The King James Bible


As I listen to the words of Handel’s famous Messiah oratorio, I thought about it’s use of the King James translation and its seemingly frequent use when quoting scripture. Since the translation was (I’m assuming) written originally for the Anglican (and later various Protestant) communities, it would have been writing for denominations that don’t use the Dueterocanonical Books of the Old Testament. Did they translate these books, anyway? Are there any Catholic parishes that use the King James version or is it exclusively used in Protestant faith?


The duetrocanonials are available in the KJV translation as a separate “Apocrypha” volume. Originally, they were included in the same volume but in a different section.


The KJV originally did contain the Deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church does not use the KJV, but Catholics are free to read it if they wish. I have one. It seems as if it is part of our culture in America, although most Protestant Churches probably don’t use it as much any more. If you do a search, there is some fascinating history about the KJV.


The KJV is not one of the approved translations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


The King James Bible removes certain books. I encourage you to pick up a Douay Rheims Bible, which is very Catholic and two years older than the King James.


Your assumption is a little off. The Church of England already had an official bible. It was called “The Bishop’s Bible”. But the other major protestant group, the Puritans, did not and they didn’t like that version. They petitioned the king for a new translation that could be used in all English churches. The translation teams included scholars from both traditions. In England, the KJV is known as the Authorised Version.


Not as a Bible no, but with the promulgation of Divine Worship: The Missal, at least one pericope of the King James Bible has entered Catholic worship. It is the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John, which is now the Last Gospel of the Mass.

The KJV was translated for the Church of England, which does use the Deuterocanonicals in its Lectionary for the Book of Common Prayer, and those books were translated for the KJV.

The KJV is a classic of English literature (yes, the Bible is literature) and I personally do not believe it contains anything contrary to Catholic teaching. I also consider its English superior to that of the DR, which is part of why I prefer the RSV, a direct descendant of the King James.




I would NEVER look to the USCCB for which Bible translation to use for myself, that’s for sure. Also I would not look to them for anything else I can think of. When I see them on EWTN in their annual conference, I never feel good about what I am seeing and hearing, and its GREAT relief to know they are not a part of the authority structure of the Catholic Church, and that I am free to ignore them.

Plenty of people I trust have written on this so I searched for an article to better explain my viewpoint on USCCB, and found this, which seems balanced. Scroll down slightly; the article starts with the nice red-slash symbol superimposed on the USCCB logo.:smiley:


Nonetheless, I would still stick with a Catholic-approved Bible. The USCCB was not in the business of approving Bibles prior to 1983, so any Bible that bears the Imprimatur is suitable for use. Under the current Canon Law, Bibles are to be published with the approval of a bishop’s conference or the Holy See (the former is the most common).

I only “support” the KJV insofar as I believe it’s an English classic and that under scrutiny, it can stand Catholic approval (without alteration) if an authority wants to do so. But it isn’t, so therefore, I wouldn’t recommend it for devotional use.


I recommend for devotional use a Bible that you LIKE. Especially if you are going to memorize. Why would you want to memorize something that was not worded pleasingly to you? With the KJV you get a beautiful use of the English language AND accuracy. Accuracy lacks in so many of the modern translations. I look at for verses I like, to see how they are translated in the various translations, because this is so quick and easy to do online. The New American Standard USCCB has us using at Mass rarely if ever makes my “favorites” list. So its GREAT to know that the so-called “authority” of the USCCB, even though they can mess with our Mass, we are totally FREE to bypass as Catholics. :yup:


The USCCB publishes the New American Bible, not the New American Standard Bible, which is a completely different translation project altogether, the copyright of which is held by the Lockman Foundation.


Right. Thanks for the correction. We prefer the KJV and the Douay Rheims at our house.


Question though, why trust this blogger over the USCCB which is actually made up of Bishops?


As a priest, I feel an obligation to come to the defence of bishops conferences. They serve very important roles vis-a-vis the individual heads of dioceses and a given region or country, especially in terms of collective action, and also with the Holy See relative to tasks the Holy See entrusts to the competence of the conferences.

All of these various roles are more complex than lend themselves to be expounded upon in a post in a forum such as this. Suffice it to say, as but one example, that one will often find that many things determined collectively by the conference are enacted by the individual bishops as norms in their dioceses – and that is binding.


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