15 November 2007

My Bible Recommendations

I've been asked on many occasions about my favorite Bible translations (and why I prefer them).

5. The New English Bible - There is just something unique about the NEB translation. It was one of the first modern versions to use the paragraph style layout (with verse numbers moved off to the margins) which, I feel, makes the Bible much more friendly to modern readers. The text itself was quite well done, though I'll admit that in retrospective review, I find more issues with it as time passes. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable, relatively accurate, and classic translation. Its successor, the Revised English Bible, meets with a bit less success - but is still a nice edition. Of particular note in the REB is the success of the poetic portions of the Duterocanonical Books.

4. The Jerusalem Bible - This was, for much of the late 1960's and early 1970's the Catholic Bible of choice for many reasons. Its style was distinctly literary (which shouldn't come as a surprise since Tolkien was on the editorial board) and paid close attention to the structure and sense of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts. While not exactly a part of the Jerusalem Bible project, the Grail Psalms have very similar qualities, making it -quite possibly- the best poetic scriptural text in existence today. I have no comment on its successor, the New Jerusalem Bible, as I have not seriously used or perused it.

3. Revised Standard Version (Second Catholic Edition) - This is a recent publication of Ignatius Press, who elected to update the text of the original Catholic edition of the RSV with a new, contemporary English spin. It is, in essence, a Catholic version of Crossway's English Standard Version (see #2). It succeeds in most respects, though it could have done with some better proofreading. It is an indispensable source for the Duterocanonical Books, and the text of the Deuterocanonicals is well translated in this edition.

2. English Standard Version - This is, in many ways, the 'anti-NRSV' (New Revised Standard Version). Featuring gender language that is very much masculine (in keeping with the original text) and serving as a strictly literal translation of the original Greek, the ESV is, in my opinion, the best current text to study for the absolute literal interpretation of the Biblical books. That doesn't mean that it is the best Bible out there, but its accuracy is pretty much rock-solid.

1. New Living Translation (Second Edition) - I absolutely hated the first edition of the NLT. It probably had something to do with being a KJV, well - not quite 'only-ist' but pretty close. I had no idea a second edition was out, until my Bishop (thanks +Chuck!) suggested the NLT Second Edition (and he made sure to emphasize getting the second edition). I got my first copy back in May and it quickly became my preferred Bible for public proclamation of the Word. While I still prefer the Grail Psalms for Liturgical usage, and the Second Edition will not have any of the Deuterocanonicals (probably due to poor sales of the first edition's Catholic version), I have found the NLT Second Edition to be the most effective Bible I own today for all-around use.


All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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