Choosing a Bible was not difficult when only one or two English versions had been translated from the original Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic languages. Now, deciding which Bible you prefer can be confusing, especially since you have many choices among the word-for-word, phrase-by-phrase, and thought-by-thought translations. In addition to those options, you will also find Catholic and Protestant editions.
Specific word choices in the translations might differ, but the books in the New Testament will be the same in either Catholic or Protestant editions. However, the “Old Testament” of a Catholic Bible includes more books than you will find in the Hebrew scriptures of other Bibles, so be sure to look for an identifying phrase such as “Catholic edition” on the front cover.
Somewhere in the front pages of a Catholic study Bible, you will also find “Nihil Obstat” and “Imprimatur,” which let you know that the footnotes, study helps, and explanatory articles have been deemed free of doctrinal error by a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.
The English translation approved by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and accepted by most parishes in America is the New American Bible (NAB), available in such excellent editions as The Catholic Study Bible, the Saint Joseph Edition, or The New Catholic Answer Bible.
Another favored translation is the poetically quotable classic, the Revised Standard Version. However, every copy of RSV does not include all of the Old Testament books that a Catholic Bible has, so look for The Ignatius Bible or other Catholic edition.
For a fresh, lively translation, the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) brings new energy (and, sometimes, different verse numbering!) to familiar Psalms, parables, and Bible stories.
If you want an easy-to-read translation with few footnotes, the Catholic edition of the Good News Bible may make you eager to read Holy Scriptures from cover to cover as you would any book or saga and, indeed, why not!
With a reader-friendly translation and church-approved footnotes, you can read, study, and soon love the Bible, then, accurately and poetically, pass on its Good News.
(c) 2010, Mary Harwell Sayler. You might also want to follow the Bible Reviewer blog.