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There are many versions of the bible, such as the:

  • King James Bible
  • NIV
  • NRSV

But which is the 'correct' bible that a catholic should read?

I hope I have asked this question in the correct spot...

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The answer really depends on if you mean private reading, or liturgical. At mass you should use the version they use at mass. At home use whatever you want, although the hierarchy obviously would suggest you use one labelled as a "Catholic Edition" and which carries an imprimatur. –  david brainerd Apr 16 at 4:27

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The King James Version is not accepted by the Catholic Church. Primarily because it is translated to fit Anglican theology. There is no Catholic edition of the NIV either. Not to mention these misses Deuterocanonical Books. Regarding NRSV make sure it is a Catholic edition.

The correct bible that a Catholic is supposed to use is the Latin Vulgate Bible. That is the official bible of the Catholic Church. That is the one which is used in papal masses.

But if you are looking for bible in your vernacular look for a bible that has:

  • 73 books in it
  • An imprimatur sign from competent authority (usually a bishop)
  • Bishop's conference of a country would usually have released/recommended an official translation, which is used in the liturgy. It would be better if you can get hold of that version.

The following is a complete list of the translations of the Sacred Scriptures that have received the approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1983 src:

  • Books of the New Testament, Alba House
  • Contemporary English Version - New Testament, First Edition, American Bible Society
  • Contemporary English Version - Book of Psalms, American Bible Society
  • Contemporary English Version - Book of Proverbs, American Bible Society
  • The Grail Psalter (Inclusive Language Version), G.I.A. Publications
  • New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE)
  • New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, National Council of Churches
  • The Psalms, Alba House
  • The Psalms (New International Version) - St. Joseph Catholic Edition, Catholic Book Publishing Company
  • The Psalms - St. Joseph New Catholic Version, Catholic Book Publishing Company
  • Revised Psalms of the New American Bible (1991)
  • So You May Believe, A Translation of the Four Gospels, Alba House
  • Today's English Version, Second Edition, American Bible Society
  • Translation for Early Youth, A Translation of the New Testament for Children, Contemporary English Version, American Bible Society
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This looks good on the surface, but even as a non-Catholic I think I can see a massive oversight. How could you not even mention the Jerusalem Bible / New Jerusalem Bible that is the most widely used Catholic sanctioned Bible translation out there? I'm pretty sure there are other technical inaccuracies here too. –  Caleb Apr 15 at 7:54
@Caleb This answer specifically refers to USCCB, who have not approved the JB/NJB for public worship. –  Andrew Leach Apr 15 at 9:10
@Caleb : I was trying to give a generic answer. Not specific to US. The list was an example of how a bishop conference approves Bible translations. It explicitly specifies that it is a list of bible translations approved AFTER '83. (JB/NJB was not listed in USCCB website; may be it received approval before 1983?) This list is directly taken from USCCB's website. I did NOT prepare this list. I would love to know what other other inaccuracies you find in this answer. –  Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 15 at 9:44
I'm not sure why it was -1ed. –  The Freemason Apr 15 at 12:54

In addition to Jayarathina's answer for the United States, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales lists

For use in the Liturgy (that is, at Mass):

Revised Standard Version
Jerusalem Bible
New Jerusalem Bible*
New Revised Standard Version*
Good News — may be used for Masses with Children

Grail Psalter (1963)
Grail Psalter (revised 1993)*

For the Divine Office:

Jerusalem Bible
Knox Bible
New English Bible
Revised Standard Version
Good News

The Grail Psalter (1963) is used for the Psalms. Canticles are taken from:
Grail Psalter
Jerusalem Bible
Revised Standard Version

*These versions may only be used for individual local celebrations and may not be used to produce a Lectionary (full set of readings)

In England & Wales, the usual translation used is the Jerusalem Bible, but the above versions are permitted in their various uses. In the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the only approved translation is the Revised Standard Version and its use is mandated in both the Ordinariate Use and the Novus Ordo celebrated by the Ordinariate (although in the latter, the Grail Psalter must be used).

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