New American Bible vs. New Jerusalem Bible: Compared

The New American Bible (NAB) and the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are Roman Catholic translations of the Bible into modern English. While they share some similarities, they have distinct origins, language styles, and features. Catholics and other Christians widely use both translations for study and devotion.

The title “New American Bible” reflects its origin as a modern English translation for American Catholics. The “New Jerusalem Bible” is named after the French “La Bible de Jérusalem,” from which it was translated, and the biblical city of Jerusalem, a symbol of the spiritual home of Christians.

See the comparison charts below to compare the details of the NAB and NJB translations, like the scholars who worked on them, their use of inclusive language, and their various editions. Also, see how they compare to Protestant translations of the Bible.

Christian Bible
Who translated the NAB and NJB? See below

Comparing the NAB and the NJB Translations: Overview

FeatureNew American BibleNew Jerusalem Bible
TranslationA Catholic translation of the Bible into modern English.A Catholic translation of the Bible into modern English.
OriginTranslated by scholars from the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.An English translation based on the French “La Bible de Jérusalem.”
LanguageModern English with some traditional phrasing.Modern English with a literary style.
InclusivityUses inclusive language for gender-neutral references.Uses traditional language with some inclusive phrasing.
NotesExtensive footnotes and cross-references.Detailed footnotes and introductions for each book.
ApprovalApproved for liturgical use in the United States.Not approved for liturgical use in the United States.
AudiencePrimarily used by Catholics in the United States.Used by Catholics and other Christians worldwide.
EditionsVarious editions with different features and study aids.Various editions, including a study edition with extensive notes.

What is the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine?

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is a Catholic organization dedicated to religious education.

Established in the early 20th century, the CCD focuses on providing catechetical instruction to children and adults.

It has played a significant role in translating and publishing the New American Bible for English-speaking Catholics.

What is the La Bible de Jérusalem?

“La Bible de Jérusalem” is a French translation of the Bible, first published in 1956. It is known for its scholarly approach and extensive footnotes.

Produced by Catholic scholars at the École Biblique in Jerusalem, it has become a widely respected translation used by Catholics and other Christians.

Bible Study
What kind of inclusive language do the NAB and NJB use? See below

Inclusive Language in the NAB and Inclusive Phrasing in the NJB

The New American Bible (NAB) uses inclusive language for gender-neutral references, while the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) retains some traditional language with occasional inclusive phrasing.

Both translations retain traditional pronouns for God. The choice between the two often depends on personal preference for inclusive or traditional language.

Language StyleModern English with inclusive language.Modern English with a literary style and some traditional language.
Gender ReferencesUses gender-neutral terms for humanity, such as “people” instead of “men.”Uses traditional terms like “men” but includes some inclusive phrasing.
Pronouns for GodRetains traditional pronouns for God, such as “He” and “Him.”Retains traditional pronouns for God, such as “He” and “Him.”
Liturgical UseApproved for liturgical use in the United States, with inclusive language in the readings.Not approved for liturgical use in the United States.
Audience ReactionSome appreciate inclusive language, while others prefer more traditional translations.Preferred by those who appreciate a more traditional and literary style.

Why Isn’t the New Jerusalem Bible Approved for Liturgical Use?

The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) is not approved for liturgical use in the United States primarily because the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has chosen other translations for use in the liturgy.

The New American Bible (NAB) is the translation most commonly used in the United States for liturgical readings.

The NJB, while respected for its scholarship and literary style, has not been selected for liturgical use in the U.S.

The decision to use a particular translation for liturgy involves considerations of language, style, and suitability for public proclamation, as well as the preferences of the local bishops.

Holy Bible
What are the different editions of the NAB and NJB? See below

What are the different editions of the New American Bible?

The New American Bible (NAB) has undergone several revisions since its initial publication.

The original NAB was released in 1970, followed by the NAB Revised Edition (NABRE) in 2011, which updated the Old Testament translation.

The NABRE is the most current edition and is widely used in the United States.

In addition to these main editions, there are various specialized editions of the NAB, including study Bibles, Catholic family Bibles, and editions with devotional materials.

These editions may include additional features such as study notes, cross-references, maps, and other resources to enhance the reader’s understanding of the Scriptures.

What are the different editions of the New Jerusalem Bible?

The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has several editions, each catering to different needs.

The original NJB was published in 1985, offering a fresh translation from the French “La Bible de Jérusalem.”

The “Reader’s Edition” removes the extensive footnotes for a more streamlined reading experience.

The “Study Edition” includes detailed introductions, notes, and cross-references, making it ideal for in-depth study.

The “Standard Edition” is a popular choice for everyday reading and includes the full text with minimal notes.

The “Pocket Edition” is a compact version for portability. Each edition of the NJB offers the same respected translation with features tailored to different reading preferences.

Catholic and Protestant Bible Translations Compared

Catholic and Protestant Bible translations differ mainly in their canon, with Catholic Bibles including the Deuterocanonical books.

Both traditions offer translations ranging from traditional to contemporary language and provide various study aids.

The choice of translation often depends on personal preference and the specific needs of the reader.

FeatureCatholic Bible TranslationsProtestant Bible Translations
CanonIncludes the Deuterocanonical books (also known as the Apocrypha).Excludes the Deuterocanonical books, or includes them in a separate section.
Translation ApproachOften use “dynamic equivalence,” focusing on conveying the meaning of the text.May use “formal equivalence,” striving for a word-for-word translation, or “dynamic equivalence.”
LanguageModern English translations, with some retaining traditional language.Range from traditional to contemporary language.
Liturgical UseThe NAB is approved for liturgical use.Various translations are used in Protestant worship services.
Study AidsMany editions include footnotes, cross-references, and study aids.Many editions include study aids, maps, and concordances.
AudiencePrimarily used by Catholics, but also by other Christians.Primarily used by Protestants, but also by other Christians.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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