Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The CTS Bible: A Second Look

In a previous post back in November of 2008, I gave some of the details of the CTS New Catholic Bible. At the time, I had received the small travel edition which was even smaller than I had anticipated. For me, it was a little tough to read, and last time I checked I had 20/20 vision. Therefore, I sort of pushed it aside and never gave it a proper review. Well, during my honeymoon in Roma, I stopped in a Catholic bookstore and spotted the larger, presentation edition of the CTS Bible on the shelf. I figured that it would be a shame if I didn't buy at least one Catholic Bible while in Rome, so I made the purchase. I am very glad I did!

The standard size is very similar to the size of a typical Liturgy of the Hours or Christian Prayer volume. This means it isn't too small to be considered compact, yet is not as large as a standard medium sized Bible either. Overall, the size is very portable, yet big enough to be used as an everyday/every occasion Bible. The page format is also well designed, much like most editions of the Jerusalem or New Jerusalem Bibles. It is single column, with cross-references on the sides, paragraph headings, and commentary at the bottom. In many ways, I think this is the best page layout that I have seen in any recently published Catholic Bible. The page layout truly invites the person to read and stay with the text.

The main text of the CTS Bible is the Jerusalem Bible, with two exceptions. First off, the Psalms are not from the Jerusalem Bible, but are rather the Grail Psalms. Most of you in the United States who pray the Liturgy of the Hours will be familiar with them. Secondly, by request of the Pope, all references to "YHWH", which was one of the unique features of the Jerusalem Bible, have been changed back to "the LORD". What does all this mean? Well, basically this Bible is exactly the what one would hear at Mass in the English speaking world outside of North America, where the NAB and NRSV are used. Nice concept huh?

The CTS Bible also comes with multiple study helps, including four Bible maps, full book introductions, including when a book is read during the liturgical year and why it is important in Christian liturgy, and verse commentary/notes. The book introductions and commentary were newly produced by NJB editor Henry Wansbrough OSB, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The commentary notes often highlight historical-critical issues and they are not as plentiful as in the standard edition of the NJB. There is also a very helpful appendix with information on historical framework of the Bible, weights and measures, Sunday and Weekday Mass readings, and Psalms/Canticles for 4 week Breviary cycle with Office of Readings. Also, they added the nice touch of including not one, but three ribbon markers. Thank you very much! Overall, the CTS Bible has within it plenty of information, both scholarly and liturgically, to keep you satisfied.

The CTS Bible is a fine Catholic Bible. Although the translations used are over forty years old, the presentation and tools included within its covers are very up-to-date and most welcome. If you are looking for an all-purpose Bible, this is definitely a top contender. If you live in the UK, then it is a necessity, since you can feel comfortable bringing this Bible to both Mass and Bible study. If you are living in the USA or Canada and want a new edition of the Jerusalem Bible or if you really like the Grail Psalms, then this Bible is for you. In my opinion, I think it would be a very good thing to see publishers of the NRSV, RSV, or NAB learn from what the CTS has done for future publications.


Anonymous said...

Hi Timothy,

Nice review and postive which is good for me! I own the hardback compact edition, which as you said,is a little hard on the eyes!

I'm going to get the larger one, but don't know whether to get Presentation Edition as its Leatherbound or the standard hardback, leatherette?

You said you had the presentation edition, what do you think of the quality of the leather?

Thanks Tony.

Timothy said...


The one I have is a hardback leather edition. It is very firm hardback bounded in leather. So, I think it will be very durable. The CTS website also has a Bible cover for the CTS Bible, which I may pick up. We shall see.

rolf said...

Welcome back Timothy! Glad to hear that you had a great time. Yeah I bought the presentation edition of this Bible and I also think it is a good size. I think they designed it with the thought that people could tke it to church with them. If you make it too compact then the writing gets small, and you can't put all the other information in it. I like that they use 'Lord' instead of 'Yahweh', I didn't mind it in the Old Testament, but it was distracting in the Psalms. I also wish that the NAB would come out in an edition like this when they finish revising it (using the new Revised Grail Psalms), but that probably will never happen. Any way, welcome back.

Timothy said...


Thanks, it is good to be back. I agree with you 100% about the NAB adopting something like the CTS Bible. It would be very nice to have the new revised Grail Psalms, with the NAB NT and revised OT.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the main Bibles I use for personal reading. I love the size, quality, "extras," and translation. I prefer the NJB translation, but I haven't found one I like on a regular basis as much as the CTS Bible. (Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to find a NJB with full annotations/commentary that's not huge?)

Glad you're back safe and congrats on the wedding Timothy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Timothy,

I am taking a trip to a CTS shop today. So will have a good look at both editions.

God Bless, Tony.

Daniel said...


I just clicked on the link you provided at the end of the article and it seems to be dead. I hope the website hasn't been killed off that quickly!

Meg said...

I bought this Bible and was quite disappointed -- the first time I used it I was confronted with a typo. (Luke 4:16, "Nazara" instead of Nazareth).

Not a great first impression -- I hope continued use changes that because it is a very attractive book.

rolf said...

There are a few typos in the original 1966 Jerusalem Bible. It was before computers and spell check, but they don't have that excuse in this edition.

Keith said...

I just got this Bible and it is one of my favorites. Although it's too thick for my liking. They could do a couple of things to make this better in my opinion. A flexible leather or leatherette cover like the NRSV gift bible I have. They could even make it a little bigger to reduce the number of pages. This bible is a little too thick to carry around. But I love the Jerusalem translation and the grail psalms. The Yahweh always bothered me in the original Jerusalem so with this gone it just rads better.

Leland said...

How is the commentary in this bible? Is it the same as what was in the original 1966 jerusalem bible or is it new? If new, is it liberal like the NAB? Are there extensive cross references? I love the JB but would like one with better psalms and have been looking at this one for a while, but I do not want one with notes like the NAB or without the x-refs.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for such an informative site! I'm looking at buying my first bible (I've never read it, always seen/heard extracts. I have no affiliation with any denomination, and am just starting out - struggling with so many translations and variations to choose from.)

I've read through your reviews, and I'm trying to decide whether to get the "CTS New Catholic Bible" or the "New Jerusalem Bible". I realise the CTS one uses the original Jerusalem Bible text, but that the commentary is the biggest difference between my two potential choices.

What would your personal recommandation be for a (not-necessarily-catholic-but-open) beginner? You have a lot of experience it seems with different versions.

Kind regards :-)

Anonymous said...

I would recommend neither! Why? Because these bibles are corrupted. Read the King James Bible. And dont tell me it's too hard to read. If i can read, you can too.

Anonymous said...

The King James Bible is not a Catholic Bible.

Anonymous said...

I have many Bibles, but this has to be my joint favourite, because it suits my daily Bible reading to prepare for mass, including lectio, plus it has good brief study notes. The size of my presentation edition is ideal to carry around, and not too much of a strain on your eyes compared to the travel edition which I first bought where the print is way too small.

Concerning Luke 4:16 where it says Nazara instead of Nazereth, both the Jerusalem and New Jerusalem bibles have it in. At first I thought it was a problem with typos, but in the Greek Nazara is considered to be the earliest form of the name.

Anonymous said...

I've compared many translations and my all-time favorite is the CCB (Christian Community Bible - Catholic Pastoral Edition). Why?

1) The exceptional commentary (which reads more like a meditation than the standard straightforward commentaries) -- it's far better than all the other versions (Catholic and Protestant Bibles). BTW - even protestants gave this Bible high marks on amazon!

2) Thumbnail index (every bible should have this in my opinion)

3) Price: the regular price can't be beat

4) The small size is my favorite. The font of the text is even easier to read than some of the other versions I've seen in a larger size.

5) Excellent summary of the bible in the introduction

6) Includes a 4-week Psalster with morning and evening prayer that include a psalm, canticle, psalm, and scripture reading.

7) It has many, many other unique and helpful features (too many to list here) but you can read more at:




Anonymous said...

I was wondering why there are so many bibles?! I'm catholic and i would love to read the bible i just don't know which one to read?

Anonymous said...

Tim, this is the one I am thinking of. But anyways, friends had been generous enough to give me one.