As we continue through the Biblical Year of the Pauline Family, I thought it would be a good time to share my passion for the Bible. When I say passion, I don’t just mean my love of scripture, but I also mean my interest in the many versions and presentations of the Good Book. Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the look and feel of the Bible. I enjoyed holding the bible in my hands, turning the pages, and carefully exploring the layout and text. I was intrigued by all the different sizes and covers. The Bible was beautiful to me and there was a majesty and wonder knowing that it contained God’s Word. As an adult, I dived into the history of the Bible and learned about all the different translations. I began to realize that there was beauty even within the different translations, and that God was able to use this to reach and touch us in different ways. The truth never changes, but the path varies. It’s with this appreciation that I would like to take a few minutes to share with you some of my favorite Bibles available today.
One of the most exciting things to have happened over the last 20 years is a renewed interest by Catholic publishers, educators, and evangelizers to create new Bibles loaded with notes and features that educate and bring enjoyment to Catholic readers. While the actual Word of God is the most important feature of the Bible, it is also important to remember that reading the Bible is an experience and therefore publishers have a real opportunity to engage their readers. It is beneficial to give Catholics options so that they can make the experience comfortable, enjoyable and educational. Some readers may prefer a bigger font. Others may want a more portable Bible that they can easily hold in their hands and take with them. Some are looking for copious notes to aid in their understanding of Scripture, while others don’t want to be distracted by the notes. All this has given rise to a plethora of newly published Catholic Bibles. Before I give some specifics on two new exciting Bibles, let’s discuss some of the translations. I am in no way a Catholic Bible expert, but this is just some simple information that I would like to share.
In America, the Bible translation that is used during the Mass and the Liturgy of the Word is the New American Bible (NAB), specifically the RNAB published in 1986 and revised in 1991. This translation can be found in Roman Missals published in the United States, and is used in most Catechism classes. In 2001, the NAB Revised Edition (NAB-RE) was published, however, this version is not approved for Liturgical use.
Another popular Catholic translation is the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSV-CE), first published in its entirety in 1966 and revised in various ways over the years. This translation is regarded by Catholic Biblical scholars as a formal equivalence (word for word) translation and is ideal for private readings and scriptural study. There is another translation based on the RSV called the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV-CE) which was published in 1991 and is used extensively in our U.S. Pauline publications. The main difference between the RSV-CE and NRSV-CE is the latter’s use of inclusive and gender-neutral language.
One other translation worth mentioning is the Jerusalem Bible (JB). It is noted for being one of the first modern Catholic English translations made from the Hebrew and Greek texts, and not from the Latin Vulgate. Some of the text was translated from a French version, but this was then compared word for word to the original Hebrew and Greek texts. This Bible is used Liturgically outside of the United States and Canada in most English speaking countries like the UK and Australia. It is considered a dynamic equivalence translation (sense for sense) and is known for its beautiful literary prose. It is also one of the few Catholic Bibles that is printed in a single column, which is more pleasing to the eye and easier to read. This Bible is definitely my favorite reading Bible. It was also a favorite of Mother Angelica from which she quoted often on her EWTN programs. As good as this Bible is, it can be quite difficult to find. It was only published once in America in 1966. However, you can locate used copies online. I purchased mine in 2016 and I had it restored and rebound.
Now that we got the translations out of the way, let me introduce you to two exciting new Catholic Bibles that combine the best translations with refreshing approaches to the notes and other interesting features. The first and perhaps the best of the newly published Catholic Bibles is The Didache Bible published by Ignatius Press and the Midwest Theological Forum. It was designed and created by Fr. James Socias. The Didache Bible, first published in 2014, features extensive commentaries and notes based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). This is especially useful for RCIA and Confirmation students but is also suitable for all Catholics wanting to see how the Catechism, inspired by the Magisterium of the Church, is directly connected to scripture. In addition, The Didache Bible features more than 100 apologetical explanations all drawn from the CCC that help to answer many questions about our faith. It is available in two different translations; the RSV-2CE (Revised Standard Version 2nd Catholic Edition) and the NAB-RE (New American Bible Revised Edition), and comes in hardcover or leather. All versions of The Didache Bible are of high quality. I can’t recommend this one enough. In fact, I feel all Catholics should have The Didache Bible in their homes.
A second new Catholic Bible is The Great Adventure Catholic Bible published by Ascension Press. It was created by author and television host Jeff Cavins. First published in 2018, The Great Adventure Catholic Bible uses the RSV-2CE translation and takes a narrative approach, providing the big picture of salvation history while tying all the books of the Bible together. Although lacking in footnotes, it does feature some good articles on salvation history, highlights of key events, and is nicely organized around Jeff Cavins’ color coded Bible Timeline learning system. The Great Adventure Catholic Bible is better suited for teenagers, Confirmation students, and those who are new to the Bible. As a side note, Fr. Mike Schmitz of Ascension Catholic Faith Formation has started a new podcast called The Bible in a Year. This twenty minute daily podcast will read through the entire Bible in 365 episodes following the The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Timeline reading plan and features commentary, reflection, and prayers. The reading plan is available for free so you can use it for personal reading or to go along with the podcast.
Besides these two new Bibles, there are numerous other Catholic study Bibles available from various trusted publishers, many with their own unique approach. We are indeed blessed to live in a time when Catholic interest in the Bible has been revitalized. As Paulines, especially throughout this Biblical Year of the Pauline Family, we can learn about this arsenal of Catholic Bibles and use them in our mission of evangelization, and as the theme states, “that the Word of the Lord may speed forward” (2 THES 3:1).
Preston Medeiros is originally from Hawaii and has been a Pauline Cooperator since September 4, 2016. He is an English teacher and a parishioner at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Anne in Taguig City, Philippines. Preston is married to his wonderful wife Jarsen, and has 3 children and 3 grandchildren. He has a B.A. in History and is an avid reader of Theology. Preston is one of the first four Cooperators to make their promise in Honolulu, Hawaii.