Is The Jerusalem Bible the best modern translation?

It is my unscholarly understanding that the French translation of The Jerusalem Bible is the best modern translation. Is the correct?

Not being fluent in French, I cannot speak to the relative quality of the JB, in comparison to other French translations, and really, “best” is very much in the eye of the beholder. However, the English JB done in the 1960s is, in my personal opinion, a fine translation.


It is not a more literal translation…so I would not say such…

RSV CE :slight_smile:

(the RSV is used in the various Eng. documents from the Church…)

It is far from the best modern translation. It is not even the best modern *Catholic *translation. I find Gleason Archer’s criticisms from 1971 to be rather apt:

It’s hard to accurately and appropriately rank what is “best” in terms of translation. “Best” is largely subjective based on one’s needs, but there are some objective criteria which all translators attempt to abide by, try and fail as they do. The methodology of translation involves great opportunity costs: for every English parallel decided upon, another (perhaps equally valid) parallel is ignored. Translation comes with it the deception that a single Hebrew/Greek word translates into a single English parallel, which is far far far from the truth; even when it may happen to be the case, the English parallel may nonetheless not inform the reader of the linguistic and cultural significance of the original.

In terms of consistent popularity, preference and repeated performance, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV) are perhaps among the best modern English translations in the market today. Each has its own nuance and detractors, which should come as no surprise. There is always room to argue with any translation, but I find these translations to be cogent.

Choosing a Catholic Edition translation is like try to choose the lesser of limited evils. The RSV-CE is popular, especially with the promotion by Scott Hahn and Ignatius Press, in addition to the Pope’s English utilization, but the RSV itself required updates to its otherwise more faulty elements. Those updates and revisions can be found in the ESV mentioned above.

EWTN’s Theologians take:

It is good to use several…including the JB…

And while I make use too of the ESV New Testament (though it has some unhappy translations at points) my favorite is the RSV

The RSV CE (RSV) is a wonderful and beautiful translation. The one used in most Eng.documents from the Pope etc…and for good reason! :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t worry too much about which translation you get. Just stay away from ones that go too far toward the Dynamic side of things or too far toward the formal style.

Overly dynamic ones often end up being based far too much on the translator’s opinions and an overly formal style can make it hard to understand/read.

Other than that, you should be fine with any bible, though one with the catholic books are best.

Yes, I love the RSV CE. It’s a good middle ground between dynamic and formal, leaning a little toward formal.

more than a lean…would be a “more literal translation” but with great usage of “English” Beauty (literary as they say…)

For serious study, it’s always best to use more than one good version and compare. That will often (but not always) highlight any problems in translation.Some problems are common to many translations though, such as

  • preference for Masoretic rather than Septuagint wordings.
  • “muddy” translation. Two very different Greek words are generally translated as “Blessed”, for example.

Hi Atassina,

I am French-speaking, and I have been using La bible de Jérusalem since it came out in the fifties. This translation is known for sticking closely to the original and yet having high literary value. It is the ideal of what a good translation should be. For this reason it has been used as a model in several other languages, including English and Spanish. I must say, though, that the English version is looser in its language and as for literary value, it is far from the French standard.

By the way, you can read it online at


Well, I guess what I mean is that RSV is more literal than dynamic but it’s not clumsy like a lot of the more literal bibles. For instance, I think NAB is fairly literal but clumsy to read.

I found the NJB very readable but I’m not sure that it’s as accurate/literal translation as RSV or NAB.

Douay-Rheims seems even more literal than NAB and RSV but is almost unreadable for me.

Is it too late to interject “the best translation is the one you read”?

I MADE A BIG MISTAKE. SORRY! I should have written that it is my understanding that the French translation of the Jerusalem Bible is the best modern translation. Is this true?

Never too late for that line :smiley:


That’s why I typed my apology in capital letters. So? Is the French translation the best?

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