I have been reading through the Catholic Jerusalem Bible and have found a lot of pleasure in the copious footnotes and the surprisingly readable text. However I am aware that there are some issues, particularly in that the Dead Sea Scrolls are only lightly referenced since they were still largely unavailable at that time, and the number of "corrections" that have been added in footnotes is rather large, particularly in the Old Testament. I have asked on Biblical Hermeneutics about specific translation issues.

While most of the corrections seem minor1, it seems the prolificty of minor corrections could raise concerns about its value as a Study Bible in the Christian community. Have any particularly denominations raised this as a concern? Overall, how well received and how widely used is it?

1 Consider JB 2 Kings 8:18, which has the footnote "j. 'from the family' corr.; 'daughter' Hebr." This is a benign and obvious emendation.

  • When you say 'corrections' are you referring to corrections to the JB text in later editions, or differences between the JB and other translations? Jan 3, 2013 at 20:09
  • Yes more clarification is needed to answer this question. Do you mean the New Jerusalem Bible (1985) or the Jerusalem Bible (1966)?
    – Dan
    Jan 3, 2013 at 20:19
  • I am referring to the original 1966 Jerusalem Bible, which the New Jerusalem Bible does not directly revise, as I understand. I refer to corrections or conjectural emendations of the original text made by the editors and translators, and not to corrections (as of typographical errors) made in subsequent printings.
    – ascentury
    Jan 3, 2013 at 20:42
  • By 'original text' do you mean the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts? Jan 3, 2013 at 20:46
  • Yes. I'll put an example in the main question to clarify the sense.
    – ascentury
    Jan 3, 2013 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


The original Jerusalem Bible is apparently still used as the Lectionary of choice for Catholics in many countries like England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa. You can refer to the USCCB's survey of Liturgical Books In The English Speaking World to see what a few [presumably Catholic] folks around the world are using.

I think it's important to note, however, that the Catholic Church does not subscribe to Sola Scriptura. In Church history, the bible has always been treated as a sort of compliment and/or supplement to tradition. All of our beliefs should be affirmed to some extent by scripture. We also draw some insight from scripture "itself," provided that insight is in harmony with the existing understanding. However, given that scripture in Catholicism is not authoritative alone, the accuracy of the translation, though still important, is not as important as it would be for most non-Catholics -- particularly those subscribing to Sola Scriptura.

Glancing at the Wikipedia article for the Jerusalem Bible, you'll see that some portions of it were based on the French translation of the original languages. As such, you'll likely find some "noise" in the translation. The New Jerusalem Bible limits the French influence a great deal, relying much more heavily on the original languages. If I subscribed to Sola Scriptura and were choosing between the two, I think I'd drop the JB in favor of the NJB in a heartbeat.


I frequently use the New Jerusalem Bible (1985) for study, as a companion/comparison with the New Revised Standard Version (1989). Personally I think it is helpful to have these different perspectives on the same text. Anecdotally I have encountered some suspicion of the NJB in group Bible study, from people who aren't sure if it is infused with Catholic bias; but I've also heard it quoted from the pulpit in my current church (PCUSA) when the pastor liked its rendering of some particular passage.

A survey by the Presbyterian Church (USA) from 2006 found the following numbers admitting that the JB or NJB was the version they 'personally most prefer':

  • Members - 2/474
  • Elders - 2/585
  • Pastors - 2/610
  • Specialized clergy (= Ministers not serving in a congregation) - 4/276

This does not break out JB vs NJB, but in any case it indicates penetration that is low but not zero. As with me, there may be more people that use it regularly while still not having it as the most preferred version. Nobody indicated that it was the version used most often in public worship.

I know that in the Episcopal Church USA, both the JB and NJB are on the list of approved versions (Canon II.2). I don't know how frequently it is actually used, but this does indicate that the denomination sees no problem with the text for readings in public worship; presumably, then, it is also acceptable as a study Bible.


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