Jerusalem Bible

Jerusalem Bible
This article is about the Roman Catholic translation. For the Jewish translation, see Koren Jerusalem Bible.
'The Jerusalem Bible'
Jerusalem Bible.jpg
Full name: The Jerusalem Bible
Abbreviation: JB or TJB
Complete Bible published: 1966
Textual basis: Old Testament: La Bible de Jerusalem, Masoretic text with strong Septuagint (especially in Psalms) and some Vulgate influence. New Testament: La Bible de Jérusalem, Eclectic text with high correspondence to the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece with major variant readings from the Majority text and sacred tradition (i.e. Comma Johanneum and the longer ending of Mark) incorporated or noted. Deuterocanon: Septuagint with Vulgate influence.
Translation type: Mid-range formal equivalence with a highly polished style.
Copyright status: 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Co. Inc.
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The Jerusalem Bible (JB or TJB) is a Roman Catholic translation of the Bible which first was introduced to the English-speaking public in 1966 and published by Darton, Longman & Todd. As a Roman Catholic Bible, it includes the deuterocanonical books along with the sixty-six others included in Protestant Bibles, as well as copious footnotes and introductions.

Excerpts from the Jerusalem Bible are used in the Lectionary for Mass that was approved by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and that is used is most of the English-speaking world. [1] Other translations have also been approved for use in the Liturgy by the English and Welsh bishops. [2]



In 1943 Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical letter, Divino Afflante Spiritu, which encouraged Roman Catholics to translate the Scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek, rather than from Jerome's Latin Vulgate. As a result, a number of Dominicans and other scholars at the École Biblique in Jerusalem translated the scriptures into French. The product of these efforts was published as La Bible de Jérusalem in 1956.

This French translation served as the impetus for an English translation in 1966, the Jerusalem Bible. For the majority of the books, the English translation was an original translation of the Hebrew and Greek; in passages with more than one interpretation, the French is generally followed. For a small number of Old Testament books, the first draft of the English translation was made directly from the French, and then the General Editor produced a revised draft by comparing this word-for-word to the original Hebrew or Aramaic.[3] The footnotes and book introductions are almost literal translations from the French.

The translation

The translation itself uses a literal approach that has been admired for its literary qualities, perhaps in part due to its most famous contributor, J.R.R. Tolkien (his primary contribution was the translation of Jonah).[4] The introductions, footnotes, and even the translation itself reflect a modern scholarly approach and the conclusions of scholars who use historical-critical method. As examples, the introduction and notes reject Moses' authorship of the Pentateuch, as well as the Book of Wisdom having been authored by King Solomon.

The Jerusalem Bible was the first widely accepted Roman Catholic English translation of the Bible since the Douay-Rheims Version of the 17th century. The Jerusalem Bible was considered such a high quality advanced English translation of the Bible that the Holy See used it in the European liturgy and the Mass. This reference for The Jerusalem Bible can be found in the introduction page of the Roman Catholic Missals as the source reference for the readings. It has also been widely praised for an overall very high level of scholarship, and is widely admired and sometimes used by liberal and moderate Protestants. The overall text seems to have somewhat of a "Mid-Atlantic" nature, neither overwhelmingly British nor particularly American, making it acceptable to both groups in most instances. Overall, it has come to be considered as one of the better English translations of the Bible made in the 20th century.


In the pursuit of compliance with modernity and evidence, the Jerusalem Bible returns to the use of the historical name Yahweh as the name of God in the Old Testament. The move has been welcomed by some;[5] however, it has not been popular among groups who would prefer the name of God be left unpronounced, or substituted with Lord or another title.

In 2007, at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI, the use of the name 'Yahweh' was dropped from Catholic bibles, most notably the new CTS Catholic Bible, which uses the Jerusalem text.


  • In 1973, the French translation received an update. A third French edition was produced in 1998.
  • In 1985, the English translation was completely updated. This new translation — known as the New Jerusalem Bible — was freshly translated from the original languages and not tied to any French translation (except indirectly, as it maintained many of the stylistic and interpretive choices of the French Jerusalem Bible).
  • In 2007 the Catholic Truth Society published an updated edition of the Jerusalem Bible as the "CTS New Catholic Bible". The main changes were the replacement of the name Yahweh with "LORD" throughout the Old Testament and the complete replacement of the Psalms with the 1963 Grail translation. This revised version conforms to the translations used in Catholic Liturgy in England and Wales (and other english speaking countries apart from the U.S.) as well as the directives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

See also


  1. ^ "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Liturgical Books In The English Speaking World. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  2. ^ The Bishops Conference of England and Wales: Liturgy Office: England and Wales: Sacred Scripture: Versions approved for use in the Liturgy
  3. ^ This is explained in the "Editor's Forward" to the Jerusalem Bible.
  4. ^ The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, letter 294, includes the following text: "Naming me among the 'principal collaborators' was an undeserved courtesy on the part of the editor of the Jerusalem Bible. I was consulted on one or two points of style, and criticized some contributions of others. I was originally assigned a large amount of text to translate, but after doing some necessary preliminary work I was obliged to resign owing to pressure of other work, and only completed 'Jonah', one of the shortest books."
  5. ^ Gleason Archer, "The Old Testament of The Jerusalem Bible." Westminster Theological Journal 33 (May 1971), pp. 191-94.

External links

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