The KJV (Authorized Version) - Worth a Second Look?

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!

The problem?

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???

Thoughts?

It sounds like most of your objections regarding Catholic bibles are about the packaging:
Leather covers, bindings, print fonts, illustrations, pocket-size editions.

All of those are attractive eye-candy, but all of them are superficial.

There were valid reasons the Church did not accept the King James bible. Largely those relate to issues about how words are translated. You might think we’re splitting hairs, but key doctrinal issues revolve around the precision of a translation. The King James bible was written expressly to be a “better” translation than that circulated by the “Popish Romanists,” as you can read in the introduction to the 1611 edition. That practically screams “doctrinal disagreements.”

Furthermore, many English words in common use during the 17th century and commonly understood to mean one thing back then have completely changed over the past 400 years. Words like “gay” and “worship.” To the extent that those words are preserved in the King James bible, a modern reader gets a completely distorted view of the scriptures.

Nowadays we also have original manuscripts which are far older and far more complete than those which were the sources for the original 1611 Authorized Version King James bible. Referring to those original texts we, and many Protestants, can see that the King James bible is deeply flawed. That, plus the change in modern English wording, are two of the reasons the RSV was created. The nuances of doctrine were answered with the RSV-CE, then further updated with the 2nd edition.

By the way, if you think the RSV-CE 2nd edition is only available in a “horrific plastic-leather binding with gold embossed monstrocities” and isn’t available in a decent study edition, you haven’t been trying very hard. Have you bothered looking at Amazon?

I could go on about your objections to other translations used by Catholics, but I think I’ve made my point.

You’re kidding, right? I mean who wrote or compiled all the books of the Bible?

But if you’re talking English translations, there is, I believe, some merit in what you say.

I will be the first to admit that the KJV is not the most accurate translation around, but I would contend that it is absolutely the most literary one. It’s obviously not the best choice for academic biblical study, and it is likewise not the best choice for people unfamiliar with archaic language. But if you’re a reasonably well-educated Anglophone adult, I think it’s by far the best option for prayer and worship.

It seems to me that the vast majority of the text is completely unobjectionable from a Catholic standpoint. Just because it’s Protestant doesn’t mean it’s tainted. And if you Catholics are bothered by that one verse in the Gospel according to St. Luke, feel free to produce a “KJV-CE” that includes the phrase “full of grace”. :slight_smile:

Well - to the OP I can only say that you are free to use whatever bible you choose in your private reading and praying.
As for the matter of paper and bindings…These are of little consequence to me. I’m more interested in what a book contains.

So - as I say - I find no reason to give the KJV a second look…

Peace
James

Consider that the only reason those Douay-Rheims book names seem odd is because you live in a world driven by protestant thinking. Get hold of a Confraternity Bible (1941-1969) and a Knox Translation. Your complaints may not stop, but they will be greatly reduced. Then, take your stress to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and live in peace.

Rant is over. Get the RSV-2CE.

I will second the motion to get a Douay-Rheims “Confraternity edition”. Nice, poetic language like the King James, but a little updated, without the archaic stuff. It reads really well. And there are some that have very nice covers and beautiful artwork inside. My mom has one that she bought in 1954.

You’ve really got to get a Knox.
Baronius Press sells them.

Not sure what you are looking for but the “Authorized Version” is not it because of who authorized it. I have a new RSVCE from st Benedict press I love, I also of the RSVCE2 from ignatius which is also very nice along with another 30 or so very nice used catholic bibles from Amazon, Abe and a local book store. I also have the new knox but it has a stiff cover. Seem you could find something…other than one from the other side. If you want commentary the only one to get is Navarre.
Respectfully

Along with the Knox Translation, the Confraternity is my favorite. The 1941-1959 Confraternity (CCD) is a work that, quite sadly, was never published in completed form. The adoption of the NAB killed the CCD bible, which was basically an update of the Clementine Vulgate. Fromm your description, it sounds like your mom probably has the 1953 Catholic Action bible, which is filled with beautiful artwork. Why don’t bible publishers do that anymore?

All Confraternity bibles have the complete CCD New Testament (excellent :thumbsup:). The early versions combine the CCD New Testament with the Douay Old Testament (versions up to about 1950). As time went on, the CCD contained an increasing number of CCD updated translations of the Old Testament.

One thing that bothers me about newer bibles: All CCD bibles have the prayer to the Holy Spirit immediately preceding the scriptures, so that one may invoke the guidance of the Spirit in reading. Both the NAB and NAB/RE omitted this. In fact, I know of no other English language Catholic bible that features the prayer to the Holy Spirit. Did the infamous “spirit of Vatican II” cause them to leave it out?

In the mid 60s, the Knox, as a translation, was criticized. So, what did Americans get? The NAB! Imagine that.

For reading and reference, the Knox is the bible of choice of New Advent. One may access it here with Latin and Greek parallels

Bishop Sheen liked the Knox bible.

'Nuff said.

No actually my concerns were very clear and directed at two issues - poor translations AND poor editions.

All of those are attractive eye-candy, but all of them are superficial.

Do you prefer to attend Mass in a nice Church that’s aesthetically pleasing or would you prefer to attend Mass in a barn? And please don’t say it wouldn’t matter because that would be intellectually dishonest. Is the preference for an inspiring Church just ‘eye candy’ or does it lend to a sense of awe? Is it so wrong to want my Bible to illicit the same sense of wonder for God’s written word?

Furthermore, many English words in common use during the 17th century and commonly understood to mean one thing back then have completely changed over the past 400 years. Words like “gay” and “worship.” To the extent that those words are preserved in the King James bible, a modern reader gets a completely distorted view of the scriptures.

An old, tired argument. Is it so hard to LOOK UP ‘archaic’ words? Should we update Shakespeare or learn to read it properly??

Nowadays we also have original manuscripts which are far older and far more complete than those which were the sources for the original 1611 Authorized Version King James bible. Referring to those original texts we, and many Protestants, can see that the King James bible is deeply flawed. That, plus the change in modern English wording, are two of the reasons the RSV was created. The nuances of doctrine were answered with the RSV-CE, then further updated with the 2nd edition.

Very faulty logic… We’ve had Jerome’s Vulgate for over 1500 years. He had access to texts that no one has access to anymore… and certainly those texts were ‘older and more complete’. Since Erasmus had the Vulgate AND ancient manuscripts to refer to, he had all the tools necessary at his disposal to produce a fine Greek text. Anyone who says the RSV is more accurate than the KJV is simply deluding themselves.

By the way, if you think the RSV-CE 2nd edition is only available in a “horrific plastic-leather binding with gold embossed monstrocities” and isn’t available in a decent study edition, you haven’t been trying very hard. Have you bothered looking at Amazon?

Incorrect. There is only ONE edition of the RSVCE-2nd Edition and it’s put out by Ignatius Press. There is the red hardcover and the red ‘leather’ cover. That’s it.

I must say I noticed you did not respond to ANY of my translation concerns with the Catholic Bibles out there. You did not address the JB, NJB, NABRE, NRSV, or DR. Anyone who can say any of those are better translations than the KJV is again, delusional at best, intellectually dishonest at worst. I am NOT saying the KJV is perfect. But what I AM saying is that it (along with other translations) are FAR superior than any of the current Catholic offerings.

You are hitting right on the head and driving home the point I am trying to make… We have ‘Catholic’ editions of the RSV and NRSV and they are still fairly weak. Why not give us a KJV-CE and give us an incredible Bible?? But you know, most Catholics don’t seem to have an issue with Catholic flavor being stripped from their Bibles (Luke 1:28) as the NRSV, NABRE, JB do NOT have ‘full of grace’. So why should it be an issue in the KJV? But regardless, I am ALL FOR a KJV-CE!!!

the Confraternity Edition is basically impossible to obtain (and will be even harder as the years go by ). We need a readily available bible. And even if they are available, will cost a fortune.

Problem with the Knox is even though I actually DO like that Bible, it still has the funky book names and proper naming issues… Noe vs. Noah, etc… While Noe is easy enough to ‘figure out’, the problem is that these naming issues are ALL OVER this Bible (along with the DR) which makes for a confusing, tiring read. Has Knox gone with modern naming conventions, his BIble would be a home run. But those bizarre names… It just grates on the nerves after awhile. And I don’t know ANYONE who ever refers to “First Paralipomenon”. Sorry, these names are outdated and confusing. I don’t have a problem with ‘archaic’ language, but I DO have a problem with names that NO ONE in the Christian world uses.

Learn them! That’s what I did. Bottom line: we are not protestants, even though we are surrounded by them. And, a plus is that those odd-sounding names are often much closer to the Hebrew/Aramaic originals. Paralipomenon? Greek for “That which was omitted” Tells more of the story and thinking of the sacred authors than does “Chronicles.”

And, who on earth knows how to pronounce Capernaum? Kah-pear-nay-oom? Kar-pear-noom? Kah-pear-nom"? It is rare to hear the same mangling twice. In the Catholic bibles it is Ca-phar-na-um. OK, so what?

Well, the Hebrew is pronounced Kah-far-na-WHOM. Much closer.

In any event, the KJV is incomplete, even if you have a rare version which contains the Deuterocanon, because portions of Daniel and Esther have been omitted.

A potential solution for you is to get as late as possible an edition of the Confraternity bible. Yes, it still has those odd-sounding book titles, but the language is entirely updated - and it’s complete.

Yes, I have read the Douay-Rheims. It is the only physical bible that I own, though I do have several other ones on my computer. I find it to be the best English translation, but that’s just my opinion.

As for the Douay-Rheims ‘borrowing’ from the KJV, I find that highly unlikely. The KJV was published in 1611. The New Testament of the Douay-Rheims was published in 1582 and the Old Testament in 1609. Perhaps, you can tell me how this ‘borrowing’ was accomplished. :shrug:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.