Wait, what? The Catholic Church is restricting which bible translations I can read? How dare it? I’m a liberated individual with free thinking and reasoning skills. I should be able to read whatever version I want.
Sure you should. And as a free thinking individual you need to choose if you’ll be reading Catholic teaching, or maybe something else. Church approved bibles are different from others in three ways.
First, Protestant bibles don’t have the seven deuterocanonical books in the Old Testament, but the Catholic bibles do. If you’re going to read the Bible, don’t you want the whole thing?
Plus, many bibles have footnotes explaining what’s going on in the passages you’re reading. Do you want Catholic theology or something else?
Last, do you know and trust the person who translated the bible you’re reading? Do they have an ulterior motive? Are they pushing one theology over another? This can easily come through in subtle translation differences. With a Catholic bible, you know that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has verified that it’s accurately translated.
The choice is yours, but we’re going to be doing a lot of Bible-quoting here so wouldn’t it make sense to have a Catholic Bible to follow along with? If you want to find a good, Church approved Bible translation, start with the following list:
(Not all of these are exclusively Catholic. Many come in Catholic & Non-Catholic editions so pay attention when purchasing)
- New American Bible (NAB) – Exclusively Catholic. We hear this one each time we go to Mass. You may be most familiar with the language in it because of that.
- Revised Standard Version (RSV) – Considered a good balance between being easy to understand yet true to literal translation
- New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) – Updated version of RSV with slightly more modern language. It was nixed as the liturgical text in favor of NAB because of its inclusive language in places.
- New Jerusalem (NJ) – Translated from French by the Dominicans. It’s used by Mother Angelica on EWTN if you want to follow along.
- Good News (GN) – Geared toward younger readers or those with a taste for more modern language. It’s not going to give you all the meat and potatoes that other translations will. It’s more of a paraphrase of the Bible than a translation.