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When I was preparing to answer a question on this site, I wanted to use The Penny Catechism's Q 332.

It referenced Ecclus 7:40, and I was unable to link this as is my custom to RSVCE as in this online edition, the book of Sirach Ch 7 went to only v. 36.

An internet search revealed Sirach 7:40.

What accounts for this difference in the numbering of the verses in in Sirach Chapter 7?

Both the editions of the online Bibles are Catholic and I am assuming that the explanation will come from Catholic sources, but I would think any Bible expert might have the explanation.

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I answer as an amateur Bible reader with no formal training in Biblical studies.

One needs to distinguish between Catholic Bibles produced by Catholics, and Bibles labelled and sometimes even approved as Catholic Bibles that are in fact a rearrangement of a non-Catholic Bible in which the non-Catholic Apocrypha are inserted where the Catholic Bible expects corresponding Deuterocanonical texts.

The reference all-Catholic English-language Bible is the Douay-Rheims Bible (with Bishop Challoner's Revisions), since this was translated from the Latin Vulgate produced by St Jerome in the 4th Century, and predates the King James Bible. It is the English-language Catholic Bible equivalent in authority to the King James Bible for Anglicans. Ecclesiasticus (as the Book of Sirach is called in the Douay-Rheims Bible) Chapter 7 has 40 verses. By way of comparison, Ecclesiasticus Chapter 7 in the Apocrypha of the Authorised Version (Kind James Bible) has only 36 verses. A cursory comparison of the last few verses of these two Bibles shows that Verse 31 in the Authorized Version is considerably longer than the other verses in chapter 7 and approximately corresponds to Verses 31-35 of the Douay-Rheims Bible rolled into one. Verses 32-36 of the Authorised Version correspond to Verses 36-40 of the Douay-Rheims Bible. This suggests that the Received Text from which KJB translators translated is slightly different to the Greek and Hebrew texts from which St Jerome translated, either in content, and/or in verse numbering. I understand that the Received Text was a thorough review of the Greek source texts by Erasmus, and verse numbering was reviewed in the 16th Century by Robert Estienne. Therefore one would expect minor differences between the Douay-Rheims Bible and the King James Bible.

The RSV-CE Bible follows the KJV Bible. It was approved for Catholics because it includes most of the Catholic canonical books. However my understanding is that there are some deviations in the meaning between the RSV-CE and the Douay-Rheims Bible, e.g. in Isaiah 7-14 (young woman in the RSV versus virgin in the Douay-Rheims Bible) motivated by an interpretation of the Hebrew Masoretic Text of the 6th Century more in line with the Jewish Tanekh than the Old Testament in the 2nd C BC Greek language Septuagint, that would have been in general use at the time of Christ.

  • Welcome to C.SE and thank you for your answer! Wonderful! – user13992 Dec 9 '14 at 19:28
  • 'The RSV-CE Bible follows the KJV Bible.' - Any support for this? – user13992 Dec 9 '14 at 20:23
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    The genealogy of Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition can be traced directly back to the KJV as follows: RSV-CE (1966)>RSV (1946-1952)>American Standard Version (1901)>Revised Version (1885)>KJV with Revisions(1769) >KJV(1611). The objective of the revisers was to retain as much as possible the content and literary style of the KJV, whilst replacing archaic expressions by modern equivalents, and taking into account new biblical research findings. – user17534 Dec 12 '14 at 13:19

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