September 7, 2014: I Love the Douay-Rheims

~by Susi Pittman

Have you ever noticed how many “versions” of the Bible you might find in any Christian bookstore? I have and I have found it rather amazing that each one has its own spin on translation to meet modern terminology. Why? Wasn’t the original good enough?

When I say original, I am referring back to the Douay (Douai) Bible. The original Douay Version is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based. The Douay-Rheims Bible became the authoritative Bible for Catholics and is the only Bible I use. Why? Because it is the translation that is closest to Our Lord…both in chronology and in purity of translation. (My opinion)

Truth in spiritual writing is important for me. I did not receive a degree in theology, yet, my love for the scriptures and the truth of the Inspired Word of God has been a lifelong journey in the magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. My conscience implores me not to corrupt God’s word. Thus, my inclination to the truth in translation in my Douay-Rheims Bible.

Let me cite an example. My love for creation and the writing of my book, Animals In Heaven? Catholics Want To Know! required extensive biblical texts. One of the scriptures I used came from John 12:32 Jesus says;

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself. Douay-Rheims

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. King James Version

Now that’s a BIG difference when you are trying to enliven the conscience of the faithful to the truth of creation stewardship. And I see this again and again throughout my comparisons. The more modern bibles don’t even resemble the original texts or the intent or implications of so many truths that I just don’t worry about taking the time to read them. Too much humanism.

In the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelations) Jesus says and we read:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone should add to them, God will add unto  him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his portion from the tree of life. ~Chapter 22: 18-19~

Seriously, I know that Jesus is speaking particularly about this great prophecy given to John, but the same holds true for the truth of Holy Scripture in its entirety.

Going back in time we find that St. Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damascus in 382 AD to revise the “Old Latin” collection of Biblical texts (Old and New Testaments) then in use by the Church. Once published, it was widely adopted and eventually by the 13th century, was known as the “versio vulgata“  the “Vulgate”. The translation from the original languages was considered purer than in any manuscripts of the time. It was made the Catholic Church’s official Latin Bible in the 16th century as a consequence of the Council of Trent (1545–63), when, in the face of the Protestant Reformation, it became evident that an authoritative reference for scripture was needed. (1)  In translating the Old Testament, Jerome was able to use a surviving manuscript of the Hexapla, the name given to Origen’s  edition of the Old Testament in Hebrew and Greek, the most colossal important production of biblical antiquity. This work was the one work that gave the true text of Scripture. It has since perished.

The Douay-Rheims Bible was translated in the 16th century from the Latin Vulgate of St Jerome, a text that was declared authoritative for Catholics and commonly known as the purest text available at the time. The first version of the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible was started at the English College at Douai in 1568 and completed in Reims in 1582. Thus the New Testament  version appeared some thirty years before the Anglican authorized version. (2) Originally known as the Rheims Testament, it was revised by Bishop Challoner in 1749-1752 as the Douay-Rheims Bible. The Douay-Rheims translation is the one most often used in Latin Missals. The Douay-Rheims Bible is a good choice for those who love history, tradition, and language.

Next time you’re at the bookstore I encourage you to reconnect with the beauty and majesty of the great treasure of the Roman Catholic Faith, the Douay-Rheims Bible and grow nearer in your personal spirituality to the One God, the One Savior and the One Spirit that come alive in truth on its pages!!

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate

2 Ward, Bernard. “Douay Bible.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 7 Sept. 2014 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05140a.htm

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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