RSV-CE2nd editiion - footnotes

Could someone please explain to me what I am to make of the footnotes in the RSV-CE2nd edition?

What I want to know is, when reading a verse that has an alternative translation given in the footnote, is the wording in the main body of the text the original version with the footnote being the better Catholic translation - or did they put the better translation in the verse itself and move the original (weaker) translation to the footnote?

(I hope that makes some sense!)

Thank you and God bless!



Generally speaking, the notes in the margin which present an alternative translation to a given verse are there because it may be difficult to translate from the Greek/Hebrew to the English, thus giving a possible alternative. There also may be a difference in what the Hebrew Mesoretic text says in the OT compared to the Greek LXX. The RSV-CE is based off the Hebrew Mesoretic, so there may be times when they choose to adopt a Greek rendering for textual reasons over the Hebrew one, but they still provide the Hebrew in the textual note.

It doesn’t have anything to do with a text be better or worse for Catholics.

You might look to see if there is an Appendix at the back that tells you the changes that were made between the RSV and the RSV CE (at least in the NT). Some of the text and footnotes were swapped for the Catholic Edition, when both translations are supported.

One example is the brothers vs. brethren issue. In the Protestant version, it is brothers, but in the Catholic version it is brethren. Both readings make sense because (as I understand it, I am by no means a Scripture scholar) the Greek technically means brothers, but Hebrew, and also in Aramaic (the first language of most of the writers of the NT), the word for brothers has a much more broad connotation more like “make kinsman” which makes brethren possibly give a more accurate feel for what the writers actually meant.

However, there are probably huge threads on the brothers/brethren question on these forums, and as I said, I am no expert. So I really don’t mean to start that hare, just to give an example of the kinds of alternate readings that might be switched between the regular text and the footnotes in the Catholic Edition.

Anything that isn’t mentioned in the appendix (at least in the NT) is not related to Catholic/Protestant.


This was the first thing that came to my mind also…
At times, also, there is a difference between a more liberal theological opinion, and a more traditional one. In these cases, the RSV-CE will have the more traditional wording in the text, whereas the RSV will have the more liberal one. (This is, in my opinion, a very good thing that was done for the RSV-CE; the regular RSV sometimes used a more liberal wording for political correctness).


The RSV is generally a product of Protestant scholarship, indeed it is a revised revised revision of the King James. Generally where you see a footnote that says: “other ancient texts (or sources) read…” these are the translational differences between the Catholic Edition and the Protestant Editions. There are surprisingly few differences. Back in the 50s and 60s the RSV was used frequently in Protestant circles but I don’t see it much anymore. The vast majority use the NIV, NEV (a revision of the RSV) and NASB, the more fundamental use the KJV. Christian Book Distributors, I think, only offers the Catholic Edition RSV and the Oxford anotated study bible in RSV.

Interestingly, I have an RSV pew bible printed by a Methodist publisher but I reckon it’s about 20 years old.

That is not exactly the case, since the Old Testament is exactly the same in both the RSV and RSV-CE. The New Testament is a little different, with some changes in the Catholic edition, most notably the ‘favored one’ to ‘Full of Grace’ in the Angelic salutation to Mary. It is not, however, large scale changes in the New Testament, but rather some Catholic tweeking.

Read the ‘Introduction (to the 1966 edition)’ at the beginning of the RSV-CE2nd edition. It explains and answers your question.

Many thanks for all the answers and help!

God bless you all!

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