Revised Standard 1 vs 2 vs Douay Rheims... etc

Hi. :slight_smile:

I have a few questions regarding Catholic Bible versions.

  1. I have a Douay Rheims version of the Bible, but when I read it I get a feeling that it might not be very accurate. It sounds very similar to the King James version (I grew up Baptist) of the Bible that I used as a kid, but has some noticable differences. Also, since the Church uses the New American Bible for the liturgy in the US, and the RSV for official documents form the Vatican, (catechism…etc) does that mean that this is a way of saying that the Douay Rheims is outdated and perhaps not accurate?

  2. I bought the blue paperback Ignatius Study Bible a few years ago because I was told that it is the absolute best possible translation that anyone can get of the Bible into english.

I haven’t been paying much attention to Biblical things for a few years (other than going to mass…etc) until I talked to some of you guys here, now I have been dusting off my old Catholic bookshelf. I found out yesterday that the Ignatius Bible I have is version 1 and there has been a version 2 released during the time I wasn’t paying attention.

What is the difference between version 1 and 2? Does this mean now that my version 1 is outdated like the Douay Rheims and King James and no longer considered accurate? Is there a version 3 comming out that I am also not aware of? Now I am worried when I pick up version 1 that it might have mistakes in it. What is the purpose of a version 2, when just a few years ago, (this decade) the version 1. Ignatius Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition was considered the best most accurate English translation in the world?


You are asking a question that has been endlessly debated on these forums, and it will probably touch off a huge debate here, as well. The bottom line, from my perspective, is that all three bible versions you are asking about are solid choices. The Douay Rheims is accurate from the perspective of Catholic teaching on faith and morals. And the two editions of the RSV-CE are not significanlty different as far as any glaring inaccuracies are concerned.

I think it will come down to your personal preference. Do you prefer the older or more modern English? Do you prefer many footnotes, or few, etc.? Do you prefer sectional topic headings, maps, or none of these?

I’d recommend keeping your Douay Rheims and using it along with one of the RSV-CE’s. The only advantage to updating your 1st edition RSV-CE would be if you’re not happy with the acutal layout or format, and if you’d rather have a nicer font, the section headers, the maps, and the endnotes as footnotes on their respective pages. These are the advanges of the 2nd edition RSV-CE. (In some areas, I feel that the 2nd edition more closely matches the Douay Rheims than the 1st edition, but again, its personal preference whether you’d consider this fact to be worthy of a change.)


The Douay-Rheims is an accurate Bible. The most accurate. That doesn’t mean that the RSV-CE isn’t accurate. The Douay-Rheims is translated from the Latin Vulgate (old Latin Vulgate versions). The RSV-CE 1 and 2 come from the Protestant RSV. The differences between the first and second edition are some word changes as Luke 1:28 beginning was changed to Hail, full of grace in the second edition. However, I don’t see that modern Catholic Versions such as the JB, NJB, GNT, RSV-CE and NAB are more accurate than those of Douay-Rheims, Confraternity, and Ronald Knox Translation. Moreover, I don’t see the Nova Vulgate being more accurate than the Clementine or Sixtus Editions or any other previous editions of the Latin Vulgate. I know I will receive a lot of criticism about that, but I don’t care. The Douay is extremely accurate. As for the King James Version. It is a very good Bible, but it is Protestant and no longer include the books of Judith, Tobit, I Machabees, II Machabees, Baruch, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus. As for the accuracy of the modern translation, again Luke 1:28 is an example. At the end of Luke 1:28 the NAB, RSV-CE, JB exclude blessed are thou among women. Although the RSV-CE is only modern version to read Hail, full of grace instead of Hail highly favored one, still eliminates the ending. The Nova Vulgata is the same way.This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t read them. I just do not see that the modern translations being more accurate than the Douay-Rheims.

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Great! So you’re basically telling me that the 2nd version of the RSV is the same fundamental translation they have just formatted it like the New American Bible with all of the footnotes and headers and explanitory extras.

That is cool. I’ll take a look at one. I was mainly concerned that there had been error found with the RSV #1 and I would have to replace it. It feels like I just bought it. I bought it new for 20.00 and used it very little before I became so busy, now it’s been three years and I am just starting to pick it up again and it is still in brand new condition. So, I’m glad I don’t have to replace it.

Sorry, if I brought up a subject you said had been endlessly debated. I haven’t noticed.

The Douay Rheims is the most accurate? I had been told by someone, I can’t remember who or where, that the Douay Rheims included some mistakes made by Saint Jerome when he first did the translation from the original manuscripts to latin to make the Vulgat verision…something about his worm dieth not…and s few other phrases that people say are not in the maority of original manscripts…I don’t know however, I’m not a Bible scholar. I love the subject and find it very compelling, however, I have no idea what manuscripts St. Jerome used or why the modern scholars believe their manuscripts to be better than his or why exactley they believe he made translation mistakes…

Why is the Douay the most accurate? I’m sorry if this has been hashed over before…I missed the hashing :slight_smile:

The Latin Vulgate Editions up to the time of the Council of Trent is considered free of any doctrinal error. The Sixtus and Clementine editions follow that same format. The Douay-Rheims is an exact word for word translation of the Vulgate. Modern translations follow more text that were discovered in the 1800s. I don’t deny that they do exist, because they do. They consider those manuscripts most accurate, but have no proof that they are more accurate. I know I will criticism for that but the manuscripts that were considered the most accurate for over 1400 should take into account. If you believed for all you life that 2+2=4, then someone come along when you are 70 years of age and says there is scientific proof that 2+2=4 is wrong and that 2+2=5, would you believe that. I am not denying that these manuscripts are not accurate, because they are to a point, but not more accurate. The Douay-Rheims is an accurate Bible indeed, but it isn’t a perfect translation. How does one come to the conclusion that what was believed to be most accurate for 1400 years suddenly become not the most accurate based on new “scientific” findings?

There have been some changes in the RSV-2CE text, but they weren’t made due to any glaring error that was found in the 1st edition. My suspicion is that a new version was needed to be created to allow future use in study bibles, etc, due to copyright concerns with the 1st edition. But this is just a suspicion and I could be totally wrong.

I wouldn’t get too excited about a bunch of explanatory extras…the footnotes are bascially the same endnotes found in your current RSV-CE…not much more. But topical section headers were added which I have found to be useful. The RSV-2CE text is the basis of the Ignatius Study Bible, which has the plethora of commentary that you may be looking for. However, a single volume edition of this bible is not yet available.

(Side note…I saw Scott Hahn speak in person just this past weekend and he answered a question on this by stating he hoped a single volume New Testamanent would be out in under 2 yrs, and the entire bible in around 4-5 yrs. He and Curtis Mitch are basically done with the NT, with editing work remaining on Revelation. They are done with about 85% of the OT.)

If you want to really dig in to the changes or differences in all of the aforementioned bible versions, you can see a partial list of changes put together by members of the forums here:

This is all part of a very lengthy and old/historic post on the RSV-CE here:

DD2007, I didn’t mean to try and shut you down on your question…I only meant to give you a little warning that you weren’t going to necessarily get a definitive answer. There are many varied opinions on these topics. :slight_smile:


Thanks. I think I’m comfortable. I’m glad I didn’t have a litany of people repond to this telling me to throw my version 1 away. So, I’m keeping it and will study it. I have as an accompany a book called “Inside the Bible” by Kenneth Baker. Published by Ignatius that gives you an essay on each book in the bible. It seems to be a good companion to the RSV as it does recommend it be used in this manner.

In regards to the Ignatius Study Bible…I bought a copy of Matthew and a copy of Romans about 4 years ago. I love them. I am very excited about a single volume of the Ignatius study bible. That will probably be my next major Bible purchase, and I will probably use that as my standard from that point forward.

I like Scott Hahn. I have read Rome Sweet Home, A Father who Keeps his Promises, Hail Holy Queen, Swear to God , Lord have mercy…I would like to read more titles by him. The work on the Ignatius Study Bible I think may be the best thing he has done for the Church however…can’t waith for the single volume!

You should not throw away or burn a version of the Bible unless it is heretical and distorts doctrine. Regardless of what version of the Bible you have it is always a benefit have. As for Scott Hahn, I have heard many good things about him but have not read any of his works. So kudos on reading his works.

Wait a minute. I have been reading a short book on the Douay Rheims and have learned about a massive error…

There is no possible way that the Doauy Rheims, RSV-CE and the NAB can all be called inerrant complete translations of scripture unless there is something I am missing.

  1. Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) Chapter 24 Verses 24-32 What is going on???

Douay Rheims:

24 I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. 25 In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.

26 Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. 27 For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. 28 My memory is unto everlasting generations. 29 They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. 30 He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.

31 They that explain me shall have life everlasting. 32 All these things are the book of life, and the covenant of the most High, and the knowledge of truth.


[23] All this is the book of the covenant of the Most High God,
the law which Moses commanded us
as an inheritance for the congregations of Jacob.
[25] It fills men with wisdom, like the Pishon,
and like the Tigris at the time of the first fruits.
[26] It makes them full of understanding, like the Euphrates,
and like the Jordan at harvest time.
[27] It makes instruction shine forth like light,
like the Gihon at the time of vintage.
[28] Just as the first man did not know her perfectly,
the last one has not fathomed her;
[29] for her thought is more abundant than the sea,
and her counsel deeper than the great abyss.

[30] I went forth like a canal from a river
and like a water channel into a garden.
[31] I said, “I will water my orchard
and drench my garden plot”;
and lo, my canal became a river,
and my river became a sea.
[32] I will again make instruction shine forth like the dawn,
and I will make it shine afar;


It overflows, like the Pishon, with wisdom-- like the Tigris in the days of the new fruits.
It runs over, like the Euphrates, with understanding, like the Jordan at harvest time.
6 It sparkles like the Nile with knowledge, like the Gihon at vintage time.
The first man never finished comprehending wisdom, nor will the last succeed in fathoming her.
For deeper than the sea are her thoughts; her counsels, than the great abyss.
7 Now I, like a rivulet from her stream, channeling the waters into a garden,
Said to myself, “I will water my plants, my flower bed I will drench”; And suddenly this rivulet of mine became a river, then this stream of mine, a sea.
Thus do I send my teachings forth shining like the dawn, to become known afar off.
Thus do I pour out instruction like prophecy and bestow it on generations to come.

The differences are obvious and huge…
Bible Scholars…Help!! :eek: :eek: :eek:

First point. No translation, be it Vulgate, Douay, RSV, or New American is inerrant.

Okay, now as for the differences. The Book of Sirach has undergone much change over the centuries since its original Hebrew autographs. The best available complete text is the Greek, the original Hebrew having been lost. There have been several glosses in the Greek underlying the Vulgate’s Latin, and the best scholarship now agrees that the Greek underlying the RSV and NAB is the better text. This is confirmed by the 19th and 20th discovery of Hebrew manuscripts from Cairo and Qumran, which allowed scholars to reconstruct about 2/3 of the Hebrew, and has been found to agree for the most part with the Greek.

The passage starting in verse 24 in the DR is verse 16 of the New American Bible.

For the most part, your observation (from a book that I have also read) is proving why you should perhaps study the bible using multiple translations. I don’t know as much about the NAB since I don’t spend a lot of time using it. But I think the differences between the Douay Rheims and the RSV-CE are a little bit overstated.

For instance, if you read the endnote (or footnote) for Sirach 24:17, you will see that the RSV-CE acknowledges a portion of the differences that you mention.

In addition, the introduction from the RSV-CE also discusses specifically that differences in translations of Sirach do exist. The third from the last paragraph in that introduction states:

“Thus, for example, in the case of the book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), the Latin, on which the Douay Version is based, is notably longer than the Revised Standard Version which is based on the Greek. It is generally agreed that the Greek underlying the RSV is better than the recension underlying the Latin. On critical principles therefore we should accept the RSV text as preferable to the Douay. It is admitted today that the decree of Trent declaring that Catholics must accept the books contained in the Latin Vulgate with all their parts does not oblige us to accept passages which have been judged, according to the best critical principles, not to be part of the original text…This procedure is in accordance with the directives given in Divino Afflante Spiritu.”

Now, while you may not agree with choices made in the RSV-CE, or with the sentiments expressed in the Introduction, I don’t think its totally fair to assume or express that these topics or apparent discrepancies are simply ignored.

Again, I use both the Douay Rheims and the RSV-CE. The RSV-CE reads easier, but I have had several passages come alive for me by also reading the Douay Rheims and the accompanying study notes. And I think that this is the main point of that book you’re reading (“Which Bible Should You Read”). But I think you’re looking a little too hard for some big controversy or issue that just doesn’t really exist between these different translations.


I just read an apologetic book for the Douay Rheims called “Which bible should you read?” by Thomas A. Nelson

On page 3 and 4 he quoted this from the Council of Trent 4th session April 8th 1546:

“Moreover the same Holy Council…
ordains and declares that the old Latin Vulgate Edition, which, in use for so many hundred years, has been approved by the Church, be in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions held as authentic, and that no one dare or presume under any pretext whatsoever to reject it.”

So, I read this book checked his statements for accuracy with mu bibles at home an links on-line. It looks like the Douay Rheims is the only version that follows the Vulgate. The others do not, however modern scholars seem to think the Vulgate isn’t as accurate as the modern translations…

Here are some interesting links I found all point to Sirach.

Vulgate text next to Douay-Rheims text

Vulgate from the Vatican website

I included the following two becaue they are basically contemporary with the Douay Rheims…they read differently though.

The Geneva Bible: (protetant) the pilgrims bible

Authorized King James 1611: (protestant)

It seems to me that we are supposed to trust that the Vulgate is the best version and the most accurate translations are made from that. Right now I must admit I am leaning Douay Rheims and I am confused as to why the Church would approve Bibles for us that did not say the same thing word for word as the Vulgate?

What’s going on? I’m feeling a bit nervous about my RSV-CE and my NAB bibles now…:frowning:

I have edited this post…I had posted that i couldn’t find that in my Bible…however, I reread your post and I found it where you said it would be in the “introduction” a thing I rarely read as I am obviously too “old” for an introduction…:whistle: just kidding…If I had read that in the first place I wouldn’t have been so concerned. The out seems to be Divino Afflante Spiritu. The book" hat Bible should I read" leads one to believe we are bound by the council of trent to disregard modern scholarship.

I am not looking for any controversy at all. I just simply want to read the best most accurate Bible we have in English.

Also it looks like the passage from verse 24 “I am the mother of fair love”…etc that is in the Douay Rheims and the Vulgate have had some doctrinal impact. Am I correct on this? It leads one to immediatly start thinking mariology. The RSV-CE doesn’t include this passage. Does that matter or not?

Very true that no translation is inerrant. Yes there are differences between that of the NAB and D-R. It still doesn’t change any doctrine though.

The council of Trent was right in not rejecting the Vulgate, but Pope Pius XII had tremendous respect for the Vulgate, but encouraged the use of “original languages”. This doesn’t mean that the modern Bible versions are more accurate, not does it mean that translations like the Douay-Rheims is more accurate either. If you want to read the RSV-CE and NAB you can read them. If you want to read the Douay-Rheims too, go right ahead. I never felt comfortable with the RSV-CE myself, so I try to avoid it at all costs. You should not use just one translation. It would be wise to use multiple translations for reference. I have my reasons why I read the Douay-Rheims, Confraternity, and Ronald Knox Translation and Porthos11 has reasons why he reads his translations, but we can’t decide which translations for you to read. That is your choice.

Trent declared the Vulgate to be free of moral and doctrinal error, and indeed, it is true. That’s why the Vulgate and D-R are just fine for devotional reading.

But Divino Afflante Spiritu clarified that Trent affirmed the Vulgate (1) as the official version for the Latin church only, as the Byzantine churches have always used the Greek; and (2) it does not diminish the value of the original texts, which possess greater weight and authority than any translation. The Vulgate, for all its rich history, is still only a translation, and will always rank second in authority to the original languages.

Because of these new directives issued by the Pope, Catholic scholars have since used the original languages, and the Church revised the Vulgate in the light of modern scholarship. The Vatican link you posted is the Nova Vulgata, not St. Jerome’s original one, and is now the official Latin Bible of the Latin Church.

As for Sirach, given the best manuscript evidence, especially comparing the Hebrew and Greek, the Greek underlying the RSV and NAB is the better one compared to the Vulgate.

Accurate, yes. Better no. I don’t see that in the RSV-CE and NAB better than that of the Douay-Rheims, Confraternity and Ronald Knox etc. Nor do I see that of the Douay-Rheims better than the RSV-CE and NAB.

I’m merely talking about the quality of the underlying manuscript evidence, purely on critical, not doctrinal grounds.

Guys, once of my concerns now is with the following passage. I think it is beautiful and inspiring. Why would it be left out of modern translations when it is still very much part of the Vulgate…as it is on the Vatican website.

I think this passage must have been meditated upon, preached about, and been in the liturgy, especially in relation to Church Wisdom and Mariology. Now it is disregarded as something that was never supposed to be in the scriptures in the first place by the translators of the RSV-CE and the NAB? I hear that the 24th chapter of Sirach is included in its entirety in the Jerusalem Bible, however.

What are your thoughts onthis passage?

I am a bit worried about this. This sounds like a very powerful passage to just simply disregard:

24 I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. 25 In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.

26 Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. 27 For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. 28 My memory is unto everlasting generations. 29 They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. 30 He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.

31 They that explain me shall have life everlasting. 32 All these things are the book of life, and the covenant of the most High, and the knowledge of truth.

I checked the Jerusalem Bible and the passage is actually not in there. So, correction there.

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