Until this year have used the New American Bible (NAB) for my Religious Ed. class.

Now, we've got a New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE).

How long is a bible New and how long is a bible Revised and can this continue for ever?

Will Bible translators ever just break down and use the Google Chrome incremental versioning system or will bible quotes require more and more ubiquitous bytes to signify the translation?

Specifically, I'm wondering if it is necessary to call the New American Bible Revised Edition published in 2011 AD the NABRE or if we'll just go back to calling it the New American Bible. Or futhermore if we'll ever just call it the American Bible.

  • 1
    Somehow I'd feel less enthusiastic about a Bible that's sequentially numbered. I just imagine they'll start taking it the wrong direction and be like "Bibleinator 4.0!"
    – corsiKa
    Sep 13 '11 at 17:09
  • 6
    It could be worse - see 'New College, Oxford', founded in 1379. Sep 13 '11 at 17:18
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    I think this is basically a version control question, and even suitable for Software Engineering! I've seen things like this happen so many times on projects by non-technical people... :P Sep 13 '11 at 19:00
  • 2
    @djc well we still have the 50 year old Novus Ordo Rite, I think the word 'New' might mean something different in the Catholic world, similar to how 'Ordinary' and 'Common' means something completely different.
    – Peter Turner
    Sep 13 '11 at 19:03
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    The NABRE will always be the NABRE, unless you want to someday change its name to NSNABRE (Not So New American Bible Revised Edition). Changing its name would just be confusing to those who know it as the NABRE. Sep 13 '11 at 19:57

The name given to a version of the Bible is just that, a name. It's a bit like asking how long New York will stay New for - it's not going to be dropped because it's what the city is called, rather than a description of it.

Some versions of the Bible are referred to by year, or sometimes by century, for example:

  • 21st Century King James Version
  • New International Version 1984
  • Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition

Sometimes that's officially part of the name when published (such as the first item on that list) and sometimes the year is added later to disambiguate it from more modern editions of the same version. I think that's as close to the Google Chrome analogy as we're likely to get.

  • 3
    As an example, "New International Version 1984" was just "New International Version" until the new version came out this year. Now the old "New International Version" is "New International Version 1984" and the new version is "New International Version". Makes sense, right? ;P
    – a_hardin
    Sep 13 '11 at 17:30
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    @a_harding: This could prove hellishly (well, maybe even literally, who knows) confusing for time-travellers :D Sep 13 '11 at 20:01

It's basically a marketing term, like anywhere else "new and improved (revised)" is used. It doesn't signify anything meaningful about the translation itself, at least not beyond a few months. IMO a better naming convention is to name the translation after something actually unique to the translation.


As a_hardin commented, the original NIV is now the NIV 1984. (No obvious Orwellian connection... I think :D). I remember it as, well, NIV (I happen to have found God in... 1984 :D. And I remember the original NIV well. I had two English-language bibles back then, NIV and KJV). So, the name, being its name, stays. Forever.

As to the "why not name Bible translation revisions like software", there actually is a German-language Bible that is thusly (sub-)named: the "Volxbibel" (from "Volksbibel", which means "People's Bible" in English). Current version is 3.0, and they're working on a 4.0.

And interesting project, and an interesting result. It's not very traditional or "orthodox". Instead, everyone can work on it (it's a wiki :D). And the result is a very... "modern" Bible. Sadly, everything is in German, and this is not the place to wax philosophically about it.

  • That does sound like a very cool project. Unfortunately I don't know any German.
    – a_hardin
    Sep 13 '11 at 20:17
  • I've got a German Bible (bought it when I was in Köln for world youth day in 2005) it just says Die Bibel on the front, I think it's a Catholic Bible though. Do you know what version that is?
    – Peter Turner
    Sep 13 '11 at 20:19
  • @Peter: could be a catholic Bible. There should be a publisher listed in the front pages. Off hand and remotely I cannot identify it (I'm not an expert in Bible versions anyway) Sep 13 '11 at 20:48
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    @Peter: probably the "Einheitsübersetzung". Could it be this one? The original Einheitsübersetzung (Unity Translation) was a collaboration of catholic and protestant theologians, so it's acceptable to Protestants too. Sep 13 '11 at 21:04
  • War is peace. Freedom is slavery. The NIV is a very lively and poetic translation. Apr 15 '17 at 16:32

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