Opinions on Bibles


I check out several versions of the Bible as a sort of cross reference. I look at NAB which I’m not too crazy about. The KJV the DR and RSV catholic version. I’m not crazy about the NIV either. Is there an official version that the church supports and recommends. I understand some of these are protestant Bibles but I look anyway. What’s the church suggest?



The Church has not, to my knowledge, selected just one translation. The NAB is the one used for the readings at Mass. The RSV/CE is the one I hear cited most on this form (and by folks I respect on EWTN, etc.). Having/using multiple translations is actually a good thing. Translators have a difficult job and having multiple translations can sometimes highlight where the difficulties lie.


I don’t think the Vatican has ever recommended a Bible other than the Vulgate, but various parts of the Church have recommended various bibles. I think the bishops of England used to recommend the DR Bible, and I think the USCCB recommends the NAB.


All bibles basically say the same thing including the various Protestant bibles on the market afterall they are the word of god and they are all translated from various early editions of the first texts either aramic, hebrew or greek. While the Protestant bibles do not contain the extra books called the “Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books” those can in fact be purchased separately.

Since they all basically say the same thing, it is important to look at the various versions and see which one speaks to you. Different versions have different language styles. For example, the king james and New King James, the language tends to be more poetic and despite being so called “protestant bibles” the language is beautiful. The New Living and Message are more of a paraphase of the scripture which aren’t as literal compared with the NAB or NSV or NRSV, New King James but again for someone who is new to reading their bible, they are great versions. I used to read the New Living before I got into the other versions.

There are countless versions of the bible and I believe God calls us to read his word therefore if God speaks to you through the Nab, then read that. But if God speaks to you through the New Revised Standard edition (the version of the bible that is used by some theological programs), or even the New King James or any other Protestant bible, then read it because God speaks to us through his word which is why as Catholics we need to step up and start getting to know our bibles. You can always purchase a separate book that contains Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books.

Once you select a version, you can always see if there are study bibles available in that version because it will help you develop a greater understanding of God’s wonderful words. I know the NRSV and NKJV are great in terms of having some wonderful study bibles.

You had spoke about the NIV, I have read it and although I don’t personally like the language it uses, I know some people who love it.

To summarise, instead of wondering what bible the church recognizes, I would concentrate on finding a version that speaks to you. There is no point to purchase an NAB bible if when you read it, it doesn’t speak to you.

I hope this helps,



The NAB had to be substantially modified before it could be used in the liturgy, and the liturgical version is not available for sale. Odd, huh?

Look into a Confraternity Bible (1941-1969). It was a 20th century American English translation that followed the Clementine Vulgate. The New Testament is excellent, and the Old Testament has varying degrees of either the Douay or the Confraternity translation in it, as it was a work in progress. Sadly, it was doomed by the adoption of the NAB in America. The book intros and notes are shorter than the NAB, but they are consistent, orthodox and actually worth reading.

Another excellent bible is the Knox Translation, done by Monsignor Ronald Knox in England. It is available online from New Advent, along with Latin and Greek parallels. Bishop Sheen used it.


Most Bibles are basically the same to the extent that all Christians hold some things in common. But profound disagreement and disunity is reflected in schisms and denominations, and also in their versions of the Bible.


The NAB is used in the U.S Liturgy.
The NRSV is used in the Canadian Liturgy.
The Jerusalem Bible is used in the U.K. Liturgy
The RSV-2CE is used by the Antilles Episcopal Conference and a few African countries in the Liturgy.
The D-R has over 400 years of use in the Liturgy of the Church.
The Confraternity - DR was also used in the U.S. Liturgy.
The RSV/NRSV was used by the Vatican for its English translation of the C.C.C.

So which one? That is totally up to you. Read from each one, find the one that works for you (or eventually get all of them). All are approved by the Roman Catholic Church. Everyone on this forum has a different opinion, it really comes down to your preference!


I’ve never heard of the “Knox” translation. I’m learning more all the time.


Another 20th century English version. Monsignor Ronald Knox, with a bit of help, accomplished it himself, beginning in 1936. It is written for those in the UK, so a bit of the language needs accommodating for us Yanks, but it is generally an excellent bible. In particular, I find some of the footnotes to be fascinating.


As I understand it…

In modified, gender-specific form per Vatican umm, “request”, yes.

The NRSV is used in the Canadian Liturgy.

Dunno for certain, but the RSV may also be approved/used.

The Jerusalem Bible is used in the U.K. Liturgy

They may be switching to the Catholic Truth Society edition of the JB, which replaces “Yahweh” with “Lord”, per Benedict XVI’s request.

The RSV-2CE is used by the Antilles Episcopal Conference and a few African countries in the Liturgy.

Not much wrong with it, except that the term “Apocrypha” should not appear in a Catholic bible.

The D-R has over 400 years of use in the Liturgy of the Church.

The original is almost indecipherable, the Challoner better and the 1899 US version is what we have today, I believe. The Confraternity set out to correct and update this, but was stopped.

The Confraternity - DR was also used in the U.S. Liturgy.

An utter shame that the Confraternity was never produced under a single cover.

The RSV/NRSV was used by the Vatican for its English translation of the C.C.C.

Curious that they did not produce an English catechism using either bible of the English or American Church. What is left unsaid may speak volumes.

So which one? That is totally up to you. Read from each one, find the one that works for you (or eventually get all of them). All are approved by the Roman Catholic Church. Everyone on this forum has a different opinion, it really comes down to your preference!

Exactly right. If the OP wants opinions, well, everyone here sure has 'em! I lean toward the Vulgate-based editions, as they are guided more by Saint Jerome and Church Tradition than by “modern scholars.”


…and don’t forget the limitation on translation that copyright law imposes. You might be fond of a particular rendition of a verse (whether it is accurate or not is another story) but you’re not likely to find it in another translation due to the legal protection against plagiarism and the protection of intellectual property.


The USCCB commissioned the NAB translation; they own it.


This subject of “approved” versions of the Bible came up in scholarly discussions at the Vatican almost 100 years ago. The position of the magisterium seems to be (as described in The New Jerome [Catholic] Bible Commentary, c. 1992) is that any translation may be studied by Catholics, but Catholics are advised against “translations” that are anti-Catholic in orientation. the NJBC even included the Jewish Publication Society 1985 (the latest) Tanakh (Hebrew Bible).

In the JBS, there are many more frequent notations that the Hebrew text is uncertain, whereas there’s like to be just a whiff or nothing at all about a text that is uncertain.

I was looking over Psalm 16 in the NAB, and verse one says " a miktam of David."
Then, there’s a footnote that says the meaning is uncertain.

In contrast, The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford U. Press, based on the 1985 JBS) says, yes, miktam is uncertain BUT the Greek septuagint translated that word as stele or pillar. There are said to be about six psalms that are introduced with that word, miktam. My sheer hunch is that these six psalms might have been inscribed on columns around the Jerusalem temple mount (the Temple was built later by Solomon).

I have heard so much about the Septuagint that I went looking for it, since so much of the New Testament quotes it. Well, the one I bought was sold as The Orthodox Study Bible. I have misplaced it in my piles of Bibles, commentaries, and other books, so I can’t read directly what they might have said about miktam. This OSB was developed for prayerful study and has some interesting essays fore and aft about Bible study. It is noteworthy that according to the OSB, the Orthodox Church does not have an agreed upon table of contents, i.e., a canonical list of books in the Bible! The volume, in fact, has a couple MORE books than the Catholic Bible. There is an introductory essay explaining what the Orthodox Church is, and it takes a couple shots at the Roman Catholic Church, to no surprise.

HAH! I moved my foot and literally kicked my copy of The Orthodox Study Bible and racing to Psalm 16, which is 15 in the numbering of the Septuagint, it says “A pillar inscription; by David” See? I had to go through the Jewish Study Bible to point me to The Orthodox Study Bible, to get the meaning of “miktam” which happens to be what I thought it might be. This is so cool.


My take on recommendations (given what’s in print and available to order new):

If you like the old archaic language and a very literal translation, go with the Douay-Rheims

If you like less of the old archaic language but still a fair amount, go with the Confraternity Bible (only available in the New Testament).

If you like the old archaic language but written with a definite literary twist, go with the Knox Bible.

If you like the archaic language every once in awhile but not much of it, but with hints of the King James style, go with the original Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

If you don’t want any archaic language (except perhaps in the Our Father in Matthew 6), go with the Revised Standard Version-Second Catholic Edition.

If you want a very smooth readable version with some odd word choices (police instead of guards, “Happy are those who mourn”), go with the Jerusalem Bible.

If you want a slightly less odd choices, but still pretty smooth reading bible, which is also slightly more literal, get the New Jerusalem Bible.

If you want to hear readings as close as you can get to the translation used at Mass, get a New American Bible-Revised Edition (the 1986-1990 New American Bible would technically be closer as the OT readings would match better, but it’s out of print. Don’t get one with the 1991 revised psalms).

If you want lots of inclusive language (brothers and sisters instead of brothers), but otherwise pretty literal, go with the New Revised Standard Version.


I don’t read the OT in the Bible anyway. I have a T’noch and I find it quite valuable. I don’t find it to be anti-catholic at all and to be very enlightening as to what these people believed. Before the church came about and substituted its beliefs and translation into the OT. What if anything, and I think we believe there is; of any mentioning of Jesus in the OT is described and explained well in our authorized NT cannon. :slight_smile:


Well I do have an NAB that was given to me. I check the DR and match with the KJV. Although the KJV has been IMO chopped up quite a bit.


With all due respects: It was Jesus on the road to Emaus with two of his disciples who gave them a scripture lesson of all time, pointing out all the places in the writings of Moses, the Psalms and other writings, and of course in the prophets which referred to him.

It was no fabrication of the early Church to apply a Christological view of the OT writings. It was, rather, the unfolding of the true meaning of the OT. In 2 Co, St. Paul talks about the Jews as reading their Hebrew Bible as if they had a veil over their eyes, and they could not penetrate its meaning. When Christ arrives on the scene, the veil is lifted and God’s plan and purpose is revealed.


But what did Jesus not reveal? He did not to my knowledge go that deep into the messianic story. It was originally taught that there would come a messiah to begin the return to God. And after that there would be several more to come. To continue and finish the work. I don’t remember that being given to the church and if it was they’re not talking about it.


The later the Confraternity (CCD) bible edition, the more of the updated OT it will have. A 1967 Confraternity has the CCD OT translation up to the Prophets, which (along with 1 and 2 Maccabees) remain the D-R version. This one’'s a treasure hunt, as different years by different publishers all had varying amounts of the new OT translations and other features in them.


My favorite is Confraternity Douay Bible Light of the World Edition 1954.

I think it has the best Catholic Psalms and the Confraternity translation of the first eight books of the bible and especially of Genesis is pretty good–after 1954 they started saying “Happy” instead of “Blessed” in the Psalms which I don’t care for.

Confraternity Douay Bibles have conservative notes and book introductions.

No translation is perfect but the Confraternity New Testament is great–is Catholic not Protestant–and translates 2Corinthians 2:10 with “Person of Christ” instead of “Presence of Christ” which I think is a better translation and shows that Paul offered the incestuous Corinthian Absolution for his sins.

This bible also correctly translates Isaiah 7:14 as “Virgin will conceive” and correctly translates Luke 1:28 as “Hail full of grace”.

The NABRE’s Old Testament is better since it has been revised. If you don’t like the NABRE’s notes then get The New African Bible. It is the NABRE with notes from African contributors.

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