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Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Is It Ok for a Catholic to Read the King James Bible ?

Mike Hayes Answers:

The King James Version has 39 books in the Old Testament, all written in Hebrew. However, the Old Testament of the New American Bible contains 46 books, including an additional seven (Tobit, Judith, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch) which were part of an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint. Those are the main differences. So if you want to read those books you’d need to read those in the NAB which is the version Catholics use at mass.

Other differences is that the NAB was translated in 1970 — more than 350 years after the KJV was produced — which makes it more accurate academically. However, the New King James Version was produced in 1982 and it has included these newer findings of the biblical research field.

So, any translation is ultimately an interpretation. The translator will coma this from a variety of angles. Some choose to translate faithfully word-for-word to the original document, while others will communicate the essence of the passage faithfully. Neither is necessarily more “correct.”

So yes, a Catholic can read the KJV, but the approved version for Catholics is the NAB.

The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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  • Mark Forster

    Actually the King James Version when it was first published contained all 46 books recognized by Catholics. They are still available – you just need to make sure that you buy an edition which contains the Apocrypha (as Protestants call it).

  • Doug Renze

    Aren’t there multiple approved versions for Catholics? There’s Revised Standard (RSV), NAB, Douay-Rhiemes (sp?). Aren’t they all approved for use? That being said, I know that the version used by Catholic churches in the US is NAB (Canadians use RSV, I believe).

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