Jerusalem Bible

From Academic Kids

The Jerusalem Bible is a Catholic translation of the Bible which first was introduced to the English-speaking public in 1966. As a Catholic Bible, it includes the deuterocanonical books along with the sixty-six others included in "Protestant" Bibles, as well as copious footnotes and introductions.

In 1943 Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical letter, Divino afflante Spiritu, which allowed Catholics to translate scriptures from their original Hebrew and Greek, rather than from Jerome's Latin Vulgate. With the pontiff's blessing a group of Catholic monks in the city of Jerusalem translated the scriptures into French. The Bible de JÚrusalem, published in 1961, served as a basis for an English translation in 1966, The Jerusalem Bible. The English translation was an original translation of the Hebrew and Greek, not a translation of the French, as some critics have charged. However, in passages with more than one interpretation, the French is generally followed, and the footnotes and book introductions are almost literal translations from the French.

The translation itself has been admired for its literary qualities, perhaps in part due to its most famous contributor, J.R.R. Tolkien (although his primary contribution was the translation of Job). The translation uses the dynamic equivalence philosophy--a less literal approach to increase understanding of tricky passages (as opposed to the New American Standard Bible). The introductions, footnotes, and even the translation itself, reflect a modern, scholarly approach, rather than a dogmatic approach. The introductions and notes, are hence mostly ecumenical in nature, and reflect liberal scholarship, such as in rejecting Moses's authorship of the Pentateuch.

The Jerusalem Bible makes the uncommon decision to render God's name, the Tetragrammaton, in the Jewish scriptures as Yahweh, rather than as LORD or God. Yahweh is what is commonly believed to be the pronunciation of YHWH, the Hebrew holy name of God, though it has in the past, due to a misunderstanding, been spelled "Jehovah". The World English Bible, an unfinished revision of the American Standard Version, also uses Yahweh. The American Standard Version and the New World Translation both use Jehovah.

The Jerusalem Bible was the first widely-accepted Catholic English translation of the Bible since the Douai Bible of the 17th century. It carries the Church's imprimatur as being correct in all matters of faith and doctrine, which is very important to conservative Catholics. However, it has also been widely praised for an overall very high level of scholarship, and is widely admired and sometimes used by Protestants, especially liberal and moderate ones, as well. 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 1973, the French translation received an update, and so in 1985, the English did as well--known as the New Jerusalem Bible. The French received a third revision in 1998, so an update to the English may be on its way.


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