The Jerusalem Bible
Full nameThe Jerusalem Bible
AbbreviationJB or TJB
Complete Bible
Textual basisOld Testament: La Bible de Jerusalem, Masoretic text with strong Septuagint (especially in Psalms) and some Vulgate influence. New Testament: La Bible de Jérusalem, Eclectic text with high correspondence to the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece with major variant readings from the Majority text and sacred tradition (i.e. Comma Johanneum and the longer ending of Mark) incorporated or noted. Deuterocanon: Septuagint with Vulgate influence.
Translation typeDynamic equivalence
Copyright1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Co. Inc.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God's spirit hovered over the water. God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.

The Jerusalem Bible (JB or TJB) is an English translation of the Bible published in 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd. As a Catholic Bible, it includes 73 books: the 39 books shared with the Hebrew Bible, along with the seven deuterocanonical books, as the Old Testament, and the 27 books shared by all Christians as the New Testament. It also contains copious footnotes and introductions.

For roughly half a century, the Jerusalem Bible has been the basis of the lectionary for Mass used in Catholic worship throughout much of the English-speaking world outside of North America, though in recent years various Bishops' conferences have begun to transition to more modern translations, including the English Standard Version, Catholic Edition in the United Kingdom and India[1] and the Revised New Jerusalem Bible in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.[2]


In 1943 Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical letter, Divino afflante Spiritu, which encouraged Catholics to translate the scriptures from the Hebrew and Greek texts, rather than from Jerome's Latin Vulgate. As a result, a number of Dominicans and other scholars at the École Biblique in Jerusalem translated the scriptures into French. The product of these efforts was published as La Bible de Jérusalem in 1956.

This French translation served as the impetus for an English translation in 1966, the Jerusalem Bible. For the majority of the books, the English translation was a translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts; in passages with more than one interpretation, the interpretation chosen by the French translators is generally followed. For a small number of Old Testament books, the first draft of the English translation was made directly from the French, and then the General Editor (Fr Alexander Jones) produced a revised draft by comparing this word-for-word with the Hebrew or Aramaic texts.[a]


The editor of the New Jerusalem Bible, Henry Wansbrough, claims the Jerusalem Bible "was basically a translation from the French Bible de Jérusalem, conceived primarily to convey to the English-speaking world the biblical scholarship of this French Bible. The translation of the text was originally no more than a vehicle for the notes". He also writes: "Despite claims to the contrary, it is clear that the Jerusalem Bible was translated from the French, possibly with occasional glances at the Hebrew or Greek, rather than vice versa."[3]

The Jerusalem Bible was the first widely-accepted Catholic English translation of the Bible since the Douay–Rheims Version of the 17th century. It has also been widely praised for an overall very high level of scholarship, and is widely admired and sometimes used by liberal and moderate Protestants. The Jerusalem Bible is one of the versions authorized to be used in services of the Episcopal Church.[4]

J. R. R. Tolkien translated the Book of Jonah for the Jerusalem Bible, although its final version was heavily edited, and he is listed among its "principal collaborators".[b][6]

Translation of the tetragrammaton

The Jerusalem Bible returned to the use of the historical name Yahweh as the name of God in the Old Testament, rendered as such in 6,823 places within this translation. If La Bible de Jerusalem of 1956 had been followed literally, this name would have been translated as "the Eternal".[7] The move has been welcomed by some.[who?][8]

On 29 June 2008, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote to the presidents of all conferences of bishops at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI, stating that the use of the name Yahweh was to be dropped from Catholic Bibles in liturgical use[9] (most notably the CTS New Catholic Bible which uses the Jerusalem Bible text), as well as from songs and prayers, since pronunciation of this name violates long-standing Jewish and Christian tradition.[10]


See also


  1. ^ This is explained in the Editor's Foreword to the Jerusalem Bible.
  2. ^ On his contribution to the Jerusalem Bible, Tolkien wrote, "Naming me among the 'principal collaborators' was an undeserved courtesy on the part of the editor of the Jerusalem Bible. I was consulted on one or two points of style, and criticized some contributions of others. I was originally assigned a large amount of text to translate, but after doing some necessary preliminary work I was obliged to resign owing to pressure of other work, and only completed 'Jonah', one of the shortest books."[5]



  1. ^ "The New Lectionary for England and Wales". 2021-01-22. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  2. ^ "New Zealand helps with new lectionary project". 2021-05-10. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  3. ^ Wansbrough, Henry. "How the Bible Came to Us". Archived from the original on 2015-03-22.[clarification needed]
  4. ^ Episcopal Church 2016, p. 61.
  5. ^ Tolkien 1981, letter 294.
  6. ^ "Read a rare, unedited translation of Jonah by J.R.R. Tolkien". Aleteia — Catholic Spirituality, Lifestyle, World News, and Culture. 2017-09-18. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  7. ^ La Bible de Jerusalem (1956), Genesis 2:4, et passim.
  8. ^ Archer 1971.
  9. ^ "Letter to the Bishops Conferences on the Name of God". 2007-12-31. Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  10. ^ (26 August 2008). "Vatican Says No 'Yahweh' In Songs, Prayers At Catholic Masses". Catholic Online. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  11. ^ Arinze, Francis; Ranjith, Malcolm. "Letter to the Bishops Conferences on The Name of God". Bible Research: Internet Resources for Students of Scripture. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  12. ^ Gilligan, Michael. "Use of Yahweh in Church Songs". American Catholic Press. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  13. ^ Roxanne King (15 October 2008). "No 'Yahweh' in liturgies is no problem for the archdiocese, officials say" (PDF). Denver Catholic Register. Archdiocese of Denver. Retrieved 25 November 2014.[dead link]
  14. ^ Wansbrough, Henry, "Foreword," The CTS New Catholic Bible.
  15. ^ "École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem". EBAF. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10.
  16. ^ "La Bible en ses Traditions". Archived from the original on 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  17. ^ "Revised New Jerusalem Bible".


Further reading

  • Marlowe, Michael D. (ed.). "The Jerusalem Bible (1966)". Bible Research. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  • Venard, Olivier-Thomas (2006). "The Cultural Background and Challenges of La Bible de Jérusalem". In McCosker, Philip (ed.). What Is It that the Scripture Says?: Essays in Biblical Interpretation, Translation, and Reception in Honour of Henry Wansbrough OSB. London: T&T Clark. pp. 111–134. ISBN 978-0-567-04353-5.