The Revised Edition of New American Bible has been approved for publication and will be available on March 9, 2011 in print, and later this year online. The edition still on the USCCB website is the older 1986 edition.
The USCCB website says this about the new edition of the NAB:
“The new translation also takes into account the discovery of new and better ancient manuscripts so that the best possible textual tradition is followed.”
Newly discovered manuscripts would not have been in use for many centuries, and this should factor into the weight that is given to them. The use of a manuscript, version or edition of the Bible by the Living Tradition allows it to be ‘vetted’ against Tradition, other editions of Scripture, and Magisterium. So an older manuscript that was never used much in the Church is not necessarily better than one that withstood the text of usage for centuries.
“The NABRE includes the first revised translation of the Old Testament since 1970 and a complete revision of the Psalter. It retains the 1986 edition of the New Testament. Work on most books of the Old Testament began in 1994 and was completed in 2001. The 1991 revision of the Psalter was further revised between 2009 and 2010.”
The new edition does not change the New Testament, only the OT. It will be interesting to see if the 2011 OT are in conflict or harmony with the 1986 NT.
“The revision aimed at making use of the best manuscript traditions available, translating as accurately as possible, and rendering the result in good contemporary English. In many ways it is a more literal translation than the original New American Bible and has attempted to be more consistent in rendering Hebrew (or Greek) words and idioms, especially in technical contexts, such as regulations for sacrifices. In translating the Psalter special effort was made to provide a smooth, rhythmic translation for easy singing or recitation and to retain the concrete imagery of the Hebrew.”
Terms like ‘best manuscripts’ and ‘accuracy’ and good contemporary English have largely become meaningless in modern Biblical scholarship. Every translation makes these types of claims.
“The NABRE is approved for private use and study. It will not be used for the Mass, which uses an earlier, modified version of the NAB translation.”
The modified NAB used in the Mass was modified under Pope John Paul II because its inclusive language was found unacceptable for use in the Mass. The U.S. Bishops approved the modified NAB for use in the Mass, but they do not allow it to be published in print (except in lectionaries) nor do they offer it on their website.
There has long been a tension between the USCCB and the Holy See on Bible translations. The USCCB committee on Scripture translations has approved of Protestant translations, loose translations, and translations making heavy use of inclusive language — openly displaying disregard for the norms for Bible translation promulgated by then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1995.
The Bishops could easily have designed the NABRE so as to meet the few modest requirements of the Vatican for liturgical translations. The result would be one standardized text for the Mass, the website and the print versions. They chose not to do so. They also chose not to update the NT in accord with the NAB version used in the Mass.
UPDATE: Msgr. Charles Pope offers some good insights into the NAB and NABRE here.