The 1966 Jerusalem Bible


I have yet to find a scholarly critical review by a Catholic of the 1966 Jerusalem Bible. I’ve read reviews written by evangelical (usually anti-Catholic) Protestants who actually were bible translators for versions such as the New American Standard or the New International Version.

The 1966 JB was Mother Angelica’s “favorite teaching bible” and, until its use in the liturgy was prohibited by the US bishops (God bless 'em!), was also used in the EWTN daily Mass. Admittedly, the fact that a particular translation was deemed worthy of use in the liturgy does not mean that translation is sound; if this were true, I would have to look with kindness on the New American Bible, which most contributors to this Forum (myself included) just cannot do.

I’d be more interested in what is said/written about the translation itself, its actual renderings. The 1966 JB is renowned for its notes, book introductions, cross-references, etc.

Any references would be appreciated, as would reactions from those of you who’ve read through and/or use the 1966 JB regularly.


The 1966 Jerusalem Bible has huge amounts of notes included and that basically explains the 2-inch thickness of it. Its still available from Philippine Bible Society. It was translated by the Dominicans and JRR Tolkien is amongst its editors. Many criticise it for having more liberal commentrary, talking about the Q Gospel for example. “Rejoice, O, highly favours” is also a rather unfortunate rendering. That being said, it is still many times better that the Good News Translation that even today is widely circulated in South East Asian Dioceses.

I’m not a scholar or anything, but I really enjoy this translation! Lucky me. I happen to own a copy! :slight_smile:

In 2000 I purchased a 1966 Jerusalem Bible (reddish hard cover w/slip-jacket) from an online used book store, primarily because of an article that appeared earlier that year in Adoremus Bulletin.


But this article only showed in a few specific cases why Lectionary readings the “old” Jerusalem Bible (OJB), as the author dubbed it, were superior to those from the neutered NAB used in the USA, and better even than the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), which is also gender-neutered in many places. The writer never mentioned “Rejoice, so highly favoured”, or the Be-Happy-attitudes, or “Simon, son of John, you are a happy man!”, or “sex is always a danger” (1 Cor. 7).

I agree the study aids in the full-size edition are really great, but is this a bible where the study aids are better than the text for which they were written?

The Good News Translation and The New Living Translation are so paraphrastic and dumbed-down that they can never be used for serious study, nor should they even be mentioned when discussing the Jerusalem Bible.

Ah yes the ‘blessed’ and ‘happy’ translation.

I am mentioning the GNB because of its very wide circulation around where I am. The next most widely circulated in the 1966 JB. My own parish still gives the GNB to those who have received the sacrament of confirmation. I’ve talked to quite a number of people and at the end of the day persuading people to switch becomes easiest on the basis that its read at Mass.

Where would YOU place the 1966 JB relative to other translations, especially the RSV-CE, the Douay-Rheims, or any other?

Umm…using what measure? Scholarship, Availability etc?

How about accuracy, beauty, clarity (ABC)?

  1. Haydock Douay Rheims
  2. Douay Rheims
  3. Confranternity Bible
  4. Mgr Knox Bible
  5. Ignatius Study Bible (RSVCE)
  6. Navarre Bible (RSVCE)
  7. 1966 Jerusalem Bible
  8. Chistian Community Bible (1st-3rd Edition)
  9. New American Bible 1970
  10. New American Bible 1986
  11. New Revised Standard Version
  12. Christian Community Bible (Later Editions)
  13. New Jerusalem Bible
  14. Catholic Living Bible
  15. Good New Bible

1-8 Is free from Inclusive Language
9-15 Is plagued by inclusive Language

That’s true, especially in the Philippines were usually the GNB is the most available English Bible (in some cases, the ONLY Bible) with the Deuterocanonicals in a few bookstores. The one used in the liturgy is the NAB, i think. I just prefer the NAB for reading while ignoring some footnotes, and the GNB is a lookup if the tough English of the NAB is a little hard for me to understand.

Fortunately it’s the 1970 NAB; if it is later i would have detested the inclusive language.:smiley:
And I find the GNB too modern.:smiley:

Hmm…I thought the 1970 NAB had inclusive language…

Oh, then i need to read my Bible more…:smiley:
So, where are the passages that has inclusive language?:confused:

At least no translator of the Bible has ever dared to translate a Bible that is So Full of (horizontal and vertical) inclusive language, that the Great Commission includes the passage 'Baptize them in the Name of the Parent or Guardian, the Child (no gender specified), and the Holy Being (again, no gender specified)…Yet. :smiley:

Nope. However, it is more of a dynamic equivalence than the later NAB.

Some people’s opinion is that it is really good as a paraphrase, as it flows really well.

I just wish they had produced a proper Confraternity OT based on the Rheims, instead of solely following the Pope’s call to allow the original languages like they did.

I have several copies of the original Jerusalem study Bible (demerzel’s PBS reprint). I like it, as far as dynamic translations go. I have no problem with dynamic translations; I believe they have their place alongside the formal translations.

Digress. The Christian Community Bible editions caught my attention.

You mean there have been multiple revisions already?

I think your numbering should have been

1-9 Is free from Inclusive Language
10-15 Is plagued by inclusive Language

as the 1970 NAB has a very dynamic-equivalent NT, but it’s definitely not inclusive.

Aside from that, thank you for your listing; I see where neither of the Jerusalem bibles made out very well.

No, you’re OK here; the 1970 NAB is not inclusive; the revised NT (1986) and the revised Psalms (1990) definitely are, so much so that the Vatican rejected the revised Psalms for liturgical use altogether, and accepted the revised NT for lectionary use only with several approved changes. But I still wouldn’t want to use one as MY bible of choice; it’s bad enough we’re forced to bear with it in the liturgy in the USA with NO other options!

My sentiments exactly, mmortal. I would still love to get my hands on those parts of the Confraternity OT done from the Vulgate before the 1943 encyclical; they would HAVE to be better than most of the work that became part of the 1970 NAB!

I think this topic was handled in an older thread, but I cant recall its outcome. The Confraternity NT was completed in 1941, but I’m not sure of the timeline on the translation of the OT. The reprint of the Confraternity by Sinag-tala definitely has 13 Books of the OT still in the Douay Translation. (1,2,3,4 Kings; 1,2 Paralipomenon; 1,2 Esdra; Tobias; Judith; Esther; 1,2 Machabees)

Yeah, I have got a copy of all of what you can get. I purchased all the pieces available (1970 NAB and Confraternity Bible) used around the time of that thread you are mentioning.

Basically, the closest you can come to a full Confraternity Bible is by taking 1.) the Confraternity NT which is based on the Douay, 2.) the 1970 NAB OT without Genesis, which are all based on the original languages, and 3.) the older translation of Genesis that is only available in the Confraternity Bible, and putting them together. The only changes between the Confraternity translations of the OT and the 1970 NAB translations of the OT are the names of individuals being updated for the NAB, and the newer liberally revised version of Genesis. However, even if you have one of the later versions of the NAB, from before the inclusive language revision of the Psalms, you will still have the same OT as the 1970 OT. Besides Genesis, it hasn’t been revised since.

Speaking of which, they are supposedly revising the rest of the OT to be released “at the end of 2006”.

Hmm, perhaps there’s something you’re all trying to tell me, but I prefer not to rehash any earlier (albeit unfortunately lost) discussions re the NAB/RNAB unless it has some bearing on the thread’s main topic, the '66 JB.

For those of you who’ve read any parts of it, how do you feel about it? Does the text convey a sense of trustworthiness? Do you think the intent of the author comes through loudly and clearly? Do the notes add/subtract from the text itself? Are the renderings of such quality that passages are easily memorable and/or quotable?

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