Translating Bible Terms: Is It A Translation, Version, Edition, or Addition?

Question: I've noticed that some titles of the Bible call themselves a version, like the King James Version or the Revised Standard Version. Does this mean that Protestants have one version of the Bible and Catholics another? Also, I've heard that all the books in the Bible were written in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, but that must mean that all English versions are actually translations, right?

Answer: Yes, every Bible in English is a translation of a collection of books originally written in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic; but, then, the same can be said for each version of the Bible since translation and version mean the same thing. Unfortunately, some connotations for the word version make it sound like someone's slant on the truth, as in your version, my version, or their version of a story, but that's not the case with the Bible. We do not have a Protestant version and a Catholic version of the Biblical texts, but we do have various editions that include additions, such as maps, footnotes, indexes, study guides, and commentaries. Also, the headings, subheadings, and even the designations of chapters and verses that most publishers add are additions, too, since the original manuscripts do not have such divisions.

 From what I hear, Catholics are afraid to get a Protestant Bible, while Protestants fear a Catholic Bible, but the truth is, a Bible is a Bible and is meant to be read as God's word to Christians everywhere. However, you do have to be careful about additions since any supplements to the scriptural text may have a strong denominational slant. This makes "Imprimatur" on the copyright page particularly important in letting you know a Catholic Bishop has approved the additions to that edition.

When it comes to the Bible text itself, you have many choices of translations or versions and should choose the one you prefer. Catholics scholars may translate one version and Protestants scholars another, but both do their best to be true to the original intent of Holy Scripture. Both also treat the biblical text as the inspired word of God. True, a translator's church background or personal beliefs might influence the choices he or she makes in translating this word to that, especially if more than one meaning can be used correctly in its proper context. But most Bible translators work as part of a team. Furthermore, many Protestant Bibles resulted from interdenominational efforts of ecumenical scholars who conscientiously avoid denominational bias.

Many Catholics say they prefer the Protestant produced Revised Standard Version (RSV) over the New American Bible, even though the latter was translated by Catholic scholars and is read during Mass in most Roman Catholic Churches. Unless you get an RSV with Apocrypha, though, you will not have all of the books contained in a Catholic Bible. The New Testament books will be the same, but, as previously mentioned in Bible Talk, the Old Testament of a Catholic Bible contains more books than a Protestant Bible, and personally, I don't want to miss a single one.

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  • Guest

    Dr. James Dobson, among others, have complained greatly about the TNIV (Today's New International Version), for imposing gender neutrality that was not there upon the original language.

  • Guest

    I'm not familiar with TNIV but have heard similar comments on gender inclusive translations going to extreme. I appreciate your qualifying the "gender neutrality that was not there upon the original language," which expresses my concern too. Conversely, including women by saying "children of God," rather than "sons of God," offers an understanding of the original intent found, say, in Romans 8:12-17. Translators of the New American Bible apparently understood this even though NAB is not considered a gender inclusive translation.

  • Guest

    As a masters in Theology major who has to read and lot and then likes to read a lot, I have noticed that Imprimatur does not always mean authentic Catholic. I have even noticed that my Church Sunday school is using a supposedly Catholic program from Loyola and there are things in there that are no in the Catechism. They are outside of mainstream Magesterial teaching of the church. For example, the notion of Q and this persons role in writing the Gospels. This was in the 8th grade curruculum. Most 8th graders I know don't know there are 4 Gospels, thei history and flavor of each, when they were written, why you see certain things in one and not other, etc. There are so many basics we could be teaching about scripture and we have to deal with wild, unfounded theory like this instead of sticking with the 'good news' that is present in abundance. We have to even watch our own ranks for disemenation of false doctrine.

  • Guest

    Who wrote each book of the bible?

  • Guest

    The books of the Bible were written by many different 'human' authors and truly, we aren't sure who wrote them all, but the Bible has one 'divine' author that ensures no matter who the human authors were, the message of salvation history is transmitted in exactly the way that God wants it. Nothing more, nothing less. The CCC has beautiful language on this. See 101-141 in the CCC.

  • Guest

    God bless you in your studies and for bringing up a sad but important point: We cannot totally rely on others to present biblical truths and pure Church doctrine to us. It's not that they don't mean to, but errors can be picked up and perpetuated. If each of us does what we can to become well acquainted with the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we'll surely strengthen our own faith, better instruct our young people, and edify the whole Church.

  • Guest

    Regarding an earlier question "Who wrote each book of the Bible?" the response from "ninovitale" answered well and reflects my understanding too. If you'd like more information, most editions of the Bible add a brief comment about the date, time, and authorship of each book but to be accurate should include all of the possibilities scholars consider because, yes, the bottom line is, we aren't 100% sure who wrote them all or even when. We can be sure, though, that God speaks through the Holy Spirit to the biblical authors – and to us as we read if we but ask.

  • Guest

    Dear Mary,

    Is the use of the word Apocrypha usually used to refer to the Dueterocanonical books?  I was under the impression that the Apocryapha were the books circulating around the Mediterranean Basin that did not make it into the Septuagint.

    Hillboy

  • Guest

    My experience, which is admittedly limited, is that the term "apocrypha" which means "hidden" is usually used as a negative term by protestants because it implies some kind of conspiracy. 

    The term "deuterocanonical books" is more objective and I was surprised Mary Sayler, a Catholic, used the term "apocrypha" in her article.

  • Guest

    These books were supposedly not in the original Hebrew text so the Protestants decided to through them out in the 1500s. What they don't or didn't understand is that most of the language of the Jews because of the great dispersions was Greek. More people spoke Greek than Aramaic (language of Jesus) or Hebrew so converting it to Greek was actually smart because it allowed more people to read scripture.

    Of course, now, we have the dead see scrolls which have some of these books in Hebrew which shows the Protestants were likely not right in throwing these out. Not to mention the fact that these were consider part of the scriptures during the time of Jesus and I would think if these were not suppose to be considered scripture, He would have cleared that up quickly. Also, if you read the books missing in the Protestant Bible, they support man of the theological and spiritual truths that we hold sacred like praying for the dead, communion of saints, etc. In fact, if you know your history, why did the people lay Palms when Jesus came to Jerusalem. Because they thought he came to the temple to cleans it which is what the Maccabees did in 1 Mac. They cleansed the temple and then had a 'festival of palms' of sorts. As I understand it, this was a similar ritual to the festival of booths.

  • Guest

    Interesting.  The Palm Sunday imagery of triumphant entry is in 1 Mac 13:51.

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