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The Douay–Rheims Bible (pronounced /ˌd/ or /ˌd. ˈrmz/;[1] also known as the Rheims–Douai Bible or Douai Bible, and abbreviated as D–R and DRB) is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church.[2] The New Testament portion was published in Reims, France, in 1582, in one volume with extensive commentary and notes. The Old Testament portion was published in two volumes twenty-seven years later in 1609 and 1610 by the University of Douai. The first volume, covering Genesis through Job, was published in 1609; the second, covering Psalms to 2 Machabees plus the deuterocanonical books of the Vulgate, was published in 1610. Marginal notes took up the bulk of the volumes and had a strong polemical and patristic character. They offered insights on issues of translation, and on the Hebrew and Greek source texts of the Vulgate.

The purpose of the version, both the text and notes, was to uphold Catholic tradition in the face of the Protestant Reformation which up till then had dominated Elizabethan religion and academic debate. As such it was an effort by English Catholics to support the Counter-Reformation. The New Testament was reprinted in 1600, 1621 and 1633. The Old Testament volumes were reprinted in 1635 but neither thereafter for another hundred years. In 1589, William Fulke collated the complete Rheims text and notes in parallel columns with those of the Bishops' Bible. This work sold widely in England, being re-issued in three further editions to 1633. It was predominantly through Fulke's editions that the Rheims New Testament came to exercise a significant influence on the development of 17th-century English.[3]

Much of the text of the 1582/1610 bible employed a densely Latinate vocabulary, making it extremely difficult to read the text in places. Consequently, this translation was replaced by a revision undertaken by bishop Richard Challoner; the New Testament in three editions of 1749, 1750, and 1752; the Old Testament (minus the Vulgate apocrypha), in 1750. Although retaining the title Douay–Rheims Bible, the Challoner revision (DRC) was a new version, tending to take as its base text the King James Version[4] rigorously checked and extensively adjusted for improved readability and consistency with the Clementine edition of the Vulgate. Subsequent editions of the Challoner revision, of which there have been very many, reproduce his Old Testament of 1750 with very few changes. Challoner's New Testament was, however, extensively revised by Bernard MacMahon in a series of Dublin editions from 1783 to 1810. These Dublin versions are the source of some Challoner bibles printed in the United States in the 19th century. Subsequent editions of the Challoner Bible printed in England most often follow Challoner's earlier New Testament texts of 1749 and 1750, as do most 20th-century printings and on-line versions of the Douay–Rheims bible circulating on the internet.

Although the Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible Revised Edition, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, and New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition are the most commonly used Bibles in English-speaking Catholic churches, the Challoner revision of the Douay–Rheims often remains the Bible of choice of more-traditional English-speaking Catholics.[5]

Publicationthree apocrypha, which had been placed in an appendix to the second volume of the Old Testament, were dropped. Subsequent editions of the Challoner revision, of which there have been very many, reproduce his Old Testament of 1750 with very few changes.

Challoner's 1752 New Testament was extensively further revised by Bernard MacMahon in a series of Dublin editions from 1783 to 1810, for the most part adjusting the text away from agreement with that of the King James Version, and these various Dublin versions are the source of many, but not all, Challoner versions printed in the United States in the 19th century. Editions of the Challoner Bible printed in England sometimes follow one or another of the revised Dublin New Testament texts, but more often tend to follow Challoner's earlier editions of 1749 and 1750 (as do most 20th-century printings, and on-line versions of the Douay–Rheims bible circulating on the internet). An edition of the Challoner-MacMahon revision with commentary by George Leo Haydock and Benedict Rayment was completed in 1814, and a reprint of Haydock by F. C. Husenbeth in 1850 was approved by Bishop Wareing. A reprint of an approved 1859 edition with Haydock's unabridged notes was published in 2014 by Loreto Publications.

The Challoner version, officially approved by the Church, remained the Bible of the majority of English-speaking Catholics well into the 20th century. It was first p

Challoner's 1752 New Testament was extensively further revised by Bernard MacMahon in a series of Dublin editions from 1783 to 1810, for the most part adjusting the text away from agreement with that of the King James Version, and these various Dublin versions are the source of many, but not all, Challoner versions printed in the United States in the 19th century. Editions of the Challoner Bible printed in England sometimes follow one or another of the revised Dublin New Testament texts, but more often tend to follow Challoner's earlier editions of 1749 and 1750 (as do most 20th-century printings, and on-line versions of the Douay–Rheims bible circulating on the internet). An edition of the Challoner-MacMahon revision with commentary by George Leo Haydock and Benedict Rayment was completed in 1814, and a reprint of Haydock by F. C. Husenbeth in 1850 was approved by Bishop Wareing. A reprint of an approved 1859 edition with Haydock's unabridged notes was published in 2014 by Loreto Publications.

The Challoner version, officially approved by the Church, remained the Bible of the majority of English-speaking Catholics well into the 20th century. It was first published in America in 1790 by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. Several American editions followed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominent among them an edition published in 1899 by the John Murphy Company of Baltimore, with the imprimatur of James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore. This edition included a chronology that was consistent with young-earth creationism (specifically, one based on James Ussher's calculation of the year of creation as 4004 BC). In 1914, the John Murphy Company published a new edition with a modified chronology consistent with new findings in Catholic scholarship; in this edition, no attempt was made to attach precise dates to the events of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, and many of the dates calculated in the 1899 edition were wholly revised. This edition received the approval of John Cardinal Farley and William Cardinal O'Connell and was subsequently reprinted, with new type, by P. J. Kenedy & Sons. Yet another edition was published in the United States by the Douay Bible House in 1941 with the imprimatur of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York. In 1941 the New Testament and Psalms of the Douay–Rheims Bible were again heavily revised to produce the New Testament (and in some editions, the Psalms) of the Confraternity Bible. However, so extensive were these changes, that it was no longer identified as the Douay–Rheims.

In the wake of the 1943 promulgation of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, which authorized the creation of vernacular translations of the Catholic Bible based upon the original Hebrew and Greek, the Douay–Rheims/Challoner Bible was supplanted by subsequent Catholic English translations. The Challoner revision ultimately fell out of print by the late 1960s, only coming back into circulation when TAN Books reprinted the 1899 Murphy edition in 1971.[15] Since then, the 1899 Murphy edition has been retypeset and reprinted by Saint Benedict Press/TAN Books, Baronius Press, and Saint Polycarp Publishing House. The 1914 Kenedy edition has been reprinted as a facsimile by Lepanto Press and Preserving Christian Publications, while the 1941 Douay Bible House edition has been retypeset and reprinted by Loreto Publications.

The names, numbers, and chapters of the Douay–Rheims Bible and the Challoner revision follow that of the Vulgate and therefore differ from those of the King James Version and its modern successors, making direct comparison of versions tricky in some places. For instance, the books called Ezra and Nehemiah in the King James Version are called 1 and 2 Esdras in the Douay–Rheims Bible. The books called 1 and 2 Esdras in the King James Version are called 3 and 4 Esdras in the Douay, and were classed as apocrypha. A table illustrating the differences can be found here.

The names, numbers, and order of the books in the Douay–Rheims Bible follow those of the Vulgate except that the three apocryphal books are placed after the Old Testament in the Douay–Rheims Bible; in the Clementine Vulgate they come

The names, numbers, and order of the books in the Douay–Rheims Bible follow those of the Vulgate except that the three apocryphal books are placed after the Old Testament in the Douay–Rheims Bible; in the Clementine Vulgate they come after the New Testament. These three apocrypha are omitted entirely in the Challoner revision.

The Psalms of the Douay–Rheims Bible follow the numbering of the Vulgate and the Septuagint, whereas those in the KJB follow that of Masoretic Text. For details of the differences see the article on the Psalms. A summary list is shown below:

The Old Testament "Douay" translation of the Latin Vulgate arrived too late on the scene to have played any part in influencing the King James Version.[16] The Rheims New Testament had, however, been available for over twenty years. In the form of William Fulke's parallel version, it was readily accessible. Nevertheless, the official instructions to the King James Version translators omitted the Rheims version from the list of previous English translations that should be consulted, probably deliberately.

The degree to which the King James Version drew on the Rheims version has, therefore, been the subject of considerable debate; with James G Carleton in his book The Part of Rheims in the Making of the English Bible[17] arguing for a very extensive influence, while Charles C Butterworth proposed that the actual influence was small, relative to those of the Bishops' Bible and the Geneva Bible.

Fortunately, much of this debate was resolved in 1969, when Ward Allen published a partial transcript of the minutes made by John Bois of the proceedings of the General Committee of Review for the King James Version (i.e., the supervisory committee which met in 1610 to review the work of each of the separate translation 'companies'). Bois records the policy of the review committee in relation to a discussion of 1 Peter 1:7 "we have not though

The degree to which the King James Version drew on the Rheims version has, therefore, been the subject of considerable debate; with James G Carleton in his book The Part of Rheims in the Making of the English Bible[17] arguing for a very extensive influence, while Charles C Butterworth proposed that the actual influence was small, relative to those of the Bishops' Bible and the Geneva Bible.

Fortunately, much of this debate was resolved in 1969, when Ward Allen published a partial transcript of the minutes made by John Bois of the proceedings of the General Committee of Review for the King James Version (i.e., the supervisory committee which met in 1610 to review the work of each of the separate translation 'companies'). Bois records the policy of the review committee in relation to a discussion of 1 Peter 1:7 "we have not thought the indefinite sense ought to be defined"; which reflects the strictures expressed by the Rheims translators against concealing ambiguities in the original text. Allen shows that in several places, notably in the reading "manner of time" at Revelation 13:8, the reviewers incorporated a reading from the Rheims text specifically in accordance with this principle. More usually, however, the King James Version handles obscurity in the source text by supplementing their preferred clear English formulation with a literal translation as a marginal note. Bois shows that many of these marginal translations are derived, more or less modified, from the text or notes of the Rheims New Testament; indeed Rheims is explicitly stated as the source for the marginal reading at Colossians 2:18.

In 1995, Ward Allen in collaboration with Edward Jacobs further published a collation, for the four Gospels, of the marginal amendments made to a copy of the Bishops' Bible (now conserved in the Bodleian Library), which transpired to be the formal record of the textual changes being proposed by several of the companies of King James Version translators. They found around a quarter of the proposed amendments to be original to the translators; but that three-quarters had been taken over from other English versions. Overall, about one-fourth of the proposed amendments adopted the text of the Rheims New Testament. "And the debts of the [KJV] translators to earlier English Bibles are substantial. The translators, for example, in revising the text of the synoptic Gospels in the Bishops' Bible, owe about one-fourth of their revisions, each, to the Geneva and Rheims New Testaments. Another fourth of their work can be traced to the work of Tyndale and Coverdale. And the final fourth of their revisions is original to the translators themselves".[18]

Otherwise the English text of the King James New Testament can often be demonstrated as adopting latinate terminology also found in the Rheims version of the same text. In the majority of cases, these Latinisms could also have been derived directly from the versions of Miles Coverdale or the Wyclif Bible (i.e., the source texts for the Rheims translators), but they would have been most readily accessible to the King James translators in Fulke's parallel editions. This also explains the incorporation into the King James Version from the Rheims New Testament of a number of striking English phrases, such as "publish and blaze abroad" at Mark 1:45.

Much like the case with the King James Version, the Douay–Rheims has a number of devotees who believe that it is one of the only authentic translations in the English language, or, more broadly, that the Douay is to be preferred over all other English translations of scripture. Much of this view stems from traditionalists who were troubled by the Church's direction in the years following the Second Vatican Council. While this group does include many sedevacantists, it also includes a number of traditionalists in full communion with the Church. Some of their reasons are as follows:

  • The Douay was translated under the approval and guidelines of the Catholic Church itself.
  • It is based on the Latin Vulgate, which was considered to be as authentic as—if not superior to—the Greek and Hebrew originals as declared in the statements of pre–Vatican II councils. Before then, all translations approved by the Church were based on the Vulgate, in response to the Protestant translations emerging

    Apologist Jimmy Akin, in an article published in Catholic Answers Magazine, "Uncomfortable Facts About the Douay–Rheims", takes an opposing view to the movement, arguing that while the Douay is an important translation in Catholic history, it is not to be elevated to such status, as new manuscript discoveries and scholarship have challenged that view.[19]

    Modern Harvard-Dumbarton Oaks Vulgate

    Harvard University Press, and Swift Edgar and Angela Kinney at Dumbarton Oaks Library have used a version of Challoner's Douay–Rheims Bible as both the basis for the English text in a dual Latin-English Bible (The Vulgate Bible, six volumes), and, unusually, they have also used the English text of the Douay-Rheims in combination with the modern Biblia Sacra Vulgata to reconstruct (in part) the pre-Clementine Vulgate that was the basis for the Douay-Rheims for the Latin text. This is possible only because the Douay-Rheims, alone among English Bibles, and even in the Challoner revision, attempted a word-for-word translation of the underlying Vulgate. A noted example of the literalness of the translation is the differing versions of the Lord's Prayer, which has two versions in the Douay-Rheims: the Luke version uses 'daily bread' (translating the Vulgate quotidianum) and the version in Matthew reads "supersubstantial bread" (translating from the Vulgate supersubstantialem). Every other English Bible translation uses "daily" in both places, the underlying Greek word is the same in both places, and Jerome translated the word in two different ways becaus

    Harvard University Press, and Swift Edgar and Angela Kinney at Dumbarton Oaks Library have used a version of Challoner's Douay–Rheims Bible as both the basis for the English text in a dual Latin-English Bible (The Vulgate Bible, six volumes), and, unusually, they have also used the English text of the Douay-Rheims in combination with the modern Biblia Sacra Vulgata to reconstruct (in part) the pre-Clementine Vulgate that was the basis for the Douay-Rheims for the Latin text. This is possible only because the Douay-Rheims, alone among English Bibles, and even in the Challoner revision, attempted a word-for-word translation of the underlying Vulgate. A noted example of the literalness of the translation is the differing versions of the Lord's Prayer, which has two versions in the Douay-Rheims: the Luke version uses 'daily bread' (translating the Vulgate quotidianum) and the version in Matthew reads "supersubstantial bread" (translating from the Vulgate supersubstantialem). Every other English Bible translation uses "daily" in both places, the underlying Greek word is the same in both places, and Jerome translated the word in two different ways because then, as now, the actual meaning of the Greek word epiousion was unclear.

    See also