Don't get lost in translation
Once you’ve decided to get a Catholic Bible, you’re still faced with eight choices. Undoubtedly, some translations will be a better fit than others. Here’s some basic background.
New American Bible
Used for the U.S. lectionary and heard at Mass, this is the best-selling Catholic Bible both at Viva Books in San Antonio and Mustard Seed in Chicago. Originally published in 1970, the NAB New Testament was revised in 1986 and the revised Old Testament is expected later this year.
The first English Catholic version of the Bible dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, was revised in 1750, and was translated from the Latin Vulgate instead of the original languages. “We still get a few requests for it,” says Mustard Seed’s Philip Bujnowski.
Revised Standard Version—Catholic Edition
An ecumenical team first translated the RSV from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in the 1950s. Highly regarded for its accuracy, the RSV is available as the Ignatius Bible and is promoted by EWTN’s Mother Angelica. It uses traditional language and is popular with conservative Catholics.
New Revised Standard Version—Catholic Edition
First published in 1990, the NRSV uses more inclusive language than the RSV but is similarly translated from the original languages. The Canadian Catholic bishops adopted it for their lectionary and many mainline Protestant denominations also use it. (The Catholic edition includes seven deuterocanonical books that the Protestant edition doesn’t.)
The Jerusalem Bible
The Jerusalem Bible was translated directly from the cutting-edge French Bible de Jerusalem (1956) and published in 1966. “Some people really like the feel of the old Jerusalem, which is why it continues to be available even after the New Jerusalem was released,” says Bujnowski.
Published in 1985, the New Jerusalem is highly literary but more inclusive than the original. “It’s my favorite—very beautifully written, very poetic,” says Viva’s Kate Spencer.
Good News Translation
The GNT was compiled in 1976 by the American Bible Society and revised in 1992. It uses simple vocabulary and sentence structure throughout, making it much more accessible for non-native English speakers and others who might be intimidated at the thought of reading the Bible.
Christian Community Bible
The first English translation of the Bible made in the Third World, this version was published by the Claretian Missionaries in the Philippines. “It’s got more of a social justice angle,” says Bujnowski.
Helpful Bible commentaries
Scripture from Scratch (St. Anthony Press)
Exploring the Sunday Readings (Bayard/Twenty-Third Publications)
God’s Word Is Alive by Alice Camille (ACTA, 2007)
Subscriptions based on scripture books or themes:
God’s Word Today edited by Jean-Pierre Prevost (Bayard/Novalis)
Book series based on scripture books or themes:
Threshold Bible Study by Stephen J. Binz (Twenty-Third Publications)
Relating to Others as Jesus Would (Six Weeks With the Bible) edited by Kevin Perotta (Loyola Press)
Getting to know the Bible
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops maintains a great resource for searching the New American Bible (the official lectionary texts) specifically.
Bible Gateway - an online, searchable Bible available in more than 40 languages.
Crosswalk allows you to quickly and easily find Bible quotes, searching through different versions of the Bible.
Little Rock Scripture Study is one of the most popular Catholic parish Bible study programs.
Have you ever wanted to be able to quote book and verse alongside your Protestant friends? Check out this article on the growing number of Catholic Bible studies.
Claretian Publications offers the "Daily Gospel" reflections based on the lectionary and the Christian Community Bible text.
Ever wondered how Catholics viewed the Bible as a source of truth? Read How is the Bible true?
Readers talk about their habits, likes, and dislikes when it comes to the Good Book.
Who framed Mary Magdalene? - a detailed look at the history (and misinterpretation) of one of the earliest church leaders.
Why get to know the historical Jesus? - an interview with Biblical scholar John P. Meier on the benefit of studying and understanding the historical figure of Christ.
Getting to know Paul - the Bible holds the same meaning today as it did 2,000 years ago - and here's why.
Into the mystic with John - Biblical scholar Demetrius Dumm delves into the Gospel of John, explaining how its various elements of mysticism distinguish it from the synoptic Gospels.
Who wrote the Gospels?
- Alice Camille tackles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Alice Camille has written two excellent books on the Bible, Invitation to the New Testament and Invitation to the Old Testament (insert affiliate links).
From our readers
Here are resources that our readers reported using in our Reader Survey, “Are you well versed in the Bible?”
The Catholic Study Bible: New American Bible
Abide in My Word 2008: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips
Living Faith - Daily Catholic Devotions, and Magnificat