ALONDON FIRM of publishers this week is working feverishly on the final proofing and preparation for printing of a unique 2,100-page Bible, due for release in October at 48s. a copy.
The Jerusalem Bible, as it will be known, is being prepared by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd., at their Chiswick
headquarters. What makes this —the fourth new English language bible to come on the market in recent years — so unique is that it is a complete Bible in good, contemporary English, free of archaisms and translated accurately from the earliest Greek and Hebrew sources.
It has taken a panel of biblical and linguistic experts. under the editorship of Fr. Alexander Jones, eight years to translate. The new bible is closely linked with the French Bible de Jerusalem, on whose release one English reviewer said: "We now have within our reach what must be called, quite soberly, the best Bible in the world."
The French version was prepared at the Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem, founded in the Holy Land by the Dominican, Fr, Lagrange in the 1880s.
Through the years it has developed into the world's leading Biblical school and became increasingly involved in scholarly research and archeological work. The preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls was partly due to the Dominicans, of whom Fr. de Vaux, the Old Testament scholar, is worldfamous.
Is the English version a translation of the French? No, only the notes and introductions are translated from the French. To translate from the original Hewbrew and Greek Fr. Jones—a leading English biblical scholar—invented a form of "Bible pen or box." He sat in the middle and enclosed himself with stands on which rested the different language versions. In this way he was able to compare at a glance each word of English against all the other texts.
Although most of the work done in the new Bible is that of Catholics, the publishers are emphasising that it is a "Bible for all." The notes are not slanted towards Catholic doctrine and it is hoped that it will appeal as much to the ordinary reader as to the student.
Although Cardinal Heenan has seen only uncorrected proofs, he told the publishers he is looking forward to the Bible's release with "undisguised enthusiasm."
Despite scrupulous accuracy, he says, he found that the Editors had contrived to find a language which sounds as fresh to modern ears as the Bible was to the first Christians.
Admitting that the Catholic Community had been slow to make their contribution to scriptural study he says the release of the new Bible will be something of a landmark in the evolution of the Catholic culture of this country.
As can be seen in the picture of one of the proofs alongside, the old forms of proper names and the apologetic notes have been abandoned. Paragraphing and judicious sub-titling make it very readable.
It is also being published in the U.S.A. and Canada by Doubleday and Co.