So are there differences with all these different translations? Yes. Yes there are. In this post, I'll try and cover some of the differences that arise between biblical versions, why they are there, and whether or not we should consider these differences as a problem. I'll provide a few examples of known differences, but there is no way I will be able to make this list exhaustive.

The Book of Psalms

The book of Psalms is the easiest one to point at when we want to look for differences, so I'll start here. Oddly enough, the biggest difference to be found in Psalms is the numbering of various passages. This is odd because unlike the rest of the Bible, the Psalms were already divided into Psalms before any of the popular translations of today ever took place. I won't bother to assume which numbering system used is correct, but let's talk about how this could happen for a moment.

The Septuagint version of the Psalms was translated by Jewish scribes in the 2nd century BC. Later translations of the Hebrew found in the Masoretic text use a slightly different numbering system. It's suspected that the Masoretic chapters are older and therefore better trusted, but the earliest manuscript we have is dated to about a thousand years after the LXX so it's difficult to be certain. Both systems result in 150 chapter divisions, but this is due to some Psalms being joined into one, and others being split into 2. The Douay Rheims Bible follows chapter breaks that were found in the LXX despite Jerome's use of the Hebrew for the language translation. This is probably because of the tension around moving away from the LXX translation as the authoritative one. The difference begins when the LXX seemingly joins chapters 9 and 10 into Psalm 9. Then again, LXX joins 112 and 113 into Psalm 112, but the next Psalm is split into 2 so that by Psalm 113 we are only 1 chapter ahead of the Hebrew numbering. This chapter difference continues throughout the entire book with slight differences throughout, but by Psalm 147 we are back on track with a consistent scheme.


Another very noticeable difference between Douay Rheims and most other Bibles is the use of a feminine pronoun in Genesis 3:15 which is typically considered to be a prophecy. In the Catholic tradition the use of the feminine pronoun suggests that Mary is the one being prophesied, while other translations tend to think of this verse as speaking about Jesus himself.

Douay Rheims – I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

1599 Geneva – I will also put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. He shall break thine head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Was it a Prophecy

We can revisit Psalms to see another difference. Jesus famously quoted the opening lines to one of the Psalms before he died on the cross in Matthew 27. This Psalm has been considered a prophecy of Jesus, partly due to the language used in certain versions. In the Douay Rheims bible, this is rendered as Psalm 21, and most others number it as Psalm 22. The difference that emerges in this Psalm is due to a difference that exists in the source text used. Jerome as I had pointed out was using the Hebrew texts available at the time, but many others prefer the LXX Psalm. Oddly it seems for this particular verse, both chose to use LXX, but Jerome's translation is closer to the original meaning of the Greek work ruxan which is "to dig". In Hebrew this word does not appear to be used. Instead, the word ka'ari is used which means "like a lion".

Douay Rheims – For many dogs have encompassed me: the council of the malignant hath besieged me. They have dug my hands and feet. They have numbered all my bones

King James Version – For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wiked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

More often than not, you will find "pierced" in place of "dug" even though this appears to be a liberty taken by translators. As mentioned though the Hebrew text uses "like a lion" when we look at the Tanakh texts available today. Personally I feel like all 3 expressions convey the same basic meaning, and whether or not it's a prophecy or just a "coincidence" which I think would point to divine inspiration anyway, is kind of irrelevant in my opinion. It is however, a point that is often raised by critics trying to refute claims of prophecy in the Old Testament.