day 23 – which bible?

I’m old enough to have seen the comings and goings of several versions of the bible. In the 1970’s, The Jerusalem Bible was the source for the Lectionary in Canada and became the bible of choice for many of us. Its size was imposing even in the soft cover version. The hard-cover edition, complete with commentaries and references, was almost as thick as it was wide. It was hardly a bible to keep in your pocket, but I loved the poetic beauty of The Jerusalem Bible, and still do to this day. It`s my comfort bible!

Bibles in contemporary language were also popular in the 1970`s. The Good News Bible was a small pocket version with charming, simple line drawings throughout. The Way used modern photos to emphasize the timeliness of the scriptural messages.  Scholarly types criticized these `dumbed down` versions, but they were affordable and made the bible accessible to many people.  I think that having a bible that is actually read is more important than having a scholarly version sitting on your shelf collecting dust.

In catechetical and theological studies, I had to use the Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version Bible. I never warmed up to the two column layout and phonetic marks of the RSV. Somehow the pages weren`t as pretty, or have the same comfort in my hands as my old Jerusalem Bible. I realized what a creature of habit I had become.

Today, the bible of choice for Canadian Catholics is the New Revised Standard Version which became the Lectionary bible in 1992. It retains the same layout with phonetic markings as the RSV version, but has the bonus of inclusive language. This is the bible that is now handed out in our parishes for sacramental presentations and catechetical classes.

One other bible that I own but was never able to read, is my father`s old Biblia Sacra: Juxta Vugatem Clementinam. I can`t read Latin, but there is something special about holding a well-worn, much read bible in your hands and wondering about the hours of study and prayer that it holds!

(next: Lectionary debates)

4 thoughts on “day 23 – which bible?

  1. Are you familiar with “The Inclusive Bible, the First Egalitarian Translation”, Sheed and Ward, 2009? Joan Chittister uses it to quote scripture in her writings. I recently bought a copy and I think it is well done, less than $20. from Amazon. This new bible does not merely replace male pronouns, the translators seek to be faithful to the original languages and have sought new and nonsexist ways to express the same ancient truths.
    Also, there is a an extraordinary new translation on the psalms by Pamela Greenberg, a Hebrew scholar and poet. I thought “how could anyone improve on the translations I already know”? Well, I bought the book thinking maybe one or two psalms might be good enough to use in facilitating retreats. From the first page, I could hear the holiness and emotions of our ancestors in the faith. Her translation restores the poetry and vibrancy of these ancient Hebrew prayer songs. {“The Complete Book of Psalms, the Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation”, Pamela Greenberg, Bloomsbury, New York, 2010.}

  2. About 10 years ago I read the Daily Walk Bible. A Protestant friend of mine suggested it so it is missing the additional Catholic chapters, but I love the translation! You read a section each day and within one year you have read the entire Bible from front to back. It is the bible that has all of our family history notes in it–you know, the birth dates, aniversaries, deaths, etc. Guess I could have put baptismal dates & confirmations if I had thought about it.

    When our toddler grandson died this is the bible we used to pick out the readings for his funeral Mass. It is definitely my comfort Bible.

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