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What is the difference between the Catholic Bible and the King James Version?

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June 26, 2013 4:32PM


To correct additionally: KJV was not the first English Bible (the

Coverdale Bible was). And the Coverdale translation was HIGHLY

influenced by Tyndale's NT. (Tyndale was killed before completing

the OT). The KJV was made years later 1611. And has seen numerous

changes since that time. You are correct that the KJV authors were

not the best translators (especially Hebrew) but, given the time

and the tools at their disposal, the did an admirable job. The New

King James Bible is a recent translation based on the Majority Text

(they take the majority of Greek texts as the best possible

reading, unless other reasons would dictate. The KJV (not the NKJV)

is based on the Textus Receptus... and that is based on the limited

number of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts (as well as Catholic Latin

ones) that they had in the late early 1600's.


While most of the below answer is correct, I would like to point

out that the King James Bible was the FIRST English Bible and was

written using the closet possible original texts in Greek and

Hebrew but was translated by Englishmen who had poor understanding

of Hebrew and did not ask for help doing it.


The Bible used by Catholics includes other books, called the

Apocrypha and the Deuterocanonical books, at the end of the Old

Testament. The validity of these books is often questioned by


The additional books found in the Catholic Bible are Tobit,

Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and I & II Maccabees.

The official Bible of the Catholic Church is probably the

Vulgate, a fifth century Latin translation largely the work of St.

Jerome. The Duoay-Rheims version, which is an English translation

of the Vulgate, served as the Catholic English Bible at the time of

the translation of the King James Version (aka the Authorized

Version), published in 1611, under the direction of King James I of

England. Since the time of Henry VIII, when the Church of England

split with the Catholic Church, the Geneva Bible and the Bishop's

Bible were being used. King James wanted a new, better translation

to make us of the contemporary Bible scholarship going on at the

time and to provide uniformity to the English liturgy. The King

James Version, while drawing freely from previous English Bibles,

stands alone as a work of literary beauty. It is also pretty

faithful to the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures (though not

without errors, which were corrected in the later Revised

Versions). Early King James Bibles included the Apocrypha, though

most Protestant KJV's of today do not. Modern Catholic versions of

the Bible in English include the Jerusalem Bible, first translated

into French, and the New American Bible.

Catholic Answer

It was Protestantism that removed these "deuterocanonical"

books from the Bible, many centuries later. And contrary to the

myth, the early Church did indeed accept these books as


The seven disputed books are: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees,

Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach), and Baruch. Catholic

Bibles also include an additional six chapters (107 verses) in

Esther and three chapters (174 verses) in Daniel.

According to major Protestant scholars and historians, in the

first four centuries Church leaders (e.g. St. Justin Martyr,

Tertullian, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Cyprian, St. Irenaeus)

generally recognized these seven books as canonical and scriptural,

following the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament,

following the Council of Rome (382), and general consensus,

finalized the New Testament canon while also including the

deutercanon, in lists that were identical to that of the Council of

Trent (1545-1563).

There's a scholarly consensus that this canon was pretty much

accepted from the fourth century to the sixteenth, and indeed, the

earliest Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament: the Codes

Sinaiticus (fourth century) and Codex Alexandrinus (c. 450) include

the (unseparated) deuterocanonical books. The Dead Sea Scrolls

found at Qumran did not contain Esther, but did contain Tobit.

According to Douglas and Geisler, Jamnia (first century Jewish

council) was not an authoritative council, but simply a gathering

of scholars, and similar events occurred afterward. In fact, at

Jamnia the canonicity of books such as Ester, Ecclesiastes, and the

Song of Solomon was also disputed. Since both Protestants and

Catholics accept these books today, this shows that Jamnia did not

"settle" anything. The Jews were still arguing about the canonicity

of the books mentioned earlier and also Proverbs into the early

second century.

And St. Jerome's sometimes critical views on these books are not

a clear-cut as Protestants often make them out to be. In his

Apology Against Rufinus (402) for example, he wrote:

When I repeat what the Jews say against the story of Susanna and

the the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the

Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who

makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a

slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they

commonly say against us (Apology Against Rufinus, book II,


Significantly, St. Jerome included the deuterocanonical books in

the Vulgate, his Latin translation of the Bible, (And he defended

the inspiration of Judith in a preface to it.) All in all, there is

no clear evidence that St. Jerome rejected these seven books, and

much to suggest that he accepted them as inspired Scripture, as the

Catholic Church does today. But St. Jerome (like any Church father)

does not have the final authority in the Church. He's not

infallible. The historical evidence, all things considered,

strongly supports the Catholic belief that these books are inspired

and thus indeed part of Holy Scripture

from The One-Minute Apologist by Dave Armstrong;

Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2007


The catholic bible was written in the 4 century, the KJV was

written in the 1600`s , so there is a big different.

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