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Jerusalem Bible

What is the Jerusalem Bible?

The Jerusalem Bible (JB) is an English translation of the Christian Bible that was first published in 1966. Considered a "Catholic Bible," the Jerusalem Bible translation includes " the deuterocanonical books" (so-called by Catholics) also known as "the Apocrypha" (so-called by Protestants) as well as the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament. (Learn more about the Deuterocanonical books / Apocrypha here).

Passages 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 in most of the Bishop's Conferences of the English-speaking world. (See Catholic Mass here. Compare Catholicism and Protestantism here.)

The history of the Jerusalem Bible

In 1943 Pope Pius XII wrote a letter, which encouraged Roman Catholics to translate the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek texts, 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. (Learn more about Jerome here.)

This French translation paved the way for the Jerusalem Bible in 1966. The majority of the biblical books are translated from the Hebrew and Greek texts. 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 Hebrew or Aramaic texts. (See the Old Testament here and the New Testament here.)

Translation philosophy

The Jerusalem Bible uses a literal approach, which can sometimes forsake artistry, but the JB has been admired for its literary quality. The introductions, footnotes, and even the translation itself reflect 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 also used 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. (See the Douay-Rheims translation here.)

"Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkein translated the book of Jonah. (See more on J.R.R. Tolkein here.)

The name "Yahweh"

The Jerusalem Bible has returned to the use of the historical name Yahweh as the name of God in the Old Testament. The move has been controversial, some approving and others favoring "God."

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 (see below). 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.

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