Why are there different versions of the Catholic Bible?

The United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) lists several versions of the bible that approved for use by Catholics. But which Catholic Bible Translation should we use? Recently, a number of popular Bibles have been published — including the Didache Bible, the Ignatius Study Bible, the Word on Fire Bible, and the Great Adventure Catholic Bible. Which is right for you?

As Catholics, we affirm that “it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore, both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence” (Dei Verbum, 9).

And as a matter of use, “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

That can be confusing for Catholics, which is why they inevitably ask the question, “Which Bible should I buy?” Recently a number of high quality and highly popular Bibles have been published. These are “niche” Bibles, since they don’t just belong to a publisher, but address a certain place in Catholic studies — salvation history, apologetics, Church life or catechesis in general.

The four most popular of these are, the Didache Bible, the Ignatius Study Bible, the Word on Fire Bible, and the Great Adventure Catholic Bible. If you are interested in deeper Bible study, these are worth taking a look at. But first, what every Catholic needs to know is the differences in translations. There are four commonly used translations:

  • Douay-Rheims Bible. This was the standard English translation, in some variation or another, until the 1960s, and still, its powerful voice grabs our attention: the “Thou shalt not have any strange Gods before me” still convicts readers.
  • New American Bible (NAB). This is the most widely used Catholic Bible in the United States. Produced by the USCCB with the Catholic Bible Association, it is the translation that is used for Mass readings. It is a “literal” translation, and it generally reads well.
  • Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE). For its accuracy, ease, and readability, the RSVCE has been the leading choice for scholars for most of the 20th century and to the present. It is a “very literal” translation — so accuracy might be perceived as higher fidelity for some — and is preferred by many.
  • New Jerusalem Bible (NJB). A “dynamic equivalence” translation; the translation’s effect on its reader is meant to be roughly the same as the effect of the source text on its source reader. This makes the NJB a readable and accurate translation. The humble use of inclusive language gives this translation a special feel, and many readers appreciate the poetic sections.

There are others, and you’ll come across many variations. The fact is, Catholic scholars and Bible scholars use multiple translations not just for study but for analysis, private reading and so on. One translation is not necessarily “better” than another — they each have a different use and objective.

(Source: National Catholic Register)
For more information, go to: ncregister.com/blog/which-catholic-bible-translation-is-the-best 
Read more in the “Why Do We Do That?” series from Deacon Mike Fritz.