It’s not the first time Catholics have tried to modernize the Bible but it may be the oddest.
The New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), which was set to make its debut on Ash Wednesday, March 9, aimed to make the text easier to understand by making a number of little tweaks, both subtle and obvious, in hopes of making it easier to read. Among them, deleting the words “cereal,” “booty” and, oddly enough, “holocaust,” was said to have taken place to help people better understand scripture.
Catholic translations of the Bible go back to 1582 when the Douay-Rheims Bible was published. The first edition of the New American Bible was published in 1970.
“It will be like going from regular TV to high-definition,” Mary Elizabeth Sperry, associate director of New American Bible utilization for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Catholic News Service. “You’ll have the same programs but more clarity, more detail.”
NABRE was said to feature the first revised translation of the Old Testament since 1970. The Revised Edition also used a translation of the New Testament first published in the 1986 edition of the New American Bible.
The word “cereal,” originally referring to bushels of wheat, had been removed because of fears readers might confuse it for a breakfast food.
“Booty” had been replaced with “plunder” because it has also come to mean “buttocks” or “sexual intercourse.”
In what may be a sign of deference to Jewish history, the word “holocaust,” which has come to refer to only the specific period of history where millions of Jews were killed, had been replaced with “burnt offerings.”
The Catholic Church has had a somewhat spotted record when it comes to recognizing the Holocaust.
As millions of Jews were meeting their death in the 1940s, Pope Pius XII refused to condemn the killing on the grounds that the church remain “neutral.”
In 2009, Pope Benedict rescinded the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier.
“The announcement of the pope’s decision came not long after Swedish television aired an interview in which Williamson denied the existence of gas chambers and said no more than 300,000 Jews had died in Nazi custody,” Salon noted.
The Catholic Church recently received unwelcome news coverage when the Irish broadcaster RTE revealed what the Associated Press called a “smoking gun” letter that proved institutional complicity in untold thousands of reported sexual abuses.