Monday, January 18, 2016

Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bible's

I wanted to offer a little space here to hear from those who love and read either the Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bible's.  If I had time, I would love to do a bit of research into these great translations, but that is not possible at this point in life.  So, what I would like to do is to hear from those of you who actually use the JB or NJB on a daily basis.  Why do you like it?  What edition do you use?  


Leighton said...

I use both the NJB and the JB. The JB edition I use is the CTS Bible (Catholic Truth Society) that has been mentioned on your blog several times. I like it very much. It boasts the Grail Psalms, which are familiar to me because of the Liturgy of the Hours, a very readable font in spite of the compact size of the Bible, a great layout, and scholarly notes by Fr. Wansbrough. The downside is that the JB is, of course, more toward the dynamic end of the translation spectrum than even the NJB, and sometimes jolts the ear, or makes weird translation choices (see 1 Cor. 7:2; Jn 1:13 for good examples). In spite of that, it is a great Bible to take to Mass because of its size, and the fact it has a guide in the back for the Mass readings.

The NJB is usually, to my ear, very satisfactory, and in most cases, I understand, much more accurate than the JB, while retaining much of the original's easy-to-the-ear cadence. I struggle with some of its translation choices, though, too, to be fair, such as "humiliation" in Lk 1:48 from the Magnificat. Just sounds awkward. Because I'm an American, I get woken up by the Prodigal's feeling the "pinch," as opposed to being in want, in Luke 15, but it's fun to hear the British stye come through. I love the NJB Psalms; very powerful.

I just got the hardcover leather DLT version that you recently had on the blog, listed on a sale, from the Book Depository. It's beautiful, though the ghosting is a bit annoying. My old Doubleday version with padded, leather board covers, is much nicer in terms of that, and in terms of margin space, though the type setting is the same, etc. (It is getting old and worn, though.) my original order had pages that were not properly cut, and some tearing on the spine, so the BD sent me a new copy immediately (great customer service), BUT the replacement had 2 pages not cut through, AND one Psalm was missing part of the text. I gave up and decided to keep it, and write the missing text in hand. It's still a nice edition, in spite of the printing issues.

I think what I enjoy most about the JB and the NJB is that it is good to hear the sacred texts in a different way than I am used to, for instance, in either the RSV-CE or the NRSV-CE. These translations are very good to use when sharing the scriptures with young people, too.

And of course, the notes, n my opinion, are the best of any Catholic study bible, if you're looking for good scholarship and reasonably applied historical critical method.

While I appreciate the Didache Bible notes in both the RSVCE and NABRE editions, and especially their use of the catechism and Church Fathers, etc., the NJB notes are very illuminating and helpful. They go deep, and answer a lot of questions about difficult texts.

Timothy said...

Thank you Leighton! Great comment!

Anonymous said...

As someone who had previously the JB (the CTS edition) for daily reading, the main attractive feature of the JB is that the Biblical text come alive, as if the Bible becomes a fully literary text.

If you are someone fond of reading novels or fiction, reading the Scripture from the JB is like reading a fiction, it is a literary work at its best.

One observation that I observed from the JB, which I think is a unique feature of itself is: Direct dialogues are often constructed like this:

For example,

Luke 9:41 (JB)
'Faithless and perverse generation!' Jesus said in reply 'How much longer must I be among you and put up with you? Bring your son here.'

Luke 9:41 (RSV)
Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”

This unique feature from the Jerusalem Bible makes Jesus actively speaking in his dialogue unlike from the RSV that Jesus seem to delivered the dialogue like a theatrical script.

This and more makes the Scriptures come alive from the Jerusalem Bible.

Not aware if this is also done in the NJB.

rolf said...

Gerald, in that particular verse the NJB follows the RSV more closely. I like the JB psalms a lot, they are often very poetic, flowing, a nice change from the more formal translations. I like the JB (and NJB) for more prayerful reading!

Neil Short said...

NJB: The Old Testament comes right out and translates the divine name as "Yahweh." That, plus its excelent readability make it an attractive choice for reading. I cannot find it in a sewn binding. Bummer. If it were more popular, it might have a few more setting choices. It is definitely underrated. Iit may be a P.R. issue. Compare, for example, the wildly popular ESV. That translation is definitely overrated.

Timothy said...


I so agree with you. The NJB deserves a nice edition.

Anonymous said...

Tim, we might as well wait for David Garcia to show up here in the comments!

Timothy said...


Michael Demers said...

As for the ESV, it definitely was showcased to the max at a Barnes & Noble bookstore I went to yesterday. I saw 2 copies of the NRSV, 1 of the RSVCE2, maybe a dozen NABRE, some HCSB, plenty of NIV and, of course, lots of KJV. I also noticed some NLT.
The JB was my first personal bible (it was my high school graduation present). Even so, it was 18 years before I'd finally read it cover to cover. By this time the NJB had just come out and I read it in a month or two. The best things I like about the JB/NJB are the single column format, copious footnotes, which are quite good, and so many cross-references. It's the best bible for study and reference. I also like the use of the divine name Yahweh. For me, Jesus is the one name I bend my knee to.

Leighton said...


If you watch for used editions of the NJB from the 80's and early 90's you should be able to find one, as I did, with solid, sewn binding. Also, the new one I just got from the Book Depository in Great Britain has sewn signatures (if you want to see that one, search Timothy's blog for "NJB DLT."

The new NJBs from Doubleday used glued binding, which I find obnoxious. A book that thick is bound (pun intentional, I'm afraid) to fall apart over time. It's a waste of my money, and they aren't cheap.

MY gripe is that I have never been able to find a NJB with a genuine, soft leather cover. The best I have found is hardback with leather covering, and I don't believe it is genuine leather, but instead, bonded (I could be wrong- hard to tell the leather quality when it's mounted on hard boards). The Book Depository advertises its NJB as having a leather cover, with no indication whether it is genuine or not. At any rate, it is a beautiful edition, save the printing defects I mentioned above.

Jeff S. said...

Which Psalm is missing some text in the fancy edition of the NJB?
I too bought that and would be interested in checking out that Psalm.
and any other omissions you might have found.
I also bought just a regular full edition hardback a year or two
ago of the NJB and I'll let you know if that has the text that may turn out to be missing in the physically more deluxe edition we're talking about here.
Thanks in advance.

Leighton said...


Psalm 49: 13-14 had the first words completely missing in the lines. I had to pencil the words in!

The whole story is: I received my first copy from the Book Depository, and several pages were not cut through, so you had to use scissors to separate pages. Some pages had extra paper on them, where it was folded in (hard to explain), so I had to square them off. (A fellow reader of Tim's blog had said he had to return his Bible due to muddy text if I recall correctly, so there seems to be a problem with the printing of this edition.) Also, there was a small tear in the leather on the spine (which was small, but for the price of the Bible, unacceptable). I contacted BD and sent photos, and they immediately told me to keep the Bible (not like they could sell it, I guess), and sent me another. THAT is the one that had a couple pages still connected and the missing Psalm verses!

The only other complaint: some of the references are cut off or very close because the pages are cut so close on the edges. Like the "I" in Isaiah in a side reference to the New Testament, for instance.

At any rate, I may start a Bible refurbishing business because I am getting pretty skilled with the scissors, etc., thanks to this edition of the NJB. Still, it's an elegant edition, defects or not. It's on my desk, opened up for reference, as I work.

Jeff S. said...

I guess I got lucky because when checking out Psalm 49:13-14
in my old Doubleday full version NJB, it has the exact same version
as the deluxe "Standard" expensive NJB and the page numbers are
precisely the same: bottom of page 862 and first sentence at top of
page 863. And similarly in the original monster brick size printed
also by Doubleday.

And as a final check, I compared it with the old Jerusalem Bible of
1966 and the 1966 JB has an different last sentence of verse 13:
"with men to run after them when they raise their voice"
rather than the NJB's
"right up to the end they are content with their lot"

Here's what my NJBs all have for Psalm 49:12-15
12 In prosperity people lose their good sense,(d)
they become no better than dumb animals.
13 So they go on in their self-assurance,
right up to the end they are content with their lot.(e)Pause

14 They are penned in Sheol like sheep,
Death(f) will lead them to pasture,
and those who are honest will rule over them.

In the morning all trace of them will be gone,
Sheol will be their home.(g)
15 But my soul God will ransom
from the clutches of Sheol, and will snatch me up.(h)

Jason P said...

I own both a "big blue" full edition NJB and a CTS JB.

The CTS JB is by far my favorite : I love the fact it is the Bible used Liturgically in the U.K. and the Psalms are the Grail which is used in the LOTH.

I have two issues with the NJB which stop me from using it: overuse of gender neutral horizontal language and the spelling out of the Tetragrammaton. The Holy Father and Biblical studies have both confirmed it is Liturgically inappropriate to use the Tetragrammaton and we do not even know how the Name is pronounced.

Is it Yahweh? Yahveh? Yahuwah? Yehovah? We simply do not know, so IMO, it's best to translate it as LORD. If they must, I suppose transliterating it as YHWH would be better, but Yahweh is unacceptable to me because it is just a guess and IMO is irreverent to guess the Name. The Name has been revealed in Jesus.... and I could go on and on but you get my point.

God bless and thank God for giving us such an abundance of easily accessible high quality copies of the Sacred Scriptures, the very Word of God

Leighton said...

Jeff, my new NJB Psalm 49 is missing words due to some sort of malfunction with the printer. So it's the same version, but the words were just not printed. Letters or whole words were missing. It was easy to go in and pencil them in. But I was surprised that I got two NJBs in row with shoddy printing issues.

I, too, don't appreciate the use of the Tetragrammaton in the NJB, for the reasons Jason stated. When I pray the Psalms, etc., I just substitute LORD for Yahweh. Especially when using the NJB in a public setting (teaching, etc.) Another reason I like the CTS Bible, because it replaced the Yahweh with LORD in response to the Holy Father's concerns. What I'd REALLY like is to see the CTS put out a NJB, with the same revisions. The NJB is more accurate than the JB. THAT would be a good edition to have.

James McColgan said...

Hey, you all can read the 1966 Jerusalem bible online here

Jeff said...

Thanks for the reassurance; I was worried that this was a
systemic issue for the NJB. I kind of figured it wasn't because
every different copy I have of the NJB including reader's editions
has precisely the same wordings for Psalm 49: 12-15

Steve Molitor said...

Gerad captured very well what I love about the JB. It's great prose and really makes the bible come alive. I also love the notes.

I mostly read the RSV, but the JB is my choice when I want a more dynamic version to make things come alive.

There's a lot of debate about the respective merits of dynamic versus formal equivalence translations, but in truth both are valuable and important; they just make different trade-offs.


Evergreen Guy said...

As the risk of being denounced, I share the following. I used to use the NJB but I found it to be a wooden and unlovely translation. The constant use of the Divine Name, combined with a clunky approach to inclusive language was eventually off-putting enough to me to get me to put the translation down. For my "British English" fix, I turned to the older New English Bible, which has many of the advantages of the dynamic translation approach of the original JB, without the disadvantages of the JB/NJB line of translations.

I know people rave about the notes and introductions in the JB and the NJB, but truthfully I never found them that impressive. When I look at something like the Catholic Study Bible, it has significantly more additional study material, between the reading guides and the NAB introductions & footnotes, to assist the reader. I am very much looking forward to the revised 3rd edition of the CSB, fully updated for the NABRE translation.

CatholicSteve said...

What I like about the NJB is it has the best cross-reference system I've ever seen. It's introduction and footnotes do well in combining reverence for the Word of God and historical criticism. I have the blue cover edition; I wish I would have bought the deluxe edition though!

Also as anyone used the JB study edition? I was in my Parish library and I noticed a two volume JB.

rolf said...

CatholicSteve, I have the deluxe edition of the NJB and I think they have some serious quality control issues at DLT! I ordered mine and it had some serious printing issues; blurry printing and creases in the printing on 12 pages. BookDepository. com sent me another one and it had pages that were not seperated which I had to cut by hand. I kept this Bible. Leighton had same type of printing issues on the two Bibles he received! So be happy with your Big blue copy of the NJB. If I had it all over again I would not have bought the deluxe version, even at the reduced price! had excellent customer service, and I would not hesitate to buy from them again!

Unknown said...

I want to echo the quality control issues with the NJB. I have two copies of the full version with notes. One of them is the big blue edition, the other is the smaller hand sized edition. The big one is so bulky I barely use it, and the little one is almost illegible at times because of the low and poor print quality. I have noticed that the print in the new testament is far worse than the old.

I have a feeling its so poor because they merely shrunk the big version down photographically and printed it. At least, that is my suspicion.

The pocket leather version is much better, and so is another edition I have with saintly meditations (though it is not DLT).

CatholicSteve said...


Sorry to hear about your copies. Hopefully the second one had no typos at least?

I guess if I ever feel the need for a "deluxe copy" I'll go with this one:

It say's it has a "Theological Glossary" which has peaked my interest. The blue one does not.


Leighton said...

Rolf, I can't believe you had the same issue with your second Bible! For such a beautiful edition, this one certainly has some printing/production issues. I'm surprised, coming from DLT.

At any rate, I gave up, too, and just went to work on cleaning my second edition up and am using it most every day now.

Catholic Steve, I own the one you linked. It's a decent edition, except it's a lot of money for a glued binding. I just don't understand the concept of glued binding with a leather bound (even if bonded) Bible, which is supposed to be a lifetime companion. (Glue and Bibles shouldn't mix, with the exception of Bibles produced mass market to get in the hands of people, especially in impoverished areas, or for new converts, etc. due to printing/production costs).

To me, having sewn signatures is more important than cover quality. I don't want my Bible falling apart after a couple of years!

CatholicSteve said...


In the Bible I linked, what do you think of the theological glossary contained in it ?


Jeff S. said...

I found an interesting link on the web.
It has theDecember 3, 1966 edition of Saturday Review. And on the specific page that I'll be giving the link for, it has reviews
by Harry Orlinsky of two Bibles that had just been released in 1966:
(1)The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition,
prepared by the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain
(Thomas Nelson. 1,255 pp. $6.50)
(2) The Jerusalem Bible, prepared under the general editorship of
Father Alexander Jones (Doubleday. 2,045 pp. $16.95),

The synopsis at the top of the article says:
"... offer
Catholic laymen new translations of
Scripture employing modern style
and updated scholarship. Harry M.
Orlinsky is co-translator of the Revised
Standard Version Old Testament
and editor in chief of the new
Jewish Publication Society translation
of the Torah."

Once again, here's the link: It's fascinating reading because it was
written in the same year - 1966 - that both Bibles came out

Hope you all enjoy this fresh contemporary at the time perspective on the
Bibles. Perhaps the two of them should be read in concert with each other
and then similarly with the two Bibles that came out in 1970:
NEB (New English Bible) and NAB (New American Bible).

Leighton said...

Catholic Steve,

I looked at your link again, and that IS the Bible I own, but I didn't see anything about the theological glossary. I pulled my copy off the shelf, and mine has no glossary. If the one you reference has a glossary, it must be a later edition, though the one I looked at on your link looks exactly like the one I got several years ago.

The one I speak of is black bonded leather, and is called the "standard edition."

Anyway, it is a basic one. It is the NJB but with two column format and two black and white maps in the back. Pretty no-frills.

Anonymous said...

@ Leighton

Thanks for looking, I'm just going by the websites "Publisher's Description"

This leather-bound edition contains the complete text of the regular volume, with condensed notes and introductions. Easy-to-read two column format, with a Theological Glossary containing two hundred key words and concepts. Perfect for the casual reader.

Maybe they made an update on later printings or something?

God bless; and may He bless us as we read and meditate on His holy Word.


Jeff S. said...

I think people are mixing up the paperback Study Edition of the NJB
with the Leather Standard.

The description on the DLT (Darton,Longman&Todd) website
is for their paperback Study Bible for the NJB.

Packed with features, including:
Comprehensive verse-by-verse Footnotes
Extensive Introductions to all the groupings of books in the Bible
A Study Guide covering the major theological terms and themes
An Index of Persons containing mini-biographies of the main biblical characters
An extended Chronological Table setting biblical events against contemporary events, rulers and dynasties

Full-Colour Maps of the Bible lands

Bob said...

I recently decided to stop flipping in between translations and to settle on the JB/NJB pair.

The big blue NJB is simply the best study bible for a Catholic, in my opinion. It gives all the modern information without beating you over the head with it and seeing its role as demolishing the scriptural basis for the beliefs of the Church.

I usually read the NJB for study, the JB for bedtime reading and prayer. I have a ratty mass market paperback of the JB New Testament that Image put out in the 60s or 70s on my bedstand and I always open it up to read for a few minutes before I sleep. I just started again and finished Matthew the other night. I agree that at times there are head-scratchers--the beginning of 1 Corinthians sounds like its a totally different text at times than what you get used to by osmosis. The whole "foolishness to the Gentiles/Stumbling block to the Jews" section is kind of opaque. It certainly is a bible that will not stand up to the discerning reader who just wants to look for his or her favorite 5 or 10 paragraphs to see they were translated well. But the more time you spend with it the better it feels.

Other bibles that get a reading with me are my trio of well-loved Vulgate translations (DR, Confraternity, and Knox) and the New English Bible and Revised English Bible, which seem to me to be the protestant-ish equivalent to the JB and NJB: sections of speechless beauty punctuated by the moments in which the translator seems to fall face first into a mud puddle.

But hey, most of us love the Knox, and his opening to John's gospel is about as moving and poetic as a detergent ad.

I'm dangerously close to really, really liking my microscopic CTS Bible. The only thing that stands in my way is that I haven't totally fallen in love with the Grail Psalms as reading material. I think they sound great spoken though.

Long live the eclectic text, whatever that is!

Long live inconsistent bibles which consistantly give me joy!

Long live the Jerusalem Bible!

Anyone hear anything new about the update? Rumor is they are going to dispense with the whole Yahweh business

owen swain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Tillcock said...

I know I'm late entering the version of the New Jerusalem bible here but I found this one to be absolutely beautiful.