Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic World News

New American Bible Revised Edition: ‘young woman’ replaces ‘virgin’ in Isaiah's prophecy

March 03, 2011

Mary Sperry, an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has revealed several changes that will appear in the forthcoming New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE):

  • “holocaust” (1970 translation) is being replaced by “burnt offering” in reference to Old Testament sacrifices
  • “dark valley” will now be rendered by the more traditional “valley of the shadow of death,” and “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come” will be rendered as “for endless days” (Psalm 23)
  • “booty” is being retranslated as “spoils of war,” and “cereal” as “grain”

Most controversially, almah-- the Hebrew word rendered as “virgin” in the 1970 translation of Isaiah 7:14 (“the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel”), will be rendered as “young woman.” The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition renders almah as “young woman” in the text but explains in a footnote that the word also means “virgin.” In the New Testament, St. Matthew rendered the text of Isaiah as “behold, a virgin shall conceive” (Mt. 1:23).

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz of Jews for Judaism praised the change from “virgin” to “young woman,” calling the former rendering a “translation error used by missionaries to convert Jews.”

In addition, the latter portion of Proverbs 31 will be entitled “Poem on the Woman of Worth” in the NABRE, rather than “The Ideal Wife.”

“Women will like this: being measured by their own accomplishments, not in terms of a husband's perspective,” said Sperry


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2011 7:08 PM ET USA

    Seeing how when Jesus quotes from the OT, it is 80-90% of the time taken from the Septuagint, which version do you think is the authentic OT??? Just another example of the loss of faith amongst the clergy ...

  • Posted by: John3822 - Mar. 06, 2011 2:03 AM ET USA

    Ye gads, what's the point of the passage if virgin is changed to girl - there is nothing extraordinary about a young girl giving birth to a son. St. Matthew's whole point is that the angel's message that Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit was to fulfil the prophecy - whatever happened to preserving the Gospel writer's intentions? This is worse than changing "full of grace" to "highly favored daughter" - it was changed back in the lectionary... maybe this will be changed back too one day.

  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 04, 2011 3:58 PM ET USA

    I believe Fr. Corapi might call all of the NAB nonsense something like "Horse Puckey," or something very similar. Buying one of them competes with other misguided purchases of mine and wins the booty prize.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Mar. 04, 2011 1:49 AM ET USA

    Some of these changes are sensible reactions to changing slang word usage (e.g., "booty" has almost completely lost its traditional meaning). But the change from "virgin" to "young woman" shows that, come what may, the USCCB retains its reliable knack for turning wine into water.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 03, 2011 7:18 PM ET USA

    This is disappointing another apparent example of the desire to please certain of our Jewish brethren as the overriding hermaneutic. The Septuagint, a Jewish project, translates the Hebrew almah young woman or virgin into Greek as parthenos, virgin hence it's not simply a concoction of those Christian missionaries! St. Matthew is referencing the Septuagint and is also inspired!!! Enough cave-ins to please others!

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Mar. 03, 2011 6:47 PM ET USA

    With two freebie NABs on my shelf sitting unread, I can't imagine why I'd want this one to be their, um, NABRE. Seems not to be an improvement.

  • Posted by: LittleRedHen - Mar. 03, 2011 6:18 PM ET USA

    So the "young woman" shall be with child and bear a son? Gee, so do millions of other young women. This deliberate mistranslation is the most outrageous one I know of...

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Mar. 03, 2011 8:24 AM ET USA

    Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz of Jews for Judaism praised the change from “virgin” to “young woman,” calling the former rendering a “translation error used by missionaries to convert Jews.” And what is wrong with trying to convert Jews to the true Messiah? I know it's not PC but if we Catholics really believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then why not try to convert all to Him?