Wondering which Bible to buy?  Here are some ideas to help get you started.   If you can, visit a Catholic book store to look through Bibles to find the one that is right for you!  

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It begins with translation. No two English translations of the Bible are the same, because translators have to make a myriad of decisions about word choice, sentence structure, etc.  The best translation for you will be the one you enjoy reading!  The most common translations used in our classes are:

  • RSV (Revised Standard Version), RSVCE, and RSV2CE The RSV family is the most common translation used by Catholic Scripture scholars in the United States.  The RSV and RSV-CE (RSV-Catholic Edition) with 1966 copyright dates use older language (e.g. thee, thou, didst, etc.).  The 2006 RSV Ignatius Edition and 2006 RSV-2CE have more contemporary language and sentence structure, and are found in Bibles published in the past fifteen years. 
  • NABRE (New American Bible, Revised Edition) This translation is closest to what is proclaimed at Mass.  This Revised Edition of the NAB greatly improved the Old Testament translation.  The downside is that in several books the NAB-RE uses different verse numbers than are found in the RSV and most scholarly works on Scripture.  If you choose this translation, be sure you have the NAB-RE (copyright 2010 or newer), not the NAB.
  • NRSV Catholic Edition (New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition) is similar to the RSV but uses simplified language and sentence structure so that it is easier to understand.  It is not as literal of a translation as the two above but is more readily available in Large Print format and useful for people for whom English is a second language. 

Next, look for additional content to foster deeper understanding. Different publishers include different content in their Bibles.  We encourage people to buy a study Bible, that is, a Bible which includes introductions to the books, footnotes, maps, etc.  These will help support your learning.  The most popular Catholic study Bibles used in our classes are: 

  • The Didache Bible RSV2CE, hardcover.  ISBN 9781939231147. This Study Bible with the RSV2CE translation is a favorite of catechists for the in-depth references to the Catechism and articles on the Catholic faith.  What this Bible lacks are good notes on history, cultural background, and the biblical text.  Thus, some students have found it to be a useful resource for understanding the faith, but not as beneficial for understanding Scripture. 
  • The Didache Bible, NABRE, hardover.  ISBN 9781939231178. The same as above, but with the NABRE translation and translation study notes. 
  • Little Rock Catholic Study Bible, Revised 2011.  ISBN 9780814636480 hardcover; ISBN 9780814626795 paperback. Little Rock Scripture Study has pulled together some of their best study materials in this visually engaging study Bible that includes sidebars, maps, and charts integrated into the text.  Using the NABRE translation, this is similar to what we hear at Mass, although it uses different verse numbering some in places than what many commentaries follow (see translation information above).  Our participants love its layout and find the materials easy to understand. 
  • NABRE Study Bible: The Catholic Study Bible, 3rd Ed.  ISBN 9780190267230 paperback; 978-0199362776 hardcover.  This is the most recent edition (©2016, red cover) of the popular, academic-oriented Catholic Study Bible by Oxford University Press.  This Bible is known for its extensive study materials, many of which have been updated for the Old Testament portions of this edition.   We recommend this edition over any previous editions since it includes the improved, revised Old Testament translation, but it does use different verse numbering in several books (see above).

But the print is so small! Bibles are known for tiny print, so some publishers have large or giant print Bibles that use a larger font but sacrifice study materials.  Common ones used by our students include: 


  • NRSV XL Catholic Edition.  ISBN 9780062061706 (hardcover) This 12 pt font large print Bible balances readability with size.  It has some additional resources, but it does not provide footnotes.
  • Ignatius Large Print Bible, RSV-2CE.  ISBN 9781586179281 (paperback), 9781586179298 (hardcover), 9781586179274 (leather) This large print bible provides 14 pt font and includes maps. It does not have extensive footnotes nor other study materials.  
  • New Catholic Bible Giant Print.  ISBN 9781947070462 (flexible); 9781947070394 (dura-lux); 9781947070455 (hardcover) This new translation from Catholic Book Publishing is the only large print Bible (14pt font) that includes extensive study materials.  Each book has an introduction and study notes at the end to help explain specific verses.  Devotional and practical articles are also included.  It is available in a wide variety of bindings and colors.  

Study Bibles are heavy!  Is there anything smaller? 

If you do not want to carry a super-sized study Bible with you, these are some other options. 


  • Catholic Youth Bible 4th Ed, NAB-RE.  ISBN 978-1599829258 (paperback) This is geared toward a teen audience.  It includes many study materials but is smaller than a typical study Bible. 
  • Navarre Series.  This series of Study Bibles uses the RSVCE translation.  They interpret the text primarily through the lens of saints and Church documents rather than addressing cultural or historical context.  You find paperback and hardcover editions of the various volumes.
  • Ignatius Study Bible Series.  This series comes in paperbacks for most of the OT books, and individual paperbacks or a single volume (paperback or hardcover) for the NT books. We are excited that the complete Ignatius Study Bible with both the Old and New Testament is being released in Fall 2024!  The Ignatius Study Bible uses the RSV-2CE translation and provides extensive footnotes that explore language and culture as well as draw in spiritual and catechetical applications.