Looking for the right Bible version

I’m an avid backpacker/outdoorsman and I’d like to start taking a Bible with me on my trips. I’ve seen a lot of pocket Bibles out there, the array of different versions/translations is overwhelming so figured I’d come here for some advice…

I have a Gideon NT in a pocket size, which I find is pretty easy to read. Which Catholic version is most the easily readable, but still poetic and elegant? Erring on the side of elegance and literary value, like the KJV I read in a college religion class, but without the sometimes difficult archaic English.


I suggest the Navarre version as the commentary is vast and very good, though I think it might be to heave to take on camping trips.

New Jerusalem Bible, especially if you want poetic and elegant. :thumbsup:

RSV (Revised Standard Version) is my favourite translation by far compared to many of the others. I also think I read somewhere that Pope Benedict (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) uses the same translation.

The following site I believe may help you - biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+1&version=RSV

It contains all of the translations so that you can read through them and decide.

I hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading

RSV-CE (Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition)

A quick look on Amazon shows that various bibles are published in small formats, but different publishers describe it by different terms like thin, compact, pocket, or small.

I like the New American Bible, Revised Edition. It is offered in a “Compact Edition” (amazon link here). I don’t know if that is light enough for your travels. The description says the dimensions are 6.1 x 1.1 x 4.6 inches with a shipping weight 14.4 ounce.

This. I just purchased the thinline version. It’s beautiful and not heavy to carry.
It’s called the “Go Anywhere Thinline Bible Catholic Edition”.


he picture given is not accurate. It’s black bonded leather. Very nice, silver edged pages.

I think the NABRE reads elegant. catholicbibleshop.com/newtenbuleve.html

Its the version on the Vatican website and recommended by the USCCB. Can’t go wrong with that.


Why do you prefer the RSV to the NRSV? What is the main difference? Just curioud because I have read others say the same. Is there that much of a difference?

As one who studies Biblical scripture and how it’s translation effects the theology, I have this to add.

Preferably, I recommend the Douay-Rheims translated directly from Vulgate.

If you want straight up English, I recommend the Knox or the NRSV-C2ndE…very good English translations with a few common slips.

Avoid: New American Bible, New Jerusalem, NIV (basically anything translated by modern Protestantism), NEB, NASV, etc.

I only say avoid in the sense that there are about oh 20 or so key verses that are crucial to understanding beliefs of the Faith and these bibles either lack in proper translation, or attempt to interpret it their own way.

It’s important to remember that when it comes to Bibles, they should be Translated not Interpreted.

You do realize that the RSV-CE and NRSV-CE in either of their editions are merely edited versions of the KJV, right? You do also realize that a translation from the Vulgate can hardly be considered universal for the Catholic Church because the Vulgate is a Latin edition, and Latin Catholicism isn’t the only form of Catholicism? The norm among Greek Catholics would be the Septuagint/Greek edition, and the norm among Syriac Catholics would be either the Peshitta or Peshitto (depending on whether we are speaking of the East or West Syriac traditions). You are also aware, I hope, that the NAB is what is proclaimed from the pulpit here in the U.S. and is approved (and encouraged) for use by the Roman bishops of the U.S.

The reality is that as Catholics we are not “Bible alone” Christians. Any passages in the Bible that have been translated or interpreted in a vague way are to be understood in light of Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. Why fear a translation simply because some areas of it are vague?

My personal recommendation is to use the NAB, since that is what we are used to hearing at Mass. For further insight, compare that translation to other translations that are out there. And if you really want some insight, read the NAB (or any other translation) with the Catechism of the Catholic Church on your lap for reference when questions arise.

I’m not aware of many pocket Bibles that are actually Catholic, and which therefore contain the complete canon. I wouldn’t recommend casually reading non-Catholic Bibles, since it’s kind of silly to force yourself to have access to only a part of Scripture. I guess there’s exceptions to this, though.

The one that I would recommend is the one my wife owns: christianbook.com/ignatius-catholic-compact-edition-imitation-burgundy/9781586171018/pd/171011. (Their price, by the way, is like 13 dollars off retail. If you want to get this book from Catholics, and if you want to pay a bit more, you can go here: ignatius.com/IProducts/23883/ignatius-bible-compact.aspx.)

If you don’t mind smaller print, then this Bible happens to be a wonderful size, and is quite attractive.Cute even.

Insofar as translations go: I prefer the RSV-CE and the Douay-Rheims. There are only about three other options for Catholic bibles, and frankly, I’m not personally fond of any of them. With all due respect to those who disagree, I wouldn’t recommend things like the NAB or the Jerusalem or the NRSV. They’re just not my cup of tea.

The RSV-CE is precisely what you’re looking for: readable but elegant, accurate but not wooden. However, it does use “thees and thous” in certain places. If you’re one of those “weird” folks (:p:p:p) who doesn’t like archaic language, the RSV-2CE is your best bet. This translation is published by Ignatius press, and comes in versions like this one: ignatius.com/IProducts/223433/ignatius-bible-rsv-2nd-edition.aspx. In fact, this paperback edition might be just what you’re looking for.

Someone mentioned the Ronald Knox translation. I wish there was an edition of it available other than the Baronius Press version! The font and typesetting of that bible are an absolute migraine to read! :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know, I haven’t read the NRSV before. I’ll have to have a look. :slight_smile:

God Bless

Thank you for reading

The NRSV used a translational philosophy that aimed at being as least “offensive” as possible. So, for example, there are no “lepers,” but only those who are “infected with a leprous disease.” One is not “struck dumb” but rather becomes “speechless.” There’s also inclusive language: or the idea that pronouns should be gender-neutral.

Also, I’m not sure that the NRSV does this, but there are certain translations which tend to avoid using pronouns for God or for Jesus as much as is possible. For example, they wouldn’t use a sentence like this one:

God is great, and I give Him praise and glory, and I thank Him for all that He has given to me.

Instead, they might render the above as:

God is great. I give God praise and glory. I thank God for all that I have been given.

That sort of subtle stuff is just silly.

But thank God that the NRSV did not go as far as some would have apparently liked. Jesus is still the “Son of God” rather than merely being a “Child of God.” But nonetheless, a lot of folks dislike the NRSV because of the aforementioned translational approach.

Others aren’t bothered by it, and more power to them, so long as their motivation is pure.

I happen to find it kind of lame and overly politically correct and distracting. I’d rather just use the RSV instead of unconsciously thinking about feminism as I read the Bible. :slight_smile:

Thanks. I agree.

Douay-Rheims Bible is my favorite. It is one of the most accurate translations.

This is the compact Bible I have:


It is the RSV-CE translation, which I think is both beautiful and accurate (in general). Depending on the size of your pockets, it could potentially fit in your pocket. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s not really meant to be that small, but it is very compact. I find it easy to carry around from place to place, and I like that it zips shut. It wouldn’t take up much space in a backpack. It does fit in some of my coat pockets, too, depending on the coat.

We just got the same one for my daughter for her First Communion, too. She likes things in small sizes. :slight_smile:

Excuse my curiosity, but could you please be more specific about your dislike of the Jerusalem Bible? I use it all the time (a 1985 edition) for the footnotes, the most useful I’ve found in any Bible.


I am aware of everything that you stated here. I understand that the NAB is used. Why I’m not opposed to that being used in the Liturgy is because Priests should be able to properly understand the bible verses themselves and teach the faithful correctly.

I fear improper translations because there are Catholics who are untrained or not taught properly on the faith and may develop a different understanding of the text that is contrary to that of the Church’s understanding.

The best part of the NJ, in my opinion, is Jonah because it’s Translated by Tolkien. Other than that, not a fan.

The translation seems to be a bit more “indifferent” so to say. Take Genesis Ch. 3:15 for example. The Douay-Rheims states:

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.

In the Vulgate, Jerome uses the word ipsa which translates into “her”. It shows a gender and who will be crushing the head of the snake.

The New Jerusalem Gen. 3:15 states:

I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.

Term used here is it, which is gender neutral. This translation seems to be taking a non-confrontational stance.

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