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Victoria Tran wrote:

Hi guys,

  • Which Bibles are Protestant and which are Catholic?
  • Which English translations of the Bible are used in official Catholic liturgies?


Victoria Tran

  { Which Bibles are Catholic and which are Protestant and what English translations are used at Mass? }

Mike Humphrey and the team replied:

Hi Victoria,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • 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.

Catholic Bibles:

  • (DRB) Douay/Rheims ( Recommended)
  • (NVB) Navarre Bible series ( Recommended)
    If your looking for good study notes.
  • (CCD) Confraternity/Douay — St. Joseph's ( Recommended)
  • (RSV-CE) Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition ( Recommended)
  • (JB) Jerusalem
  • (NJB) New Jerusalem
  • (NAB) New American
  • (GNB-CE) Good News, Catholic edition
  • (NRSV-CE) New Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition

Again: The 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

You said:

  • 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 text.

For a more elaborate answer you can read this:

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.


Richard replied:

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has an entry for the Douay–Rheims Bible.

as well as information on other translations:

— RC

John replied:

Hi Victoria,

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 Catholic Scholars.
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 translations.
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 of thought.
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 critical information.

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 any day.

I don't have much experience with the Jerusalem or New Jerusalem.

The Orthodox Study Bible, if read critically, 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) or
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 Greek manuscripts.

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 English.

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.

John DiMascio

Eric replied:

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.


Richard replied:

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 researches...."

— RC

John replied:

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?


Terry replied:

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.


Mike replied:

Hi guys,

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 recommend it,
due to the inclusive language it has.

I was reviewing a different page at the bottom of the page Richard suggested.
Wow, so many versions:


John replied:


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 incorporated.

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 the Greek word Pistismeans faith, but it also means more. It means trust; it also has implications of obedience.

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 texts.

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 is:

  • work that is faithful to translating language.
  • after that, one that interprets the meaning in the light of Church Teaching.

Nevertheless, the text is the text; we need to look for linguistic accuracy.


Paul replied:

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 language texts.
  • 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 versions.

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!


Victoria replied:

Thanks a ton!


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