Roman Catholic Bibles Reviewed

Choosing the right Bible

Which version is the best for you?

Some Tips for Reading, Praying
and Studying the Bible

Reading your Bible

Don't begin at the beginning or end.

Read sections rather than sentences.

Read aloud.

Studying your Bible

Read the introductions.

Read the footnotes.

Use the cross-references.

Be flexible in your interpretations.

Praying your Bible outside of Mass

Invoke the Holy Spirit.

Choose a passage to reflect on.

Read the passage once through fully.

Read each section of the passage slowly.

 Reread the entire passage.

Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving.

Modern Bible Translations

We are fortunate to live in a time when many reliable biblical translations are available. The most common are in the following list. I'll note the Catholic edition where there is one.

Revised Standard Version

(Oxford University Press, 1962). This translation is based upon a revision of the standard King James Version and is still a wonderful, very literal translation. It has also been republished in some new attractive editions and remains a standard for good Bible study because of its fidelity to the original text. —Yet it retains some antiquated expressions in English and makes no attempt to be inclusive in its language. This standard translation is found in many different editions, including various study Bibles. There is a Catholic edition, from Ignatius Press.

New Revised Standard Version

(Oxford University Press, 1989). This is a wholly redone translation in line with the Revised Standard Version but with sensitivity to inclusive language for human beings. It retains traditional language for God. Although it is fairly literal in its translation, the English expressions have been updated to reflect current American cultural preferences. It comes in several different study editions, which include introductory essays, extensive footnotes and brief commentary. —There is a Catholic edition.

New International Version

(International Bible Society, 1984). This version is intended to be ecumenical and to appeal to a broad range of English-speaking people. The translation is considered somewhat more conservative than the New Revised Standard Version. Its language is suitable for private study and for public reading. This Bible used a homosexual on the translation board. There is no Catholic edition.

New American Bible with revised New Testament and Psalms

(Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1991). This has become the standard American Catholic edition of the Bible. It is the Bible Catholics hear during Sunday Mass readings, and thus a popular choice among Catholics. It is a revision of the New American Bible (1952-70) done with a sensitivity to accurate yet easily understood language that can be used in public worship. It is also sensitive to gender-inclusive language wherever references to human beings are concerned. The Old Testament section of this Bible underwent recent revision, and one can expect a new edition of the entire translation to be published soon.

New Jerusalem Bible

(Doubleday, 1985). —A translation from the new French edition of this famous Bible, La Sainte Bible (1966), the text is the most poetic of the translations we are considering. Its poetic character lends itself to prayer. This Catholic Bible is also justifiably praised for its extensive footnotes, filled with informative background material.

Revised English Bible

(Oxford University Press, 1989). This translation contains British English that may seem unusual. Yet it is readable and reliable for study. There is no Catholic edition.

Good News translation

(American Bible Society, 2004). This is a totally new edition of The Good News Bible, published by the American Bible Society. A major goal of this translation is sensitivity to the hearers of God's Word. It employs popular contemporary English that is more colloquial in nature. It might appeal to young people. There is a Catholic edition. The earlier Contemporary English Version (1991) has a Catholic-edition New Testament.

Reader's Digest Bible

(Reader's Digest Association, 1982). This is truly a short version of the Bible. It has clipped out all repetition. Unfortunately, the result is a distortion of the text because repetition is a vital part of the message of some biblical stories or poetry.— Again the aim is praiseworthy. The purpose is to entice people to pick up and read the Bible, something more attractive in a short version rather than a long one, with the hope that they would advance to further Bible study. But if you are serious about studying the Bible in the most enlightened way, I do not recommend using such shortcuts. They can cheapen the Word of God.

World English Bible

(also known as the WEB) is a freeware updated revision of the American Standard Version (1901).

The World English Bible is an ecumenical project that includes books included in Bibles in many denominations and preferred by Catholic Priests. The main 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are recognized as Scripture by all true Christians. There are also books considered to be part of, depending on which book and who you ask, Deuterocanon, Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha.

Note: in footnotes in the New Testament, "NU" refers to Nestle/Aland UBS critical New Testament textual variants, and "TR" refers to Textus Receptus textual variants.

The American Standard Version

 is rooted in the work that was done with the Revised Version (RV) and is made to be a universal Protestant Version. In 1870, an invitation was extended to American religious leaders for scholars to work on the RV project. A year later, 30 scholars were chosen by Philip Schaff. The denominations represented were the Baptist, Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, Friends, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, and Unitarian. These scholars began work in 1872. There is a Catholic edition.

The New American Bible

 (NAB) was first published in 1970. The New American Bible is one of three Catholic Bibles approved for use in the liturgy, and is the official translation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The New American Bible is the most common Bible translation in the United States. The NAB is a good choice for those whose studies closely follow the Mass or who like a Catholic Bible that is easy to read for daily use. The NAB may also be a good choice when looking for a youth Bible. The New American Bible also makes a wonderful gift Bible for any occasion. There is a Catholic edition.

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English Majority Text Version, 2011 Edition with Greek Explanatory Notes

(EMTV) The Byzantine Majority New Testament draws from the work of both Dr.’s Hodges and Farstad, and their text, “The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text,” as well as from Dr. Wilbur Pickering, ThM. PhD., Copyright © 2002 By Paul W. Esposito although He didn't search any manuscripts on his own. The text is a compilation of Dr. Hodge and Farstad which Esposito considered a majority when added together. This Bible is actually made using different Greek/English dictionaries.

King James Bible

In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 400 years. The King James Version present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1987 printing. The KJV is public domain in the United States. This is not a Catholic Bible.

A complete History of the Holy Bible is available online in video

A comparison of all New Age Bibles is found HERE