Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the Bible

How many versions of the New American Bible are there?

The original version of the New American Bible (NAB) was published in 1970. The translation of the New Testament was revised and published in 1986. The translation of the Book of Psalms (the Psalter) was revised in 1991. A revision of the translation of the Old Testament, including the Psalter, was published in March 2011. This version is called the New American Bible Revised Edition ("NABRE").

Besides the various editions of the translation, many different publishers have produced editions of the NAB. Each publisher has added material, such as photographs, maps, devotions and prayers, and reference matter to the biblical text.

In what formats is the New American Bible available?

The New American Bible is available in the following formats: print, audio, electronic (including e-books), and digital.

What's the difference between a "Catholic Bible" and a "Protestant Bible"?

Catholic and Protestant Bibles both include 27 books in the New Testament. Protestant Bibles have only 39 books in the Old Testament, however, while Catholic Bibles have 46. The seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel which are not found in Protestant Bibles. These books are called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church believes these books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Do we read from the Bible at Mass?

Readings from Scripture are part of every Mass. At least two readings (3 on Sundays and solemnities), one always from the Gospels, make up the Liturgy of the Word. In addition, a psalm or canticle is sung.

For ease, these readings are typically read from a Lectionary, which includes the sections of the Bible to be read on a given day.

What's the difference between a Bible and a Lectionary?

A Lectionary provides the readings and the responsorial psalm assigned for each Mass of the year (Sundays, weekdays, and special occasions). The readings are divided by the day or the theme (baptism, marriage, vocations, etc.) rather than according to the books of the Bible. Introductions and conclusions have been added to each reading. Not all of the Bible is included in the Lectionary.

Individual readings in the Lectionary are called pericopes, from a Greek word meaning a "section" or "cutting." Because the Mass readings are only portions of a book or chapter, introductory phrases, called incipits, are often added to begin the Lectionary reading, for example, "In those days," "Jesus said to his disciples," etc.

How can anyone own the copyright on the Bible? Isn't it free to everyone?

No one owns the copyright on the Bible itself. Rather, the copyright is held on particular translations or editions of the Bible. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) owns the copyright on the New American Bible translation. Some versions of the Bible, such as the King James Version (not the New King James Version) are in the public domain due to age.

The copyright allows the owner to protect the integrity of the text so that individuals may not introduce changes without permission. Royalty fees earned by licensing the text to companies who publish and sell Bibles help to provide funds for Scripture scholarship and other educational needs.