- Which Bibles are Protestant and which
- Which English translations of the Bible
are used in official Catholic liturgies?
Bibles are Catholic and which are Protestant and what English translations are used at Mass? }
Humphrey and the AskACatholic.com team replied:
Thanks for the question.
- Which Bibles
are Protestant and which are Catholic?
The Catholic Bibles listed below are bibles the Church has officially approved for the faithful to read. Unlike the Deposit of Faith, (the official teachings of the Church) faithful Catholics have to believe, the choice of Catholic Bible translations are a personal preference.
That said, there is a serious concern that has been noted by many priests and lay people about the quality and completeness of the Bible notes (that are usually found at the bottom of any Bible page) for certain Bible translations. These notes, for some Bible translations, can mislead the faithful to an incorrect understanding of what the Church officially teaches or manifest an incomplete view of the topic being commented on. In some cases, the Church, Herself, has acknowledged this and come out with new revisions, e.g. (NAB) New American => (RNAB) Revised New American. That said, bible translations are not infallible.
The best bible translation to use is the Catholic translation you will read!
The Recommended notations on the right hand side below are solely based on the census of what our group thought were good translations, whose references notes were complete and did not give an unintended misunderstanding of what the Church teaches. They do not represent any official endorsement or lack of one by the Church.
- (DRB) Douay/Rheims (AskACatholic.com
- (NVB) Navarre Bible series (AskACatholic.com
If your looking for good
- (CCD) Confraternity/Douay — St. Joseph's (AskACatholic.com
- (RSV-CE) Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (AskACatholic.com
- (JB) Jerusalem
- (NJB) New Jerusalem
- (NAB) New American
- (GNB-CE) Good News, Catholic edition
- (NRSV-CE) New Revised Standard Version, Catholic
best of these recommended Bibles
is the one you will read!
Protestant Bibles: (not authoritative,
no Deuterocanonical books)
- (KJV) King James Version
- (NKJV) New King James Version
- (GNB) Good News
- (RSV) Revised Standard Version
- (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version
- (NIV) New International Version
- (DBY) Darby
- Which English
translations of the Bible are used
in official Catholic liturgies?
This is the short answer:
A most unfortunate anomaly, or departure
from the norm, is that there is no
edition of the Bible at present that
corresponds to the Lectionary used
during Holy Mass. All the current
editions of the complete New
American Bible (NAB), contain the Revised
1986 New Testament, unamended, and
Revised Psalms (1991), which the Holy
See found defective.
There is an ironic and anomalous
situation, wherein the complete NAB
Scripture text, currently in print
and available in various editions,
does not match the Lectionary
For a more elaborate answer you can
Kudos to RC for supplying this part
of the answer and Kudos to John Michel whose critique of this posting, I think, resulted in an improved, better answer.
Good News also has a Catholic edition,
as does the New Revised Standard
Version, neither of which I recommend.
The NIV, a Protestant translation,
was translated by a committee including
It's missing the Deuterocanonical's,
but translation of the books is not
all that bad.
The New King James is also not a
bad Protestant translation either.
Again, you're missing seven books,
but in many ways the translation
is more accurate than some Catholic
By accurate, I mean its fidelity
to the original languages.
The Jerusalem is a strange
translation. It's Catholic, but it
is the first Catholic Bible that
was translated using the Hebrew Text
for the Old Testament, except for
the Deuterocanonical's, which were
written in Greek. Previous lingua
franca translations were translated
from the Latin Vulgate; however, the
English translation of the Jerusalem
is a translation from French, as
it was first translated into French
from the original language.
John also stated in a similar
question on "Which Bibles
he would recommend":
Well, obviously for Catholic Bibles,
I'd recommend the RSV, Catholic
edition, either the one by Scepter
Press or Ignatius.
The NAB has the poetic majesty
of a small soap dish. It also
tends to water things down.
I'd have to caution you about
notes in most NAB (New American)
Bibles I've seen. They are typically
plagued with Modern Biblical Scholarship
and the Historical Critical Method.
While these Scholars have something
to add to the discussion, they
rely solely on this "critical" method
of exegesis and often times they completely
miss the meaning of the text.
The notes are not to be taken
de-fide. They express one school
My biggest problem with the notes
is that they don't give the average
Bible reader, who is reading the
bible for devotional purposes,
a whole lot of substance.
For instance, they spend pages
explaining the Documentary Hypothesis
or, as I call it, the Alphabet
Soup theory of who wrote the Torah,
and I don't think that matters
to some guy or gal picking up
Genesis for the first time. I
think they'd be better off if
the notes included some theological
exegesis as well as some historical
That said, for what they are,
the notes aren't all that bad.
They just need to be read critically.
The opinion of modern scholars
is just that, an opinion.
I'll take Augustine and Jerome
over Raymond Brown and John Meyer
I don't have much experience with
the Jerusalem or New Jerusalem.
The Orthodox Study Bible, if
is a good Bible with
excellent patristic notes.
As far as Protestant Bibles:
I recommend the New King James (NKJ),
the New International Version (NIV)
the Revised Standard Version (RSV),
so long as it contains the adjuncts
to Mark's Gospel, which are missing
in some ancient texts. I also
think there are some texts in
John's Gospel, and in one of John's
letters, that are not included
in the older version of the RSV.
They were later included with
a footnote that says these texts are
not found in all the ancient manuscripts.
The Protestant version of the
Revised Standard is problematic.
It is missing several texts from
the New Testament and uses different
To be quite frank, unless I need
to refer to the Deuterocanonical's,
I stick with the New King James.
It has the same beautiful flow
of the King James and the Douay
Rheims, but it's written in contemporary
Now here is another wrench to
throw in the mix, speaking of
Old English. As you know, the
word "you" can be singular
or plural, but in Old English,
the plural for you is YE. So unless
you go to the original language
or the Old English, You, Ye, or
as they say in the South, "all
you all" ain' t gonna know
if the text is referring to one
person or many. In those cases,
YE gotta dust off the King James
or the Douay.
Hi, Vicki —
Another reason for opposing the (NAB) New American is the footnotes. They tend to be written from a hermeneutic of suspicion, meaning they cast doubt on the veracity of scripture where no doubt needs to be cast.
For example, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 3, they claim that this has nothing to do with Purgatory, while the Catechism of the Catholic Church cites this very passage as evidence for Purgatory.
Another footnote claims that the Twelve Patriarchs didn't really exist as persons. They seem to take delight in pointing out alleged contradictions in Scripture without providing solutions.
All in all, the footnotes are problematic.
Hi, John —
To clarify, the editor of the Jerusalem
Bible described the process on the
first page of the Editor's Foreword:
"The translation of the biblical
text itself could clearly not
be made from the French. In the
case of a few books, the initial
draft was made from the French
and was then compared word for
word with the Hebrew or Aramaic
by the General Editor and amended
where necessary to ensure complete
conformity with the ancient text.
For the much greater part, the
initial drafts were made from
the Hebrew or Greek and simultaneously
compared with the French when
questions of variant reading or
interpretation arose. Whichever
system was used, therefore, the
same intended result was achieved,
that is, an entirely faithful
version of the ancient texts which,
in doubtful points, preserves
the text established and (for
the most part) the interpretation
adopted by the French scholars
in the light of the most recent
Hi, Rich —
I wasn't saying it wasn't faithful
to the original language. Nevertheless,
I stand corrected.
If it were a French translation,
would it then be the "surrender" version?
Hi, Vicki —
Just as an aside, I never do any
biblical research (Jerusalem, New
Jerusalem, etc.) without always checking
the translation of the Douay version.
Douay is my firm and absolute rock.
I've heard that the NRSV-CE has been
specifically and officially rejected
by the Vatican, and cannot be used
for preaching, teaching, public quoting,
or liturgy. I believe it is because
it contains "inclusive language".
Though it can be read in the comfort
and privacy of your own home, I wouldn't
due to the inclusive
language it has.
I was reviewing a different page at the bottom of the page Richard
Wow, so many versions:
I understand your shock as a cradle
Catholic that there are so many translations.
Amongst my collection are a couple
of Parallel Bibles which feature
different translations side by side.
One of these has 24 or 26 translations
In addition, there is what's called
the Amplified Bible, which gives
every possible translation of nuanced
words from the original language.
For example, the Greek word Pistis means
faith, but it also means more. It
means trust; it also has implications
There are two Greek words for submit
used in Ephesians Chapter 5: hupotasso and hupoacuo.
The first one is used in relationship
to man and wife. The word hupotasso has
connotations of playing a supportive
role. Hupoacuo means to
listen from an inferior position. It has more of an obedience twist
to it than hupotasso.
Well, the Amplified Bible seeks to
give you all the possible meanings
of such words. Unfortunately, it
doesn't give you the predominant
meaning. As an exegete, one needs
to see how that word in the original
language is used in other biblical
As one who studied Scripture, and
I am sure Bob can confirm this, I know that any
serious Bible study involves the
use of several translations. Just
because a translation is done by
scholars who happen to be Protestant, it
doesn't automatically make it a bad
translation. Likewise, just because
it's a Catholic doing the translation,
doesn't mean he's going to be faithful
to the original language.
What you look for in a translation
- work that is faithful to translating
- after that, one that interprets
the meaning in the light of Church
Nevertheless, the text is the text;
we need to look for linguistic accuracy.
Hi, Vickie —
The new King James version would
not be the best one to buy.
- The new RSV is probably your best
one for word translation of the original
- The NAB gives some good footnotes
and I like the easy-to-indulge typeset.
- The Jerusalem Bible is also a very
good translation, and the Douay-Rheims
is the most traditional of all Catholic
I personally have the New American
Bible, and I will probably soon pick
up the RSV Catholic version to compare
them both on certain passages.
I'm sure my colleagues will have
more to say on this.
Good luck and good reading!