We have discussed before some concerns about the New American Bible (NAB) and how it vaguely translates the Greek word πορνείᾳ (porneia) which specifically refers to sexual immorality, but which the NAB translates only as “immorality.” Of course immorality could mean just about anything. You can read more of this rather serious problem here: NAB and Porneia
In this post I’d like to explore another problem with the NAB that was also called to my attention by one of you. There are problematic footnotes which do not always reflect Catholic teaching. One I’d like to look at is a flawed footnote on 1 Corinthians 3:15. The issue concerns how this text has been understood to refer to purgatory. The footnote in the current NAB denies that it is a reference to purgatory. Let’s look at the text and then the footnote.
No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if some one’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Cor 3:12-15)
Here then is the footnote in the NAB
[Verse 15] Will be saved: although Paul can envision very harsh divine punishment (cf 1 Cor 3:17), he appears optimistic about the success of divine corrective means both here and elsewhere (cf 1 Cor 5:5; 11:32 [discipline]). The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.
Now it is strange, to say the least, that a Catholic Bible would so categorically set aside any reference to purgatory in this verse. There are many ways down through the ages that the Fathers of the Church and other authoritative teachers, as well as modern day apologists, see in this text a possible reference to purgatory. It is also true that some scholars (especially Protestants) have differing opinions. Further there are also Catholics and even some of the Fathers who saw this text as referring to purification in this life as well. If the NAB had reported that some have seen a reference to purgatory here, whereas others include other notions as well, that would be understandable. But the NAB seems quite dismissive of any claim that the text refers to purgatory at all. It does this without explanation and does not report the fuller Catholic tradition. Further, it refers to purgatory as a “notion” rather than the dogma it is. Strange for a Catholic Bible.
So 1 Corinthians 3:15 gives no support to the “notion” of Purgatory?
Funny, St. Augustine never got the memo, for he sees Purgatory as one understanding of 1 Cor 3:15:
Lord, rebuke me not in Your indignation, nor correct me in your anger…. In this life may You cleanse me and make me such that I have no need of corrective fire, which is for those who are saved, but as if by fire….For it is said, “He shall be saved, but as if by fire” (1 Cor 3:15). And because it is said, “he shall be saved,” little is thought of that fire. Yet, plainly, though we be saved by fire, that fire will be more severe than anything man can suffer in this life. (Explanations of the Psalms 37.3 – Quoted in Jurgens @ 1467)
And it is not impossible that something of the same kind [purification by fire] may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it. (Commentary on 1 Cor 3 in the Enchiridion, 69)
St Cyprian Never got the memo for he alludes to 1 Cor 3:15 in referencing Purgation.
It is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing to instantly receive the reward of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged as by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering [martyrdom]. It is one thing, in the end, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord(Epistle 51.20 comparing Martyrdom to purgation).
Apparently St. Thomas Aquinas Never got the memo either for he too sees purgatorial fire as one understanding of 1 Cor 3:15
We must therefore say that the very venial sins that insinuate themselves into those who have a care for earthly things, are designated by wood, hay, and stubble. For just as these are stored in a house, without belonging to the substance of the house, and can be burnt, while the house is saved, so also venial sins are multiplied in a man, while the spiritual edifice remains, and for them, man suffers fire, either of temporal trials in this life, or of purgatory after this life, and yet he is saved for ever. (Summa, I, IIae 89.2)
The First Council of Lyons (1245) never got the memo either for it refers to 1 Cor 3:15 in its Decree on Purgatory:
…..it is granted that certain sins….are forgiven in the the future life and, since the Apostle says that, “fire will test the work of each one, of what kind it is,” and “if any man’s work burn he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (1 Cor 3:13,15),….we indeed, calling it purgatory according to the traditions and authority of the Holy Fathers, wish in the future that it be called by that name. For in that transitory fire certainly sins, though not capital or criminal,….are cleansed. (Lyon # 23, Denz 456)
Apparently the Catechism of the Catholic Church never got the memo from the NAB either for it too uses 1 Cor 3:15 as a reference to purgatory:
The tradition of the Church by reference to certain texts of Scripture speaks of a cleansing fire (cf 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7) (CCC # 1031)
Well, you get the point. The NAB footnote is in disagreement with some pretty big and clear Catholic Teachers. It is possible to understand 1 Cor 3:15 in a wider way that would include the fire of suffering here as well. But to exclude the “notion” of purgatory and to say that the text does not “envisage” it is simply to contradict long Catholic understanding and teaching that does include purgatory in the understanding of this text.
Why has the NAB done this? Here too, I find it troubling that one of the primary and best selling Catholic Bibles in America, the one used in our liturgies, has an error such as this that can easily mislead Catholics. It is true, purgatory does not rest on this one text. But it is wrong to contradict long Catholic exegesis with a wave of the hand.
I am interested in what you think and if you have discovered other bogus, incomplete or misleading footnotes in the NAB. I have grown accustomed to this translation over the years and do not wish merely to denigrate the it. Perhaps it is my closeness to this translation that makes me even more upset when I see things like this. It’s a kind of family squabble if you will.
83 Replies to “New American Bible: Problems on Purgatory”
This looked like a fun challenge (for an amateur like myself)…
In the same way, he sprinkled also the tabernacle and all the vessels of worship with blood.
16  According to Exodus, the tabernacle did not yet exist at the time of the covenant rite. Moreover, nothing is said of sprinkling it with blood at its subsequent dedication (Exodus 40:9-11).
I humbly submit the above. I suggest reading all the same passages in the DRB. Even if they might be right in the narrowest interpretation, I dont understand how the dismissive comment makes my faith deeper. The Jews had traditions that weren’t codified till after moses death much like Christian traditions… The fact that the tablets must have been stored somewhere (in a tent) would make that a tabernacle until Moses specifications for building the permanent one were carried out. Also in reference to the sprinkling of blood on the altar, on the people, on the instruments…. these all came from Moses. The NAB constantly calls the tabernacle a dwelling. Even in the comment where they cite the supposed absence of the tabernacle(Exodus 40:9-11) it is there, but they mistranslate it as a Dwelling with a capital D.
I was thinking
HEB Chapter 9
Same page….. check out the dismissive language used here with regard to Christs expiatory sacrifice.
17  Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness: in fact, ancient Israel did envisage other means of obtaining forgiveness; the Old Testament mentions contrition of heart (Psalm 51:17), fasting (Joel 2:12), and almsgiving (Sirach 3:29). The author is limiting his horizon to the sacrificial cult, which did always involve the shedding of blood for its expiatory and unitive value.
In short these comments remind me of the political sins of omission. The politician is castigated not for what he said, but what he did not say. One can never say enough to please such a textual critic. They make liars of tacitus, eusebious, etc etc…
They invoked (Exodus 40:9-11) in their comment
9 And thou shalt take the oil of unction and anoint the tabernacle with its vessels, that they may be sanctified:
9 Take the anointing oil and anoint the Dwelling and everything in it, consecrating it and all its furnishings, so that it will be sacred.
9 Et assumpto unctionis oleo unges tabernaculum cum vasis suis, ut sanctificentur:
I like how Chrysostom handled Hebrews 9 below
4. “Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Why the “almost”? Why did he qualify it? Because those [ordinances] were not a perfect purification, nor a perfect remission, but half-complete and in a very small degree. But in this case He says, “This is the blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28
Where then is “the book”? He purified their minds. They themselves then were the books of the New Testament. But where are “the vessels of the ministry”? They are themselves. And where is “the tabernacle”? Again, they are; for “I will dwell in them,” He says, “and walk in them.” 2 Corinthians 6:16
5. But they were not sprinkled with “scarlet wool,” nor yet “with hyssop.” Why was this? Because the cleansing was not bodily but spiritual, and the blood was spiritual. How? It flowed not from the body of irrational animals, but from the Body prepared by the Spirit. With this blood not Moses but Christ sprinkled us, through the word which was spoken; “This is the blood of the New Testament, for the remission of sins.” This word, instead of hyssop, having been dipped in the blood, sprinkles all. And there indeed the body was cleansed outwardly, for the purifying was bodily; but here, since the purifying is spiritual, it enters into the soul, and cleanses it, not being simply sprinkled over, but gushing forth in our souls. The initiated understand what is said. And in their case indeed one sprinkled just the surface; but he who was sprinkled washed it off again; for surely he did not go about continually stained with blood. But in the case of the soul it is not so, but the blood is mixed with its very substance, making it vigorous and pure, and leading it to the very unapproachable beauty.
6. Henceforward then he shows that His death is the cause not only of confirmation, but also of purification. For inasmuch as death was thought to be an odious thing, and especially that of the cross, he says that it purified, even a precious purification, and in regard to greater things. Therefore the sacrifices preceded, because of this blood. Therefore the lambs; everything was for this cause.
Yes there certainly is a hyper critical attitude evident in footnotes like these. I wonder as to who the author of these footnotes might be.
As you’ve pointed out, it’s been Church teaching (or at least Doctors of the Church) for millennia that this referred to Purgatory. Sounds like this version is starting to tread heretical waters. That’s why I trust my old Douay Rheims version.
Yes, it is pretty discourging to read stuff like this footnote. Especially given its widspread promulgation
Ok. But does the original Greek point to Purgatory? That’s what the footnote is getting at, all interpretations aside. The Greek is
εἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον κατακαήσεται, ζημιωθήσεται, αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός.
Word for word translation:
εἴ … τινος … τὸ … ἔργον κατακαήσεται, … ζημιωθήσεται, … αὐτὸς … δὲ … σωθήσεται, … οὕτως … δὲ … ὡς … διὰ … πυρός.
ei … tis … ho … ergon … katakaio … zemioo … autos … de … sozo … houto … de … hos … dia … pur.
If … any man’s … work … be burned … suffer loss … he … but … saved … also … as … by … fire.
I am not sure I understand your point here. Looking at the Greek text really doesn’t change anything. You have also left out the context of this fire wherein the text of 1 Cor 3 is referencing the “Day” that will disclose all our works.
The footnote in the NAB is similar to that found in the New Jerusalem Bible. (also Catholic)
The footnote reads: “Purgatory is not directly envisaged here, but this text is one of those on the basis of which the Church has made this doctrine explicit”.
This does not make any sense to me. If the writers of the footnote acknowledge the Church has made its’ doctrine of purgatory explicit on the basis this verse, how can they say that the verse does not “directly” refer to purgatory?
I understand that different interpretations can and have been put on this verse, but please let Catholic Bibles show deference to the teachings and scholarship of the fathers and doctors of the Church.
Yes this too is egregious but at least they acknowledge that the Church uses this text. You are right, it would seem that Catholic bibles ought to set forth clearly the Catholic position rather than cast doubt upon it. I don’t mind them report that there are verying positions but at least set forth the Catholic one clearly.
I am a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism. I myself have been used to reading the KJV, the NIV, the NASB, RSV and the ESV. Upon receiving my first NAB and reading it I felt the language stilted and seemed to go out of it’s way to change words just so it would not sound or flow out of the mouth smoothly like the other bibles I mentioned. I prefer the RSV-CE because it reads better, flows better and is accepted by the church. I honestly tried to like the NAB but I just think from a grammar point of view and readability it’s not for me. I think it should be revised again before I would use it as my first choice. I have been begging the ESV publishers to come out with a Catholic Edition because the translation is very nicely done and reads almost the same as the RSV-CE. Anyway it would be my hope that the NAB could be revised or not used at all in favor of the RSV-CE. Time will tell. My two cents worth.
Thanks. It was possible to use the RSV CE in the liturgy until recently. I’ve not read the ESV but I’ll have to take a look. I rather like the NIV in terms of readability.
There is an even more serious error in the note on Revelation11:8. The footnotestates that the city under discussion is Rome, even though the verse says “Where indeed their Lord was crucified. Many, many people are kept from the Catholic Church because they believe that the great, wicked, city, the mother of harlots, is Rome. In fact, it is Jerusalem. Compare Rev. l7 to Ezekiel chapter l6. It is plainly talking about Jerusalem and resembles Rev. l7. John gets much of his imagery from Ezekiel.Also, Rev. l7:3 speaks of the harlot sitting on a beast. Then,in verse l6 of the same chapter, we hear that the beast “will hate the harlot….and consume her with fire.”What happened here? First the beast and the harlot are friends, then the beast hates and destroys the harlot. I believe that the beast is Rome and verse 16 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 A.D.
I absolutely agree. It seems so silly to me to think of Rome as the City when the text so clearly sets forth the identity of the City as Jerusalem. Too many Catholic commentator buy into the Rome=harlot city hook, line and sinker. THere is substantial evidence that the harlot city is Jerusalem
I had heard during a lecture at a Eucharistic Congress, but never verified, that a protestant theologian or theologians had a heavy hand in the English translation of the NAB.
If this were true it would infer the errors were intentional. It would also give pause as to why the USCCB or any Bishop would give their Imprimatur without a fully audited review of the work.
Do you have any knowledge of who translated the work?
The frontispeice is a little vague as to who the actual translators were.
The footnotes to the NAB – yuck. Sorry Bishops.
It says St Matthew never wrote his Gospel – against all the evidence (as noted in the video posted). The notes on authorship are far superior in the new Ignatius RSV-CE Catholic NT Study Bible.
It says Mary never uttered the Magnificat saying only that (in their opinion) there is no specific connection to what was going on.
They don’t mention the fathers who supported purgatory in Corinthians but they can find room to note that a few Latin Manuscripts attribute the Magnificat to St Elisabeth.
These 2 examples may not be as important as its comments relating to the dogma of purgatory – but how do such notes enliven one’s faith while reading scripture?
Great post, and the one on Porneia was interesting too.
Yes, your last question is surely a key one.
The imprimatur and nihil obstat with the NAB remain valid even withstanding the problems you have been pointing out?
(1) Neither a nihil obstat or imprimatur are infallible. They represent the governing authority of the bishop, but (obviously) some bishops have more wisdom and holiness and some have less.
(2) Certainly neither the nihil obstat nor imprimatur can be taken to imply that the work cannot be improved. None of the things I see in the NAB are flat-out heretical statements, and with a serious exercise in charity one may put orthodox interpretations on them. The heresies are more implied or hinted at than stated.
I think this happens because the commentators do not want to face this for themselves. I know I don’t.
Well, as good a theory as any I suppose.
Thank you for this post. I am just not a fan of the NAB. I tend to favor, as Peter Kreeft says about the RSV, that it is “literal and literary, both accurate and beautiful.”
Yes, it there a good study edition edition with decent footnotes.
There’s the Didache Bible, with footnotes largely taken from the Catechism.
Great post. A hundred years from now, the NAB will be remembered as one of the worst things that ever happened to the Catholic Church and her liturgies in America.
Even the RSV-CE has notes about “Third Isaiah.” What?
ad Jesum per Mariam,
Yes, well now don’t forget about 4th Isaiah either! 🙂
What is wrong with the notion that Isaiah is a composite work? This seems to be the actual consensus of textual scholars. I think we have to be careful also of venturing into another error, that of fundamentalism, and denying any use of the historical-critical method.
I find a lot of the problems with the NAB footnotes to be related to their brevity. Because it’s not practical to offer a full commentary on certain detailed scholarly conclusions, we get a snippet that doesn’t explain itself too well. For instance, much is made about Matthew 16 and the statement that basically says the passion predictions probably don’t go back to Jesus himself. Henry Wansbrough lays down some much more explicit reasoning for this conclusion in the New Catholic Commentary. The repition of three times seems to be symbolic. Wansbrough poses this serious question: If Jesus was so explicit with this beforehand, why are the apostles so resistant to his arrest in the garden? Wansbrough explains how this is probably part of Matthew’s theological vision, that here this gospel is expressing the apostles’ mistaken notion of messianic identity in purely political terms.
That seems sensible to me. It doesn’t deny the truth of scripture. It’s not expressing the scripture has an error here. It just seems quite evident that within the genre of “gospel,” many times we have a theological explanation happening in narrative form. We don’t do justice to this literary genre when we anachronistically put a post-enlightenment, empirical idea of history into our interpretation of it.
That’s also not to defend all the editorial decisions in the NAB notes. don’t try to explain a fairly complex scholarly conclusion on a passage with a sentence. That’s just irresponsible when you know the great majority of your audience do not have the training in biblical scholarship to avoid injury to faith on these issues. Plus, the note on purgatory just doesn’t need to be there. Just because an idea is not as developed in the source, doesn’t mean it’s not there. If you’re going to reference the scriptures and catholic doctrine in this area, you should really not completely ignore the notion of development here.
-God bless you for clarifying this. It is a shame that this kind of flawed information was approved in the first place. No wonder the people are confused. Sometimes the safest thing to do is to use older Bibles, ones that did not go in for all the innovations and trying to be “modern” and “easier” for us poor dummies to understand.
Lord help us and protect us from these errors. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. I shall never keep a copy of this book in my house.
By the way, I use some of your articles for my Sunday class. I instruct youngsters (young adults) of our parish that have made their Confirmation. I use all kinds of good Catholic materials for this purpose and you fall into that catagory. THANK YOU!
Thanks, I am glad the articles are of help!
Also very problematic is the reading guide material in the Oxford U. Press Catholic Study Bible NAB 2nd edition.
As a convert I often see glaring Protestant teachings in what should be Catholic material.
There is also a modern tendency to imprecision in language. There is even some fuzziness in the new catechism that can be used against the traditional Catholic position, such as the statement that the Church was founded on Peter’s faith. Catholics traditionally see the Church as founded on the person of Peter. Protestants want to say it’s founded on his faith so they can deny the legitimacy of the papacy.
I guess the bottom line is we need to have more appropriate Catholic study materials with more precise language.
This is why I don’t use the Catholic Study Bible (NAB translation). This supposedly Catholic study Bible seems to go out of its way to interpret the Bible against Catholic teaching. Why???? It’s a travesty. And we wonder why Catholics leave the church…. I consider the 70’s and 80’s to be the lost decades of catechesis.
I am currently using the wonderful Ignatius Study Bible (RSV-CE) with notes by Scott Hahn for my Bible study. Previously I used the Navarre Study Bible. These great Bibles reinforce Catholic teaching, they don’t question it.
I second the vote of confidence for the RSV-CE and the Navarre volumes.
Thanks for this reference to the study Bible. I have paperback copies. Has it come out in a hardback edition yet?
Yes, Msgr., the RSV Study Bible, 2nd CE is now in hardcover in one volume for the New Testament only. Scott Hahn is now working from the beginning on Genesis, due out at the end of October. Here’s the Amazon link:
My “favorite” footnote is the one in Genesis that tells us definitively that the Flood didn’t really happen…it was simply a story ripped from the Gilgamesh epic. Yeah. Great job guys.
>>>I am currently using the wonderful Ignatius Study Bible (RSV-CE) with
>>>notes by Scott Hahn for my Bible study. Previously I used the Navarre
>>>Study Bible. These great Bibles reinforce Catholic teaching, they don’t question it.
Echoing what Lisa said, the Ignatius Study Bible RSV Catholic Edition is excellent. Of particular value are the brief explanations of the greek words used by the authors and more lengthy articles elaborating on particular Catholic beliefs such as the Eucharist and the primacy of Peter.
The study notes in the Navarre Bibles are excellent as well.
Why does the solution always have to be to get a better translation? Why isn’t the Church teaching its shepherds to LEARN TO READ THE NEW TESTAMENT, instead of teaching its shepherds how to be psychologists?
Why does the Church ignore volunteers who know Greek, who offer to teach Greek to their fellow parishioners–for free–a service for which the going rate in the D.C. area is $50-60?!
Why does the Church seem utterly uninterested in having, at the very least, *leaders* who can READ THE FOUNDATIONAL TEXT of the religion?!
I am sorry, Monsignor; usually I can keep my cool when commenting on your posts…but I cannot understand how so many Christians can be *content* with NEVER HAVING READ THE BIBLE.
corrigendum: $50-60 *per hour*
I actually had a priest in the ADW, when I offered to teach Greek for free, laugh incredulously and offer no further response.
(I have read and taught Greek for ten years and have read all four Gospels at least five times each in that span)
If I had to choose, I would learn to read the Vulgate in Latin, rather than the New Testament in Greek. Honestly, it’s doubtful I’ll ever be able to do either (though I own both “just in case”). We really do need good translations.
Just to clarify here, J, but better Greek translators are not authoritative for individual reading of the Bible, rather, the Magisterium is the one to provide authoritative interpretation.
As for footnotes, they too have absolutely ZERO authoritative weight in reading the Bible. We should always take every footnote with a grain of salt regardless of which version we use.
just couldn’t resist targeting and contradicting me, could you? Surely you realize that you’re obviously contradicting me just for the sake of contradicting me, because you can see that I’m responding to the problem of translations misleading someone.
This would not be a problem if that person does not *depend* on the translation.
“better Greek translators are not authoritative for individual reading of the Bible”
is kind of like saying
“Why does the solution always have to be to get a better translation?”
Which I said to start my comment.
Surely you’re not trying to say that someone who can read the New Testament is not better off than the same person would be if he could not read the New Testament? This was my point.
As for footnotes, I’m trying to figure out where in my comment I mentioned them.
I cannot see how the two references to Luke 1,28 can be reconciled.
In the first we have an interpretation of The angels words that differ from those found in other translations, and as a consequence,must be refered to the teaching authority of the Church to be resolved. This seems to have been resolved in the second reference wherein the correct interpretation is used as evidence for the infalible declaration of The Immaculate Conception and again in the declaration of the assumption Munificentissimus Deus Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII issued November 1, 1950
I have also appended other Papal references and the Catechism of The Catholic Church on the indisputable belief of the Church as to the Angels words containing the term “full of grace”.
New American Bible
(1)In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
(2) Ineffabilis Deus
Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854
“When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit”.
27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos. Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,” since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.
28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary’s flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. “For she was full of grace and blessed among women.
30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true.” And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve.
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII
8. Moreover, since the same holy Virgin is saluted “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke I. 28, 24), by these words, as Catholic tradition has always interpreted, it is plainly indicated that “by this singular and solemn salutation, otherwise never heard of, it is shown that the Mother of God was the abode of all Divine graces, adorned with all the charisms of the Holy Spirit, yea, the treasury well nigh infinite and abyss inexhaustible of these charisms, so that she was never subjected to the one accursed” (Bull Ineffabilis Deus).
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday, 8 December 2004
1. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1: 28).
We address the Virgin Mary several times a day with these words of the Archangel Gabriel
“Full of grace”, …in the original Greek of Luke’s Gospel, the Angel greets Mary with this title. It is the name that God, through his messenger, chose to use to describe the Virgin. This is how he had always seen and thought of her, ab aeterno (from all eternity).
ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY
FOR THE CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS
EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION WITH THE NEW CARDINALS
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Saint Peter’s Square
Saturday, 25 March 2006
Dear Cardinals and Patriarchs,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this concelebration with the new Cardinals after yesterday’s Consistory, and I consider it providential that it should take place on the liturgical Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and under the sunshine that the Lord gives us. In the Incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there………
From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. St Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: “Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?”. The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: “Hail, full of grace” (cf. Sermo 291: 6).
In fact, the Angel, “appearing to her”, does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: “Full of grace – gratia plena”, which in the original Greek is, “full of grace”, and the grace is none other than the love of God; thus, in the end, we can translate this word: “beloved” of God (cf. Lk 1: 28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6: 7).
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Santa Maria di Leuca
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
All Marian titles, in fact, have as it were budded and blossomed from that first name with which the heavenly messenger addressed the Virgin: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1: 28). We heard it in St Luke’s Gospel, most appropriately because this Shrine – as the memorial tablet above the central door of the atrium attests – is called after the Most Holy Virgin of the “Annunciation”. When God called Mary “full of grace” the hope of salvation for the human race was enkindled: a daughter of our people found grace in the Lord’s eyes, he chose her as Mother of the Redeemer. .
Catechism of The Catholic Church
The Immaculate Conception
490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”132 The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”.133 In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.
491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.
Bible – RSV Luke Chapter 1
28: And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one,
the Lord is with you!”
Bible – NIV Luke Chapter 1
28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings,
you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you…..
Bible – NASB Luke Chapter 1
WEB: 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings,
favored one! The Lord is with you…..
Bible – KJV Luke Chapter 1
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou
that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed
art thou among women.
Bible – ESV Luke Chapter 1
28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored
one, the Lord is with you!”
Bible – WEB Luke Chapter 1
28 Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you
highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are
you among women!”
Bible – YOUNG Luke Chapter 1
28 And the messenger having come in unto her, said,
`Hail, favoured one, the Lord [is] with thee; blessed
[art] thou among women;’
Bible – NAB Luke Chapter 1
WEB: 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored
one! The Lord is with you…..
Bible – NRSV Luke Chapter 1
WEB: 28 And he came to her and said, `Greetings,
favoured one! The Lord is with you…..
Bible – Douay Luke Chapter 1
28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail,
full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou
Yes, I remember this one as well. Its funny, even as physical evidence for the flood mounts some of the aging biblical scholars hold fast to positions like this,
The Ignatius Study Bible is a paperback copy of the New Testament. The OT is not yet complete. The Ignatius version is very affordable at Amazon for $14.93 for a new copy. Well worth the price! This edition even has a concordance and an index of Bible verses that support Catholic teaching.
How disappointed I was as a new Catholic convert to discover that the “Catholic Study Bible” wasn’t even Catholic!
@J: As for reading the Bible – lots of us read the Bible but can’t learn Greek. Why do you think the only way to read the Bible is to read it in Greek? Really? You might as well be one of those who think the King James Version (1611) of the Bible is the only approved translation for the English speaking people (eye roll here).
Hi Lisa –
Welcome to the Catholic church! It is in need of good souls like you who are on the quest to reconcile with the Lord and to pursue His truth. It has been difficult for converts when they discover confusing literature and lectures within the Catholic Church. I was informed many years ago by a very wise old priest who advised me to compare all written material with what has been published prior to 1958. Over the years I have rummaged through many used book stores and monastery libraries to gain a handle on my quest for true Catholic teaching and found that Father’s advice was quite sound. Much to my chagrin I made other discoveries….book burnings by “certain ministries” of the church. It’s all part of the times. Read up on declarations made in “ex cathedra” by Pope Pius IV, X, XI on these matters as nothing, since then, has been authorized on a level that supersede those declarations.
Ugh. I use the NAB as little as possible. It gets off to a bad start as early as Genesis 1:2, where the translators’ “preferred reading” is “mighty wind” rather than “Spirit of God”.
I’ll admit that this is a possible reading, and it should appear in the footnotes to show the parallel with Genesis 8:1. On the other hand, for 2000 years Christians have seen a hint of the Holy Trinity in the Genesis account. It is wrongheaded to ignore tradition (let alone Tradition) in choosing between alternate readings.
Also, the footnotes to the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin seem to imply that if Jewish sources say this is not how a trial was supposed to be held, the Gospel account must be wrong. Right. Just the same way the laws governing trials in Alabama in the 1950’s prove that lynchings never happened.
Those who would betray the church are one twelfth, correct? Providentially the Lord provides the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the bible interpreted for our lives in each age. Certainly the confusion that these translators promote is intended to water down and scatter the truth of the scripture. The fact that the English language is not Catholic provides a tool for which they can achieve their end. We must read and pray as well as study the bible while never forgetting the Magisterium is the final translator/interpretor.
The flow chart should look more like this…(1)Catechism-(2)footnote of scripture reference-(3)Bible translation that agrees-(4)That Bible is a keeper.
In a recent sunday bulletin, there was a column which the bulletin subscribes to, that discussed Mary’s parents and the birth of Mary. The column was very interesting, mentioning Mary’s parents, Joachim and Ann, the fact that they were childless, and the angel’s promise that they would conceive. But at the end of the paragraph the author of the column stated, “However, because this legend is so late, the truthfulness of the story is doubtful, as are the traditional names of Mary’s parents.”
I found this huge disclaimer, indeed almost a negation, a little odd. Certainly there had to be people in Mary’s time who knew who her parents were (similar to the statement about Jesus in Matthew 13:55), and then given her extraordinary life, wouldn’t this information have been passed on from generation to generation? Wouldn’t the Apostles know who Mary’s parents were, and the writers of the Gospels? And if these people knew, why wouldn’t such important information be passed on, especially considering the Jewish emphasis on geneology. In fact, doesn’t our Church regard the names of Joachim and Ann as accepted tradition, in which case there should be no reason to label the truthfulness of the story as “doubtful”? In my own mind, the young person who reads this might start wondering about the truthfulness of other accounts related to Church history.
The bottom line is, I think people are not taking the established tradition of the Church seriously be it with regard to Purgatory, or Mary’s parents. This is unfortunatle, because I believe it undermines our faith’s foundation. There is a wealth of knowledge that comes down to us from the Fathers of the Church, the Doctors, the Popes, and the saints. Many people do not realize how solid the foundation is upon which Church traditions are based. People need to be exposed more deeply, in our sunday sermons and through catechesis, to the Church’s history and traditions. There is a real need for this.
Reason is a gift from God. It helps us to distinguish truth from falsehood. It’s the other wing of our faith. If we apply them both to this Bible we can see clearly that the hierarchy of the United States are now in a state of open heresy. By giving their seal of approval to this blatant distortion they are both implicitly and explicitly denying a Dogma of the Faith viz, Purgatory. And with the deepest respect Msgr. Pope you should be shouting it from the rooftops instead of trying to put round pegs into square holes.
Aaron 9:15am, LOL really? Wow.
I would not use the NAB based on my own litmus tests of Luke 1:46 and Matthew 19:26.
Regarding purgatory as dogma (DOGMA!!!): http://jloughnan.tripod.com/dogma.htm
If only the ordained would bother to peruse our own dogma once in a while.
Catholics would do well to consult the new Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament. This Catholic Study Bible is OUTSTANDING. The notes are directly often tied to the Catechism and the Church fathers. Really, there is no better single short commentary out there.
They (USCCB) need to ditch the NAB and replace it with the RSV CE in all liturgical books of the OF. In the EF, the Douay Rheims is just fine. We have two great translations (RSV CE and Douay), but the USCCB still prefers to throw a bad and liturgically bland translation out to Catholics here in the US. And those Catholics who attend the OF Mass are forced to hear it, and read it in those pew missals.
Well….you have asked for WAY more than many have time to deliver. I became SO disillusioned with the NAB as a translation but moreso with its footnotes and introductions to the Books that I have used it for many years now ONLY in reference to the liturgical readings. It seems that the NAB has the bias of adopting whatever biblical school of thought is most removed from the Tradition, many footnotes and just about every introduction takes this stance.
What I have done is to have at hand the Jerusalem Bible for notes (the New Jerusalem began to go the way of the NAB but not as drastically) as well as the Ignatius Study Bible (formerly in booklets, now in one NT volume).
I also have collections of books by reputable biblical authors even from non-Catholics whose views are much more compatible with the Tradition such as NT Wright and (the late) William Barclay. If one know Catholic theology well, these authors are marvelous to use. Surprisingly, the little-know but Church approved Christian Community Bible:Catholic Pastoral Edition is rather good for life-application footnotes and while not perfect is much more “Catholic” than the NAB. And if one doesn’t mind and ecumenical edition of the Bible the New Interperter’s Study Bible is a very interesting version with 50/50 orthodoxy in theological notes but (for a heavily Protestant edition thought here were Catholics involved in it) it streatment of John 6 and Eucharist is a breath of fresh ecumencial air.
I hear the NAB is being published this very year in a Revised Edition with a completely new OT and with Psalms as used in liturgy. I pray it also have an entirely renewed set of footnotes throughout, but well…hope springs eternal.
I’m glad you raised this issue for discussion! I converted to the Catholic faith 7 years ago from a Presbyterian and Lutheran background, and love for our Eucharistic Lord played a huge role. I was (and still am) *shocked* and scandalized (in the true sense of the term) by the NAB footnotes. I still use the Bible because overall the footnotes are so useful, but especially in the Gospels, I just cringe sometimes. Among the culprits: the notes for Matthew 16:21-23 on the first prediction of the Passion—that these are sayings that can’t really go back to Jesus himself–isn’t that contrary to the Catechism? And in John 6, the notes for 6:60-71 are straight out of my Presbyterian understanding that the people were shocked because Jesus claimed to be God, not because he wanted people to eat his flesh! And 6:63–was *probably* not a reference to the Eucharistic body of Jesus??? *Probably*–you think? (sarcasm intended). Also, I believe the Onan story and Sodom and Gomorrah are given the usual modernist spin. There are more examples, but these are the only ones that come to mind right now. Particularly upsetting is how the Gospels seem to come into special scrutiny for the “hermeneutic of suspicion.” Why haven’t the bishops recalled this–I know footnotes are not inspired, but Catholics believe this and if you raise a question, you are suspected of having a fundamentalist or literalistic interpretation of the Bible, which isn’t the case at all.
This, and the way the liturgy is often done, and also the way I’ve been treated by some “Cafeteria” Catholics really shook me up when I entered the Church, not knowing the politics and factions and history. I’m still struggling to overcome bitterness and hope the Lord is using this to strengthen my faith and not to make me too angry. Again, Father, thank you so much for your blog and for asking this question.
Even the Geneva bible, the earliest English protestant translation has a foot-note that for Luke 1 that states “full of grace” is a valid translation. It puts this footnote in the primary position, which means to me that the Catholic position weighed heavily on the translator.
Another quick comment–not on NAB but on modernism in translations; I have the original Jerusalem Bible. When I got the New Jerusalem Bible, having my own “hermeneutic of suspicion”, I thought–I just bet they’ve put weasly stuff in here…so I checked the footnotes for I believe it was the passage in Malachi about the sacrifice continuing forever…anyway, the JB refers to doctrine and the Council of Trent, that it means the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The NBJ somehow dropped the Council of Trent bit. Hmmm….Some of these things are so subtle…like the footnotes in John 6, that unless a person was familiar with the Presbyterian interpretation of the Eucharist, it would slide right by them. I grew up a faithful Christian, but drifted away, and looking back, it was in part because of the constant undercurrent drumbeat of “I doubt, this doesn’t really mean, scholars really think”, etc., etc. that ate away at my faith. It wasn’t until I spent time with a Baptist group that I realized it was legitimate to believe that stuff in the Bible maybe really, actually happened the way it said. I know now that the Catholic church has the true balance, but at the time, it was a refreshing boost to see that Christians really believed in miracles, and that God is fully capable of performing them…for real!
The only argument I can find in favor of the miserable NAB is that of Augustine somewhere in his Confessions, where he notes that at first he was dismayed by the lack of rhetorical magnificence in the Christian scriptures, but he humbled himself and submitted to them, and within them found riches. That’s the only thing that keeps me going through the readings in my NAB missal. For ad hoc reading, I use the RSV-CE or the KJV. Try reading the KJV aloud – not only does it sound good, it even *feels* good to pronounce those words and rhythms.
I remember a scripture scholar once telling me that the etymological understanding of Beelzebub comes from the Hebrew word for ‘confusion’. The NAB has, in my opinion, gone way past confusion and is deliberately attempting to deny a “Dogma” of the Catholic faith in its heretical assertions. Surely the fact that Catholic priests feel obliged to make public statements in an attempt to clarify the errors in a bible officially sanctioned by the American Episcopi show the desperate state we are in – was there ever a time when we required courageous clergy more than now? I think not.
Brad, I followed the link you posted, although I fail to understand your emphasis, “Regarding purgatory as dogma (DOGMA!!!)” Recalling what I’ve just said about confusion, let me be clear: The “Dogma” of Purgatory received its definition at the council of Lyon in 1255 and is therefore a “Dogma” of the Church.
As the article you cited also appears to affirm this truth (see below) I fail to see your point. But, again, Purgatory is a Dogma, a revealed truth of the Church, and is consequently devinitively held as a revealed truth by all Catholics.
256.The living Faithful can come to the assistance of the Souls in Purgatory by their intercessions (suffrages). (De fide.)
257.The Saints in Heaven also can come to the help of the Souls in Purgatory by their intercession. (Sent. communis.)
258.The Souls in Purgatory can intercede for other members of the Mystical Body. (Sent. probabilis.)
Hi Martin, we are just crossing wires. I agree with you, brother!
I cannot WAIT to show this to the my Bible study group…we have been using this translation (NAB) for over 9 years of Bible Study! all because it is the Bible used in our liturgies. I seriously doubt any of us however have been
duped by its use into heresy or fallacy….I think in our ignorance the Holy Spirit whom we always invoke at the beginning of out sessions has been watching out orfor us. At times we have used other translations that might have been brought
in by some of the members. We always have operated on the principle that it was good to have several translations on hand as what we don’t understand from one often becomes clearer in another. We have just
recently been looking at the Ignatias Study Bible with Scott Hahn’s commentary. It has great appeal.
This is purely a personal observation/opinion, but the NAB, like the RSV, the NIV and the other “versions” are actually based on Luther et al’s corrections of God’s homework with “Catholic Stuff” stuck back in. That is why I confine my reading to the Douay-Rheims and the earlier version of the New Jerusalem. And folks, it is not hard to survive the “thees” and “thous,” honest!
I can definitely profess that Purgatory is real. I’ve been there and back thanks to Catholicism’s dilemma over Biblical scripture. I don’t recall Christ and the apostles disagreeing over scripture. Christ laid it out succinctly. Theirs was a pragmatic approach. Experience your faith, don’t debate it. Purgatory begins when you don’t awaken and you find yourself trapped in the nightmares, subconscious guilt and desirous mind trips because your physically dead and at the mercy of God and damnable actions and thoughts you contrived in carnality. Be thankful for the the opportunity to work it out with the help of God and those who have gone before you. Pray, meditate and follow the teachings of Christ. All the rest is just appeasment. If dogma is a corpus of docterines set forth by a religion, an authoritative principle or belief especially one considered to be absolutely true, who is the one driving this car because someone is asleep at the wheel and I not riding in that car. Christ is my navigator and I don’t care if it rains or freezes even if you have a plastic Jesus riding on the dashboard of your car.
Brad. Apologies if I was a little brusque.
If I was in a position to give advice I would also tell everyone to use the Douay-Rheims version like Gina, or follow Adele’s study group and use the Study Bible with Scott Hahn’s commentary. I’ve never read or even seen a copy of the later. I recommend it based on trust, a principle which goes to the heart of the matter regarding the fatally flawed NAB.
Keep the Faith
Thank you for this excellent comment on the NAB, Msgr. Pope. I also have a problem with NAB’s comment on Matt 16:16-20 which states in part: “Considering the unresolved dispute among the Twelve as to who was the greatest…, it is possible that this prophecy as a whole was made by the risen Christ…..” That makes no sense to me (to put it in acceptable language)!
I much prefer the St. Joseph Edition of the Holy Bible (Confraternity Version). The footnotes are really helpful and never lead to doubts.
I’ve collected some lousy comments from the NAB here:
and a short Bible comparison here:
So much for sola scriptura!
The sin of Onan (Genesis 38) gets the footnote: “Preserve your brother’s line: literally “raise up seed for your brother.” The ancient Israelites regarded as very important their law of levirate, or “brother-in-law” marriage; see notes on Deut 25:5; Ruth 2:20. In the present story, it is primarily Onan’s violation of this law, rather than the means he used to circumvent it, that brought on him God’s displeasure (Genesis 38:9-10).”
This is in contradiction to the encyclical Casti connubii, following St. Augustine, which states concerning contraception: 55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.”
Our late and revered Fr. Neuhaus had his say on the NAB and its mutation. Perhaps it would be timely for you to have a go at the RNAB note for Hebrews 11:1. Are our bishops not responsible for the texts used in the Liturgy? Having read the Holy Father’s exegesis of the text in Spe Salvi, one might be led to think that our bishops have become neo-Luthers.
Here is my theory, FWIW. It has been my observation that, generally, when a woman is deciding what to wear, she is actually more concerned about what other women think about her looks than what men think. I think it is the same with biblical scholars (or most scholars, for that matter). The bishops wanted to make a translation for the U.S. and they probably thought, “Hey, who better to give to give this to put together than biblical scholars?” Then they tossed it to the scholars and trusted the results would be high quality. Bad decision. When the scholars got a hold of it, of course they created it, not with a pastoral sense or thinking of the average Catholic, but rather in their own image and to win the approval of other scholars. So now Catholics have a Bible that Catholic scholars may have found interesting 30 years ago, but with leaves the Catholic in the pew who wants to read the Bible confused, scandalized and discouraged. I sincerely believe that modern biblical scholarship and the NAB have done more to turn off Catholics from reading the Bible than almost all other factors combined. Thank God, literally, we are finally getting better quality material in the RSV-CE related resources.
Yes, I think your inisights are largely correct here. Thanks
You asked for footnotes that we had found to be misleading in some way. I am not a Bible expert so I don’t know if this applies, but one footnote that has always bothered me is the one to John 20:22. The verse is: “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit.'” The footnote claims that “This is the author’s version of Pentecost.” To me it sounds pretty different from what is described in Acts (which happened after the Ascension, after all). Leads one to wonder how widely other sacred authors’ “versions” of reality must differ from what actually happened.
My all-time favorite NAB footnote blooper is concerns Luke 3:31 (the genealogy of Jesus). “In keeping with Jesus’ prophetic role in Luke and Acts, Luke traces Jesus’ Davidic ancestry through the prophet Nathan rather than through King Solomon [as in Matthew].” I’ll bet that was a real surprise to Nathan the prophet, Nathan the son of David and Bathsheba (1Chr 3:5), and poor St. Luke himself! Scriptural scholars for 2 centuries have developed several hypotheses regarding the 2 genealogies through 2 different sons of David and Bathsheba, including Levirate marriage, but inserting the prophet Nathan into Our Lord’s genealogy is certainly the most creative twist ever.
I’m glad to have come across this discussion! I am from Australia and have had my suspicions too about some modern english bible translations. Particularly with the official version we use at Mass. There are hints of modernistic nuances in them and kind of goes against the grain as far as orthodox catholicism is concerned.
I’ve jotted down some thoughts on the implications of this in my blog, which I share with you
The NAB is a very sad translation I am a convert from Islam, its been almost 14yrs and when your a convert you want to be in every way a good Catholic, the one thing I have always had trouble with is why does the the NAB print the Holy Spirit as holy Spirit small (h) and not(H) Holy Spirit the foot notes do not bother explain this
I actually needed to show this unique blog post, “New American Bible: Problems on Purgatory
What was wrong with the footnote from the 1941 Confraternity New Testament?
I say we roll back to this footnote –
“he will lose the special reward of preaching but will be saved if his conscience is otherwise clear. The teaching of this verse implies the teaching of Christian tradition on purgatory. If the venial offenses of preachers are punished on the last day, similarly other venial sins will be punished after the particular judgment.”
Of more interest, how did we go from “The teaching of this verse implies the teaching of Christian tradition on purgatory.” in 1941, to “The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.” in 1986?
What changed so drastically in the 45 years from 1941 to 1986 to basically do a 180 on this explanatory note? The only things I can think of would be the directives of Vatican II and Divino Afflante Spiritu… What is happening here?
The footnote in the NAB is merely stating that while this text is traditionally used to SUPPORT the doctrine of Purgatory (in the NAB footnote referred to as a “notion”), the doctrine of Purgatory isn’t what St. Paul is discussing here. Actually the text at 1 Corinthians 3.15 is speaking of Judgment Day (see verse 13). On Judgment Day all will appear before the throne of Christ, good and evil, and according to Catholic teaching Purgatory itself will be emptied or in other words no longer exist.
Paul is speaking in terms of the Parousia being imminent. He is telling the Corinthians that they must take care how they engage in catechesis because they will be accountable for the lives of those they teach at the possible risk of losing their own. Should they survive to see Judgment Day without experiencing death (again note verse 13) their failures in this matter may not count them their own eternal salvation, but their failures might require some sort of purgation to ‘burn away’ their sins if they are to receive their reward. Such a salvation is possible, writes Paul, but only “as through fire.”
St. Paul uses the expression that some will “suffer loss” on Judgment Day in this process, but this is not Purgatory that Paul writes about because his subjects in the discussion have never experienced bodily death and Purgatory itself no longer exists at the time of this illustration. This doesn’t mean that those with venial sins at the end of history are doomed. It merely means that purgation will somehow occur “on the spot,” as it were, for those who live to see the Parousia on Judgment Day itself.
In other words, 1 Corinthians 3.15 supports the teaching of Purgatory because it teaches that purgation is an actual part of salvation for some. Even though this verse is not talking about a time when Purgatory would exist, salvation can mean that one “suffer loss” on the Last Day “but only as through fire,” as Paul states. This verse can thus be used to prove that God will mercifully do this for all for whom it is necessary to enter eternity and not just those who survive to witness the Parousia. And while we call this experience “Purgatory” before Judgment Day, St. Paul is not speaking of the time before our Lord’s Return. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul is speaking of salvation for those who live to see that Day–and therefore Purgatory itself isn’t the subject.
The NAB footnote is nonetheless problematic because of its choice of words. Using “notion” tends to make most readers think that the doctrine of Purgatory is being referred to as a mere invention or whim. Also more than a few Catholics have attempted to use 1 Corinthians 3.15 as a “proof text” for the doctrine of Purgatory itself, something the Church does not do. It only proves purgation as a means of salvation for some, and the Church has never taught that this verse says anything else (surely nothing along the lines of this being a “proof text” or description of Purgatory itself). In light of verse 13, the footnote is correct that the subject matter does not “envisage” Purgatory per se being that the context of this purgation is Judgment Day but it would have been better if it explained this more fully.
There are a lot of problematic premises in your views here. But this is an old post and I don’t have time to take on all the issues. But for other readers, the idea that St. Paul thought of the Parousia as imminent (any more or less than we do) is an old and largely debunked view. It is quite clear from 2 Thess and other of Paul’s writings that he did NOT in the manner that CJ ascribes to him here… the rest of his views are resting on other questionable assumptions. I doubt that St. Paul knew any more or less than we do of purgatory today since the exact how, where etc is not defined by the Church or Scripture.
Finally the Church does not proof text Purgatory or any of our dogmas.
Comments are closed.