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Catholic Bible vs. NIV — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 19, 2024
The Catholic Bible includes additional books known as the Apocrypha, emphasizing tradition, while the NIV (New International Version) is a Protestant translation focusing on accessibility and modern language.
Catholic Bible vs. NIV — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Catholic Bible and NIV


Key Differences

The Catholic Bible is the official scripture of the Roman Catholic Church, including the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Deuterocanonical books. In contrast, the NIV (New International Version) is a popular Protestant translation of the Bible, known for its contemporary language, omitting the Deuterocanonical books.
In terms of translation philosophy, the Catholic Bible often adheres to a more traditional and literal interpretation. Conversely, the NIV aims for a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation, making it more accessible to a modern audience.
The Catholic Bible's canon, recognized by the Catholic Church, includes books such as Tobit, Judith, and the Maccabees. The NIV, however, aligns with the Protestant canon, which excludes these books, reflecting different theological emphases.
The textual basis for the Old Testament in the Catholic Bible is primarily the Septuagint, while the NIV mainly uses the Masoretic Text, which results in some variations in the Old Testament books present and their translations.
Approaches to inclusive language also differ; the Catholic Bible generally maintains traditional gender-specific terms, while the NIV incorporates gender-neutral language where applicable, reflecting contemporary linguistic sensibilities.

Comparison Chart


Includes Deuterocanonical books
Excludes Deuterocanonical books

Translation Philosophy

Traditional, literal
Balance of word-for-word and thought-for-thought

Textual Basis (OT)

Masoretic Text

Language Style

Traditional, less modern
Contemporary, accessible

Inclusive Language

Less emphasis on gender-neutral language
Incorporates gender-neutral language

Compare with Definitions

Catholic Bible

The Catholic Bible is the Christian Bible comprising the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Bible's inclusion of the Book of Judith sets it apart from other Christian denominations' scriptures.


The NIV is a Protestant translation that focuses on a balance between accuracy and ease of understanding.
Many churches recommend the NIV for its approachable translation of biblical texts.

Catholic Bible

It is the scripture used in Catholic liturgy and teachings, including both the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha.
During Mass, readings are often taken from various parts of the Catholic Bible.


The New International Version (NIV) is a modern English translation of the Bible, known for its clarity and readability.
The NIV's straightforward language makes it a popular choice for Bible study groups.

Catholic Bible

The Catholic Bible emphasizes adherence to the traditions and teachings of the Church through its scriptural interpretations.
Catholic Bible study sessions often focus on understanding the context of biblical events in relation to Church doctrines.


The NIV is one of the most widely used and accepted Bible versions in the English-speaking world.
The NIV can be found in many bookstores and is often used in Christian educational institutions.

Catholic Bible

This version of the Bible reflects the theological perspectives and historical traditions of the Catholic faith.
The Catholic Bible's footnotes and commentary provide insight into Catholic interpretations of biblical events.


The NIV aims to reflect contemporary English while maintaining fidelity to the original texts.
The NIV is often updated to ensure its language stays relevant to modern readers.

Catholic Bible

The Catholic Bible serves as a spiritual guide and a source of doctrine for Catholics worldwide.
Many Catholics turn to the Catholic Bible for guidance during personal prayer and reflection.


It excludes the Deuterocanonical books and follows the Protestant canon.
When comparing different Bibles, one will notice the absence of certain books in the NIV.

Common Curiosities

How does the language of the Catholic Bible compare to the NIV?

The Catholic Bible often uses more traditional language, while the NIV is known for its contemporary, accessible language.

What translation philosophy does the NIV use?

The NIV employs a balance of word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation.

Is the NIV translation suitable for Catholic readers?

While Catholics can read the NIV, it lacks the Deuterocanonical books and may differ in some interpretations preferred by the Catholic Church.

What books are unique to the Catholic Bible?

The Catholic Bible includes the Deuterocanonical books, which are not found in the NIV.

Can the NIV be used in Catholic liturgy?

The NIV is generally not used in Catholic liturgy, which prefers translations approved by the Catholic Church.

Does the Catholic Bible include gender-neutral language?

The Catholic Bible typically maintains traditional gender-specific terms, unlike the NIV.

What is the main textual basis for the Old Testament in the Catholic Bible?

The Septuagint is the primary textual basis for the Old Testament in the Catholic Bible.

What is the main audience for the NIV?

The NIV targets a broad Christian audience, emphasizing readability for modern readers.

Is the Apocrypha included in the NIV?

No, the Apocrypha is not included in the NIV.

Are there Catholic-approved versions of the NIV?

There are no specific Catholic-approved versions of the NIV.

How do the footnotes in the Catholic Bible differ from those in the NIV?

Footnotes in the Catholic Bible often include references to Church teachings and history, unlike those in the NIV.

How often is the NIV updated?

The NIV undergoes periodic updates to reflect contemporary language and scholarship.

What role does tradition play in the Catholic Bible's translation?

Tradition plays a significant role, with emphasis on adherence to longstanding Church teachings.

Can the NIV be used for ecumenical studies?

Yes, the NIV is suitable for ecumenical studies due to its wide acceptance among various Christian denominations.

Are there differences in the Psalms between the Catholic Bible and the NIV?

Yes, there are differences in translation and numbering of the Psalms between the two versions.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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