Bible Version Suggestions


It’s been about 5 years since I’ve come back to the church and since then I’ve done a ton of apologetics reading and some of the the saints, but every time I start reading the Bible I get sidetracked. I mainly use it for reference, but I’d really like to sit down and read the whole thing.

I’ve heard some people mention that they’ll pick a Bible translation and use it for the whole year and I think that may keep me focused, the only question is which one do I use.

This is a list of the what I have:

Douay Rheims
The New Jerusalem Bible
The Catholic Study Bible (I believe it’s NABRE)
The Didache Bible (I believe it’s RSV-CE 2)

So which would you all suggest for just starting out reading the Bible to lay some ground work. Is there another translation I should look into?


I have the Saint Joseph Edition NABRE from Catholic Book Publishing Corporation, the Ignatius RSV-2nd Catholic Edition and the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - which is also RSV-2nd Catholic Edition - but it is currently only available in the New Testament. I hope some day the entire Bible will be produced as a Study Bible.

All of them have their positives. Of course the NABRE is what is used in the lectionary so you can easily follow along with the daily readings. The Saint Joseph Edition has some decent notes and references that are helpful in understanding certain passages. The language is a bit pedestrian which I think reflects the post-V2 seventies-era in which it was produced.

The RSV-2nd Catholic Edition is a beautiful translation in my opinion and better reflects the original texts. It would be nice to have the lectionary revised at some point to use this edition. The Ignatius version that i have as fewer notes and references than the Sait Joseph Edition NABRE.

The Ignatius Study Bible is a wonderful study and reference Bible with extensive notes and references by Curtis Mitch and Scott Hahn. They tie particular Biblical themes and passages with the Catechism, teachings of the Popes, Sacred Tradition, etc. It is a great reference tool.



Neofight, Thank you for your post. I am grateful to have The ‘Catholic Study Bible-NAB’ which has been an awesome blessing to me. Due to work as well as an illness (better now) I’ve only been able to seriously delve into my study bible during this past year. I joined the Catholic Church back in 1983 and would highly recommend this bible to anyone but especially to converts simply because it is so complete & answers/explains so very much. You mention a newer ‘Revised Edition’ of this same bible so I wonder if you’d recommend I purchase the Newer version? I’ve had this one for awhile, I think the copyright on it is 1991. Do you know what the major differences might be between the version I have and the RE?

Michael, Thank you for the info on the ‘Ignatius Bible’, I’d heard it was a great Bible. I did not know Curtis Mitchell & Scott Hahn gave notes or reference and am glad to hear they make it tie in with the Catechism, etc.,etc.! That’s great to hear, I love the Catechism of the Church and reference it on a regular basis. In fact, I wish every Catholic had the Catechism of The CC in their home. I will be looking to order the Ignatius Bible ASAP thanks to your info! :slight_smile:

Peace to us all.


If it doesn’t cause too much financial hardship pick up the RE, but if not, the NAB will do fine…some wise man said the best bible is the one you are reading…so I will pray you find as much comfort from the Word of God that I do!


What does RE stand for again? I’m still not up on all the acronyms:confused:


revised edition.


If it’s your first time through, I’d stick to a modern language version like the Didache Bible. While I love the beauty of the older English in the DR, it might serve as too much a distraction. Once you’ve been tbrough it, your second trip I would highly recommend the DR.


Douay Rheims. If you’re up for the old English spellings and willing to pay a bit go for a reprint of the original edition, for the most part (thought not always) it has the better annotations and translation, otherwise I’d recommend one of the large Haydock editions (with the simple black covers, not the elaborate crucifix covers that are all overpriced) that show up on ebay from time to time, these have fairly comprehensive annotations (and generally where the original DR annotations are lacking, the Haydock has something) plus there’s some interesting (though at times dated) supplementary material. Of course, the best of all possible worlds is to get both a Haydock edition and an original Douay and something like an English translation of the Catena Aurea.

Just my .02 of course.


I’d say to go with the Douay-Rheims Bible. It is a strict translation of the Latin Vulgate that St. Jerome translated from the original Biblical texts of Hebrew & Greek. It also has a lot of history in the Church.


I agree with the Wise man! Thank you for your prayers, I will remember you in mine.

I also have a beautiful leather bound NAB, (in addition to my Catholic Study Bible NAB), but am going to order the newer ‘NABRE’ so I’m up to date. I like being able to follow the lectionary with the newer version of NAB.

I’ve also decided to order the Douay-Rheims Bible and the Ignatius Study Bible. And of course the Revised Edition of the NAB.

Before I became Catholic in '83 I had a King James Version that I read but I much prefer modern English language in a bible.

I should be updated with these selections, can’t wait to pour over them.

Thank you AJB for starting this thread. And Welcome back home.


I recommend the Didache Bible. There is a NABRE and a Ignatius Bible version. The Didache commentary relates back to the Catechism. It’s also not too expensive compared to other Bibles with commentary.


Thanks so much for all the replies. I think I’m leaning toward a more modern translation to use for this “one Bible only” year. I love the DR, but I’m not ready to completely immerse myself in that type of language and in my casual reading of it, I’ve had to refer back to a modern translation in order to understand what it’s trying to say.

Does anyone have any opinion of the pros and cons of the NAB and NABRE?


I’ve heard some lament over the phrasing in the NABRE, but I’m not versed enough in that complaint. I’ve enjoyed my NABRE. I think one of the better complaints about the NABRE is that the normal study notes of this Catholic translation can be incredibly unorthodox in places. But as a translation itself, I’ve had no issues with it.

The Ignatius Bible is also great, though it does have a few “protestantisms,” such as the “divorce clause” in Matthew (carried over from using the RSV), but it is a really good translation in most respects. It’s considered a more literal rendering compared to other Bibles.


Most of the discontent around the NAB and RE is the footnotes…but jus remember the word of God is inspired, but no commentaries are, so the NAb and RE is just fine.

Other criticism seems to be the language rather than the message, so again, it’s fine.


I would second the Didache Bible! I have the RSV-2CE version, the notes are great and there are numerous maps to help you in your Old Testament readings.


I have the St. Joseph edition of the NABRE and It’s great.
I also am trying to return to the chuch.

I would also advise to get a Catholic Catechism.
I never understood the Catholic church and never really bothered to go even though I’m a cradle Catholic.

So, I’m thinking of getting this soon (the cheapest version):

I fully want to know everything about the Catholic faith as much as i can.


The NAB/NABRE are terrible, uninspired, insipid, awful translations.

Four examples:

Genesis 3:15 is very wrong and diminishes the protoevangelium.
1 John 5:7 is wrong and diminishes one of the great epistles.
Ephesians 5:21 has been rewritten to be more “progressive” and “inclusive.”
References to Christ dropped in the Psalms (see, e.g., Psalm 2)

Then of course there’s the NAB/RE Luke 1:28… “favored one” for “full of grace” with reference to the Blessed Virgin.

So no, the problem is the actual translation.

And since you have no reason to believe me, compare those chapters to any of the online Douay Rheims versions and decide for yourself.


As a rule any translation of any Bible that relies on the Masoretic text (as the NAB does) or is going for inclusive “democratic”/“egalitarian” language is going to be fundamentally flawed. The Masoretic text was edited from earlier source documents by Jewish scribes to remove/alter pre-figuring of Christ in the Old Testament. And Christ is not an elected representative in a Democracy, he’s the King of Kings, the Bible is hierarchal, not insipidly egalitarian with “everybody’s a winner” stickers.


I’m no fan of the NABRE, but this post is also a caricature of what the NAB is. None of those example “defective” passages pose any problem in the NABRE, if anything, they’re rendered quite nicely.

No, the Masoretic Text was not edited to “remove Christ”. The Jews did not treat the Tanakh in such a shoddy manner. The Masoretic Text has been shown to be for the most part, a faithful reproduction of the Hebrew Old Testament and is a reliable text.

And the Douay-Rheims is not the golden standard by which English Bibles are compared. Not even the Vulgate fits that bill. There’s only one authority, and that’s the original languages. And since the originals don’t exist, we have recourse to the best available critical texts.

The NAB-RE is fine for Catholics to use.


I gave specific verses of where the NAB/RE are wrong, you attack that as a “caricature”. I will now provide the specific verses. The NABR/RE translations of these passages are defective in every sense of that word.

Genesis 3:15 (The Protoevangelium)

NABRE: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.

DR (Challoner Rev): I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

NAB/RE verse is translated to the derogation of the Blessed Virgin and deliberately weakens the connection between this verse and the vision of Mary in Revelations 12.

1 John 5:7-8

NABRE: So there are three that testify, [8 ]the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord

DR: And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. [8] And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one

NABR/RE verse is translated to the detriment of both the beautiful language of this epistle but also to its meaning.

Luke 1:28

NAB/RE: And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

DR: And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Again, translated in derogation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Vulgate of St. Jerome was based on pre-Masoretic texts (and Greek texts for the NT) that we no longer have access to and is thus a better source than the Masoretic texts which have been corrupted over time. The “original language” of the 6th-10th Century Masoretic texts is not a better source than the 4th Century Jerome Vulgate for the Old Testament, and the same thing is true with respect to Greek Texts.

The Douay-Rheims (Original or Challoner revisions) remains the “golden standard” for English Bibles because they were based, for the most part, on the Jerome Vulgate (Challoner revision, also drew upon Clementine Vulgate).

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