin,” the NAB uses the phrase, “young woman.” How could a "young woman" being pregnant be a "sign?" That would just be the norm. The NAB translation makes this verse nonsensical. 

To make matters worse, the NAB footnote actually acknowledges that the Septuiguint, the translation favored by Jesus Christ and the apostles, uses the Greek word for Virgin. However, the NAB translators seem to have rejected the Septuiguint and instead use the term young woman: “The young woman: Hebrew ‘almah designates a young woman of marriageable age without specific reference to virginity. The Septuagint translated the Hebrew term as parthenos, which normally does mean virgin, and this translation underlies Mt 1:23.” NAB footnote

4. Another questionable translation appears in the Gospel according to John. The DR says, “And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine. [And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. “

Note that Jesus is asking what concern it is to both of them.” John 2:3-4

The Challoner Notes explain, “These words of our Savior, spoken to his mother, have been understood by some commentators as harsh, they not considering the next following verse: Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye, which plainly shows that His mother knew of the miracle that He was to perform, and that it was at her request He wrought it.”

However the NAB translates this as, “[And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” John 4:4

Instead of Jesus asking his mother what it has to do with both of them, the NAB says “how does your concern affect Me?” making it sound as if Jesus rebuked his mother, which is inconsistent with the character of Jesus.

5. The DR says, “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” Genesis 3:15

Pope Pius IX, in a dogmatic bull interpreted this verse: “The Fathers and writers of the Church…In quoting the words… ‘I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed’ -- taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with Him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with Him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.” Ineffabilis Deus

Catholics have always believed that it is the Blessed Mother who will crush the head of the serpent.

Unfortunately, the NAB translates this as, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” Genesis 3:15  

“Her" is changed to "their" but oddly "heel" remains "singular and not the plural "heels".

Footnotes Contrary to Catholic Teaching

Perhaps the worst part of the NAB is the footnotes.

1. For instance, the DR says, “If any man' s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:15

St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the First Council of Lyons all said that this verse was one of the many scriptural evidences of purgatory.

However, contrary to Church teaching, the footnote in the NAB unilaterally says, “The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.”

Not only does this footnote conflict with the Church’s teaching, but it compounds the situation by referring to a “notion” of purgatory as if the existence of Purgatory is not dogma.

2. For another example the DR says, “ He (Onan) knowing that the children should not be his, when he went in to his brother' s wife, spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother' s name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing.” Genesis 38:9-10

This is the scriptural basis of Catholic opposition to the use of artificial birth control. Pope Pius XI said, “The conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious. …As St. Augustine notes, ‘Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.’” Casti Connubii

The footnote for the NAB again defies the dogmatic teaching of the church and says that Onan was killed for not preserving his brother’s line. It says: “Preserve your brother’s line: lit., “raise up seed for your brother”: an allusion to the law of levirate, or “brother-in-law,” marriage; see notes on Dt 25:5; Ru 2:20. Onan’s violation of this law brought on him God’s punishment”

3. Another example is first Peter. The DR says, “Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison” 1 Peter 3:18-19

Challoner Notes say, “See here a proof of a third place, or middle state of souls: for these spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach, after his death, were not in heaven; nor yet in the hell of the damned: because heaven is no prison: and Christ did not go to preach to the damned.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia also cites this verse as evidence of the Bosom of Abraham.

However the NAB footnote for this verse oddly says, “The spirits in prison: it is not clear just who these spirits are. They may be the spirits of the sinners who died in the flood, or angelic powers, hostile to God, who have been overcome by Christ.”

4. Finally, the DR says, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.” Matthew 26:29

The NAB footnote nonsensically says “Many does not mean that some are excluded, but is a Semitism designating the collectivity who benefit from the service of the one, and is equivalent to ‘all.’”



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