O Me of Little Faith

We’re summarizing the most popular biblical translations, as listed in my most recent book, Pocket Guide to the Bible. Previously, we looked at the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version. Today’s subject is…

The Jerusalem Bible (RSV)

First published in: 1966, by Darton Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday

Translation style: Dynamic Equivalence

Quick description: The first English translation the pope allows to be made from the original languages, rather than the Latin Vulgate. It’s initially published in French by a group of monks working in Jerusalem. (That’s where the name comes from, and it’s a good thing they weren’t working in Toad Suck, Arkansas.) Based on its success, they get to work immediately on an English one.

Why you should read it: It was the first widely accepted Catholic English translation of the Bible, and its impeccable scholarship and linguistic style win both Catholic and Protestant fans. As a bonus, one of the English stylists to work with the translators is none other than J.R.R. Tolkien, of The Lord of the Rings fame. Which means the Jerusalem Bible is preferred by four out of five fanboys.

Not so fast: Its introductions and notes tend to lean leftward in terms of doctrine, so it makes conservative Bible readers a little itchy. Plus, there’s that part where Gandalf shows up to help Joshua defeat the Gibeonites along the Beth Horon Pass.

“You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4)

“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)


Have you ever read the Jerusalem Bible? Like it? What translation do you prefer?

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