Easiest Catholic Bible to read?

I want to get a Bible for my niece.

I was just wondering what the easiest Bible to read is? Good News? Contemporary English Version?, etc?


How old is your niece? It has a bearing on the translation suggested.

Get the original 1609 Douay-Rheims!! hahah, just kidding…

It depends on how old your niece is, If she’s around 6 or 7, I strongly recommend you get her a children’s bible like…

“My First Catholic Bible”
it takes excerpts from the New Revised Standard Version- Catholic Edition and has colorful pictures that are NOT cartoonish.
It has a reading schedule, at the bottom of each page has a verse to memorize, and has a page with prayers like Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be!
It also has an Imprimatur
you can buy it HERE

If you want her to have a complete Bible,
I say the Contemporary English Version is the easiest overall, however the Good News is really easy too…

Genesis 1:1-3 (Good News)
" 1 In the beginning, when God created the universe, 2 the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water."

Genesis 1:1-3 (Contemporary English)
" 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water."

John 1:1-3 (Good News)
“1 In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 From the very beginning the Word was with God. 3 Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.”

John 1:1-3 (Contemporary English)
“1 In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. 2 From the very beginning the Word was with God. 3 And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him”

However if she’s around 15 or older, I would suggest the New Revised Standard Version- Catholic Edition or New American Bible. Its better to have a “more accurate” Bible but still easy to read

The CEV with duetrocannon is written at a fifth grade level and is a dynamic translation maybe slightly more readable but less useful for study.
The NAB is written at the sixth grade level and is the American liturgical translation (except where is wasn’t good enough for the Vatican).
The NAB and CEV may have similar low quality introductory notes about each book that are based on old textual decomposition theories (particularly Matthew’s gospel).
The NRSV-CE is written for beginning high school level and is about the same quality as the NAB in translation and the Canadians use it in their liturgy.
The RSV-CE (or RSV-2CE) is written for an mid high school level and is used in some parts for liturgical use and is quite literal.
The RSV, NAB and NSRV are all useful for study. The RSV is the best of those.
The JB is a good reading bible and may still be being used for liturgy in some places. The full version with notes probably is good as a study bible too. It is currently only available in the Readers Edition which lacks many of the notes that would make it a good study bible. The NJB is a similar revision of the JB but has never been used for liturgical purposes.
The Douay and the pre-NAB CCD versions are of similar quality to the RSV and a little harder to read than the RSV, They were used in the liturgy and are useful for study.
Conte’s CPDV (a Douay revision) is of similar quality, but of course hasn’t been used in the liturgy nor does it yet have approval (Ron probably doesn’t have the resources and contacts to get it, nor has he had the time).
Given this I’d recommend the NAB version for elemetary and middle school and the RSV (or Doauy revision) for High School or above if they want to study it. The CEV (for elementary students) or the JB if they only may read it on occasion or read it for enjoyment.

Depending on her age, you might think about getting the Catholic Youth Bible, or if you want to get something which will last her on into adulthood, think about getting the CTS New Catholic Bible, which uses the Jerusalem Bible translation.


For my money, the best bible available today is the “NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE” STANDARD EDTION. The translation is accurate, the language in natural and beautifully done, and it is laid out and looks like a typical bible. I would suggest you get her two bibles, one of the ones designed for young people suggested in the other posts and this one. Using the two side by side will help her to make the “step up” to an adult version and pay her the tremendous compliment of acknowledging her growing maturity. – Rusty

I’m sorry, but I think we need to take these grade-level descriptions with a grain of salt. The complexity of reading the Bible is often not related to the language but the underlying concepts. The Epistles, for example, are going to be more difficult to understand than the Gospels – mainly because most of the Gospels are narrative (and easier to understand). It is certainly the case that almost no one – not even professors of Bible – would claim to fully understand every nuance of the Bible. I think that a first-time reader of the Bible – regardless of educational achievement – may benefit from a version in simpler language before moving to a more challenging translation.

Further, I do not think it was a desiderata of the translators to translate at a certain level, but rather to produce the best possible translation consistent with the translation philosophy.

I do not know what “high-school level” means. I know many high school students who have studied Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or some combination thereof. On the other hand, I see many college first year students who appear to be intimidated by the language of the RSV

don’t base getting a Catholic version on what is the easiest to read. I would recommend the Jerusalem Bible for your niece you can find the readers edition from EWTNs site. I would start with this and when she gets older get her a Douay-Rheims when she is ready to learn the faith (like Confirmation)

Hello, can not give the proposal I am an atheist

ed hardy

Why did you post the link you did. It has nothing to do with religion

I think it is important to note that the Old Testament of the Confraternity bible (what you call the pre-NAB CCD version) is a hybrid mix with the Douay-Rheims. In those parts of the Old Testament not left in the Douay translation, the Confraternity bible** is the same translation as the 1970 NAB** (excepting Genesis). This makes blanket statements about the translation quality and reading level of this bible difficult. The translation was published as it proceeded, so the amount of the OT remaining in the Douay version was less and less over time.

Also, for me, equating the RSV (in any incarnation) with the Douay-Rheims in quality is questionable. As pointed out on the interesting RSV page of Michael Marlowe’s Bible-Researcher Web site, here are just two examples of problematic translation in the RSV (I have included the Douay-Rheims for comparison):

Genesis 22:18:

D-R: And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…

RSV-2CE: and by your descendents shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves…

It is the D-R that agrees with the apostle Paul’s citing of this passage in Galatians 3:8.

Genesis 9:20:

D-R: And Noe a husbandman began to till the ground,

RSV-2CE: Noah was the first tiller of the soil.

Here the RSV sets up contradiction with Genesis 3:23 and 4:2 where Adam and Cain are identified as tillers of the soil.

Read the whole thing at the link above if you find the following quote (from a Presbyterian Old Testament scholar) interesting:
It is a curious study to check the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, a monument of higher critical scholarship, and note how every important Old Testament passage purporting to predict directly the coming of Christ has been altered so as to remove this possibility … It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that the admittedly higher critical bias of the translators has operated in all of these places. The translations given are by no means necessary from the Hebrew and in some cases … are in clear violation of the Hebrew.
[RIGHT]– R. Laird Harris[/RIGHT]

I know the NAB is written at about an 8th grade reading level…

I did a Google search for “Children’s Bibles Catholic” and there were some good results.

Laus Deo

There are a lot of dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought, not literal) translations in simple English out there. Unless you count the Jerusalem Bible, there is only one dynamic equivalence translation with an Imprimatur (as far as I know): the Good News Bible (Today’s English Version). I would probably recommend that. I just don’t know easy to read translations well enough to help any further; I mostly only consider formal equivalence (word-for-word) translations–or those close to it.

If your niece is in her teens, my personal favorite I still read (I’m 24 now) book by book that is easy to read is the Catholic Youth Bible by St. Mary’s Press. I was 15 when I got an older edition and Iove it.


The New Jerusalem Bible.

Gauging Bibles by grade level is perfectly sufficient when determining a Bible for someone young or their reading level is lower then normal. A good Bible story book that has interesting and important Bible stories are excellent for young people, especially one with pictures. For adults something with pictures or Christian art can be an excellent bonus for enhancing ones memory of Biblical events.

As for me I really enjoy a book I have called the Pictorial Gospels which has the Gospel in ancient Christian art. I also printed out the mysteries of the rosary in Christian art and would go over them daily with my son when he was little.

Broobarker: Among Bible translations in general, the easiest translations to read are the International Children’s Bible (ICB) and the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV). They were all translated at a 3rd grade reading level. The ICB is published by Thomas Nelson, a protestant publisher. The NIrV is a simplification of the New International Version. While these are good translations, they are all as you may guess, Protestant and not suitable for your niece.

For your niece, I would recommend the Good News Bible (GNB). I have used this translation off and on for over 20 years. I have found it easy to understand. There are a few caveats to remember in buying a GNB. The first one is to look for a small cross on the cover. This symbolizes that the Bible has the Imprimatur. I also recommend finding an older edition as the newer GNB has inclusive language. Also it’s important to remember to the GNB puts the deuterocanonicals in a separate part of the Bible. As for the Contemporary English Version (CEV), I find it to be too simple. Interestingly, the USCCB has only approved the CEV Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament for reading and study. I find this odd. I’m also not clear on if this is binding or not.

If your niece is a bit older, I would also recommend The Living Bible. This was a paraphrase and not a translation by the late Kenneth Taylor. The deuterocanonicals were paraphrased by the late Fr. Nevins. These were released as the Catholic Living Bible; it had the Imprimatur. This has been out of print for years and will take some effort to find.

May God bless you.

Mr. B.,

If you’re niece is in junior high, high school or college, I recommend the St. Joseph Student Bible.

Try the ‘Today’s Parallel Bible.’ It includes the NIV, NASB, KJV, and NLT and is almost invaluable for comparative study.

And for a “kicker,” throw in the ‘Catholic Guide to The Bible’ from Catholic Home Study Services. It is my go-to reference for reconciling contradictions and explaining literary forms of different books, such as contextual hyperbole.


“Explains Catholic principles of interpreting the Bible. Takes the student through the Bible, offering pertinent information about the historical background, author, and literary style of each book. Selects readable passages from each book of the Bible so that the student can become familiar with the whole Bible and understand it as the Word of God.”

My bad! I just noticed this thread started in 2009!!!