Quick question: have you ever met anyone who likes The New American Bible? Me neither.
The NAB, which is the official translation used during Mass in the United States, first entered this world, like me, in 1970. Also like me, it is starting to show its age. Unlike the King James or the Douay-Rheims, the NAB is unable to escape from its origins and reading it is like opening a time capsule and entering 1970 all over again. Because of this, Cistercian monk Br. Stephen makes a great suggestion: let’s retire the NAB:
The NAB, with its self-consciously contemporary prose of 1970, lacks the necessary timelessness to succeed as religious prose, possessing neither consciously sacral language that takes the reader out of the present moment nor the sort of unobtrusive good writing that allows the word of God to speak across time. With age, the idiom of the NAB has become a period piece, carrying us back two full generations to the blunt ugliness of the aesthetics of socialist realism and other ideas about language and literature that failed to win a lasting cultural berth. Today, its awkward phrasing may remind the reader not so much of the small, still voice of God as of the staccato earnestness of James T. Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. In attempting to be current, the translators left us with something that was already becoming dated by the time their work was in print.
And lest anyone think that the NAB is somehow the only English version approved for liturgical use, note that in many English-speaking countries the translation used for the liturgy is the Jerusalem Bible (my personal favorite), and the Douay-Rheims is still used for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, even in this country. So we already have approved English translations to choose from.
Along with Br. Stephen, it is my prayer that the NAB is retired before I am.