Q: In places where the Ascension is celebrated on a Thursday, the first reading on the Seventh Sunday of Easter is about the election of Matthias to replace Judas. In the New American Bible, Acts 1:23 gives the name of the other candidate as Joseph, but the Lectionary for Mass, which uses the same translation in the United States, says his name is Judas. Why is there a discrepancy?
A: There are times when the vocabulary in the lectionary’s version of the NAB has been changed from the published bible, usually for some liturgical reason. For example, the Lord’s Prayer that appears in the lectionary matches the words we use at mass (“thy” instead of “your”), even though these are not the same words in the bible. Also, the word “cup” sometimes appears as “chalice” in the lectionary, supposedly because of its liturgical connotations. Eventually, we’ll probably see a translation of the NAB that matches what has been chosen for the lectionary.
In this case, the bible has “Joseph” – and so does the Greek original of Acts. The lectionary has changed it to Judas probably because of a tradition that he is the same person mentioned in Acts 15:22 (Judas Barsabbas). That reading appears in the lectionary cycle on Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter each year. It looks as though the compilers of the lectionary thought that this achieved better consistency.
On another note, I remember one wag suggesting that the reason Judas/Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus lost out to Matthias was not just the drawing of lots but because nobody could remember his name.