The First Revised Edition 2011 of the 2008 St Pauls New Community Bible is not recommended for Catholics
The St Pauls Society’s 2008 New Community Bible (NCB) was withdrawn following a crusade by this ministry and other Catholic individuals, including priests, and lay Catholic organisations like the Federation of Catholic Faithful in Chennai. We reached a few copies of the NCB to different dicasteries of the Holy See along with our July 14, 2008 critique and other follow-up reports.
We objected to the introduction, in the commentaries, of Hindu scriptures on the pretext of contextualization for the Indian reader; the drawing of parallels between Biblical figures and Hindu mythological figures and deities; bringing in Surya Namaskar and the Gayatri Mantra for no sound reason; apparently heretical explanations about the Annunciation (“[It] is not to be read as a literal report of what happened, but as a dramatization of the inner experience of Mary’s call to be the mother of the Messiah.“), the parting of the Sea of Reeds (“it is not a factual, historical account“), etc.; the equation of yoga and prana (which are New Age) with Christian concepts… and much more — all of which were defended by Bombay Auxiliary Bishop Agnelo Gracias in a rebuttal that was not communicated to us — and condemned by a summa cum laude theologian and many others.
We also objected to some of the twenty-four illustrations or line drawings or art work in the NCB.
What St Pauls and the Bishops called an “Indianized Bible” was variously described as a Hinduised bible, a heretical bible, a syncretized bible, a New Age bible, a hybrid bible, an interreligious book, etc. by various Catholic agencies and the secular media.
A “First Revised Edition” was quietly brought out at the end of the year 2011 and we learn that it was welcomed in Australia and Oceania as the “International Edition 2012” with the support of Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, see NCB report number 21:
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 21-INDIAN CHURCH’S SYNCRETIZED BIBLE EXPORTED
Right: The Australian “CATHOLIC EDITION” 2011; Left: The Indian “CATHOLIC EDITION (REVISED)”, 2011
The 2008 NCB cover is identical to the latter except for the word “REVISED”
The following reports from this ministry will bring the reader up-to-date on Bishop Agnelo Gracias’ rebuttal of our critique as well as on the revisions made in the commentaries despite the rebuttal:
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 22-BISHOP AGNELO GRACIAS DEFENDS IT YET IT IS PULLED FOR REVISION
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 24-WHAT WERE THE REVISIONS MADE IN IT
Why do we not recommend the First Revised Edition 2011 for use by Catholics?
Though a revision was certainly carried out, several problems still remain.
I list below some reasons (in no particular order) why Catholics still cannot accept the NCB.
1. The Hindu religious mark or bindi has not been removed from two illustrations (Revised Edition pages 1559 and 1647) though one illustration of an arati-performing bindi-wearing woman was pulled.
Two illustrations of bindi-wearing women, one on page 1557, and that of Mary, the Mother of God with the Hindu bindi affixed on her forehead on page 1645 of the 2008 NCB, are retained in the Revised Edition (RE).
Mary and Joseph with the child Jesus, the Flight into Egypt
BINDI OR TILAK MARK ON THE FOREHEAD-INDIAN OR HINDU?
Bishop Agnelo Gracias himself is not averse to wearing the bindi at religious ceremonies in church:
HINDU RELIGIOUS MARK ON THE FOREHEAD 08-BISHOP WEARS
2. Page 14 of the commentary (RE 13) by Jesuit Fr. Rui de Menezes on the Book of Genesis reads:
Breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (2: 7): God infused into the human body an immortal soul, the atman derived from the root an meaning ‘to breathe’, the principle of life (prana) which vivifies and pervades the human being.
Prana is an esoteric Hindu concept that is inextricably associated with the subtle (or etheric) energy body, psychic chakras, yoga, kundalini energy, etc.
It is regarded as being the divine energy that IS IN ALL, AND IS ALL.
Hindu philosophy holds that this pranic energy emanates from the divine or Absolute and sustains all things and reunites with it.
Christianity reveals that that God is a personal Being and not a monistic energy to be manipulated, that man is the most sublime of all God’s creation, that human beings are tripartite individuals (spirit, soul and body, Genesis 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:23) and that when man dies, “the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
“Prana” and God’s “breath of life” are two conflicting and diametrically opposite concepts.
We object to this part of the commentary’s being retained in the Revised Edition when the very next two lines, which had read “Every person lives because he is linked to God. Kabir defines God as “the breath of all breath”” have been excised.
In my July 2008 critique of the NCB, I wrote:
The comparison or parallel of the breathed spirit of God with the pagan concept of prana is grossly misleading.
Prana: (Sanskrit, Hindu philosophy) is the same as chi, qi or ki
As prana, it is an essential component of yoga (pranayama), and as chi, qi, ki in New Age alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homoeopathy, reiki, pranic healing, all martial arts including tai chi, etc.
The Vatican Document on the New Age talks in several places of this esoteric or occult ‘inner’ or ‘cosmic’ or ‘subtle’ or ‘vital energy’, and I cite just one which is placed under the sub-title “Central Themes of the New Age”: “an energy, which is also identified as the divine soul or spirit.” #2.3.3
In monistic pre-Christian philosophies like in Hinduism, this energy is god. cf. #220.127.116.11
Does the priest’s commentary in the NCB support the teaching of Rome, or does it contradict it?
3. Page 1647 of the 2008 commentary (RE 1649) by Jesuit Fr. George Soares Prabhu on the Gospel of Matthew reads:
(Jesus’) miracles are eruptions of charismatic power, not the result of yogic techniques. All that he said and did fits in well with the picture not of a yogi but of a Jewish Galilean teacher…
In my July 2008 critique of the NCB, I wrote:
Who wants to know what Jesus was not? Jesus was not a yogi; he was not many things. The inclusion of references to prana, yoga and yogic techniques demonstrates that the priests have no moral judgment against them.
By inference, they approve of them.
Yoga: Catholics are cautioned against the spiritual dangers of yoga in two Vatican Documents of 1989 and 2003.
Page 12 of the commentary by Jesuit Fr. Rui de Menezes on the Book of Genesis had read:
And he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (2: 2-3). This does not mean that God was tired, nor that he from now on would withdraw from his creation. But “rest” here denotes the celebrative joy at the complete realization of a person’s creative potentiality.
One may perhaps compare it to the Indian samadhi, which is the eighth and last stage of Yoga and denotes a state of peace, tranquility, equanimity, self-absorption, concentration, contemplation and emancipation. It can also mean completion, accomplishment and fulfillment.
In my July 2008 critique of the NCB, I wrote:
So, they managed to get yoga (with a capital ‘Y’) in on page 12 of the NCB.
If there are charges being leveled that some of NCB’s Hindu, sorry ‘Indian’, commentaries are contrived, how about this one: God the Father – the creation story – the Sabbath – yoga – samadhi. Is that logical? Apart from the absurdity of the ‘parallel’, the samadhi of yoga is more than what the priest-commentator would have us believe.
Why does one get the feeling that the commentator has attempted to sell us what he perceives as the benefits of yoga? What on earth does Hindu yoga have to do with God’s “day of rest”? The so-called “contextualization” is appalling. It is not surprising that the entire passage was expunged from the RE.
In his rebuttal of my critique, Bishop Agnelo Gracias wrote, “The idea of rest as denoting a celebrative joy expressing a sense of fulfillment is a beautiful one. The comparison to the Indian Samadhi is in order, though few may understand it. (I leave aside Mr. Prabhu’s strong reservations with regard to Yoga).”
Despite the Bishop’s apologetics on behalf of the passage, it has been deleted and is not in the RE.
In another place, he said, “I do not enter into the question of the compatibility of Yoga with the Christian faith … These are complicated issues which would need much more study than has been done till now. I realize that a study of these topics would need to be done but it goes beyond the scope of the present Response and, perhaps, that could be a task undertaken by the CBCI Doctrinal Commission to study and give guidelines to the Church in India.”
We object to the reference to yogic techniques’ being retained in the Revised Edition on page 1649.
We demand a white paper from the CBCI on Yoga and on the New Age. I have been demanding it for years.
4. Page 1900 of the 2008 commentary (RE 1896) on Jesus’ claim as having the Words of Eternal Life (6:60-71) by (Fr.) (?) Mathew Velanickal on the Gospel of John reads:
It seems that Jesus instituted the Eucharist also as a testing stone of our faith and discipleship. Here we come across the divine Lord who demands total self-surrender and a single-minded devotion to him through a life of faith. Similarly, we read in the Bhagavad Gita: “Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, adore Me and made obeisance to Me; thus uniting yourself to Me and entirely depending on Me, you shall come to Me” (IX: 34)
In his rebuttal of my critique, Bishop Agnelo Gracias wrote, “A somewhat far-fetched comparison of the words of Jesus in the Eucharistic discourse to that of Krishna in a totally different context – should be dropped.”
The contrived “comparison”, equating Jesus with the Hindu deity Krishna, was NOT dropped.
We object to the allusion to Krishna’s words being retained in the Revised Edition on page 1896.
5. Page 1608 of the 2008 NCB (RE 1610) has an illustration of a “dancing”, crucified, cross-less Jesus:
The “Indianized” or “contextualized” line drawing on the previous page is provided by Fr. Christopher Coelho OFM. It is supposed to illustrate “The Lord, your God, is in your midst … he will dance with songs of joy for you, as one does on a day of festival“, Zephaniah 3:17.
Fr. Christopher Coelho OFM‘s “dancing”, crucified crucifix-less Jesus bears an uncanny resemblance to depictions of the Hindu deity Nataraja, the “Lord of the dance“:
I view the illustration as the Indian clergy’s attempt to ingratiate themselves with the people of the majority religion, to vitiate the unicity of Jesus’ ignominious and painful death, and to obfuscate distinctions between their gods and Ours.
There are a total of 24 of Fr. Christopher Coelho OFM‘s illustrations in the 2008 NCB and 22 in the RE (two have been removed during the “revision”).
Apparently, 20 of them were sketched by the priest way back in 1993 and the last 4 in 1994.
The orderly progression indicates that he was commissioned to provide the illustrations for the NCB.
If that is indeed true, the NCB had been in the making for at least 15 years before it was dumped on an un-suspecting faithful in 2008 who were neither taken into confidence nor consulted for a contribution to it.
The NCB dancing, crucified, crucifix-less Jesus is not a one off thing. Here below left, is a similar illustration of “Jesus” from the CBCI’s National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC)’s “God With Us” series of catechism books for children, 1977 to 1981, with the Imprimatur of the Archbishop Chairman of the CBCI Commission for Catechetics. To the right is the now-ex-SVD priest Fr. Francis Barboza performing Bharatanatyam dancing in the Nataraja pose. Nataraja is the dancing aspect of the Hindu deity Shiva.
This picture of the crucified Christ but without a cross – is on page 140 of the Novus Ordo English Missal, Indian Edition, published by Theological Publications of India, Bangalore, 1974.
We object to the retention of the “dancing”, crucified Jesus in the Revised Edition on page 1610.
6. The problem of Isaiah 7:14, page 1239 of the 2008 commentary (RE 1239) which reads:
The virgin is with child and will bear a son and will name him Immanuel (v.14): this version of the text is based on the Greek translation of the OT. However, in Hebrew the word used is almah, which simply means the young woman. What Isaiah actually says to Ahaz is that the young woman (his wife, the queen) will bear another son, and before he reaches the age of puberty (the meaning of v.16) the land of the two kings will be destroyed, …This prophecy in its primary meaning has reference to Isaiah’s time, and the child was offered as a sign at that time. He was Hezekiah who succeeded to his father’s throne in 715, and was a God-fearing king whose counselor Isaiah became. For, God is still with his people: He is Immanuel.
Of course, the prophecy has a fuller sense in addition to its primary meaning. It is an expression of the royal messianism. The Greek version, by using the word “virgin”, is indicative of an early Jewish interpretation and expectation about the coming Davidic Messiah. And when speaking of the Virgin-birth of Jesus, Matthew quotes the Greek text to proclaim that Jesus is the fulfillment of these messianic hopes. He is our Immanuel – the living sign that God will never abandon us. (cf. Mt. 1:23)
In his rebuttal of my critique, Bishop Agnelo Gracias wrote, “Mr. Prabhu remarks: “To understand how the NCB commentaries include what is irrelevant to our faith, explain what need not be explained, and do not say what must be said, one must read the CCB (Philippine Christian Community Bible) commentaries, in this case of Isaiah 7 (pages 532, 533) and note the differences.”
I have made a photostat of the CCB. Any reader can see how much clearer and closer to Catholic teaching the NCB is. It explains so clearly the original and the fuller sense of the passage, as the Catholic Church has always held.”
A French priest who has a Doctorate in Theology and lectures in seminaries globally disagrees and refutes the NCB position — which relativises the historical aspect of Bible exegesis — and therefore the defense of the Bishop. He writes (emphases his, colour mine):
Regarding the passage of Mt 1: 23 explaining the prophecy of Is 7: 14, the commentator of the NCB says:
“The OT passages quoted [for example, Isaiah 7:14] did not in their original meaning refer to Jesus nor have the meaning which Matthew
gives them. Matthew re-interprets and sometimes rewrites the texts he quotes in the light of Jesus, believing that in Jesus the Scriptures have been fulfilled.“
The commentary in Matthew in effect indicates that the above words of Isaiah are not really a prophecy of the virginal birth of Jesus. Thus it seems that Matthew is no longer inspired by the Holy Spirit when he quotes the prophecy of Isaiah as being fulfilled! The Holy Spirit who inspired Isaiah didn’t intend at all what is affirmed through Matthew!
Is Matthew an illusionist?
But let us now read the Commentary of St. Jerome
on Isaiah 7:14:
“Since it is introduced in the Prophet by the words “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign,” it ought to be something new and wonderful. But if it be, as the Jews will have it, a young woman, or a girl shall bring forth, and not a virgin, what wonder is this, since these are words signifying age and not purity?
“Indeed the Hebrew word signifying “Virgin” (Bethula) is not used in this place, but instead the word, ‘alma,’ which except the Septuagint (Greek) all render ‘girl.’ But the word, ‘alma,’ has a twofold meaning; it signifies both ‘girl,’ and ‘hidden’; therefore ‘alma’ denotes not only ‘maiden’ or ‘virgin,’ but ‘hidden’, ‘secret’; that is, one never exposed to the gaze of men, but kept under close custody by her parents.
“In the Punic tongue also, which is said to be derived from Hebrew sources, a virgin is properly called ‘alma.’ In our tongue also ‘alma’ means holy; and the Hebrews use words of nearly all languages; and as far as my memory will serve me, I do not think I ever met with alma used of a married woman, but of her that is a virgin, and such that she be not merely a virgin, but in the age of youth; for it is possible for an old woman to be a maid. But this was a virgin in years of youth, or at least a virgin, and not a child too young for marriage.”
In his work against Jovianian, St. Jerome repeats his remarks regarding this oracle of Isaiah:
“Isaiah tells of the mystery of our faith and hope: “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.”
I know that the Jews are accustomed to meet us with the objection that in Hebrew the word Almah does not mean a virgin, but a young woman. And, to speak truth, a virgin is properly called Bethulah, but a young woman, or a girl, is not Almah, but Naarah! What then is the meaning of Almah? A hidden virgin, that is, not merely virgin, but a virgin and something more, because not every virgin is hidden, shut off from the occasional sight of men. Then again, Rebecca, on account of her extreme purity, and because she was a type of the Church which she represented in her own virginity, is described in Genesis as Almah, not Bethulah, as may clearly be proved from the words of Abraham’s servant, spoken by him in Mesopotamia: “And he said, O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: behold I stand by the fountain of water; and let it come to pass, that the maiden which cometh forth to draw, to whom I shall say, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of this pitcher to drink; and she shall say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed for my master’s son.” Where he speaks of the maiden coming forth to draw water, the Hebrew word is Almah, that is, a virgin secluded, and guarded by her parents with extreme care.”
Regarding St Irenaeus of Lyon, in his work adversus haereses,
we have another clear defense of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14:
“1. God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:]
“Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son,” as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvellous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God. For truly this prediction was uttered before the removal of the people to Babylon; that is, anterior to the supremacy acquired by the Medes and Persians.
But it was interpreted into Greek by the Jews themselves, much before the period of our Lord’s advent, that there might remain no suspicion that perchance the Jews, complying with our humour, did put this interpretation upon these words. They indeed, had they been cognizant of our future existence, and that we should use these proofs from the Scriptures, would themselves never have hesitated to burn their own Scriptures, which do declare that all other nations partake of [eternal] life, and show that they who boast themselves as being the house of Jacob and the people of Israel, am disinherited from the grace of God.”
So, the scholars who practice theology and write the commentaries with little faith in the historical aspects of the Bible accounts, truthfully admit that the trend among them is to “increasingly reject the explanations” that have been part of Tradition for two thousand years.
We object to the relativist theories as exemplified by the commentary on Isaiah 7:14 in the RE, page 1239.
7. The call of the muezzin… or the prophet Isaiah on page 1318 of the NCB (1318 RE)?
This illustration, the black and white image below extreme left is again another most cunning deception in the NCB. The line drawing is supposed to illustrate “I will not keep silent for Jerusalem’s sake… (Isaiah 62:1)“.
The two color images to its right are those of muezzins leading the call to prayer.
When turning the pages of the NCB, a few confused Catholics asked me why a Muslim muezzin is featured in its pages with Islamic minarets in the background.
On closer examination, I understood the subtle deceit that the illustration conveyed. Because the Jewish prophets cried out “in the wilderness” and in the towns and villages of Israel and not in surroundings built of concrete as in the picture, and the dome in the background is that of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
However, because of the crier in the foreground, one almost automatically associates the dome with that of the minaret of a mosque; the cross atop the dome is hardly visible unless one looks very closely, and to the left of the crier, in the distant background are one or two smaller minaret-like domes.
So this time around who are we trying to obfuscate distinctions with… the Muslims?
We object to the retention of this deceitful illustration on page 1318 of the RE.
Apostasy or Apostacy?
In the NCB, in the Book of Numbers chapter 25, we find mention of “Apostacy at Peor” on page 239 in the 2008 edition and on page 238 in the 2011 edition, twice on each page.
I have never before heard of “apostacy”!
The Book of the minor prophet Hosea chapter 8 records “Israel’s Apostasy“, page 1544 (1546 in the RE).
If there is no such thing as “apostacy”, and if “apostacy” is indeed an error (and not a printer’s devil), how is it that none of the St. Pauls Society priests, the editors and commentators of the NCB, thousands of people who purchased copies of it, all of our learned theologians and bishops including those who gave it the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, and especially Bishop Agnelo Gracias, did not arrange to have it corrected in the more than three years that transpired between the 2008 edition and the 2011 First Revised Edition?
If I am wrong and there is something like “apostacy”, I would like to know what it means so that I can apologize to all our readers and correct the above paragraph of this report.
Other reports in the series:
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 01-A CRITIQUE JULY 14, 2008
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 02-THE PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE, INDIAN THEOLOGIANS, AND THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS 18 SEPTEMBER 2008/SEPTEMBER 2009/APRIL 2012
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 03-A FRENCH THEOLOGIAN DENOUNCES ERRORS IN THE COMMENTARIES FEBRUARY 24, 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 04-THE ONGOING ROBBERY OF FAITH FEBRUARY 24, 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 05-THE ANGEL GABRIEL DID NOT APPEAR TO THE VIRGIN MARY MARCH 15, 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 06-PRESS REPORTS AND READERS’ CRITICISMS MARCH 22, 2009/DECEMBER 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 07-UNPUBLISHED LETTERS AGAINST ITS ERRONEOUS COMMENTARIES-THE EXAMINER MAY 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 08-LETTERS CALLING FOR ITS WITHDRAWAL 31 DECEMBER 2008/DECEMBER 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 09-LETTER TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH APRIL-MAY 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 10-CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE SECULAR MEDIA, AND WITH PRIEST-CRITICS OF OUR CRUSADE AGAINST ITS ERRORS MAY 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 11-VATICAN HELD RESPONSIBLE, BRAHMIN LEADERS DEMAND ITS WITHDRAWAL JUNE 25, 2009/DECEMBER 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 12-LETTERS TO ROME JUNE 2009/AUGUST 2013
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 13-RESPONSES FROM THE BISHOPS AND THEIR EXECUTIVE COMMISSIONS AUGUST 2009
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 14-UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX GREEK CATHOLIC BISHOPS CALL IT A NEW AGE BIBLE, “EXCOMMUNICATE” INDIAN BISHOPS
MARCH 2010/APRIL 2012
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 15-DEMAND FOR ORDINATION OF WOMEN PRIESTS-FR SUBHASH ANAND AND OTHERS
APRIL 2010/JULY 2010/APRIL 2012/17 MARCH/10 APRIL 2013
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 16-CRITIQUE BY DERRICK D’COSTA
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 17-EXTOLLED BY CAMALDOLI BENEDICTINE OBLATE 1/5/10 MAY 2013
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 18-REVISED EDITION COMING, ST PAULS IN DENIAL JULY 2010/DECEMBER 2011
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 19-REVISED EDITION PUBLISHED A YEAR AFTER DENIAL JULY 2010/DECEMBER 2011
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 20-HALF-TRUTHS FROM CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS 28 JUNE 2013
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 21-INDIAN CHURCH’S SYNCRETIZED BIBLE EXPORTED 7 MARCH/6/9/24/30 MAY/5 JUNE, 2013
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 22-BISHOP AGNELO GRACIAS DEFENDS IT YET IT IS PULLED FOR REVISION FEBRUARY 2015
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 23-EDDIE RUSSELL CALLS IT A HINDUISED HERETICAL BIBLE FEBRUARY 2015
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 24-WHAT WERE THE REVISIONS MADE IN IT FEBRUARY 2015
HINDU RELIGIOUS MARK ON THE FOREHEAD 22-THE NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India