The RSV Catholic Bible


Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Bible

Also known as the RSV Catholic Bible or the Ignatius Catholic Bible


What is the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Bible?

The Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition is typically referred to as the RSV Bible or the RSV Catholic Bible or RSV-CE (Catholic Edition). RSV-CE Is the most correct title, as there is a non-Catholic RSV Bible. It is also referred to as the Ignatius Catholic Bible, because the RSV-CE had been unavailable for a short time in the early 1990s until Ignatius Press revived the printing of this translation. It is now also printed by other publishers, in addition to Ignatius.

The RSV-CE is the Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version. The RSV translation was a joint project between Catholics and non-Catholics beginning in the 1940s. The Catholic edition was formally published in 1965, and an updated version was published in 2006. (The NRSV was published in 1989, which will be discussed below.)

The textual basis for this translation is as follows:

New Testament: Correspondence to older editions of Novum Testamentum Graece (this is the Latin name for the Greek New Testament).

Old Testament: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (Masoretic Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible), Targum, (Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible), Vulgate, with influence from the Septuagint (Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible).

Deuterocanonical: Septuagint with Vulgate (5th Century Latin Bible) influence.

The RSV Bible is what is referred to as aformal equivalent translation.This may also be called a literal translation or a“word-for-word” translation. This means that the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures have been translated into the most literal English word or phrasing possible. This allows for a clear, transparent reading of the original text. (This translation method is as opposed to “thought for thought” translation, which emphasizes priority of the meaning over the original vocabulary. “Thought for Thought” is a popular method for English Bibles intended to be easier to understand, particularly for people for whom English is a second language. Examples include the Good News Translation). The benefit of literal or formal equivalent translation is that it renders the English version of the original words the ancient scriptures used, and so it doesn’t carry the possibility of translators, consciously or not, molding their interpretations and thoughts into the translations.


What is the Difference Between the RSV and the NRSV?

There are currently two approved Catholic versions of the RSV Bible available, the RSV-Catholic Edition (the 1965 edition) and the RSV Second Catholic Edition (2006). Though briefly unavailable in the 1990s, both of these editions are in print. The RSV Second Catholic Edition made some changes and added footnotes according to Liturgiam Authenticam, and features new typesetting and maps. The main difference between the RSV-CE and the Second Catholic Edition is the updating of some of the more archaic language.

Neither the RSV-CE nor the RSV- Second Catholic Edition should be confused with the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The NRSV Catholic Edition, which was published in 1989, initially received an imprimatur from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1991. Other than the inclusion of the deuterocanonical books, there is no difference in the NRSV and the NRSV-Catholic Edition.

However, it was rejected by the Vatican, as published by the Catholic News Service, who reported that the Vatican "has rejected the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible for use in liturgical and catechetical texts, after doctrinal officials found fault with its use of inclusive language."

The inclusive language included such changes as in 1 Cor 13:11 where the phrase where Paul says of himself “when I became a man, I put an end to childish ways,” has been changed to “when I became an adult…” or the point in Daniel 7:13 where the NRSV reads “As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven,” rather than the original “there came one like a son of man …”

This “gender-neutralizing” of scripture moves beyond simply adding “and sisters” to an address that uses the word “brothers.” The translation changes the actual words, and therefore meaning, of the original texts, and in doing so alters and mistranslates aspects of the Catholic faith and heritage.


You can find Aquinas and More’s selection of Catholic RSV Bibles by clicking here.

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