Which Bible
Should I
Read?
*Bible Versions and Commentaries

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promulgated, the permission to use the Jerusalem Bible and the RSV-Catholic at Mass has been withdrawn.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 below]

Devotional Bible 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.

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.

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.

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. The full version has copious footnotes but is hard to find, as it has not been
recently republished.

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.

Commentaries
While an older orthodox commentary from the 1950s, called A Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Nelson Publishers)
can sometimes be found, we are now starting to see new faithful commentaries being published. The best one is the Navarre
Bible (Scepter Press). It is a work in progress from the University of Navarre in Spain. It has both the RSV and the Latin
Vulgate, with commentary underneath from the Fathers, Doctors, the Magisterium and the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva,
the founder of Opus Dei. So far the volumes of the New Testament (one per Gospel and collections of the epistles) are
available, as well as some Old Testament volumes (Pentateuch, Joshua-Kings). Additionally, Ignatius Press has begun to
publish the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, individual NT volumes by orthodox scholars, including Scott Hahn. Sop, far the
Gospels and Acts have been published. Both the Navarre Bible and the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible can be obtained from
EWTN's Religious Catalogue, the publishers, and through most Catholic catalogs, distributors and bookstores.

The most widely used Catholic commentary is probably the Jerome Biblical Commentary, now in a 2nd edition. There is also
a summary version of it. This commentary is the work of well-known Catholic Biblical scholars and is filled with articles on
historical, archaeological, linguistic and other subjects useful for understanding the background of the Scriptures. The JBC is,
therefore, a valuable resource for those seeking such information. However, the textual commentaries use primarily the
historical-critical method, and thus must be read with discernment. The Church approves of the use of this method for the
purpose of understanding the historical and literary foundations of the text (see Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11-13), but finds it an
incomplete method apart from the Tradition. Scripture must be interpreted according to the analogy of faith, that is, in
accordance with what God has revealed in toto, as taught by the Magisterium.

Inclusive Language
The common practice of English historically has been to use male nouns and pronouns (man, mankind, he) when referring
collectively to human beings, regardless of sex. In recent decades some feminists have claimed that this is offensive to them, as
it represents a "patriarchal worldview" in which men are superior to women. Through their media influence they have
effectively ended such use in publishing, academia, television and movies, as well as in common speech. Within the Church,
through the well-oiled machinery of dissent, the rejection of such "non-inclusive" language has been applied to the use of male
terms in connection with God.

Whether in the secular arena or in the Church, almost no resistance has been offered to this forced development of language,
and few are even aware of what is at stake, seeing it only as a matter of fairness to women. Thankfully, the Holy See has
resisted the tide and clearly drawn the lines between what is an acceptable use of inclusive language and what is unacceptable.
Acceptable use would include those collective expressions for human beings which today a speaker or author would be
expected to use, such as "ladies and gentleman" or "brothers and sisters". It is unlikely that any one would use "brothers" or
"brethren" for a mixed audience today. Thus, there is nothing wrong in principle to this kind of horizontal inclusive language.

What is unacceptable to the Magisterium, however, is the use of inclusive language in collective terms for human beings which
have an anthropological significance, or, in terms for God or Christ (vertical inclusive language). The collective term man, for
example, is both a philosophically and theologically appropriate term for the human race. Just as there is a certain precedence
within the Trinity, by which the Father is God, the Son is God by generation and the Holy Spirit is God by spiration, Sacred
Scripture reveals that an image of this Trinity of equal Persons in God is reflected in the creation of woman from man. Adam
(which means man) is a man, Eve is a man (since she shares his nature), and each of their descendants is a man. This
expresses equality, NOT inequality, as feminists claim. Whatever injustices men have perpetrated on women through the
millennia, Adam's sin is the cause, not God and His wise created design.

So, human nature is called man or mankind, and each human person is a man, just as the divine nature is called God and all
Three Persons are God. (The sexual distinction is expressed as male and female, though man and woman also does so. Even
these contain implicitly the evidence of the origins of woman from man in the economy of creation.)
The problem with vertical inclusive language with respect to Christ is similar. Destined to be the New Adam Christ is
prophetically anticipated in certain Hebrew texts which play on the word adam as both the name for the human race and the
name of the first member of that race. A good example, which can be a test of a text to see if it has objectionable inclusive
language, is Psalm 1. It should read "Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked" (or similar). Inclusive
language versions will replace "man" with "one" or "mortal" or some variation. The Holy See has rejected this as contradicting
the messianic references to Christ implicit in the text, where man refers not only to David the author of the psalm, but back to
Adam (the man) and forward to Christ (Son of David and Son of Man).

Finally, the use of vertical inclusive language for God is likewise unacceptable. No one should understand that God is male or
female. He is not. God is pure spirit, whereas masculinity and femininity are the properties of animal bodies. In man these
bodies are united to a soul, and thus we can also speak of spiritual characteristic of men and women - a way of loving others,
for example, that is characteristic of women, versus men, and vice versa. Such spiritual characteristics, whether of men or
women, must be rooted in some way in God, who is the source of all good. Thus, in the Old Testament the love of God for
his people is sometimes referred to as a "womb-love" (rahamim), a clear reference to the love of a mother for her child.
Similarly, Jesus in the New Testament speaks of wanting to take His People under His wings like a mother hen. Thus,
Scripture shows us, and the Church teaches, that all that is good in man and woman, save the purely material sexual
distinctions proper to bodies, comes from the Author of all that is good.

However, is this a warrant to speak of God as Father and Mother, and to avoid the use of male terms with respect to God
(Father, Son, Him, He etc.)? While it is certainly just to speak of what is motherly or feminine in God, in the sense described
above, it is nonetheless certain that God has revealed Himself in a certain way and that we must first respect His sovereign
decision, and second try to understand it. One of the difficulties is that as the debate has gone forward, it has become clear that
many Catholic feminists do not respect the Word of God, but see it the word of men re-enforcing an unjust patriarchal order.
Since this overthrows Divine Revelation's authority, and many dogmas of the faith with it, it cannot and should not be
dialogued with or accommodated in any way. Certainly, the Holy See has taken that stance. Unfortunately, many others who
do not intend such a vast rejection of Tradition have been duped into believing in the bias of translations and the influence of
patriarchy on the transmission of Revelation in the Church, and so need a good explanation of the reasons for the usages of
Scripture and Tradition.

A direct understanding of God is not accessible to human reason. Spirit cannot be perceived or tested experimentally, and so
God must speak in analogies familiar to our experience. In choosing which analogs to use in reference to Himself He chose
those most suitable within creation. Unlike the Shamrock of St. Patrick, which has a certain similitude to God, there was and is
nothing more suitable for explaining God than the creatures He made in His image and likeness, both as God and as Trinity.
Thus, He chose the human race to explain Who He is. Man is both the creature in the visible creation most like God, and the
creature most understandable to man.

Image of God in the Nature of Man
The closest likeness to the spiritual nature of God in the visible creation is the human soul. The spiritual nature of the soul
gives to man the capacities to reason and to choose, to know and to love. This is why God made Adam governor of Eden and
told him to name the other creatures. In giving Adam a wife God made her a helpmate in these tasks, as she too, having the
same human nature as Adam (unlike the other animals), is suited to this collaboration. It should be noted that this work is in
the first place a spiritual work, knowing  creatures, especially their natures and ends, and willfully directing them to God's
purposes. In the creation in which Man lives, however, this cannot be separated from the need for a body. Thus, although the
image of God is  primarily said of the soul of human beings, the body of Man has been so designed as to serve the soul and the
special place of Man in creation. Unlike God, without a body Man cannot accomplish what has been given to him to do. Thus,
both man and woman have been equipped with the primary faculties needed for this work (intellect and will), and with bodies
which complement each other in the multitude of different tasks which must be done in life.

Image of God in the Differentiation of the Sexes
God is not a solitary nature but a Communion of Persons. As noted above, the Processions of Persons (Father generating  the
Son, and Father and Son spirating the Holy Spirit) is reflected in the order of Man's own creation. "Let us make man in our
image and likeness. Male and female he created them"  (Gen. 1:26). God made the representative type Man (Adam) first, and
then differentiated Man into two kinds, male and female, by creating Eve. With respect to the likeness of God's divine nature
in Man, man and woman are equal. Thus, Adam is the representative type because of his humanity, not his maleness.
However, with respect to the order of creating, as a created analogy to the order of procession within the Trinity, there is a
first and second. Adam is analogous to the Father in coming first, Eve to the Son in coming second. Within God this is not a
sexual distinction, the Eternal Word is not male or female in the divine nature, but God from God. Rather, it is an order of the
procession of life and love. The Father gives life and love to the Son, and the Son returns both infinitely and perfectly, which
can only be a Divine Person, the Holy Spirit.

God's taking woman from man emphasizes in the first place, therefore, a fact about God's own interior Life. It then establishes
a reality about Man - there is to be an orderly procession of life and love within human nature, as there is in God. This is made
possible in human nature by the distinction of the sexes and a complementarity of psychology and body suited to the
perpetuation of human love and life in this world. These bodies, male and female, are therefore particularly equipped to
pro-create and nurture human life to maturity. The psychology and body of a man enables him to give life and love actively in
a manner analogous to the First Person of the Trinity in generating the Son, but also analogous to God's creating the universe
outside of the Godhead. On the other hand, the psychology and body of woman allows her to receive, nurture and herself
communicate life and love, analogous to the Second Person receptively then actively loving and giving life, as well as the
creation receiving life from God and nurturing it within.

So, in giving human nature this created order, an order which in our embodied existence includes a common nature, as well as
male and female, God not only stamped us with an image and likeness of His own nature and the Trinitarian Communion, but
gave us a means and a language to understand Him. The use of male terms (Father, Son, He, Him etc.) are not statements
about the masculinity of God, but ways to understand from our experience of ourselves, imperfect as we are, what are
essentially spiritual realities. If God's self-revelation is perverted, then both our understanding of God and ourselves is changed,
as well. When God is named Mother (and a name speaks of what is of the essence of a thing), God is turned into an earth
goddess of which we are but a part (panentheism). This is, in fact, what New Agers believe, and sadly some Catholics. On the
other hand, as Father He is the transcendent Creator. Likewise, if there is no order in creation between man and woman, then
the Church's sexual and marital teaching is not valid. Not surprisingly, there is a close connection between the ideological
foundations of feminism and those of lesbianism (less so, male homosexuality). Thus, it is both theologically and
anthropologically necessary to preserve the use of male terms with respect to God and Christ, as well as in some case of
collective nouns referring to the human race.


*Written by Colin B. Donovan, STL
Article taken from the following website:
http://www.ewtn.com/expert/expertfaqframe.asp
One question often asked by Catholic’s is which Bible should I read or buy?  With so many different Bible versions on the
market today buying a Bible can be a very confusing task.  Most local retail stores will carry several different versions of the
Bible.  Most of these Bible’s are however not Catholic versions and they will not contain the correct number of Old Testament
books.  It should be noted that many of these non-catholic Bible’s contain many faulty and incorrect translations of the original
Biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic).  Some of these Bibles are actually a translation of a translation while other
versions are “transliterations”  in which the translation is based upon the personal opinions of the individual translator.  Many
of the footnotes and commentaries contained in non-catholic Bible’s will be opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  
Some of these Bibles even have many Bibles verses taken out of them!

As Catholic's it is very important to read a Bible which has been translated under the authority of the Catholic Church.  We
should always remember that it was the Catholic Church alone who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, complied the
Bible as we have it today.  No other church has the God given authority (
see Matt. 16:18-19) to infallibly interpret the Bible.  
The fact is, without the Catholic Church there would be no Bible at all!  So, when buying a Bible make sure that the Bible is a
Catholic Bible so you can be assured that it does not contain any false or misleading translations and footnotes.  If you are
interested in buying a Catholic Bible see the
Link's page for a few sites which sell Catholic Books.

Lastly, keep in mind that no Bible translation is perfect and since most of us cannot read the original Bible manuscripts we
must rely on translations if we want to read the Bible.  You will find that there are many Catholic Bible translations out there,
with each translation having it's own strengths and weaknesses.  The below article (
taken from the EWTN website) gives a
good, short explanation about the different Catholic Bibles which are available today.  Lastly, as Catholics we are fortunate to
have the Catholic Church to guide us to the truth which is contained in sacred scripture (The Bible) and sacred
tradition.