NEW YORK — Work among Bible scholars for a long time has transcended the divided condition of Christianity, and their latest output--a revised New Testament--shows it.
The new translation, produced under U.S. Roman Catholic auspices, has the ring and often phraseology of the main Protestant translations and the elevated English of their King James ancestry.
In fact, Protestant and Catholic scholars regularly have worked together on the principal contemporary renditions, including the revision recently issued of the New Testament in the New American Bible.
Its editorial chairman, Father Francis T. Gignac, says "it is more in accord with biblical translations that have become traditional in English, from King James right up to the Revised Standard Version."
Most Protestant bodies use the RSV or other versions rooted in King James English.
Citing similarities of the new Catholic translation with the RSV, the Rev. John H. Reumann of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia says Bible versions "are moving toward greater convergence."
Reumann, a Protestant, was on the five-member editorial board with Gignac of the Catholic University of America for the new Catholic volume. Four of 10 other revisers also were Protestants.
"The hope and predictions are that we are moving from a plurality of translations toward greater uniformity by the end of the century," Reumann said in a telephone interview.
Father Claude J. Peifer of St. Bede's Abbey in Peru, Ill., a Catholic member of the editorial board for the revised New Testament, said its similarity with the RSV derived from "the same philosophy of translation."
Asked if the resembling results wouldn't help eliminate the old misconception that Protestants and Catholics use different Bibles, Peifer said:
"I would hope that misconception already has been largely eliminated over the past 25 years."
Some Protestant-sponsored Bibles, such as the RSV and the more colloquially worded Good News Bible, with minor additions, have been granted formal Catholic imprimaturs, or approvals.