QUESTION: I wanted to buy a Bible as a wedding gift for two Catholic friends. I thought that it would be a simple matter of going to a bookstore and getting one. I found so many different choices and had no idea which one would be best. Any thoughts?
ANSWER: Every store or website provides an amazing array of choices for people seeking to purchase a Bible. Before buying a Bible, it is best to consider a few questions. Who will use the Bible? Is it for personal or some liturgical use? How old is the person who will be using the Bible?
Some offerings in the “English Bibles” section are paraphrases or summaries rather than a translation of the original texts. While these versions are popular, they are not the best option because they do not convey the full meaning of the original texts. So, before anything else make sure that the Bible you purchase is a translation of the ancient texts of Scripture.
Sacred Scripture was written mostly in Hebrew or Greek. Translating these texts into English has been accomplished over many centuries and is available in many different versions. It is important to note that the version we hear on Sundays at Mass is from the New American Bible, Revised Edition. This version was first produced in 1970 as the effort of many biblical scholars who translated from the original texts. In 1978, it was revised and is now known as the New American Bible, Revised Edition. This version contains introductions for each book of the Bible as well as excellent footnotes for the more difficult or obscure passages.
In the United States, this is the only version that is used at Mass and other liturgies. It makes sense to purchase a Bible with this translation so that those who receive the gift will already be familiar with it as they use it for personal or family Bible reading.
While the New American Bible, Revised Edition is the approved version for Mass, there are other translations that are approved for private reading of Scripture. They include the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. Other translations (versions) earlier approved by the Vatican or a Catholic bishop or conference of Catholic bishops is also fine for private reading.
If someone is buying a Bible for a younger reader, there are special editions for children and adolescents. These would be the same translations, but with pictures and illustrations more geared to children.
If the Bible is to be given to older people, it is important to obtain an edition that is large print or even “giant” print. The Bible is meant to be read, so anything that can be done to make it easier to read is an advantage.
If the Bible is being purchased as a wedding gift, there are special editions for this occasion. The covers are usually a bit more ornate and there is a special section in the Bible where people may record the names and dates of special occasions. These are often called “family Bibles.”
Father Bober is pastor of St. Kilian Parish in Adams and Cranberry townships.