The New American Bible grew out of the existing Confraternity Bible, a Catholic edition that had been published between 1941 and 1969 and that was hailed as being a reader friendly text, with speech that neatly balanced between too casual and too stilted.
In 1970, as part of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the first edition of the New American Bible was formed basing the new text on direct translation from the Greek New Testament and use of the Confraternity Bible for the Old Testament, excluding the Book of Genesis. The 1970 edition used a different version of Genesis, pulled directly from the Hebrew translation.
The second edition of the New American Bible appeared in 1986, reincorporating traditional phraseology in the New Testament that the first edition excluded. In addition, numerous non-traditional, gender neutral terms were introduced.
In 1991, the New American Bible third edition created controversy when it included a completely re-written Book of Psalms. This text incorporated gender neutral language referring to God and Christ as well as mankind. Because of the changes, this edition was rejected for Liturgical use. 1994 ushered in yet another revision of The Old Testament and because the New American Bible 1991 edition's Book of Psalms had been rejected, a committee combined to reverse the use of gender neutral language in regards to God and Christ, while leaving in some references such as replacing "person" with "man"".
Known as the Grail Psalter, this new version of The Psalms was accepted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and awaits Vatican approval. Also in 2008, the revision of The Old Testament was completed and approved.
Finally in 2011, the fourth edition of the New American Bible made its debut. This text carried the added label, "revised edition" and includes the revised Old Testament, Book of Psalms and the second edition's New Testament.
As language goes through contemporary changes and scholars get closer to original textual meanings, more revisions will likely be in store for the New American Bible and the dozens of other editions of God's Word.
Today sophisticated study Bibles, children's Bibles, daily worship Bibles and others line bookshelves across the country. Yet it is the New American Bible that largely remains the contemporary hallmark Bible of today's Catholics.