Which Bible version is closest to the original?


Hi, this is my first question here. I have been debating this with my husband, he
Says that religious groups adapt and change their Bibles to suit their preferred
Ways. He says that there is just one God and there are such big differences
between all faiths that no one Book can actually be “correct”. I am a convert to
Catholicism and am still learning. Can someone please clarify? I have a copy of
the New Jerusalem Bible. Now I am wondering if I can trust my Bible.

Best wishes and blessings



As far as I know, most translations (excepting some slightly off translations, usually those produced by a single person) are pretty much the same. Sometimes there are some notable variations, for example the NASB pretty much stands alone in it’s translation of John 20:23 and the New World Translation inexplicably translations ‘is’ as ‘means’ in Luke 22:19, but in general the division between groups lies in the interpretation rather than the plain text.

I personally prefer the RSV, as I think it to be a pretty strict translation.


Great question Elizabeth! The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. In the original Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (Old Testament) the Bible comes closet to its ancient form. As Christians we recognize that the Holy Spirit works with our spirit in order to enlighten us as we read the Bible, whichever translation we read. If the translators were led by the Holy Spirit, then that Bible can show you God’s revelation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Happy reading !


[quote="albertus_magnus, post:2, topic:327383"]
As far as I know, most translations (excepting some slightly off translations, usually those produced by a single person) are pretty much the same. Sometimes there are some notable variations, for example the NASB pretty much stands alone in it's translation of John 20:23 and the New World Translation inexplicably translations 'is' as 'means' in Luke 22:19, but in general the division between groups lies in the interpretation rather than the plain text.

I personally prefer the RSV, as I think it to be a pretty strict translation.


I agree with all that.

Where churches disagree is more in the practical interpretation of the same translation. "This is my Body" classic example. No problem with the translation but how it is interpreted can be very different. And also which vereses to emphasize while downplaying others.


Technically, and historically, I would say that the Latin Vulgate is the closest you can get before you actually would have to go back to the original. If you are talking about which English version is closest, that I do not know off hand.

I will say that having the closest translation isn’t going to help without the appropriate understanding of what is said in scripture. So, just picking any bible isn’t going to help you. You need to pick one that has language that is easy enough for you to understand without straying from what was originally said, but also one with orthodox commentary, that will help guide you with the true understanding of scripture. And, as always, pray that the Holy Spirit guides you as you read.


Jesus, who is God in flesh, came to earth and established the Catholic Church 2000 years ago. He chose to do it by choosing 12 Apostles to be leaders of the Church, and those 12 appointed successors to carry on their ministry, and that same system to be carried on until the end of the world. That Church that Christ established, has given us the Bible by being guided by the Holy Spirit. All other versions that have been done outside of the Catholic Church has been done with various divisions against the Church that Christ establised. It sounds like your husband is looking at the Bible versions only with a concept that is shaped by the disfunction caused by Protestantism, which does cause great problems and raises doubts and questions of skepticism, rightfully so. But the Catholic Church has the one thing that no other Christian organization has, and that is an unbroken chain of unity that traces all the way back to Christ, through Apostolic Succession. You can trace Catholicism all the way back to Christ, but you cannot trace Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, etc back beyond the Reformation.

So the point is, the Catholic Church was establised by God and chosen to be the Bride of Christ and the Supreme Organization to lead people to Heaven. Catholic Bibles are the product of the Church that God Himself through Christ. As for which Catholic Bible that is the best, that is all a matter of opinion among Catholics, but we can trust them all to lead us in correct doctrine!



Since you mentioned that you’re a new Catholic, I just wanted to point out that OldLutheran’s perspective (above) is not what the Catholic Church teaches. Some (most? all?) non-Catholic Christian denominations believe that the inspiration of the Spirit to understand the Bible happens on the individual level: a person sits down, reads the Bible, and whatever they decide it means, they decide that the Spirit led them to that interpretation. (Of course, that can lead to a variety of problems, not the least of which is the dynamic that two people can read the same passage and claim that the same Spirit led them to conclude “X” and “not X” at the same time. :rolleyes:)

From a Catholic perspective, we believe that the Spirit inspires the Church to a true interpretation of Scripture. Therefore, when we read the Bible, we are encouraged to think about what we’ve read, but to read it in the context of the living tradition of the Church – that is, we look at a passage, contextualize it within the whole of Scripture, and look to authentic Church teachings to help us understand what the Spirit has inspired the Biblical writer to put into words.

Just thought I’d clear that up for you, in case you were confused… :wink:




You hit the nail on the head! Very well said!


Wow, thank you all for the answers to my question. Maybe it doesn’t really matter too much which Bible am reading, only that I keep in mind the churches take on it.

I converted to Catholicism in 1999, I was brought up in a very non religious family, when I had my own children it became more important that I bring them up in faith. I was first confirmed in 1994 when my youngest son was 14, this was in a Protestant church. All my 4 children have been through and still are in Catholic schools. I spent far more time in our Catholic church than in the original one I attended. That was when I decided to convert.

I am now kind of finding myself again having just been through First Holy Communion with my youngest son. I am enjoying relearning about my faith and have lots of questions, so I will apologise now before bombarding you with them.

Thanks again, much appreciated.



I too am a convert, from Southern Baptist, and was not raised in Church. I came into the Church in 2006 after a few years of loving the Church from the outside! My son too was baptized in a non-Catholic Church but has been brought up in the Church since he was 10!

Its great to hear about your experience and to see your excitement about it!


As far as which Bibles can be trusted, I say trust the Church. God gave the keys to the Kingdom to our Pope, and the Holy Spirit was promised to guide the Bishops. If they say a particular version or translation is trustworthy (which you can find a good list here), then I’m good with it.


Nice to see another convert too :slight_smile: Thanks for your input, it’s so interesting to read about others and to gain some inspiration from them.



Thank you, the Bible I have is mentioned in that list, so I guess it is okay. I did ask my priest too and it was one of those that was mentioned. If I trust my priest, then I have to trust my Bible :slight_smile:




Most modern and not so modern Catholic scholars prefer the RSV-CE and/or RSV2CE.

I like them both.

Most cradle Catholics will prefer the Douay Rheims translation, think King James but Catholic :).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sponsor and profit from the New American Bible, think a Catholic NIV/HCSB.

Some theologians use the NRSV-Catholic edition, it bleeds inclusive language.

Then you have the Jerusalem Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible. The Jerusalem Bible is more orthodox and formal in its translation than the New.

Here’s a list of newer (1983) translations approved by the USCCB:
It doesn’t mean that other translations are not approved (Like RSV, Jerusalem, DR, etc).

I’m finding myself using the NABRE a lot because my whole family (Wife, 3 teenagers and an 8 yo) is in the process of becoming Catholic and they are used to the NIV. I also use the NABRE for my CRHP formation and continuation meetings. Plus they use the NABRE at Mass.

I like the RSV because there are some really good resources out there (Strong’s, the Navarre Study Bible series, The new Catholic Study Bible New Testament, etc).

As long as you are reading the Bible, you should be fine :).




Hi Penny…I think it is important which Bible you are reading especially if there are notes and of course you would want all the books of the Bible that the Catholic Church itself compiled.

This is a good one…


and you may want to check out the Douay Rheims translation…

And you bring up an important point about keeping in mind the Church’s take on it…get yourself a Catechism of the Catholic Church to get the Catholic Church’s actual and true take on it.


Thank you, I will probably buy another version, mine does have notes etc…but I wonder if it may be missing a few books. I have Catholicism for dummies and have recently learner the Rosary (well partially). I am learning every day, which is great.



It’s sad to say that this line of logic can be flawed sometimes. Many individual priests, as much as I hate to think it, much less say it, can be a little (or a LOT) off target when it comes to doctrine. But, yes, I will say that if you CAN trust your priest (which I do, thank God), and he recommends a particular version, then go with it.


I’m a convert too! :slight_smile: I was raised as a baptist…a fundamental independent baptist at that. I just found that the answers I was given to questions my young thinking mind asked were not satisfactory. I found answers to ALL the questions I had in the teachings of the Church! But I do thank God for the love for the Bible and Jesus that was passed to me in the faith of my youth. Which leads me back to the topic at hand. Above all, in choosing a Bible, just be sure of two things: 1) the Bible you’re using is Catholic, and 2) you’re praying about which Bible to use! Do that and you can’t go wrong. :slight_smile:


I really wish there was an English translation of the Nova Vulgata. That wouldn’t be a perfect bible but it would be in the ballpark and would be better than anything else currently out there.

I always recommend an old combination bible of Douay Rheims Challoner Old Testament–Confraternity Version New Testament–and a New English translation of the New Latin Psalms authorized by Pope Pius XII and published in Rome in 1945 by the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

You can get these bibles at old book stores or online at Amazon and Ebay.

If you HAVE to get a Catholic polished translation get the RSV-CE2.


Thank you all for the replies, I will buy a new Bible shortly, will let you know which I get.


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