Catholic Bible Translations


Q. We have so many modern Catholic translations of the Bible in English to choose from. Which one do you recommend?


A. Each version has its particular strengths and weaknesses, with regard to both the translation and the notes and commentary provided. Anyone who has ever been involved in translation of a text knows that the process is sometimes inexact and subjective. And the quality of the notes and commentary depends both on the scholarship of the editors and commentators and on their faithfulness to the teaching of the Catholic Church. For these reasons, I recommend that if you use one version most of the time, you consult a different version occasionally to compare the translations, notes, and commentaries.

Having said that, among the modern translations of the Catholic Bible, I highly recommend the Revised Standard Version / Second Catholic Edition (RSVC2). Because it’s published by Ignatius Press, it’s also called the Ignatius Bible. The translation is excellent: close to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek while remaining readable; more sensitive than some other versions to the established Catholic tradition of interpreting the text; and less influenced by contemporary cultural trends. The orthodoxy of the marginal notes is reliable.

Though the marginal notes are minimal, you can find a number of RSVC2 Bibles with added commentary. Among these I would recommend The Didache Bible (Ignatius Press), with commentary based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and volumes of commentary on individual biblical books, such as The Navarre Bible (Four Courts Press) and The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (Ignatius Press).