The Second Commandment

Hello everyone.

I was recently reading the Ten Commandments in the Catholic Bible and I noticed that the Second Commandment is different from how it is worded in the Protestant Bibles.

This is what the Bibles I have read say:
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
This is what the Catholic Bible says:
“You shalt not have any strange gods before me.”

Does anyone know the reason why these Bibles have the Second Commandment worded differently? I’m not trying to be disrespectful to Catholics, I’m just curious why this Commandment is different.

Could you please provide what translations of the Bible those quotes are from? Ex. NAB, NRSV-CE, D-R, KJV?

The New International Version and The New Revised Standard Version.

Well first we have to acknowledge that the 10 Commandments have a slightly different in order between Catholics and Methodists.

Catholicism defines the first commandment (according to the Catechism):

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.

This commandment says that the LORD is God, You shall have no other gods, and no idolatry.

The Methodist however takes the first part of this commandment as a preface, rather than numbering.

However rather than arguing about semantics, let’s just look at the verse in question, Exodus 20:3.

The NRSV is not the Catholic Bible, it is approved by the Catholic Church, but it was translated by a make-up of Christians of all faiths and Jews.

If we talk about the “Catholic Bible” we would be talking about the Latin Vulgate, the official Bible of the Church. The Vulgate was translated by Saint Jerome, for the Old Testament he translated directly from the Hebrew, except the Deutrocanonicals which were translated from the LXX.

Exodus 20:3 “non habebis deos alienos coram me” - Vulgate
Exodus 20:3 “Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.” - D-R Translation
Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” - NRSV
Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” - NIV

I looked at these two versions, but it looks like the NRSV (Oxford Edition) and the NIV (Online from the official site) translate it the same way. But at any rate, the literal translation of the “Catholic Bible” is much more accurate as it is from the Hebrew.

Why are they different? Generally Bibles written later on, especially during the 20th Century, tend to me more dynamic translations, that is they are written to be easy to read, rather than being faithful to the original text.

I’m sure there’s more on this forum discussing the difference of Dynamic and Literal translation, but when in doubt go to the D-R.

I own many versions of the Bible, the NRSV, the NAB, the D-R with Clementine Latin, and a version of the NRSV (which does not include the Deutrocanonicals), however when I’m in doubt I go with the Latin, it’s authoritative

Laus Deo

The First Commandment as taught in the Catholic Catechism is:

  1. I am the Lord thy God you shall not have strange Gods before me

  2. Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

The following three Catholic versions of the Bible translate the verse (Exodus 20:3) the same as your Bible.

NAB: You shall not have other gods besides me.

RSV-Catholic Edition: You shall have no other gods before [or besides] me.

NRSV-Catholic Edition: you shall have no other gods before [or besides] me.

I don’t think there is anything sinister going on here. The difference you point out appears simply to be the personal preference of the individual Bible translators on how to translate the Hebrew word acher into English. For instance, even the KJV, which usually translates the Hebrew word acher as other, in one instance translates it as strange (Judges 11:2).

The worship of “strange god(s)” is condemned elsewhere in the Old Testament (KJV), so there is nothing particularly unbiblical about the phrase that you read in the Catholic Bible:
Genesis 35:2
Genesis 35:4
Deuteronomy 32:12
Deuteronomy 32:16
Joshua 24:20
Joshua 24:23
Judges 10:16
1 Samuel 7:3
2 Chronicles 14:3
2 Chronicles 33:15
Psalm 44:20
Psalm 81:9
Isaiah 43:12
Jeremiah 5:19
Daniel 11:39
Malachi 2:11

I loved reading your post, I have read it 12 times now but, the bible does give a discription of Jesus.

There are 22 imperatives in the Exodus passage that contains the 10 Commandments. Neither the verses nor the commandments are numbered in the ancient manuscripts. The convention of “10” no doubt comes from the ease of counting them on your fingers - essentially, a summary or mnemonic form of the Covenant.

Some of the imperatives are more obviously linked than others. Which ones are the “essential” commandments and which are the “explanations/expansions” has been interpreted in a couple of ways over the years. The two basic breaks are - is the “no graven image” commandment a part of the “no false gods” commandment, and "is there a single “covet nothing” commandment or is coveting someone’s spouse fundamentally different from coveting someones goods?

Two other considerations:

  1. the suggestion that “make no images” is an essential commandment is belayed by the fact that God commanded the carving of images in several places already cited in this thread.

  2. the belief that the “coveting” commandments divide into two makes for a neat rhetorical pattern whereby 5-6-7 are prohibitted “major” acts and 8-9-10 are the corrolating “preludes” (killing/lying about; adultery/coveting sexual partners; stealing/coveting objects)

Although written about a hundred years after Jesus Walked this earth, the Bible does give us a description of Jesus. More metaphysical than physical.
Isaiah53:3; Acts 4:11; 2Cor.4.4; Col.1:15-19
Genesis 1:26 is more elaborate.”Let Us Make Man in Our Image, after Our Likeness.”
That is why Jesus Encapsulates the Greatest Commandment as love of our neighbor reflecting our love of God.
“There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus Said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He replied, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He Replied to him,”You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” (Luke10:25-28).
Instead of images, we should try loving our neighbor.:slight_smile:
”Whoever does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God Whom he has not seen.”(1 John4:20).

Which version of the Decalogue? There are two in the bible, on in Exodus 10:2-17 and on in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

Here they are from the Protestant King James 1611 Version:
[size=3]Exo 20:3[/size] Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.
[size=3][size=3]Deu 5:7[/size] Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

Here they are from the Catholic New American Bible:
[size=3]Exo 20:3[/size] You shall not have other gods besides me.
[size=3][size=3]Deu 5:7[/size] You shall not have other gods besides me.


Those are both Protestant versions.

Thank you everyone for responding. This has been an interesting discussion.

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