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The Jerusalem Bible

Published in England in 1966, the Jerusalem Bible, an English counterpart to a French translation, is the first complete Catholic Bible translated into English from the original languages. Previously, Catholic Bibles had been translated from the Latin Vulgate, itself a translation.

There were two objectives: to translate the Bible into contemporary language, and to provide study text in the form of explanatory notes, the latter being an integral part of the translation.

The notes are a translation from the French edition of La Bible de Jerusalem, which was published in 1956. The Bible text is based on the original, although closely aligned with the French wherever there were questions of interpretation.

The translation of the Jerusalem Bible is freer than the RSV, but not so much so as the Phillip's. The poetical passages are handled well, and personal names are in the format of the RSV, removing some of the strangeness that Protestant readers would normally find in a Catholic Bible.

The Jerusalem Bible is a Catholic Bible, however, and the Apocrypha are included, not segregated but scattered throughout. For a Protestant, the text of the Jerusalem Bible should be interesting because of its tendency to include what other translations leave out. Passages that have been found to have been added to Scripture are included in the Jerusalem Bible, at times even with a note stating that the best sources omit the passage. The tendency is to include more questionable text than the RSV.

The study notes, well documented and helpful, are the most useful aspect of the Jerusalem Bible. While the notes are clearly Catholic, they are generally non-dogmatic in nature, and represent a fair representation of the text.

The Jerusalem Bible translation appears to be more loosely translated as it goes along. The translation of Matthew is not as freely done as is that of Mark. The same is true of the Old Testament. Overall, the Jerusalem Bible is not a bad translation; still, its greatest strength lies in the study notes.


Overview of Bible Study