Monday, February 23, 2004


You can't tell the players without a scorecard. Since no one has published a scorecard for properly pigeon-holing our fellow Catholics, here is one relatively reliable way. I was noticing two people at Mass this afternoon who were carrying bibles and they once again confirmed my personally constructed bible-version-as-politico-ecclesiastical-indicator stereotype. This is the framework:

The 8 cylinder turbo-charged traditionalist will not be seen with anything other than the Douay-Rheims. And for some few this will have to be the original, pre-Challoner version, poor old Bishop Challoner bearing the taint of having lived at the height of the 18th century enlightenment. The thin end of the wedge, doncha know. The Challoner Douay is met with in all categories once in a great while. But the pre-Challoner is a dead giveaway. This is your hard-core, not to be trifled with traditionalist.

The somewhat less-earnest traditionalist is well-satisfied not only with the Douay, but also occasionally with the old Confraternity version or once in a while even the RSV-CE. The problem with the Confraternity is that it's out of print except for one small edition of the New Testament.

The conservative seems to be married to the RSV-CE. Since it has not only the common-or-garden variety imprimatur of a bishop but also the more significant, albeit canonically unrecognized, imprimatur of Scott Hahn there is no gainsaying the RSV-CE to the conservative. The conservative views Scott Hahn with something only slightly less than hyperdulia and faces Steubenville to pray.

The liberal in his various places along the left side of the right/left number line has no particular version with which to categorize him. But whatever version he does use must be a "New" version. Not a Jerusalem Bible or a Revised Standard for our free-thinking friend. Oh, no. A New Jerusalem or a New Revised Standard it must needs be. This way the existence of the masculine sex will in no way interfere with his devotions.

Now, the New English Bible runs into a bit of a problem here. It is old enough to have incorporated the word "new" into its title before the word "new" came to refer only to the castrated version. So he who wishes to be thoroughly up to date needs to know that "new" is not sufficient. It is the Revised New English Bible which must be sought out.

The basic pew-sitting Catholic who is unaware of the need for a label to properly indicate his place in ecclesiastical politics is largely content to read the New American Bible. (Like the NEB, the NAB is too old for the "new" appellation to mean what it otherwise would.) If asked, this Catholic would probably hesitate a moment and then describe himself as "conservative". By this he really only means that he is pro-life, disapproves of immorality, and approves of EWTN even though his cable service only carries it from 2:30 to 5:30 in the morning. Chances are he has given no thought to shopping his bishop to the police.

And finally those who fall outside the boundaries of this little scheme. These are the folks who refuse to get with the programme and insist on carting about the Knox Bible, or the old Jerusalem Bible, or the old Kleist-Lilly New Testament or some such. You even run into the occasional King James Version, usually a convert unaware of the distress he causes by refusing to be immediately categorizable. On the plus side, most of these versions are out of print and so will become more and more statistically insignificant with time.

Now non-Anglican Protestants of my acquaintance seem to have settled almost universally on the NIV, although I suspect there are more that I am unaware of. But that's all beyond my ken. Some one of the separated brethren will have to sort out their team.