The Jerusalem Bible (JB or TJB) is a Roman Catholic translation of the Bible which first was introduced to the English-speaking public in 1966. As a Roman Catholic Bible, it includes not only the deuterocanonical books, but numerous notes and introductions, although for the most part they appear to be only marginally influenced by RCC doctrine. In 1943, Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical letter on biblical studies in which he gave permission for an English version to be done by Roman Catholics on the basis of the Greek and Hebrew texts rather than upon the Latin Vulgate, as was traditional up to that time. The Jerusalem Bible derives its name and its character from an earlier French version, called La Bible de Jérusalem. This French version, published in 1956 and revised 1961, was prepared by the faculty of the Dominican Biblical School in Jerusalem, on the basis of the Hebrew and Greek. The Jerusalem Bible was translated from the French version. In 1985, the English translation was completely updated. This new translation—known as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)—was freshly translated from the original languages and not tied to any French translation (except indirectly, as it maintained many of the stylistic and interpretive choices of La Bible de Jérusalem).
Jerusalem Bible - Translation method
The translation from the Hebrew and Greek is literal with the notes and introductions reflecting the "higher criticism" approach. This method led the translators to come to some unfortunate conclusions, notably that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses (a theory discredited by Jesus Himself in Mark 12:26). The translators adopted a “mid-Atlantic” method of translating syntax in order for it to sound neither overwhelmingly British nor particularly American in nature. The famous author of the “Lord of the Rings” series, J.R.R. Tolkien, contributed to the translation of the book of Jonah. Tolkien also consulted on one or two points of style and criticized some contributions of others.
Jerusalem Bible - Pros and Cons
Overall, the Jerusalem Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible are good English translations of the Bible. Very little Roman Catholic "influence" is seen in the translation. The "higher critical" approach the translators took is troubling, but actually makes very little impact on the translation itself. With Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism as the foundation, though, the Jerusalem Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible should not be used as a primary Bible translation.
Jerusalem Bible - Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 3:16 – “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
John 8:58 – “Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, before Abraham ever was, I am.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.”
Titus 2:13 – “waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus.”