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Bible Selector

Bible Selector

Catholic Bible

Catholic Bible

Recommendations

Recommendations

Introduction

Introduction

I strongly urge that you review the discussion of Catholic Church Approval, which may have a bearing on your final decision.  If you have not reached this page through the Bible Selector choice process, it is also very important for you to go through that at least once in order to understand the significant differences between categories.

Catholic Church Approval

Catholic Church Approval

It turns out that the system employed by the Catholic Church for bible approval is largely parochial.  First, any written work must obtain a nihil obstat.  This is the primary evaluation that determines that the work is free from doctrinal error.  The next “tier” is the more authoritative offical stamp of approval known as an imprimatur.  This can only be granted by a bishop or higher-ranking official.  Generally speaking, all Catholic bibles will have been accredited with an imprimatur.  The next tier of approval is that given by a regional council of bishops (e.g. the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).  The decisions made by such regional councils have historically been devoted to approving bible versions for use during mass, or for use in lectionaries.

Since 1983, the Vatican has required all proposed lectionaries to undergo Vatican approval.  Understanding this stage is important in making a decision regarding bibles!  First, you should understand that what is presented to the Vatican for evaluation is not the entire bible version, but rather just the text of the proposed lectionary.  Second, you should know that only those bible versions proposed for lectionary use are presented to the Vatican for approval (and summarily evaluated).  Therefore, Vatican approval does not indicate that the entire text of the bible version has been approved by the Vatican, and also most Catholic bibles have not been submitted for approval — including one of the best Catholic bible versions available (in my opinion, the best bible version bar none). 

So, Vatican approval of a bible for lectionary use is a great indicator of that particular bible’s orthodoxy.  However, the lack of Vatican approval only demonstrates that the bible version in question has not been proposed for use in a lectionary!  On the other hand, a rejection by the Vatican is a great indicator that the particular bible version is less than fully orthodox by Vatican standards.

You can review the approval of various Catholic bible versions.  Note that both the NAB and NRSV-CE have been rejected by the Vatican.  Revised lectionary texts of both of these versions have received Vatican approval — but those revisions are only available in the lectionaries, not in any complete bible edition in print.

Recommendations

Recommendations

Before going into detailed recommendations, I have to mention here my favorite bible version, bar none:  the New Jerusalem Bible.  Not only did I find the extensive study notes of the Regular Edition to be enlightening; the translation itself enlightened me in a way that no other translation has done before or since.  It is not inconsequential that I am not Roman Catholic — but the New Jerusalem Bible is Roman Catholic!  This is the best English bible available, period.

If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Literal Critical Study Bible Recommendations — Approval

Listed in order of recommendation.  Click on Version for details.
Version Title Edition Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
Revised Standard Version New Oxford Annotated Study Bible Expanded Edition CE CE
New Revised Standard Version New Interpreter’s Study Bible CE CE Rejected
New Revised Standard Version The HarperCollins Study Bible CE CE Rejected
New Revised Standard Version New Oxford Annotated Study Bible Augmented Third Edition CE CE Rejected

Literal Critical Study Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
  • Excellent Oxford study notes.
  • Most literal bible version with Catholic approval (though not this edition).
  • No gender-inclusive language.
  • Additional Scriptures.
  • Dated translation.
  • Dated study notes.
  • Deuterocanonicals separated from Old Testament.
  • No cross references.
  • Highly-praised study notes.
  • Fairly literal bible version with Catholic approval (though not this edition).
  • Additional Scriptures.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Deuterocanonicals separated from Old Testament.
  • No cross references.
  • Highly-praised study notes.
  • Fairly literal bible version with Catholic approval (though not this edition).
  • Additional Scriptures.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Deuterocanonicals separated from Old Testament.
  • No cross references.
  • Excellent Oxford study notes.
  • Fairly literal bible version with Catholic approval (though not this edition).
  • Additional Scriptures.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Deuterocanonicals separated from Old Testament.
  • No cross references.
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Literal Educational Study Bible Recommendations — Approval

Click on Version for details.
Version Title Edition Recommended Age Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Youth Bible Catholic Edition 14 - 18 Yes Yes Rejected

Literal Educational Study Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
The Catholic Youth Bible, Revised (New Revised Standard Version)
  • Fairly literal bible versions with Catholic approval.
  • Cross references are given at the head of each section.
  • Educational section and book introductions provided.
  • Educational notes included alongside relevant Scripture.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Commentary / advice included with educational notes.
  • In my estimation, the educational sections are too simple for older students; I think the recommended age range is too high (perhaps suitable for 12-15 year olds).
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Literal Reading Bible Recommendations — Approval

Listed in order of recommendation.  Click on Version for details.
Version Edition Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Yes Yes
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Yes Yes Rejected
Revised Standard Version Second Catholic Edition Yes No

Literal Reading Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
Revised Standard Version — Catholic Edition
  • Most literal bible version with Catholic approval.
  • No gender-inclusive language.
  • Dated translation.
New Revised Standard Version — Catholic Edition
  • Fairly literal bible version with Catholic approval.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
Revised Standard Version — Second Catholic Edition
  • Literal bible version with Catholic approval.
  • No gender-inclusive language.
  • Revisions aimed at satisfying Vatican approval standards.
  • Dated translation.
  • Does not address all Vatican approval standards.
  • Value of revisions questioned.
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Moderate Critical Study Bible Recommendations — Approval

Listed in order of recommendation.  Click on Version for details.
Version Title Edition Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
New Jerusalem Bible Regular Edition Yes Yes
New American Bible The Catholic Study Bible Second Edition Yes Yes Rejected
New American Bible The Catholic Bible Second Personal Study Edition Yes Yes Rejected

Moderate Critical Study Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
New Jerusalem Bible — Regular Edition
  • In my opinion, the best translation on the market.
  • Superior, extensive study notes.
  • Superior cross reference system (located in margins).
  • Transliteration of important ambiguous words, most especially the tetragrammaton (the name of God).
  • Note:  in the U.K. the edition with full study notes is called the Standard Edition.  There are several editions in print.  I have reason to believe that these have updated study notes in comparison to the Regular Edition:  Wansbrough is not listed as the editor, and one site lists 2001 as the publication date.  The French Le Bible de Jérusalem, upon which the study notes of the New Jerusalem Bible are based, was updated in 1998, and so it would seem that this U.K. Standard Edition is based upon that update.  I have been unable to verify if the study notes are updated.  U.K. Standard Editions (with full study notes):
  • Slightly dated translation.
  • Moderate use of gender-inclusive language.
The Catholic Study Bible — Second Edition
  • Nearly identical to NAB used in the U.S. lectionary.
  • Includes standard educational study notes and mildly critical section and book introductions of the NAB.
  • Includes standard cross references of the NAB.
  • Moderate amount of critical notes in the “Reading Guides”.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Rejected by the Vatican (probably as a result of gender-inclusive language).
  • “Reading Guides” (critical study material) not integrated with the text (though references to it are).
  • Cross references are located in footnotes.
The Catholic Bible — Second Personal Study Edition
  • Identical to the above except that “Reading Guides” are designed for beginners, and so are more easily understood.
  • Identical to the above except that “Reading Guides” are designed for beginners, and so are less technical and less informative.
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Moderate Educational Study Bible Recommendations — Approval

Listed in order of recommendation.  Click on Version for details.
Version Title Edition Recommended Age Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
New American Bible Saint Mary’s Press College Study Bible 18 & up Yes Yes Rejected
New American Bible The New Catholic Answer Bible Revised Edition 15 & up Yes Yes Rejected
New American Bible Third Edition 15 & up Yes Yes Rejected

Moderate Educational Study Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
Saint Mary’s Press College Study Bible
Sample (PDF)
  • Nearly identical to NAB used in the U.S. lectionary.
  • Includes standard educational study notes and mildly critical section introductions of the NAB.
  • Includes standard cross references of the NAB.
  • Includes additional educational book and section introductions.
  • Although it uses some advanced vocabulary (e.g., “monolingual”; “cosmogony”), the notes are not particularly difficult to understand.  By this I mean:  the concepts presented are not as advanced as the vocabulary.  Good readers of high school age, or anyone who is comfortable using a dictionary, should have no problem understanding the educational notes.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Rejected by the Vatican (probably as a result of gender-inclusive language).
  • Cross references are located in footnotes.
  • Appears to replace standard NAB mildly critical book introductions with more extensive educational book introductions.
The New Catholic Answer Bible
  • Nearly identical to NAB used in the U.S. lectionary.
  • Includes standard educational study notes and mildly critical section and book introductions of the NAB.
  • Includes standard cross references of the NAB.
  • Includes sections explaining/defending Roman Catholic doctrine.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Rejected by the Vatican (probably as a result of gender-inclusive language).
  • Cross references are located in footnotes.
The New American Bible
  • Nearly identical to NAB used in the U.S. lectionary.
  • Includes standard educational study notes and mildly critical section and book introductions of the NAB.
  • Includes standard cross references of the NAB.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Rejected by the Vatican (probably as a result of gender-inclusive language).
  • Cross references are located in footnotes.
  • WARNING!  There are still second editions of the NAB available, particularly some of the “Saint Joseph” editions.  The most recent edition is the third, dated 1991.  Be certain to purchase only NAB editions that have been published 1991 or later!
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Moderate Reading Bible Recommendations — Approval

Listed in order of recommendation.  Click on Version for details.
Version Edition Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
New Jerusalem Bible Leather Edition Yes Yes
New Jerusalem Bible Reader’s Edition Yes Yes
New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition Yes Yes
Jerusalem Bible Reader’s Edition Yes Yes Approved
New American Bible Reader’s Edition Yes Yes Rejected

Moderate Reading Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
New Jerusalem Bible — Leather Edition
  • In my opinion, the best translation on the market.
  • Transliteration of important ambiguous words, most especially the tetragrammaton (the name of God).
  • Slightly dated translation.
  • Moderate use of gender-inclusive language.
  • Extensive study notes of the Regular Edition are reduced to brief, educational book introductions.
New Jerusalem Bible — Reader’s Edition
  • Identical to above Leather Edition except paperback.
New Jerusalem Bible — Standard Edition
  • In my opinion, the best translation on the market.
  • Transliteration of important ambiguous words, most especially the tetragrammaton (the name of God).
  • Slightly dated translation.
  • Moderate use of gender-inclusive language.
  • All study notes have been removed.
  • WARNING!  In the U.K. the Standard Edition comes with the complete set of study notes.  The U.K. Standard Edition appears to be a Regular Edition with updated study notes (!), though I have been unable to verify.
Jerusalem Bible — Reader’s Edition
  • Only available English translation for which I can confirm Vatican approval.
  • Transliteration of important ambiguous words, most especially the tetragrammaton (the name of God).
  • Retains translator’s footnotes (but not study notes).
  • No gender-inclusive language.
  • Dated translation (1966).
  • Criticized for relying too heavily on the French rather than on the original language texts.
  • Extensive study notes are reduced to brief, educational book introductions.
The New American Bible — Reader’s Edition
  • Nearly identical to NAB used in the U.S. lectionary.
  • Includes standard educational study notes and mildly critical section and book introductions of the NAB.
  • Includes standard cross references of the NAB.
  • Extensive gender-inclusive language.
  • Rejected by the Vatican (probably as a result of gender-inclusive language).
  • Study notes, textual notes and cross references are all located at the end of each chapter.  Since this is the “Reader’s Edition”, these are relocated so as not to distract the reader.
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

Dynamic Reading Bible Recommendations — Approval

Listed in order of recommendation.  Click on Version for details.
Version Title Edition Imprimatur Regional Liturgical Approval Vatican Lectionary Approval
Good News Bible (Today’s English Version; Good News Translation) Catholic Edition Yes No
Contemporary English Version Second Edition No New Testament, Psalms & Proverbs only Approved (First Edition New Testament Only)
New Living Translation Catholic Edition Yes No

Dynamic Reading Bible Recommendations — Details

Full Title Pros Cons
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.

All Catholic Bibles in Print

All Catholic Bibles in Print

This list includes versions and significant editions with Roman Catholic approval.  Except for the Contemporary English Version (which has approval only for the portions noted), all versions have approval for personal use.  Please e-mail me if you know of Catholic bibles which do not appear on this list.  Bibles are ranked by approval and then by year (most recent to oldest).  Note that the original Douay-Rheims bible (not the Challoner Revision) appears to never have received any official Catholic Church approval for its use; only its translation appears to have been authorized.

Version Edition Year Approval Comments
Regional Vatican
Contemporary English Version First Edition 1991 Yes Approved New Testament only
Jerusalem Bible 1966 Yes Approved Use in lectionaries (England, Wales, Australia) possibly predates Vatican approval requirement.
Revised Standard Version Second Catholic Edition 2006 Yes ? Approved by the Antilles Episcopal Conference, I have been unable to verify a claim of Vatican approval.
Contemporary English Version Second Edition 1995 Yes New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs only
Good News Bible 1992 Yes Also titled:  Good News Translation; Today’s English Version
New Jerusalem Bible 1985 Yes
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 1966 Yes Not to be confused with the new Second Catholic Edition
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 1993 Yes Rejected A lectionary with revised text has received Vatican approval
New American Bible Third 1991 Yes Rejected A lectionary with revised text has received Vatican approval
Knox Bible 1950 Unk. Translation from the Latin Vulgate
Confraternity Bible Various 1941 Unk. Superceded by the New American Bible
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision 1777 Unk. Translation from the Latin Vulgate; most available editions are significantly modified versions of the original (e.g. Haydock)
New Living Translation Catholic Edition 2002 ? No
The Living Bible Catholic Edition 1971 No Paraphrase:  not recommended.
If you are hav­ing prob­lems with the but­ton above, please e-mail your com­ments to email@bible-reviews.com.
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