Here is a video interview I did with Dr. Ben Akers on Formed Now about how the Bible is translated. We talk about which bishops’ conferences are adopting the ESV Catholic Edition, the way in which Catholic Lectionaries are edited, the Vatican’s translation norms as represented in Liturgiam authenticam, what “essentially literal” translation means, dynamic equivalence, the tradition of English Bible translation, transparency to the original text, Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth, the canon of biblical books, Tobit in the Nova Vulgata, the Protestant translators and Catholic reviewers of the ESV-CE. I hope you enjoy the conversation!
If you have been following my blog the past few years, you might have guessed that I would be writing something official on the ESV Catholic Edition Bible translation. And now I have! This new book, “Bible Translation and the Making of the ESV Catholic Edition,” tells the story of where the ESV-CE Bible came from and the translation strategies it employs.
When I first heard that the ESV was coming out in India as a Catholic Edition, I was so happy that we would finally have access to this to translation as a fully approved Catholic version. That Protestants are way out ahead of us Catholics when it comes to options in Bible translations. They have so many! In English, we Catholics have only had access to about three families of translations and it is such a relief to get a new translation out.
Where Did the ESV Come From?
But as soon as I started sharing with people about the ESV Catholic Edition, they started asking me questions:
- Why are there so many Bible translations?
- What is unique about the ESV-CE?
- Who translated it?
- What original texts does it rely on?
- How is it different from the RSV-CE or other translations?
Since it seemed like I was uniquely situated to respond to these types of questions, as a biblical scholar at the Augustine Institute (the North American publisher of the ESV-CE), I thought I would pen a whole book. So, yes, during the Covid-19 lockdowns which we all remember so clearly, I was reading up and typing away.
Similarity Between Evangelical and Catholic Translation Discussions
My hope was to tell the backstory of the ESV-CE so that people would know where it came from, who translated it and why it was so suitable for adoption by English-speaking Catholic countries. What I found as I researched and read surprised me. It seemed like discussions and controversies that Protestants (specifically, evangelical Protestants) were having about Bible translation mapped on to the debates about translation taking place in Catholic bishops’ conferences around the world. Indeed, it seems the bishops are always talking about how to translate the Bible, the liturgy and even the Catechism.
What is in the Book?
In this book, I cover the conversations that preceded the ESV project and the promulgation of the Vatican document on translation, Liturgiam authenticam (2001). The meeting of the minds represented by the ESV translation philosophy and the Vatican’s own translation norms is remarkable. To get a sense of the topics that I cover in the book, here is the Table of Contents:
Part I – Origins
Chapter 1 – Why Another Translation?
Chapter 2 – The Catholic Lectionary Problem
Chapter 3 – The King of Bibles and the Toil of Revision
Chapter 4 – Catholic Battles in the Inclusive Language Debate
Chapter 5 – Evangelical Battles in the Inclusive Language Debate
Chapter 6 – How the ESV Came to Be
Part II – Translation
Chapter 7 – Which Text Is Really the Bible?
Chapter 8 – The Case for Essentially Literal Translation
Chapter 9 – A Christian Translation by Design
Chapter 10 – A Christ-Centered Answer to the Inclusive Language Wars
Chapter 11 – Can Evangelicals Produce a Trustworthy Catholic Translation?
Chapter 12 – The Origin and Destiny of the ESV-CE
I hope that gives you a good idea of what I am up to in the book. If you are interested in taking a closer look, you can get the book from catholic.market
The Book of Leviticus has always puzzled Bible readers. We come looking for inspiration, prayer and hope amid the challenges of life in the Valley of Tears, but instead we find rules about sacrifices, priestly garb, foods to avoid, skin diseases and other topics that seem like mere relics from the ancient past. Yet Leviticus is not just about rules and ritual purity. It is about the holiness of God. It shows us how holy He is and how he calls each one of us to be holy. In fact, to me, Leviticus is the Old Testament version of “the universal call to holiness” famously proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. In fact, that’s exactly it: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2 ESV). God is holy, that is, “set apart” from us. He’s different, other, separate from our sinfulness and selfishness. He wants us to leave behind the petty desires of the world and become truly holy like Him.
If you want to learn more about Leviticus, check out my new Lighthouse Talk on mp3 and CD from the Augustine Institute: “Leviticus Explained”. I hope you enjoy it!
Today, the Augustine Institute released my new short course on Wisdom Literature. In it, I teach 30 minute video sessions on Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon. This non-credit video course is available as a standalone for $59 and also as part of the monthly short course subscription of $23/month.
The course is available here: https://courses.augustineinstitute.org/courses/wisdom-literature
The short course program from the Augustine Institute is an easy way to encounter new ideas very quickly. The courses vary in length, but tend to consist of six or more 30-minute video lectures, accompanied by quizzes, links and other material. Right now, we have about twenty courses available and we add a new one every month.
It’s worth mentioning that I also teach the first course in the Short Course curriculum, “The Story of the Old Testament.” You can find that one here: https://courses.augustineinstitute.org/courses/old-testament
I hope you have a chance to check out these courses and the others. I hope that you’ll enjoy them! If you have suggestions for future short courses I should teach, put them in the comments on this post.
I just bought it myself! While the Augustine Institute released the original American edition of the ESV Catholic Edition Bible back in December 2019 under the title, “The Augustine Bible,” no digital edition has been available until now. This week, with the launch of Logos/Verbum 9, the Faithlife company has put out the first digital edition of the ESV Catholic Edition Bible. It will now become my “top Bible” in my prioritization of resources in the Verbum platform.
What is Verbum?
While I love BibleWorks and have been using it for almost fifteen years, this small company shut down a couple summers ago. I hope that one day BibleWorks will return bigger and better! But until the theology of resurrection applies to software, there are two other options for Catholic Bible Students: Accordance and Verbum. Since these programs are big and expensive digital libraries, you have to make a choice early on. Accordance used to be only for Mac users, but now has a PC version, but I’ve never used it. Verbum is the Catholic version of the widely-used Logos Bible Software program. This program has been around for decades and has the biggest digital library of any Bible software. It includes everything from Bible commentaries, Church Fathers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, original language search, papal documents, theology books and on and on. I use it every day and believe that software of this caliber has become indispensable for biblical scholarship.
What to do with the ESV Catholic Edition in Verbum?
I’m so happy that they were able to put the ESV Catholic Edition into production so quickly. Now you can search the text, copy the text, look for details in the text and examine it statistically. I know I’ll be diving in to the deuterocanon, getting stats and publishing them here. But I’ll be so happy to finally use the ESV-CE text as my base text in the electronic format. I can’t quite believe this day has arrived!
Where to Get It
If you want to pick up a digital copy for yourself, it’s only $9.99 right now which is half of what a paperback print Bible costs. Here’s the link: https://verbum.com/product/192293/the-augustine-bible
If you aren’t ready to take the Verbum plunge yet, that’s not a problem, you can get a free basic version of the software to run the translation here: https://verbum.com/product/168882/verbum-8-basic
I’m excited to announce that my talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture was just put out by the Augustine Institute as the CD-of-the-month. Of course, you can download it as an mp3 as well. Not the cheeriest picture, I realize–but I guess it gets the point across!
This talk is based on my book, Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture (OSV). I deal with some of the tough stuff in Sacred Scripture. Passages in the Old Testament can be frightening or strange, certainly difficult to read. I tried to shed some light in the dark corners of the Bible to reveal how to understand the balance of God’s justice and his mercy. I deal with questions about the Canaanite conquest, innocent suffering, hell, and ultimately the Cross. I hope you find it helpful and enjoyable. If you take a listen, I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment on this post.
I just wanted to give you a few links here on a few recent things I’ve been involved with:
First, I did a Q&A Interview over at the Catholic Bible Talk blog about the ESV Catholic Edition. Here’s an excerpt:
A: The Translation Oversight Committee of the ESV has been very attentive to scholars’ and leaders’ concerns and suggestions, issuing a few lists of changes over the years since the first publication of the ESV in 2001. As long as Crossway continues to gather this committee, there is always the possibility for minor tweaks to the text. I would imagine the primary area where Catholic input would improve the translation is in the deuterocanonical books. I think it is important that the ESV text be regarded as stable, so I do not think we’ll see a major revision, but minor corrections and improvements. I think Catholics and Protestants will be pleasantly surprised by the common ground they share when they study this translation together.
Second, I appeared on Catholic Answers radio show a couple weeks ago:
Third, I’ve also appeared on the Formed Now! show at the Augustine Institute a few times recently (sorry! paywall):
- St. Teresa of Calcutta (September 4, 2020)
- 15 Years of the Augustine Institute
- Jesus and the Psalms (July 7, 2020)
- The ESV Translation (May 20, 2020)
- The Story of the Old Testament (June 25, 2020)
Fourth, I put together a Short Course on the Old Testament, which is housed in the Augustine Institute Short Course platform. The link to my particular course is here: https://courses.augustineinstitute.org/courses/old-testament
Fifth, I have had a few posts go up at Faith and Culture, the Augustine Institute’s journal:
It looks like I’ve been busier than I thought I was. I have a lot of other things cooking right now, but nothing ready to serve up just yet. I hope to have some more things to share with you in the not-too-distant future. Until then, happy Bible reading!
This is my third and last installment of Summer Scripture lectures I was originally slated to deliver at the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. They have been holding a Summer Scripture Conference for decades and I’m sad that we weren’t able to come together this summer because of the pandemic. But thanks to IPL and my home institution, the Augustine Institute, for teaming up to support this short series.
This lecture dives into the Book of Psalms to show how the canonical shape of this premiere collection of sacred song from ancient Israel has a messianic orientation. David, to whom the bulk of the Psalter is attributed, forms the heart and soul of the collection and the five-book structure comes to us in a highly “Davidic” mode. To pray the psalms is to pray like David. Since Jesus presents himself as the “New David,” then to pray the psalms is to pray like Christ. I hope you enjoy this presentation!
Thanks, again, to the IPL and to the Augustine Institute for making this series possible!
The video below is the second installment of my lectures that were supposed to be delivered at the 2020 Summer Scripture conference event at the Institute for Pastoral Leadership in Mundelein, IL. I am sad that we had to cancel the conference due to the pandemic, but happy that I am still able to share my paper with you.
This lecture is on how the Wisdom of Solomon serves as a model for how Christians read the Old Testament. Its origin in the milieu of Hellenistic Judaism, its philosophical approach and its interpretation of biblical events set the stage for the New Testament’s own perspective on the Old Testament. I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks again to the co-sponsors of this video lecture series: the Institute of Pastoral Leadership and the Augustine Institute!
Thanks to the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake and to the Augustine Institute for co-sponsoring this lecture I delivered via video recording only in lieu of the canceled Summer Scripture 2020 event!
In this video lecture, I examine the similarity and connection between Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11. Both of these passages present the heroes of the Bible as examples for us to follow. This lecture was recorded a few weeks ago in June 2020. I hope you enjoy it:
You can find out more about the Summer Scripture 2021 event here: https://usml.edu/ipl/summerscripture/