What Version of the Bible Do Catholics Use?

The Bible holds a central place in Catholic life, serving as a guide for faith, morals, and spiritual growth.

Yet, with numerous versions available, many wonder what specific version of the Bible is commonly used by Catholics.

In this article, we will explore the distinctiveness of the Catholic canon, delve into popular versions used within the Catholic Church, and offer practical tips for choosing a Catholic Bible for personal use.

Holy Bible
What are the most popular Bible translations among Catholics? See below

Popular Versions Used in Catholicism

In this section, we’ll explore popular translations of the Catholic Bible.

From the New American Bible to the Douay-Rheims and the New Jerusalem Bible, each version offers unique features that cater to different needs and preferences among Catholic readers.

New American Bible (NAB)

One of the most commonly used versions in the United States is the New American Bible. This translation, first published in 1970, was specifically created for English-speaking Catholics.

It is known for its easy-to-understand language and is often the version found in American Catholic parishes.

Douay-Rheims Bible

Another popular version is the Douay-Rheims Bible, which dates back to the late 16th century. This translation is based on the Latin Vulgate and is known for its formal, traditional language.

It remains a favorite among Catholics who prefer a more classical tone in their scripture.

New Jerusalem Bible

The New Jerusalem Bible is a Catholic-approved translation known for its scholarly accuracy and literary quality.

Originating from the French Jerusalem Bible, it incorporates ancient texts and modern scholarship.

Widely used for study and liturgy, it offers a balanced approach to scriptural interpretation.

Translation Philosophies

Different versions of the Catholic Bible adhere to various translation philosophies.

For instance, the New American Bible aims for a balance between formal equivalence (literal translation) and dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought translation), making it accessible yet faithful to the original texts.

On the other hand, the Douay-Rheims leans more towards formal equivalence, offering a more literal translation of the Latin Vulgate.

In essence, the choice between popular Catholic Bible versions often comes down to personal preference for language style and translation philosophy.

Christian Bible
What’s the difference between Catholic Bible translations? See below

Comparing Catholic Bible Translations?

In the following section, we’ll delve into a comparative analysis of various Catholic Bible translations.

Understanding the nuances between different versions can help you make an informed choice for your personal study and spiritual growth.

The New American Bible vs. the Douay-Rheims Bible

New American Bible (NAB)Douay-Rheims Bible
Publication DateFirst published in 1970First published in the late 16th century
Language StyleModern, easy-to-understand EnglishFormal, traditional English
Translation PhilosophyBalances formal and dynamic equivalenceLeans towards formal equivalence
Source TextsUtilizes original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek textsBased on the Latin Vulgate
Common UsageWidely used in American Catholic parishesPreferred by those seeking a classical tone

The New American Bible vs. the Douay-Rheims Bible

Douay-Rheims BibleNew Jerusalem Bible
Publication DateFirst published in the late 16th centuryFirst published in 1985
Language StyleFormal, traditional EnglishScholarly yet accessible English
Translation PhilosophyLeans towards formal equivalenceAims for scholarly accuracy and literary quality
Source TextsBased on the Latin VulgateOriginates from the French Jerusalem Bible, incorporates ancient texts
Common UsagePreferred by those seeking a classical toneWidely used for study and liturgy
Bible Study
How are Catholic Bibles different than others? See below

The Catholic Canon and Its Distinctiveness

This section aims to shed light on what sets the Catholic Bible apart, including its specific books and historical development, to give you an overview of its distinctiveness.

Defining the Canon

The term ‘canon’ refers to the collection of books that a particular religious group considers as authoritative scripture.

The Catholic canon includes both the Old and New Testaments, with a total of 73 books.

This is in contrast to the Protestant Bible, which typically contains 66 books, excluding the seven Deuterocanonical books found in the Catholic Old Testament.

The Deuterocanonical Books

A distinctive feature of the Catholic Bible is the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical books, also known as the Apocrypha.

These seven books—Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees—are found in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible but are not present in most Protestant Bibles.

Additionally, the Catholic Old Testament includes longer versions of the books of Esther and Daniel.

Historical Development

The Catholic canon was formalized in the Councils of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 AD), and later reaffirmed at the Council of Trent (1546 AD) in response to the Protestant Reformation.

The Council of Trent officially confirmed the canon of the Catholic Church, including the Deuterocanonical books, and declared it as the authoritative scripture for Catholics.

Comparing the Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments

In this section, we’ll examine the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments.

By exploring the number of books, canonical status, and historical context, we aim to provide a clear comparison to help you understand these distinct versions.

AspectCatholic Old TestamentProtestant Old Testament
Number of Books46 books39 books
Included TextsIncludes Deuterocanonical books (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees)Excludes Deuterocanonical books
Canonical StatusAll 46 books considered canonical39 books considered canonical
Historical ContextCanon formalized in Councils of Hippo, Carthage, and reaffirmed in Council of TrentCanon shaped by Jewish Tanakh and later Protestant tradition
Common UsageUsed in Catholic liturgy and studyUsed in Protestant worship and study

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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