As Catholics, we often hear of the need to use “Catholic Bibles”. We shouldn’t use “Protestant Bibles”. On the surface, that shouldn’t present much of a problem right? We are Catholics, so use a Catholic Bible!
Catholic Bibles STINK. And i mean, they REALLY STINK! From the (lack of) choice of bindings/editions to the (lack of) choice of beautiful leather covers, to the actual translations to choose from, we as modern Biblical Catholics have a VERY small and poor choice of Bibles to choose from.
We have the old Douay-Rheims which is all but unreadable with its weird naming structures for the books of the Bible and proper names (I know it’s Latin-ized but come on!) along with its awkward English phrasing and verse-by-verse format. What books do YOU know of that are verse-by-verse??? Have you ever actually read the Douay-Rheims? It’s truly a labor to get through one page of it. And even if you can, you will find quite a few verses that have been ‘borrowed’ from the KJV anyway.
We have the poetic Jerusalem Bible and its not-so-poetic offspring, The New Jerusalm Bible. The first being a nice, poetic rendering of the Bible that is unfortunately too loose of a translation to take seriously and is now all but out of print and the latter just being an NIV wannabe but not as good.
We have the NABRE, the ‘official’ Catholic Bible of the USA which for all intents and purposes is a middle-of-the-road translation with borderline heretical/apostate ‘notes’ spread out across every page of this Bible casting doubt and shaking the faith of millions of Catholics.
Then of course we have the RSVCE/RSVCE-2nd Edition. A decently translated Bible with ZERO options for bindings. The original RSV-CE is almost impossible to find anymore without obtaining it in its Protestant version with or without the “Apocrypha” and the RSVCE-2nd Edition is a poorly updated edition (the English is bland compared to the original) and comes in ONE - yes, ONE binding - A horrific plastic-leather with gold embossed monstrocities on the cover. The text looks cramped on the page and the Bible’s dimensions are too awkward and big to carry around.
Then we have its less-literal offspring, the NRSV, which is gaining more popularity in Catholic circles, but is really a very boring, unispired read, marred by a gender-neutral translation. Not quite literal enough for serious study but not quite loose enough for quality devotional reading. The NRSV suffers from an identity crisis which is why the thing is PLASTERED with alternative translations in the notes on every page. Am I a study Bible? Am I a devotional Bible? Just what am I?!?!
Having said that, of all the choices, the NRSV is probably the best all around “Catholic” Bible out there due to more binding options and having a decent but boring translation. But stop and think about that - the NRSV is the best we’ve got?!?!?!
Half of these are true “Catholic” translations, but the other half are “Protestant” translations that have been adopted as Catholic. But since the Catholic world is willing to adopt Protestant translations (RSV/NRSV), then don’t we owe it ourselves to consider adopting the BEST “Protestant” translations??? Why are we stuck with the RSV and NRSV when far superior translations exist (ESV, NASB, and NKJV)? Which brings me to my point…
Most serious linguists have time and again said that the King James Version (KJV), also know as the Authorized Version, is the overall best English Bible translation out there due to its reading level, mastery of the English language, memorable phrasing, etc… It was produced when the English language was at its peak. Its New Testament was translated from a Greek text compiled by a Catholic who utilized ALL the texts available at the time - Greek, the Latin Vulgate, and others. The Bible phrases that are most memorable to the Christian world - Catholic AND Protestant - are usually the ones we read in the KJV. “The Lord is my shepard, I shall not want”. There is nothing in it to shake the faith of a devoted Catholic, shed doubt on the deity of Christ, miracles, and so on…
So of course this begs the question:
Is it perhaps time for the Catholic Bible world to take another look at the KJV? Given all the options that this Bible currently offers - the best leathers in the world, the best bindings in the world, editions with the ‘Apocrypha’ (the books that Catholics consider to be Sacred Scripture but that Protestants have removed from their Bibles), verse-by-verse OR paragraph format choices, black letter text, red letter text, text-only editions, cross-reference editions, study-Bible editions, devotional editions, pocket editions, and on and on. The choices/options are endless! This Bible has stood the test of time for 400 years! And if we are so readily willing to adopt other ‘Protestant’ translations, then again I ask:
Why shouldn’t we be willing to take another look at and perhaps adopt the overall BEST English translation - the King James Version???