New American Bible

New American Bible

In 1970, the New American Bible (NAB) was first published. It is an English Bible translation that was produced by members of the Catholic biblical scholars in cooperation with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The original languages were translated into English by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine according to the principles of Vatican II for use in the liturgy.


It contains the following articles and other information:

  • Bible Helps
  • The Purpose of the Bible
  • The Bible and History
  • How the Bible Came About
  • How to Study the Bible
  • List of the Popes
  • The English Versions of the Bible
  • Literary Forms of the Bible
  • Biblical Themes
  • Suggested Readings for the Liturgical Year
  • Sunday Readings of the Holy Scriptures

Second version

In 1986 some traditionally familiar phraseology was restored to the New Testament. This included some inclusive language.

Third version

In 1991 it was again amended to create more inclusive language in the Psalms. Some controversy ensued because of its alleged use of vertical inclusive language (God and Christ) and some uses of horizontal inclusive language (human beings instead of men).

"Fourth version"

There has been no 4th Edition published as a Bible, however, in 2000 the text of the 1991 New American Bible with revised New Testament and Psalms was modified by a committee of the Holy See and the Bishops for use in the Latin-Rite Catholic liturgy. This is the current text of the Lectionaries of the United States Roman Catholic Church. The Holy See accepted some use of inclusive language, such as where the speaker intended to address a mixed audience (such as “brothers and sisters”), but rejected any changes relating to God or Christ. This version will soon be found in the new English Lectionary. The revision of the NAB Old Testament, excluding the Psalms which were revised in 1991, is yet to be published.


The New American Bible of 1991 has been lauded by many liberal Catholics. However, it has been derided by more orthodox Catholics for a number of reasons. For one, it uses gender-neutral language in many places. Pope John Paul II and other Vatican officials were not happy with the 1991 revision, mainly because of the inclusive language. The revised Psalter of 1991 was rejected for liturgical use by the Holy See in 1994. The revised text (New Testament and Psalms) was specifically disallowed by the provisional norms for translation of biblical texts sent by Vatican officials to American Bishops in June 1997, and also disallowed by the translation guidelines formally promulgated in an Instruction published by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in March 2001 “Liturgiam authenticam ”, hence the issuing of an amended text for liturgical use. Nonetheless, the New American Bible is one of the most widely used translations by American Catholics.

The notes especially have been criticized by some Catholics because of their perceived liberal and higher critical interpretation of passages, such as those which are believed to prophesy the coming of Christ. Traditional authorship of many books is also questioned (e.g. the Pentateuch, Daniel, and some of Paul's letters). Some more traditional Catholics therefore reject its use and call on Catholics to use more traditional translations, such as those in the Douai-Rheims Bible and the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible series. It should be noted, however, that many Church authorities find nothing wrong with the scholarly questioning of traditional authorship, especially since in many cases (in the Old Testament and even the Gospels) there is no authorial identification in the text.

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