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Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
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Our readers asked:

What Translation of the Bible Should I Be Reading?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

What translation of the Bible should I be reading? There are a lot to choose from — which one is the best?

If you want to sit down specifically to pray and meditate on scripture, I recommend you use whatever translation you have on hand that is familiar, comforting, and appealing to you. If you love the rhythm and verse of the King James Bible “The Lord is my shepherd/I shall not want/He maketh me lie down in green pastures/He leadeth me beside the still waters” then by all means, pray with that translation. However, if you want to study as well as reflect on the Bible, then you should choose one of the most widely accepted translations such as the New American Bible (NAB) or the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The former is the one we hear read at Catholic churches in the United States, the latter is the official translation used by Canadian Catholic churches. Both are solidly researched and translated by a committee of well-respected scholars and are used in many Scripture classes around the English speaking world.

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Nancy Roach

    Please note: Youth as in Young Adult publications, not Childrens

  • Nancy Roach

    I read and study the Catholic Youth Bible (New American Bible published by Saint Mary’s Press). Friends in my Renew group giggled at first but after awhile they would often suggest something like:”Nancy: read the insight notes from your bible so we can really understand that passage.” I also purchased YouCat, the Catholic youth catechism. The format is simpler and filled with colorful art and illustrations. I am middle-aged but happy to be young in my faith.

  • Paul Groves

    Sorry but I reckon the advice given above is just not good enough: “..If you want to sit down specifically to pray and meditate on scripture, I recommend you use whatever translation you have on hand that is familiar, comforting, and appealing to you..”

    No it is the truth that will set you free, not whether or not you feel comfortable etc.

    Gerry Matatics recommended The Douay Rheims Bible with Haydock Commentary. It deals with the correct interpretation of various texts and explains why other views are misleading. It draws heavily on the CHurch Fathers. Converts to Catholicism often have a particular expertise on where other translations have gone wrong and have had the integrity to act on what they’ve found. Scott Hahn has also dealt with this critical question.

  • Terry Fitzgerald

    Try the Navarre translation of the Bible for an easy to read, good translation with the added benefit of excellent commentary and references which can elucidate and clarify as you read.

  • Margo

    The King James Bible is a Protestant translation. According to the USCCB website,

    “Catholic and Protestant Bibles both include 27 books in the New Testament. Protestant Bibles have only 39 books in the Old Testament, however, while Catholic Bibles have 46. The seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel which are not found in Protestant Bibles. These books are called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church considers these books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

    Also, here is a list of the approved Catholic translations of the Bible: http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/

    • Amy

      Thank you, Margo. I am hesitant all of a sudden, after reading this article, to generally recommend Busted Halo as a good resource. The recommendation of protestant bibles is not something I want to provide the young Catholic people in my ministry. The full Truth is available in a Catholic bible.

  • Rev. Christine Isham-Walsh

    For personal devotions I like to read the Psalms from The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version (Oxford Univ. Pres, 1995). But for just about anything I use the NRSV that’s my go to translation. I find that the best translation that keeps the best readability and flow.

  • Michael Tickel

    New American Standard or Holman Christian Standard all the way. That’s all I read anymore.

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