Really, how inaccurate is the Jerusalem Bible?

I have been going crazy over trying to find the best bible translation that has it all…decent accuracy, readability, cross references and notes. Now I know that most scholars tend to use the RSV-CE, of which I have both the first and second editions, I like the translation but never really find myself gravitating towards it naturally. I have been getting into the DR Haydock which is unbelievable but so hard to understand, especially with name indescrepancies and archaic language…I read it for a while then my head hurts and I go to something else…usually the 1966 JB. But usually I find some crazy phrasing that turns me off, plus I have a hard time dealing with the nontraditional phrasing of the psalms and other well-known phrases. But the JB has it all…good notes, excellent x-references, and a poetic easy to read style. How bad is this translation? I always find some real whacky things, but most are explained in the notes and alternative translations are usually provided…something not routinely dine in other translations that kind of makes me suspicious about which translation is correct in some spots. Is it really that subjective? Any help is appreciated.

Mother Angelica of EWTN fame, preferred the Jerusalem Bible.


This translation of Sacred Scripture is Mother Angelica’s favorite teaching Bible.

First published in 1966, this translation was a product of the age of the Second Vatican Council. Many consider this the best interpretation of the ancient texts, written in traditional, non-inclusive language with limited footnotes. Hardcover. 1,679 pages

I feel the JB simply departs too much from traditional English biblical usage. Favorite verses I learned as a child are nearly unrecognizable.
While this could be helpful as an occasional way to look at a particular passage from a different perspective to gain insight, I could never use it as my general use Bible for devotional reading.

The JB is not a literal translation, so the more familiar biblical language is gone. Descendant instead of father, favoured instead of the more literal full of grace and famouse phrased too.

As far as dynamic translations go, it is the best. You won’t find one better in my opinion and it actually is of a decent literary quality too!!!

The original version with all the footnotes (with countless notes giving the literal translation) and the mammoth cross references are great as you noted.

It is the offical text used for Mass in Australia and unless the Church did a truly ‘modern’ version faithful to tradition than it suits me fine as it is of a good literary quality as mentioned and reads will and goes in the ear well when sitting in the pew.

As far as its accuracy goes, interms of dynamic translations many have noted its accuracy from scholars to plain ole’ reviews for magazines etc.

I mostly read the Douay Rheims. The archaism can be annoying not just the thys etc but the accuracy and fidelity of the translations wins me over every time. The RSV-CE is not enough CE for me.

My parents have the Douay-Rheims, with delicate pages. The RSV-CE from Ignatius Press is highly recommended, and, there is a small zippered edition that can fit into one’s purse or case … just bought that myself.

I remember there being a choice at our local Mary shrine’s bookstore: Either a larger JB or a regular size one. The larger one had more study notes or something … so in buying the smaller one, I didn’t have that. I also have the JB NT (in part,) in French from Novalis in Canada. The smaller Ignatius has thicker pages for your Sacramental Information and Family. I have the catechism in both French and English, BTW. The French catechism a find at our Parish festival.

I for one love my JB and I know you cannot buy this edition new. The one Mother Theresa talks about doesn’t have the extended foot notes which I love. I have copies of the DR that I like but I don’t like the RSV CE.
Just my :twocents:

God Bless

I prefer and always use the NRSV Catholic edition. I have a Jerusalem Bible, but I don’t find it readable though it may be a good teaching tool as Mother Angelica used it.

I also like the New American Bible from which the Scripture readings used at Mass are culled.

Still I’ll take the NRSV Catholic edition over the rst.


Yes she prefers the Jerusalem Bible. She also considers the New Jerusalem Bible (1985) to be Heretical.

I am the complete opposite. I always use the Douay-Rheims. I also have a Jerusalem NT as well as 2 NABs. I don’t care for either the RSV-CE or NRSV

It is a relatively well known fact that the DR and RSV-CE are more literal and therefore are inherently more accurate in relation to representing the text of the original manusripts…however, they lack the poetic nature and ease of reading that the JB offers…so to reiterate my original question…does anyone know if the JB is paraphrased to the point that its accuracy is compromised? I compare it with other translations sometimes, but it is not really a fair comparison, as one can’t expect it to read the same as a literal translation…but is this translation accurate? or, are the discrepancies between the JB and more translations of the nature that would make it so that a major idea or theme would be missed?

I don’t believe the accuracy of the JB to be compromised. Compared to many Bibles it trumps them.

Wish I knew French to read the Bible de Jerusalem which inspired the English. Supposidly it is very literal and one of the best Bibles in any language.

I agree…although the JB does not render certain well known phrases in the traditional way, it doesn’t seem as if it detracts from the meaning (at least not in most scenarios). However, I have notices that this version does change certain terms (like mercy and blessed) that could alter the meaning or impact of the statement. But I can’t read the original languages so for all I know the JB could be correct and the others wrong!! At least the JB offers alternative translations most of the time which kind if leads me to believe that it can’t be all that bad. I have been reading the Haydock DR, which kind of appears to be the ultimate Bible period…but the old english gets awfully annoying sometimes :wink:

I forgot to mention that the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen- now officially a “Servant of God” on the road to canonization- said in his autobiography that he found the New English Bible to be his favorite amongst the translations available during his lifetime. For this reason, I purchased a copy of the New English Bible. It is readable and rather elegant in both poetry and prose. Given Sheen’s personal eloquence in speech and the written word, it didn’t surprise me me that his favorite translation of the scriptures reflected the way he had with the English language.

Having read many of the posts in this thread, I guess it comes down to what communicates the Spirit of God best to the individual when speaking of biblical translations. Even in seminary, I found accuracy of translation and scholarship ALWAYS took a back seat to readability. I’ve never made up my mind whether that’s a good or bad thing. Of course, we would all do well to remember that much of scripture was preserved by word of mouth long before it was written down with quill on parchment. How, then, can we truly argue about accuracy? Who knows what may have been misconstrued when the scriptures were first put down on paper?

Just some thoughts.

Thanks Rob…great, ANOTHER bible to look into buying:D I have never heard of the NEB but certainly have heard of Fulton Sheen. I’ll see if I can find a copy online before buying though. I agree that readability is important. I love reading the DR Haydock, and think that if I could tolerate the archaic language it would satisfy all my needs…but I find myself quickly worn out when reading because I have a hard time figuring out what exactly I am reading!!! I always enjoy reading the JB, but get annoyed at some of the phrasing…but I am beginning to think that there is no “best bible” and that I should not worry about it and read what I like. The scholars like the RSV, but I am not a scholar. I like it as well but it has never been my go to bible…but I do use it as a baseline control for comparison due to its literal quality.

Allow me to offer you a few instances which, for me, militate against using the JB, even for “private reading”. Forget about using it as the basis for a “study bible”; while its notes, cross-references, headings, book introductions are really great - yes, FAR better than the ®NAB - the text is wanting in too many places.

In Matthew 16: “Simon, son of John, you are a happy man!” HAPPY??!!

In Tobit 2: “the seventh of March”. Didn’t know our calendar was used by the Hebrews in exile.

In 1 Cor. 16: “Sunday”, instead of “first day of the week”.

In the Last Supper narratives: “wine”, instead of “fruit of the vine”.

In Malachi 1:11: “from east to west”, instead of “from the rising of the sun to its setting”.

Had I the time, I’d go through and compile a list of other doozies as I did for my “RSV-CE Needs Correction” thread.

Thanks for the input Manfred. I am bothered by such things as well…but what I keep asking myself is does it really matter? I like reading the JB but am often put off by such discrepancies. I guess my question is what do the original languages sayin these instances? Is the JB incorrect or synonomous in these cases? I can’t read Greek or Hebrew so I do not know the answer. What translation(s) do you prefer?

For overall accuracy, I prefer the Douay-Rheims-Challoner. The Latin Vulgate from which it is translated did an admirable job of reproducing both Hebraisms as well as “biblical” Greek. While the RSV-CE is many people’s favorite, and while it is easier to read than the D-R-C, there are lots of places where it just drops the ball. And there are few study aids to inform the reader of this. Again, see my thread “RSV-CE Needs Correction”.

I would do as Jimmy Akin does…use several!! Of course the RSVCE is the best (for instance from Scepter --especially in the Navarre) but it is good to use several.

No translation is perfect. :slight_smile:

I wonder if you are wrong about that. You didn’t post a link or quote from Mother Angelica. I was aware that she preferred the 1966 edition. A house divided does not stand. I would not impute heresy for any Catholic Bible. Nor for any Protestant Bible. I’ve never seen a JW Bible. If I have throw their material away, it is their other publications, bound or not.

“La Bible De Jerusalem Nouveau Testament” has drawings, and has only part of the New Testament. If you know the New Testament, have it in your heart, and know basic French grammer, you can likely read it. Another Swiss author, who is fluent in English but wrote in French; wrote stories and used a vocabularly that is easier for us who are primarily English speaking.

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