07 August 2008

Bibles I Use

I thought I'd let you all know what Bibles I use, especially when it comes to referencing various verses of Scripture here on the blog.

The first is this beautiful Bible on the right with the hardcover. It is a hodgepodge of translations, though all are faithful to the Church's doctrine and have a traditional feel to them. The basis is the Douay Rheims Bible, the English Bible for Catholics that was written (ha!) before the King James Version around 1600. It is a translation into English of the Latin Vulgate, written by Saint Jerome. By the way, I was born on the feast day of Saint Jerome, September 30. The Douay Rheims is considered to be one of the most faithful translations of the Bible, even though it is a translation of a translation. The reasoning behind this is that the Sacred Council of Trent declared Jerome's Vulgate to be free of any doctrinal error. The original DR, however, has many anglicized Latin words that are difficult to read unless you know a little Latin, such as the word "potestats" instead of "powers".

To make the translation more readable, Bishop Richard Challoner of England revised the Douay Rheims in 1750. This translation, while faithful to the Douay-Rheims and Vulgate, has a style similar to the King James Version. From 1750 into the 1900's, this remained the popular Bible for English speaking Catholics. In 1941, the United States Confraternity of Christian Doctrine released a revision of Bishop Challoner's New Testament. It again updated the 18th century English and consulted the Greek in some places. The CCD also finished Genesis-Ruth and the Psalms, while the rest of the Old Testament remains the Douay-Challoner. So, wow! It is a lovely Bible, traditional, and was my first Catholic Bible. It's a big one with room for family sacramental records, and I'm keeping it for a long time. If you see me quote the Douay-Rheims, DR, or Confraternity Bible, they all mean the above-described Bible, all technicalities aside.

The other Bible I use (and carry with me if going to Adoration or a Bible study) is the Ignatius Bible, the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, seen here on the right. This Bible has a long history of its own. The King James Version was revised into the Revised Version, which was revised into the American Standard Version, which itself was revised into the Revised Standard Version. What a bunch of revisions! The RSV itself is very similar to the KJV, except it used thous and thees for God, and not for man. It also translated Isaiah 7:14 as a young woman shall conceive, instead of the traditional "a virgin shall conceive" which supports the Virgin Birth.

The RSV used old Greek and Hebrew versions of the New and Old Testament, while consulting the Dead Sea Scrolls and sometimes even the Vulgate. The Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain in 1956 tweaked the RSV, adding the Deuterocanon and refining some words in the New Testament, all minor changes.

In 2006, Ignatius Press made a Second Catholic Edition. This time, all archaic pronouns are out and Isaiah 7:14 uses the traditional 'virgin'. This Bible seems to be the Bible of choice for conservative Catholics, and is used in the English Catechism of the Catholic Church and many Church documents translated into English. It is also the basis for the Navarre Study Bible and the Ignatius Study Bible, written by professors of the University of Navarre and by Scott Hahn, respectively. The notes in my RSV-2CE are not as extensive as my Confraternity Bible, but there is no inclusive language and it is a solid text overall.

But what about the New American Bible!? This is the official Bible of the Catholic Church in America (hrm) and it is what you'll hear at the readings in the Mass (the New Mass, of course). Well, sort of... the most recent version of the NAB was published in 1991. This version includes much inclusive language, including vertical inclusive language. This means that some masculine pronouns when referring to God have been neutralized. The Vatican was not happy with this, so a revised Psalms and New Testament had to be created (which can only be found in the Lectionary, not as a lay Bible) to fix that language. Also, the notes are very liberal and even call into question the traditional identity of the authors. Please, stay away from the NAB. If for no other reason, than for this ridiculous translation of Isaiah 9:6 (which the NAB calls 9:5 for who knows why)
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. -NAB

For a Child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. -Douay-Rheims

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -RSV:2CE

So avoid that one, please. Like the plague. Don't worry about it being the version used at Mass, because really it's not. A day is soon coming when the English at Mass will be much more elevated and... sane? The NAB is mostly a product of a time when 59 out of 69 theological "experts" (including 15 cardinals and bishops) suggested to Pope Paul VI to overturn the ban on artificial contraception. Hmm. Oh, but here's an interesting factoid- Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) was one of the 10 faithful!

I hope this clarifies where I'm coming from when I cite Sacred Scripture here in my work, and hopefully you all know a little more about some of the most common Biblical translations around to choose from.


Blogger Ragekj said...

According to the all-knowing wikipedia, the small group in the papal commission, the part JPII was associated with, was the group opposed to contraception; unfortunately, the larger, majority group supported allowing contraception. Aside from that, good post; I've been meaning to look into the Douay Rheims or a similar translation for a while, so I'll put your knowledge to good use.

August 08, 2008 12:11 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Bagh!!! How'd I make that mistake. Holy cow, I'll fix it yesterday.

August 08, 2008 12:13 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Fixed. You know I didn't believe that Mr. Theology of the Body, HH Pope John Paul II was for contraception.

August 08, 2008 12:19 AM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

Jon, if I were in the States right now, I would give you a big hug. A very big, Christian, manly hug, of course...

You know after reading the NAB for a while, I began to say, "Man, those footnotes are curious!" Eventually I began to realize their typical leftist academic skepticism about everything, to the point that they seemed to turn the Bible into just another work of literature to be dissected by condescending scholars of trivia and activism.

I MUST get my hands on a Douay-Rheims. I have a friend here in Paris, an older man, who was born in Douay. He knew all about the translation when I mentioned it!

August 08, 2008 4:49 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Haha. Well, our good friends of the FSSP sell the Douay-Rheims (I'm not sure if it the original, doubtful, or the Challoner.) http://store.fraternitypublications.com/douay-rheims-holy-bible.html

Aquinas and More has the Challoner revision around $55 in hardcover and leather. http://www.aquinasandmore.com/index.cfm/title/Douay-Rheims-Bibles/FuseAction/store.BrowseCategory/Category/270/

Amazon.com has my exact Bible used at around $20. Just search for Confraternity Bible Catholic Action

August 08, 2008 5:39 PM  
Blogger Gerald Lamb said...

I myself have the RSV 2nd Edition, the Douay-Rheims (from Loreto publishing), and (because I'm working on learning Latin) the Biblia Sacra Vulgata. And she is a beauty!

The NAB is just plain painful to read, both because of its sickening political correctness and because of its decidedly unpoetic prose. What most sticks out in my head is how, in Exodus 14:17-18, the NAB chooses to replace the word "horsemen" with "charioteers" in the interests of inclusive language. I remember taking an RSV Bible with me to the Easter Vigil once and trying to read along with the lectors. It was enough to make even General Patton wince.

August 09, 2008 12:34 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Oh yuck. I remember one Sunday, it was some reading from the Gospel. At the beginning of the passage, it says "There once was a person.." but later it calls this person a man. Not only do they have stupid inclusive language, but it's inconsistent stupidity.

August 09, 2008 1:04 AM  
Blogger Gerald Lamb said...

No, I'd say it's consistently stupid.

August 09, 2008 2:24 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...


I am going to learn Latin so I can just read the Vulgate. Skip all of the translation obstacles...

August 09, 2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Haha. Well, that is the route that our friend CW has taken.

August 09, 2008 4:10 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

I saw copies of the Vulgate today at an awesome Christian (aka, Catholic) bookstore here in Paris and it was thick! I wish I could've bought it but it has quite the pricetag: €55. Anyone have a copy, btw?

August 11, 2008 2:56 PM  
Blogger Gerald Lamb said...

Yup! I just bought one a month or so ago for about $40 off of Amazon.com.

August 11, 2008 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Dale said...

I bought a Douay Rheims awhile back. I read through the first few chapters of Genesis, realized how far removed this translation was from the Hebrew text and tossed it in the trash. I should have checked the Internet first.

Take a class Hebrew and/or Greek; you'll see what I mean; this translation-of-a-translation is a bad idea.

August 26, 2008 6:19 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

I'm not going to respond to that other than this:

May God have mercy on your soul.

August 26, 2008 7:10 PM  

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