Which Bible and Why

This reading is in support of the St Thomas mission to support the Year of Faith and the Emeritus Pontiff’s call for mission.

As a catechist, I am faced with a dilemma almost each and every week. Pick almost any subject that we cover in our religious education program and there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who devote large portions of their life to studying just that subject. For some subjects; great institutions are founded and deep reflective research; study and reflection are given to find the most reliable truth.

The study of the Bible and its many translations is probably one of the most complex among these.

The Council of Carthage decided what went into the Bible on 28 August 397 AD it was patterned after the example put together by St Cyril of Jerusalem in 350.

There are lots of different and interesting facts about what we call the Bible.
There are 518 translations of the full Bible and 2798 partial translations.

The original texts were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

Over the centuries translators have taken different approaches with the text: Some believing they needed to go word for word, to honor the sanctity of the words; other giving priority to the meaning of the words and using a phrase-by-phrase approach.

Through the middle ages, the Latin Vulgate was the standard. Since most people were not educated, meaning that the Latin gospels were not only impossible for parish attendees to read, and books were the equivalent of owning a luxury car, but people could not understand the words being read during mass.

The progression of the Bible through history was not without difficulties. The most notable Middle English Bible translation; Wyclif's Bible (1383), based on the Vulgate, was banned by the Oxford Synod in 1408 because of its alterations to the text.

Tyndale's Bible (1526), which was known as the first English translation of the New Testament, was met with heavy sanctions given the widespread belief that Tyndale had changed the Bible as he attempted to translate it. William Tyndale was first jailed in 1535 for translating the Old Testament without permission, and, a year later, after refusing to recant or retract, he was executed by order of the English King Henry VIII and Parliament.

The first Catholic Bible to be published in English in its entirety was the Douai-Rheims Bible (1609, 1610). It was published in two volumes (Old Testament in 1609 and New Testament in 1610)

Then came the great split; AV 1611. The Authorized Version of 1611, commissioned by the ruler of the land. We know this version as the King James Bible. The King James Bible has become the standard for the Protestant Faiths for the last 400+ years.

In 1970, the first American Catholic bible, the New American Bible, was translated and published as a counterpart to the British Jerusalem Bible; and, like the JB, the NAB was translated from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.

What do these differences mean?

Catholic bibles include all but three deuterocanonical books (i.e. Apocryphal books) in the Old Testament, such as the Books of Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch, that neither Jewish nor Protestants sects recognize as containing any canonical merit.

Let’s look at the most read and known verse in the bible: John 3:16

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I was told two pieces of information this week that reminded me of this argument and inspired this mission message. The first was a Protestant Pastor who told me matter of fact that where he grew up, people believed that Catholics were not Christians and would not receive the grace and blessings of God. (not his personal opinion). I was quite surprised to hear this.

Then I read of the thousands or more people in the United States that believed the Boston bombings were attributable to the Musilim country of the Czech Republic. You can imagine my shock in hearing this.

I believe we will all hear or find something different and personal in the words given to us for inspiration.

My personal belief is the only thing stopping the Grace of God from inspiring us, is the time that we have not taken to read the Bible…. Whichever version you chose to read.

God Bless