If you go to a bookstore, you may be amazed at the number of different kinds of Bibles on the shelves. One of the most common questions I hear from people at church is, "What kind of Bible should I get?"
As a Catholic, I think it's important to point out that there is a difference between Catholic and Protestant Bibles. Catholic Bibles include more books than Protestant Bibles. The "Catholic" books of the Old Testament are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, 1 Macabees, 2 Macabees, parts of Esther, and parts of Daniel.
I typically suggest that Catholics purchase the New American Bible. This is the translation used in the Lectionary (the Mass readings.) On March 9, 2011, the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) was released. This version includes a newly revised translation of the entire Old Testament and the 1986 edition of the New Testament. (For more on the NABRE, go to http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/nabre.shtml.)
A good version for Catholic Bible studies is the Catholic Study Bible: New American Bible, edited by Donald Senior, which includes a book-by-book Reading Guide, references and background information, a 15-page glossary of special terms, Bible maps, and a Lectionary guide with Sunday and weekday Mass readings references.
There are, however, a number of different translations of Bibles. sometimes reading different translations of a passage allow the reader/prayer different perspectives. For example, look at the differences of Psalm 139 from the New American Bible and the New International Version.
Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach. (Psalm 139:1-6, NAB)
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139:1-6, NIV)
The primary meaning is the same in both translations, but the words may evoke images that are slightly different. "My travels and my rest you mark..." compared to "You discern my going out and my lying down." And "Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me," compared to "You hem in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me."