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)