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4 Differences Between the King James Version and the Catholic Bible

So, you’ve probably heard of the King James Bible and the Catholic Bible, right? They’re both widely recognized religious texts, but did you know that there are quite a few differences between the two?

From a Catholic perspective, these differences hold significant importance, as they reflect variations in interpretation and translation.

Whether it’s the inclusion of additional books, variations in wording, or differing interpretations of key passages, exploring the differences between the King James version and the Catholic Bible can lead to a deeper understanding of the religious texts that have shaped the beliefs of millions of people worldwide.

Differences Between the King James Version and the Catholic Bible

Major Differences


One of the major differences between the King James Version and the Catholic Bible is the language in which they are written.

The KJV is written in early modern English, which can sometimes be challenging for modern readers to understand due to the use of archaic vocabulary and grammar.

On the other hand, the Catholic Bible, including the New American Bible (NAB), is often translated into contemporary English, making it more accessible and easier to comprehend for readers today.

Number of Books

Another significant difference between the KJV and the Catholic Bible is the number of books included in each. The KJV contains a total of 66 books, divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.

In contrast, the Catholic Bible includes additional books that are not found in the KJV. These additional books, known as the Deuterocanonical books, bring the total number of books in the Catholic Bible to 73 (46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament).

Old Testament Translation

When it comes to the translation of the Old Testament, there are notable dissimilarities between the KJV and the Catholic Bible.

The KJV translates the Old Testament from the Masoretic Text, the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible.

However, the Catholic Bible incorporates not only the Masoretic Text but also the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was widely used in the time of Jesus and the early Christian community.

This inclusion of the Septuagint in the Catholic Bible means that there may be slight variations in the texts of some Old Testament books compared to the KJV.

Deuterocanonical Books

Arguably one of the most significant deviations between the KJV and the Catholic Bible is the presence of the Deuterocanonical books in the latter.

The Deuterocanonical books, also referred to as the Apocrypha by Protestants, are a collection of texts that are not included in the Hebrew Bible.

These books, such as Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, and Maccabees, among others, are considered by the Catholic Church to be inspired Scripture and hold canonical status.

However, the KJV does not include these books in its canon, considering them to be of lesser authority and not on par with the other biblical texts.



In terms of language, the KJV and the Catholic Bible differ significantly. The KJV, being a historic translation, retains the language of early modern English, with its elegant and poetic style.

This can lend a certain charm and beauty to the text but can also present challenges for modern readers who may struggle with the archaic vocabulary and syntax.

The Catholic Bible, on the other hand, aims to provide a translation in contemporary English that is more accessible to readers today.

Translator Bias

Another aspect of translation that differs between the KJV and the Catholic Bible is the potential for translator bias.

Translators of the KJV were predominantly Protestant and, therefore, may have incorporated certain theological perspectives or biases into the text.

In contrast, the Catholic Bible strives for a more neutral and unbiased approach, aiming to faithfully translate the original texts without favoring any particular doctrinal viewpoint.

Original Texts Used

When it comes to selecting the original texts for translation, there are some variations between the KJV and the Catholic Bible.

The KJV primarily relies on the Masoretic Text, a Hebrew text of the Old Testament that was considered authoritative by the Jewish tradition.

However, the Catholic Bible incorporates the Septuagint, a Greek translation that was widely used in the time of Jesus and the early Christian community.

This inclusion of the Septuagint in the Catholic Bible provides a broader textual foundation for the translation, offering a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the Scriptures.


Old Testament Books

The KJV and the Catholic Bible share the majority of books in the Old Testament; however, there are some differences in content and arrangement.

While both include books such as Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, and Isaiah, the Catholic Bible also includes the Deuterocanonical books, which are not found in the KJV.

These additional books add further depth and richness to the Catholic Old Testament, offering insights into the historical, philosophical, and theological dimensions of ancient Jewish thought.

Deuterocanonical Books

As mentioned earlier, the Deuterocanonical books are a distinctive feature of the Catholic Bible.

These additional texts, recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church, offer valuable insights into the Jewish tradition and the development of early Christianity.

They cover a range of themes, including wisdom literature, historical events, and moral teachings.

The inclusion of the Deuterocanonical books in the Catholic Bible enhances the breadth and diversity of its content, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the biblical narrative.

New Testament Books

Both the KJV and the Catholic Bible share the same New Testament books, including the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

The New Testament serves as the foundation of Christian belief and practice, recounting the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the early development of the Christian community.

The New Testament books are essential for Christian doctrine and serve as a guide for believers in their faith and spiritual journey.


Accepted Canon

The accepted canon, or the official list of books recognized as divinely inspired Scripture, is an area where the KJV and the Catholic Bible differ.

The KJV adheres to the canon commonly accepted among Protestant denominations, which includes a total of 66 books.

In contrast, the Catholic Bible follows the canon affirmed by the Catholic Church, which includes an additional seven books known as the Deuterocanonical books.

Consequently, the Catholic Bible has a larger canon, consisting of 73 books in total.

Deuterocanonical Books

As previously mentioned, the Deuterocanonical books are unique to the Catholic Bible’s canon.

These books, which include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, and Maccabees, are considered by the Catholic Church to be divinely inspired.

They provide important insights into Jewish history, wisdom, and ethical teachings and have been used throughout history to support Catholic doctrine and theological interpretations.


While the Catholic Church acknowledges the Deuterocanonical books as part of the canon, these books are considered apocryphal by many Protestant denominations.

The term “Apocrypha” refers to additional texts that are not considered divinely inspired by certain religious traditions.

This difference in perspective regarding the status of the Deuterocanonical books has contributed to ongoing debates and controversies between Catholic and Protestant interpretations of the Bible.

Differences Between King James And Catholic Bible

Verse Numbering

Chapter and Verse Structure

Both the KJV and the Catholic Bible use a similar chapter and verse structure to facilitate easy reference and navigation.

The chapters are numbered consecutively within each book, allowing readers to locate specific passages quickly.

Within each chapter, the verses are also numbered to provide a more precise reference. This common structure makes it easier for readers of both translations to locate and discuss specific sections of the Bible.

Verse Number Differences

While the overall chapter and verse structure is similar in the KJV and the Catholic Bible, there are some variations in the numbering of verses.

These differences are primarily due to variations in the underlying manuscripts and textual traditions used for translation.

However, it is important to note that these variations in verse numbering do not affect the overall content or message of the biblical texts.

They are simply a result of the historical development and transmission of the Scriptures.

Language Style

Formal and Poetic Language

The language style used in the KJV is one of its most distinctive features. The translators of the KJV aimed to create a text that reflected the grandeur and elegance of the original biblical language.

As a result, the KJV features lofty and poetic language, with phrases and expressions that have become iconic in English literature and religious discourse.

This formal language style adds a timeless aura to the KJV, making it feel reverent and distinguished.

Modern Language Usage

In contrast to the formal language of the KJV, the Catholic Bible, particularly contemporary translations like the NAB, strives to use modern and accessible language.

The goal is to make the message of the Scriptures more understandable to contemporary readers, regardless of their educational background or familiarity with religious terminology.

This emphasis on modern language usage ensures that the Catholic Bible remains relevant to a diverse range of readers, allowing them to engage with the biblical text in a meaningful way.

Religious Authority

King James Version

The KJV holds a significant place in Protestant Christian history and has often been regarded as the authoritative English translation of the Bible.

It has had a profound impact on English-speaking Protestant worship, theology, and literature.

Although the KJV does not enjoy the same level of authority as the original Hebrew and Greek texts, it is still highly revered by many Protestant denominations for its historical significance and elegant language.

Catholic Church’s Authority

In the Catholic Church, the authority of the Bible is not solely vested in a particular translation but is derived from the Church’s interpretation and teaching authority.

The Catholic Church affirms the importance of the original languages and uses a variety of translations, including the NAB and other approved versions, to guide its theological and liturgical practices.

The Church’s authority is based on a combination of Scripture, tradition, and the Magisterium, ensuring a comprehensive and authoritative understanding of the biblical message.

Differences Between King James And Catholic Bible

Theological Interpretations

Doctrinal Differences

The KJV and the Catholic Bible can sometimes lead to different theological interpretations due to variations in translation and canon.

Certain doctrinal differences arise from the different beliefs and practices of Protestant and Catholic traditions.

For example, the interpretation of certain passages related to topics such as salvation, the sacraments, and the role of Mary may differ between the two translations.

These variations highlight the diversity of theological perspectives within Christianity and provide opportunities for dialogue and reflection.

Scriptural Exegesis

Scriptural exegesis, or the interpretation and analysis of Scripture, is an important aspect of both Protestant and Catholic theological traditions.

While the KJV and the Catholic Bible share the same core texts, different translations, canons, and theological emphases can impact the way these texts are understood and interpreted.

Consequently, scholars and theologians from each tradition approach scriptural exegesis from their respective perspectives, taking into account the unique features and traditions associated with their chosen translation.

Cultural Influence

Historical Impact

Both the KJV and the Catholic Bible have had a profound cultural and historical impact. The KJV, published in 1611, played a significant role in shaping the English language, with its timeless expressions and phrases entering into everyday speech and literature.

It also played a pivotal role in the development of Protestant Christianity and continues to be widely read and studied by millions of believers worldwide.

Similarly, the Catholic Bible, with its rich literary, artistic, and intellectual tradition, has influenced countless individuals and societies throughout history, shaping religious practices, moral guidelines, and cultural norms.

Religious Practices

The KJV’s influence on religious practices and worship within Protestant Christianity is remarkable.

The use of the KJV in liturgical settings, sermons, and personal devotion has left an indelible mark on Protestant worship traditions.

The majestic language of the KJV, combined with its historical and theological significance, continues to inspire and guide believers in their spiritual journey.

Likewise, the Catholic Bible has played a central role in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church, providing the foundation for prayers, sacraments, and the celebration of the Mass.

The beauty and depth of the Catholic Bible’s content contribute to the development of religious practices and rituals within the Catholic tradition.


Usage and Readership

The KJV is one of the most widely read and known Bible translations in the English-speaking world.

Its iconic language and historical significance have made it a staple in many Protestant households and churches. Despite its older language style, it continues to captivate readers and maintains a dedicated readership.

The Catholic Bible, including translations like the NAB, is also widely read by members of the Catholic Church and plays an essential role in their spiritual lives.

The popularity of both translations can be attributed to the profound impact they have had on religious, cultural, and literary traditions.

Liturgical and Private Devotion

Both the KJV and the Catholic Bible are used in various forms of liturgical and private devotion.

The KJV’s eloquence and poetic language make it particularly suitable for readings during worship services, sermons, and public recitations.

In contrast, the Catholic Bible, with its contemporary translations and broader canon, is utilized in the Mass, the Catholic Church’s central act of worship.

It is also a source of inspiration and guidance for Catholics in their private prayer and meditation, providing comfort and strength in times of need.

In conclusion, the King James Version and the Catholic Bible exhibit significant differences in language, content, canon, translation, and theological interpretations.

While the KJV is renowned for its elegant and poetic language that has shaped the English literary tradition, the Catholic Bible strives to provide contemporary translations that are accessible to a wider audience.

Through these differences, both translations play vital roles in the religious and cultural practices of their respective communities, enriching the lives of believers and fostering a deeper understanding of the sacred Scriptures.

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