|The Confraternity Bible|
|New Testament published in 1941, OT released in sections 1952-1969 and became the New American Bible|
|Textual basis||NT: Latin Vulgate compared with the Greek. OT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls influence.|
|Translation type||Formal equivalence (from the Preface), moderate use of dynamic equivalence.|
|Reading level||High School|
|Copyright||Several, published between 1941 and 1969|
|The Bible in English|
Confraternity Bible is a somewhat broad term that refers to any edition of the Catholic Bible translated under the auspices of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine ("C.C.D.") between 1941 and 1969. The Confraternity Bible is known, and appreciated, for the balance it strikes between accessibility and authenticity. That is, many feel that the translation is neither too loose and friendly, nor too stilted and slavish. It was supplanted in 1970 by the New American Bible and is no longer in widespread use.
The history of the translation project that resulted in the Confraternity Bible is complex and somewhat opaque. In 1941, a revision of Richard Challoner's version of the Rheims New Testament was released under the following title:
THE NEW TESTAMENT
of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Translated from the Latin Vulgate
A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version,
Edited by Catholic Scholars
Under the Patronage of
THE EPISCOPAL COMMITTEE
CONFRATERNITY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
The C.C.D's 1941 translation of the New Testament revised the Challoner-Rheims version in several ways:
- It modernized the style of Challoner's Eighteenth Century English.
- The C.C.D. used the Clementine edition of the Vulgate as a base, but made use of modern Critical texts to improve fidelity to the original source texts.
- Where Greek idioms had been translated literally into the Latin Vulgate, it paraphrased the Greek idiom, rather than translating directly from the Latin. Where they retained the Latin rendering, they noted the Greek in a footnote.
- In general, it was a freer translation than Challoner's, and more periphrastic, however the translation still leans more toward formal equivalence.
- It restored the paragraph formatting of the first edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible, which had been removed in the Challoner Revision.
- In order to maintain fidelity to the Greek and Latin source texts, they retained use of second person singular pronouns thee, thou, thy, and thine, together with the -(e)st and -(e)th verb suffixes, but to make it read more like modern English, they dropped the second person plural nominative form Ye and used only the modern you, your and yours. In so doing, they retained the more accurate translation of the Greek and Latin underlying texts, with a more modern sounding flow. This was unique to the Confraternity version and is seen in no other known English translations.
Because it was intended to be used in the liturgy, the translators did not introduce any rendering that would depart from the text of the Latin Vulgate.
Upon release of the C.C.D's New Testament in 1941, translation work began on the Old Testament. Then, on September 30, 1943, Pope Pius XII issued Divino Afflante Spiritu, an encyclical letter, which stressed the importance of diligent study of the original languages and other cognate languages, so as to arrive at a deeper and fuller knowledge of the meaning of the sacred texts. Specifically, Pius XII characterized the original language texts as "having been written by the inspired author himself" and opined that such texts "ha[ve] more authority and greater weight than any even the very best translation, whether ancient or modern[.]" This pronouncement essentially doomed the C.C.D's revision of the Douay-Challoner version, which itself was a translation from Latin. Thus, the Church's focus shifted to a completely new translation of the entire Bible with emphasis on original language sources.
This is not to say that the C.C.D's Old Testament translation efforts up to that point were scrapped. Quite to the contrary, they continued, as the C.C.D's Old Testament from the outset was "Translated from the Original Languages with Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources" — an approach that was presumably in complete accord with the September 1943 encyclical.
What is known of the Confraternity's Old Testament translation is that it was completed in stages beginning in 1948 and ending in 1969. Volumes were released serially by St. Anthony Guild Press in New Jersey as they were completed. Their publishing history is as follows:
- The Book of Genesis – 1948 - this was a unique translation, the only one of which that was revised for the 1970 NAB
- The Book of Psalms – 1950 and 1955, reprinted 1959
- The Octateuch: Genesis to Ruth – 1952 (published as Volume One)
- The Sapiential Books (Job to Sirach) – 1955 (published as Volume Three — with Volume Two left to be filled in later)
- The Prophetic Books (Isaias to Malachias) – 1961 (published as Volume Four)
- The Historical Books - Samuel to Maccabees (1 Samuel to Esther; 1 and 2 Maccabees) – 1969 (published as Volume Two)
These translations formed the basis of what would become the Old Testament portion of the 1970 New American Bible, except for the C.C.D.'s 1948 translation of the Book of Genesis. Genesis was completely revised before the release of the NAB. Some minor revisions were made to the rest of the books to normalize the anglicized form of formal names throughout the entire text, preferring a Hebrew-English instead of Greek/Latin-English rendering. They also dropped the Latin Vulgate/Greek Septuagint Book names (using the Hebrew 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, instead of 1, 2, 3, and 4 Kings, using the Hebrew Isaiah instead of Latinized Isaias, etc.), went with the Hebrew chapter-verse numbering instead of the Greek/Latin (which effects mainly the Books of Psalms and Job, but is also noticed elsewhere). Lastly, they used the Hebrew-English translated form of the tetragrammaton, using an all capitalized "the LORD", instead of the Greek/Latin-English "the Lord". These are the main differences seen between the 1948-1969 Confraternity Old Testament books versus the 1970 NAB OT books, along with various other minor spelling and grammar revisions.
Given the Confraternity's completion of the Old Testament in 1969, and the NAB's introduction in 1970, there has never been a release of a complete Confraternity Bible (that is, with both Old and New Testaments) featuring all of the Confraternity's translations from 1941 to 1969. The most complete editions include the Confraternity's 1941 New Testament and those portions of the Old Testament that had been translated by 1961, namely the first eight books - the Octateuch - Genesis through Ruth, the seven Sapiential (Wisdom) Books - Job - Sirach, and the eighteen Prophetic Books, Isaias through Malachias.
Because of the hybrid nature of the various versions of the Confraternity Bible, it has been referred to as the "Douay-Confraternity Bible", referencing the fact that the Old Testament section was made up partly of books from the Challoner-Douay Old Testament, and partly from books translated or revised by the C.C.D. Publishers released "Confraternity Bibles" up to 1969, always indicating to what extent they featured Confraternity translations of the Old Testament. They typically included some variation on the following description of the edition's Old Testament contents: "With the New Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Translation of the First Eight Books, and the Seven Sapiential Books, and the Eighteen Prophetic Books of the Old Testament. The balance is in the Douay Version."
The Book of Psalms contained in a Confraternity Bible could be one of several versions: The Challoner Psalms, the Pontifical Biblical Institute ("PBI") of Rome - which in the title page would be labeled "a New Translation of the Book of Psalms from the New Latin Version approved by Pope Pius XII", from 1945, the C.C.D. Psalms of 1950, or the C.C.D. Psalms of 1955. The 1950 C.C.D. Psalms were based on the 1945 P.B.I. version (a new Latin translation of the original Hebrew text commanded by Pius XII, the "Novum Psalterium"). The 1955 C.C.D. Psalter, which with minor revision such as Hebrew instead of Latin chapter and verse numbering and proper names, is also the Psalter used in the 1970 New American Bible, which were translated directly from the Hebrew manuscripts underlying those of the 1945 "Novum Psalterium". The 1950 and 1955 texts can be distinguished by reference to the first word of Psalm 1, in which the former begins with the word "Blessed" and the latter, "Happy".
The Confraternity Bible is still significant today for three salient reasons.
- First, it is important as a historical and religious document inasmuch as it is representative of the homely American Catholic piety of the first half of the 20th century.
- Second, its preparation was sponsored by the US Bishops; the only other English translation of the Bible that could claim that is the NAB.
- Third, it manages to provide an "updated" and contemporary version of the Catholic Bible that at once preserves the old (inasmuch as it is a revision of the widely used and famous Douay-Rheims-Challoner translation, also in the NT retaining the older, and more accurate, second person singular/plural pronouns thee, thou, thy, and thine for singular, you, your, and yours plural) and predates the post-conciliar influences and ethos of the NAB.
Two publishers affiliated with Opus Dei have begun to reprint the Confraternity Bible. The first, Scepter Publishers, has published a pocket edition of the 1941 C.C.D. New Testament, ISBN 978-0-933932-77-7.
As of September 27, 2014, it is not known whether the second, Sinag Tala Publishers, a small Catholic book publishing company out of the Philippines, is still printing Confraternity Bibles or not. Their website appears to no longer exist. References online appear to point out contact persons and a phone number, so it may be possible to order directly by phone.
In addition, copies of various editions of the Confraternity Bible (with more or less of the C.C.D's Old Testament) abound on the used book market. The Holy Bible, Saint Joseph Textbook Edition, Confraternity Version published in the 1950s and early-1960s by the Catholic Book Publishing Company of New York is one widely available example, as well as the same companies New Catholic Edition of the Confraternity Bible.
- "Confraternity", Bibles, Wikidot.
- "Douay Confraternity", Bibles, Wikidot.
- Scepter Publishers.