What is the approved Catholic Bible, and where can I get a copy?


Hi everyone,

I’m searching for a small pocket-sized Bible, but I’m not sure which version to get. I have a big, nice Bible that my mom got me for my junior high graduation, The New American Bible. Most translations I have found at the stores are King James, New Century Bible, and Holman Christian. I don’t think those are approved by the Catholic church. Can someone help me find a pocket size, inexpensive, Catholic bible? Thanks a bunch.



Here’s a list of approved Bible versions from EWTN:


Liturgical Use in United States

There is only one English text currently approved by the Church for use in the United States. This text is the one contained in the Lectionaries approved for Sundays & Feasts and for Weekdays by the USCCB and recognized by the Holy See. These Lectionaries have their American and Roman approval documents in the front. The text is that of the New American Bible with revised Psalms and New Testament (1988, 1991), with some changes mandated by the Holy See where the NAB text used so-called vertical inclusive language (e.g. avoiding male pronouns for God). Since these Lectionaries have been fully promulgated, the permission to use the Jerusalem Bible and the RSV-Catholic at Mass has been withdrawn. [See note on inclusive language]
Devotional Reading**

A bewildering array of Catholic Bibles are available for personal use. They all have imprimaturs, but not all avoid the use of inclusive language. That use is indicated in the summary. The order is generally chronological.

1. Douai-Rheims. The original Catholic Bible in English, pre-dating the King James Version (1611). It was translated from the Latin Vulgate, the Church’s official Scripture text, by English Catholics in exile on the continent. The NT was completed and published in 1582 when the English College (the seminary for English Catholics) was located at Rheims. The Old Testament was published in 1610 when the College was located at Douai. Bishop Challoner’s 1750 edition, and subsequent revisions by others up to the 20th century, is the most common edition. Retains some archaic English. The 1899 edition is available from TAN Books. The text is widely available on line, including EWTN’s library.

2. Confraternity Edition. Begun in 1936 by the American bishops’ Confraternity for Christian Doctrine as a translation from the Clementine Vulgate. The publication of Pius XII’s encyclical Divino afflante spiritu (1943) caused the translation committee to switch to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Not all books were completed by the time of Vatican II (1962-1965). Those that were finished were used in the liturgy in the 1950s and 60s. Published in a dignified American idiom. Though hard to find, this edition of the Scriptures is worth possessing.

3. Revised Standard Version (RSV) - Catholic Edition. Translated for an American audience from the original languages in the 1940s and 1950s by the National Council of the Churches of Christ, and adapted for Catholic use by the Catholic Biblical Association (1966). Considered the best combination of literal (formal equivalence translation) and literary by many orthodox Catholic scholars. Published today by Ignatius Press (Ignatius Bible) and Scepter Press, and available through EWTN’s Religious Catalogue.
4.1 New American Bible or NAB (1970).** Translated from the original languages by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine according to the principles of Vatican II for use in the liturgy. It was the basis of the American Lectionary from the 1970s until 2002. A good translation, but it was criticized for its changing of some traditional and familiar expressions, such as “full of grace”.
4.2 NAB with Revised New Testament (1986).** A restoration of some traditional familiar phraseology. Unfortunately, it also included some mild inclusive language. No longer widely available, owing to the publication of the revised Psalms (see next entry).
4.3 NAB with Revised Psalms and Revised New Testament (1991).** It was due to the use of vertical inclusive language (re: God and Christ) and some uses of horizontal inclusive language (re: human beings), that the Holy See rejected this text as the basis of a revised Lectionary for the United States. This is the version of the NAB currently on sale in the United States.

4.4 Modified NAB with Revised Psalms and Revised New Testament (2000-2002). This title is of my own invention. It does not refer to any currently available Bible, but to the NAB with Revised Psalms and Revised NT, as modified by a committee of the Holy See and the Bishops for use in the liturgy. It is the text found in all current Lectionaries in the U.S… The Holy See accepted some use of inclusive language, where the speaker/author intended a mixed audience (e.g. “brothers and sisters”, instead of the older “brethren”), but rejected it in references to God or Christ, and man, where the word has anthropological and theological significance (e.g. Psalm 1:1, with reference to Adam and Christ). Whether a Bible will be made available having these modified NAB texts is not known at this time. Since they do not extend to the entire Bible, it is possible that none will be, as that would require further editing of the underlying NAB text.



5. Jerusalem Bible (1966). A translation based on the French edition of the Dominicans of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, who translated it from the original languages. This Bible is the one used by Mother Angelica on the air. The full version has copious footnotes but is hard to find, as it has not been recently republished. A Reader’s Edition, without the full footnoting, is available through EWTN’s Religious Catalogue.
6. New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition (1989).** An adaptation for Catholic use of the NRSV of the National Council of the Churches of Christ. Although used in the American edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it was rejected for liturgical use by the Holy See owing to inclusive language in some unacceptable places. With this exception, like the predecessor RSV, it is a good formal equivalent translation (i.e. literal, but literary).
7. New Jerusalem Bible (1990).** A revision of the Jerusalem Bible directly from the original languages. It contains inclusive language, similar to that rejected in the revised NAB by the Holy See for use in the liturgy, but is considered a very literary text, and comparable in quality to the NRSV in scholarship.

8. Today’s’ English Version - Catholic (1992). This is the Catholic edition of the popular Good News Bible by the American Bible Society. Translated according to the principle of dynamic equivalence for readability. The same principle was used by ICEL to translate the Mass texts. Would be better to call a paraphrase than a translation.
Catholic versus Protestant Bibles**

Bible translations developed for Catholic use are complete Bibles. This means that they contain the entire canonical text identified by Pope Damasus and the Synod of Rome (382) and the local Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397), contained in St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation (420), and decreed infallibly by the Ecumenical Council of Trent (1570). This canonical text contains the same 27 NT Testament books which Protestant versions contain, but 46 Old Testament books, instead of 39. These 7 books, and parts of 2 others, are called Deuterocanonical by Catholics (2nd canon) and Apocrypha (false writings) by Protestants, who dropped them at the time of the Reformation. The Deuterocanonical texts are Tobias (Tobit), Judith, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Wisdom, First and Second Maccabees and parts of Esther and Daniel. Some Protestant Bibles include the “Apocrypha” as pious reading.

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