Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Review: "New" Douai Rheims Bible

Thanks to Jonny for the following guest review:

What is the “NewDouai Rheims Bible?”  Well, it is actually the old Douay Rheims Bible Old Testament 1609-1610, and New Testament 1582, but it has been retyped with modern spelling and in-text language notes for the more obscure Latinate words, showing and defining the Latin word from the Vulgate!  If that isn’t cool enough, how about getting it leather-bound about the same size as the RSV-2CE for $29.99?

If that seems too good to be true, perhaps I should share the rest of the story.  It is apparently published by a Protestant person or group who has removed the original notes and the Deutrocanonical books!  You are probably asking yourself: who, what, why, and perhaps some other questions, too.  I will try my best to answer these based on the limited information that I have.  It was published by “Straightway Ministries” in September 2011 but I cannot find any links or listings for them other than their one website that advertises the Bible.  I got my copy from Amazon where you can also find their website listed.  

So first off, I will share the basic gist of the information given in the forward.  The publisher states that his or her intent is to “use this Bible as a resource to clarify text differences; forthwith, will bring more understanding to the reader.”  Hmm, that is not a very thorough explanation, in my opinion, as to why a Protestant would go through the trouble of retyping the entire original D-R when there are revisions already in print.  I therefore supplemented this explanation with the content of the “Bible Study Notes” listed in the back to form my own opinion.  The note section has lists for titles of Christ that have been omitted or translated differently in modern versions.  The list includes 34 instances of the name “Jesus” (one in the OT: Hab. 3:18), 40 instances of “Christ” (20 in the OT including references to King David: e.g. 1 Kg. 2:10, 2:35, II Kg. 22:51, 23:1, Ps. 83:10, 131:10), 23 instances of  “just” or “Just One” referring to God (17 OT and 6 NT), 13 instances of “Dominator” or “dominator” (e.g. OT: Ex. 34:6, II Kg. 23:3, Amos 5:16, one NT ref. Jude 4) and one instance of “Strong one” (II Kg. 23:3.)  There is also a page that lists the other places that “christus” and other forms thereof appear in the Vulgate and are translated “anointed,” as well as a list of instances where the word “savior” appears in the D-R and is translated differently (such as “salvation”) in other versions.  The other list I will draw attention to is “The Holy Land, The Seed, The Rest and The Promise of Everlasting Possession”, which shows the D-R’s use of the capitalization (Genesis 12:3 and 28:14, for example) the translation “seed” (which can be read as prophetical to Christ as being a singular or plural noun) instead of “descendents”, and other relative verses.  So what does this all mean?  I think the publisher is showing how the traditional Christian translation of the Bible better shows the Christological connection in and between the Testaments.  The publisher does not say so explicitly, but I get the impression he feels the Vulgate is backed by a certain amount of apostolic authority.

So now on to more details about the book itself.  As mentioned above, the spellings have been updated.  For example the word spelled “yuorie” is changed to “ivory,” all the “j’s” that were “i’s” in the original have been changed (except when a consonant was following, e.g Isai.)  Also, capitalization and punctuation were added or changed to match the Vulgate Text (the version used is the “Biblia Sacra iuxta Vulgatam Clementinam Nova Editio Sexta Editio MCMLXXXII.)  This edition of the Vulgate was also used to help interpreting the English words as they appeared in the original D-R.  The publisher has added timelines at the end of each book that conform to the ones found in the Baronius Press edition (creation: 4004 BC, etc.), and plentiful cross references in smaller print at the end of the verse.  These came from some edition of the KJV and do not always correspond exactly.

Although this is a very strange publication, the publisher has done a very nice job with it.  The type is very readable with good spacing, the paper is more opaque than average, and although it has a glued binding, the construction appears to be fairly solid.  I like having the original D-R for private study.  There are many interesting features, including the older English: the use of “mine” and “thine” before words that begin with a vowel, “spake”, “doest” and “doeth” as well as the “dost” and “doth” used frequently in the Challoner.  The Psalms verses are paragraphed by number and Psalms 118 includes the meaning of the Hebrew letters throughout.  There are so many interesting alternate renderings in the original D-R I could make a huge list of them just by briefly browsing through its pages.   I would recommend it for any Catholic who collects and/or studies Catholic Bibles.  The Deuterocanonical Books are also available separately from the publisher.


rolf said...

They removed the deutro-canonical books from a Catholic Bible??? That sealed the deal (or no deal) for me!

I just bought a Confraternity-DR bible on e-bay at a good price, that will be good enough for me.

Theophrastus said...

Thanks for the detailed review. I think that much of the interest in 1582/1611 Douay-Rheims lies in it copious notes. It is also the case that many transcriptions of the 1582/1611 Douay introduce errors. For this reason, I recommend that readers consult a facsimile edition (Early Modern English spelling is not that difficult.) I can recommend this site for purchasing a facsimile edition.

Jonny said...


Thanks for the link, although I did know about this one already. I have been reluctant to splurge for the facsimile because of the price, and because I have been using the Haydock and finding a lot of traditional Catholic apologetics in it. I may eventually get a copy of the original, but I hope there is a substantial amount of additional information in it to justify the price, because I do still prefer the Challoner version overall.

My concern as well about the reviewed Bible was the quality, especially typos. There is actually an errata sheet included that lists I believe three typos, two of which are two words repeated, and one instance where "Jeremias" is printed "Jeremy" at the top of the page. It seems to be very meticulously done, with a lot of details including page headings, paragraph marks, etc. Whomever did this focused a lot of time on it. It is too bad the Deuteros were not included, even if was in an appendix.