Rorate Caeli

Douay-Rheims, 400th anniversary

The overall translation of the Bible in English by the scholars of the English College in Douai was completed 400 years ago, in 1610, with the publication of the final volume of the Old Testament, 28 years after the publication of the New Testament (when the College was temporarily in Reims).

Our sincere gratitude to the holy men, from all nations of the British Isles, who, through several decades, accomplished this work for the Church. (And one question: is any celebration, seminar, or event taking place this year in commemoration of this anniversary?)

Reader suggestion (great for homeschoolers): History of the Douay Bible slideshow


Shawn said...

The greatest bible translation of all time - non-withstanding.

Anonymous said...

Well, Shawn, I really think that accolade goes to Jerome for the Vulgate.

Anonymous said...

Same thing.
Cruise the Groove.

Anonymous said...

Is anybody interested in persuading the "good" bishops to break the Bishops Conterence's strangle hold on the liturgical use of the NAB alone? Other approved translations must be permitted. Their royalties be #*!%&@!

skodouay said...

Thanks for noting this important anniversary. For a slide show history of the Douay Bible, see

pclaudel said...

New Catholic: When you speak of the "definitive translation of the Bible in English," are you referring to the earliest editions of the true Douay-Rheims translation (there were three, I think, but they varied only in nonessentials) or to one of the several updatings of that translation by Bishop Challoner in the eighteenth century? The Challoner revision is, of course, the translation that was used in American Catholic churches before its piecemeal replacement (starting, if memory serves, in the forties) by the never-completed Confraternity revision/version. Aside from a private printing of the original DRV (with updated orthography) by an independent scholar called William von Peters, all the in-print editions of the DRV of which I am aware make use of the Challoner revisions or the even later ones done in Dublin.

In short, if you are referring to the version of the DRV with which most Catholics, Traditionalist or otherwise, are familiar, then the four-hundredth anniversary festivities must needs be postponed for, oh, another 190 years, give or take a decade. Nor should the differences between the original DRV and the Challoner revision be minimized. It was the stated opinion of both Cardinals Wiseman and Newman that the revision amounted to virtually a new translation, one whose wording was modeled on that of the King James Version.

Whether the two cardinals regarded the resemblance as a vice, a virtue, or simply a matter worthy of note is less than ideally clear to me. What is clear, however, is that the familiar Challoner revision can still be read with relative ease by an educated adult, whereas the original DRV has a great many pages that will surrender their true sense only with the assistance of full scholarly apparatus. Readability and accuracy are not the same thing, but if no value at all were ascribed to the former, the only sound advice one Catholic with a serious interest in Sacred Scripture could give another would be to start learning Late and ecclesiastical Latin before the eyes and the brain grow too dim for the task.

New Catholic said...

Thank you, skodouay!

New Catholic said...


What is being celebrated is the magnificent scholarly achievement of those great Catholic men, and which IS the foundation of all faithful Catholic versions of the Holy Bible in English, including Challoner (as well as the "Authorized Version"...). Could we just pause and celebrate them?...


shane said...

It's a shame that an original version DR (not the Chancellor edition) is so hard to get. Anyone know where I can buy one? Thanks in advance.

bedwere said...

For those who find the books at that beautiful site a little too expensive and would be happy with a reprint, the true Douay-Rheims can be bought at

New Catholic said...

I am really so saddened by the comments I am forced to reject or delete, even in such a harmless post as this one.

Why all the bile? Why the bitterness? Why the sarcasm and arrogance that never end?

Comments are closed in all posts for the weekend: the contributors to this blog have better things to do.

John McFarland said...

New Catholic,

When people realize that they've been suckered, it generally doesn't have a very positive effect on them.

One thing it often generates is anger. Another is suspicion leading to the conclusion that nothing is to be trusted but whatever one can figure out for oneself.

As Archbishop Lefebvre was wont to say: the shepherd is struck and the sheep are scattered.

Anything ignorance or crankish or downright crazy that gets said about the Bible and versions of the Bible on the "right" pales by comparison with the fact that the New American Bible, a monument of heresy, was approved by the Vatican, and is the Vulgate of the conciliar Church in the U.S.

All my kids went to Catholic schools through high school, and they had to get a new copy every year. There must have been times when there were a dozen NABs around the house.

Others may have their own favorite NAB horror story, but mine is the footnote that denies the historicity of Pentecost.

So we should all pray for the angry; but we should pray harder for those who made them angry.

Bootach said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I doubt the NAB because of various problems I've found over the last several years, but can never seem to point them out when one of these 'new conservatives' defends it. I try to explain various general defects in the text, but what I should have is just a laundry list of footnotes (like the one you mention) and mistranslations to show definitively that the translation is dangerous.

New Catholic,
Sometimes it's the smallest things which set people off.

Anonymous said...

There is a useful little pamphlet- type/ booklet put out in the past by TAN BOOKS called "Which Bible Should You Read", or something to that effect. It points out key passages (i.e. Gen 3:15) and how they have been changed and been made to have a different sense. The Douay-Rheims Bible is decidedly the superior choice.