What is Wrong with the RSV Catholic Version


Still on a Bible hunt, I think I might have finally zeroed in on the RSV Catholic Version
(Ignatius Bible), but before I get it, I need to know what’s wrong with it.

Don’t tell me what you love about the RSV Catholic Version.

Don’t tell me why the Douay-Rheims is better.

Just tell me what is wrong (even a *little *wrong) with the particular translation that I’m thinking about getting.


Personally, I don’t think anything is “wrong” with it. But I would make sure to get the 2nd edition.


There is nothing “wrong” with the RSV.

In 1966 it became the first Protestant Bible to receive an imprimatur by ecclesiastical authority. While no alterations were made to the Old Testament, several were felt required for a few renderings of the New Testament (and informative notations added throughout) before it was deemed suitable for Catholic use (Catholic books were also added).

Even though there has been a major revision to the text as the NRSV and the ESV, most scholars, Protestant and Catholic, acknowledge the RSV for its accuracy and scholarship. It was the first English version to introduce scholarship based on what had been learned from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is a great choice for any Christian of any denomination, and the original Catholic edition has been in use up to the date of this writing by the Holy See when interpreting Bible readings into English during radio and television broadcasts from Masses held at the Vatican.

There are several things to note:

  1. The RSV uses archaic pronouns, such as “thou, thee, thine,” etc. in addressing God.

  2. Even more has been learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls that has added much to accuracy in renditions (and even clarified and added missing parts to texts such as in 1 Samuel and Tobit). You won’t find that in the RSV.

  3. Some Catholic language, such as “amen, amen” and “magi” are rendered along the lines of “most truly I tell you” and “wise men,” etc.

The RSV was originally hated and even burned by conservative Christians due to the fact that Isaiah 7:14 used the expression “young woman” instead of “virgin.” It also renders a few prophecies (such as Genesis 22:18 and Psalm 16:10) with language that some allege obscures their Messianic typology. It was due to these matters that conservative Christians developed other versions, most notably the NIV and the ASV in response.

The RSV-CE 2nd edition might be a better choice if you prefer the archaic pronouns to be dropped. And while you won’t find unique Catholic expressions like “amen, amen I tell you,” changes have been in the text to make it comply with what one hears in the Liturgy, both in Old and New Testament readings.


Why the 2nd edition?


eh :shrug:…my to-be-priest little brother recommended that I use the one he uses:


It has “young woman” instead of “virgin” in Isaiah 7: 14.

It has “presence” rather than “person” in 2 Cor.

Both of these make it iffy to the more orthodox of us. But in my opinion, it’s a good translation - the best of the ones we’ve borrowed from Protestants. :thumbsup:


The RSV-2CE (Ignatius Bible) makes the change to ‘virgin’ instead of ‘young woman’ in Isaiah 7:14.


The 2nd addition removed a lot of the archaic language (thees and thous). If you like the ‘thees and thous’ then I would stick with the RSV-CE, but if you don’t then I would go with the RSV-2CE!


My opinion is that the Psalms in the RSV-CE don’t read as well as some other versions. This is an entirely subjective statement. I am biased in favor of the Psalms as they read in the Liturgy of the Hours after having prayed it for a few years. It is what I am used to and to me the Psalms in the RSV-CE don’t flow as well.

To the OP, I wonder if time would not have been better spent actually reading an imperfect Bible rather than wrangling over finding the perfect one.



The archaic language (thee and thy) is only in the RSV-CE when the Biblical characters pray to God. Anything that is not spoken prayer by one of the Biblical characters is in plain language - them, those, etc.



To be blunt, these exercises don’t help you. You already know the best and most popular Catholic translations available out there. Just go and buy your Bibles and start reading. And yes, I said Bibles - plural. Stock your library with the RSV-CE 1st ed, RSV-2CE, the DR and even the hated NAB-RE and NRSV. Multiple translations are invaluable and zeroing in on a particular Bible is not worthwhile because these are translations and each will have strengths that others don’t.


Both translations are accurate renderings of the Hebrew and Greek respectively, and the RSV cannot be faulted for using them.


I fear that I might just have to do that. Going to be a great cost. Just wish there was one
single translation that I can have full confidence in, without fear of reading anything that’s
possibly false. LOL, may not even have enough room on my bookshelf. :smiley:


Multiple editions are just a natural consequence of having to read the Bible in translation. The only way around that is to go straight to the Hebrew and Greek, which is in itself a worthy endeavour.

As for reading something possibly false, approved Bible translations, while they may have weak renderings, can be approached with full confidence, without fear of reading something false.

As for cost, spread it out. I have several Bibles but I never bought them at the same time.


I’m not faulting them, but I think the Romans 14 principle applies here: some people may find those renderings dubious or even scandalous. I don’t, but not everyone would share that view.


If you mean the Ignatius Study Bible (RSC-CE), there’s nothing wrong with it that I can Find


Most Catholic translations can be found free online, so it shouldn’t be hard to compare across several translations as you build your collection of physical copies. The only major translations that arent are the Confraternity and the RSV-2CE (though the 2CE is available in a free smartphone app).

Douay Rheims, RSV-CE, & NRSV-CE are at biblegateway
New Jerusalem is at Catholic Online.
Knox is on New Advent
Jerusalem Bible is at some site with a dot-my extension (don’t have it handy)
NAB-RE at the USCCB site.
NAB is on the Vatican site.
Christian Community Bible has its own site too (again, address isn’t handy)

So get one or two to start and reference the rest online.


Not exactly a “wrong” thing (or even something specific to the RSV-CE), but I’ll warn you that the RSV’s text of Tobit is based on the shorter one of two Greek texts. (Most modern translations of Tobit such as the one in the NAB use the other, longer version.) :wink: But at least the difference between the two texts isn’t too great - especially when compared to Tobit in the Douai-Rheims - which is a different creature altogether.


Is the Douay Rheims the only translation where the dog wags his tail in Tobit?


I thought we went over this. Yes. :smiley: But I don’t think that’s much of a serious difference especially when you compare it to the number of days that elapsed before Sennacherib was killed by his two sons: is it “forty days” (so the longer Greek text (we’ll call it G2), and possibly, the Aramaic version (4Q196) from Qumran), “forty-five days” (so the Vetus Latina versions and the Vulgate), or “fifty days” (so the shorter Greek text - G1)? Or for that matter, just how old was Tobit when he became blind: was he sixty-two (so G2) or fifty-eight (so Vetus Latina, the G1 and the Hebrew version (4Q200) from Qumran - the Vulgate doesn’t mention anything)? Did Tobiah have seven sons (so 4Q196, Vetus Latina, and Vulgate) or six (so G1 - G2 doesn’t specify)? :cool:

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