How to Choose a Catholic Bible

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A variety of Catholic Bibles are available. Selecting the one that best suits your needs can be difficult. Depending on whether you are well versed in the Bible, or just picking it up for the first time, you find no shortage of versions and types. No matter the version you choose, a staple for a good Catholic Bible should be the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical writings.

Verify that the Bible contains 46 Old Testament books. One way to verify that a Bible is a Catholic Bible is to confirm that the Deuterocanonical writings, or apocryphal writings, are included among its books. Specifically, the Deuterocanonical writings are seven full Old Testament books and partials of two others, which Catholic Bibles contain but most Protestant versions do not. While some Protestant versions of the Bible do contain the Deuterocanonical writings, they are usually listed only as appendices for reflective reading and not among their recognized 39 official Old Testament books.

When in doubt as to whether your Bible is a Catholic Bible or not, you should look for the imprimatur approval in the front of the Bible. While there are a variety of Catholic Bibles available for consumers, there is one sure way to confirm that your Bible is a Catholic Bible. By locating the imprimatur designation located within the first few pages of the text, you can be sure that none of the writings are in contrast to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The imprimatur is a permission, mandated by canon law for those Bibles and theological publications which have been reviewed and approved by official episcopal authorities of the Roman Catholic Church. Imprimaturs ensure that the teachings therein do not contradict those of the Catholic faith.

Determine what you require from your Bible. Once you have been able to discern that the Bible is a Catholic Bible, you may tailor your selection to your biblical proficiency and requirements. Among the variety of Catholic Bibles available are versions which rely on the original Old English translation, those that have been revised for a more contemporary audience and those which provide extensive commentary.

The more advanced Bible reader should choose the Douay-Rheims or Jerusalem Catholic Bibles. If you want the original English publication, your best bet for Bible selection is the Douay-Rheims. The Douay-Rheims Bible is the original English version of the Bible printed in 1582 prior to the King James Version, having had several revisions over the centuries. Even the latest revisions of the Douay-Rheims Bible contain some of the original Old English language.

Those with a rudimentary understanding of the Bible may want to choose either the popular New American Bible or the Jerusalem Bible. If you’re searching for a version of the Catholic Bible with more contemporary language, you should rely on the New American Bible (NAB). The current NAB contains both revised Psalms and a revision of the New Testament and was published in 1991. For a broader definition of the events and contents of the Bible, you may prefer the Jerusalem Bible. This version is able to offer its reader an elaborate commentary through extensive footnoting. The Jerusalem Bible may be difficult to obtain in print, but it is widely available online.

Dale Mann is a freelance writer who has been writing professionally since 2009. Mann has been published in "How to Think Like a Leader" by author Maria Berdusco, "The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review" and in the oral history production, "New Kensington Is..." He is a 2009 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism communications.