Baronius Press beautiful new edition of the Knox Bible

While preparing my post about Faith Magazine, I saw an article about Ronald Knox.

That reminded me that Baronius Press recently sent me a copy of their new, beautifully bound, edition of Knox’s translation of the Bible.


Some very smart people I know use the Knox translation often, even daily. As a matter of fact, two of the smartest people I know use it all the time. One of them told me “It’s THE most beautiful translation of the Bible in the English language.”  Fulton Sheen used the Knox version when quoting.

The Knox translation is not everyone’s cup of tea if they are into philology. It will be your cuppa, however, if you are longing for poetry in your reading of the Word.

Let me give you a sample from the beginning of the Book of Wisdom:

Listen, all you who are judges here on earth. Learn to love justice; learn to think high thoughts of what God is, and with sincere hearts aspire to him. Trust him you must, if find him you would; he does not reveal himself to one that challenges his power.  Man’s truant thoughts may keep God at a distance, but when the test of strength comes, folly is shewn in its true colours; never yet did wisdom find her way into the schemer’s heart, never yet made her home in a life mortgaged to sin. (1:1-4)


Let’s have a look at the new book from Baronius.


Gold pages and two ribbons.


Nice paper.


Densely printed, no frills.

Yes, it is that really nice “bible paper”.


They include Knox’s comments.


There is also a preface by Scott Hahn.

This is a nice, but few frills, edition. There are no indices.  Baronious just printed the Knox Bible, without lots of additions.

The Baronius site cites Evelyn Waugh, who said:

It is unquestioned that for the past 300 years the Authorized Version has been the greatest single formative influence in English prose style. But that time is over …. When the Bible ceases, as it is ceasing, to be accepted as a sacred text, it will not long survive for its fine writing. It seems to me probable that in a hundred years’ time the only Englishmen who know their Bibles will be Catholics. And they will know it in Msgr. Knox’s version.

The Baronius site continues, explaining that…

[Knox’s] three aims were: accuracy, intelligibility, and readability. He was loyal to these principles without sacrificing the rhetorical power of the original and while deliberately keeping a few of the well loved archaisms in the text. He preferred lucidity to poetry, but as one of the finest literary craftsmen of 20th century England he avoided falling into banality.

Knox wrote a book On Englishing the Bible in which he explained himself (UK HERE).

I wonder what he would have thought of the translations of Holy Mass.

Perhaps I will add some reading from the new Baronius Knox Bible as one of my Year of Faith projects.

This would be a great gift for a priest or seminarian… along with a biretta.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tradster says:

    I have a copy of this new Knox Bible and completely agree with your comments. It is a beautiful edition well worth the purchase. I also have the Baronius Press Douay-Rheims Bible and enjoy using both of them to get better insight into whatever passage I am reading.

  2. Mark R says:

    While it is not my go-to translation, I love it enough to buy one whenever I see one in one of our wonderful Seattle used book stores and give it as a present. More people should know about it. (It was in heavier use in the Commonwealth countries than in the U.S., for reasons that are obvious.)

  3. Devo35 says:

    I recieved my copy from Baronius ten days ago or so. As Fr. Z says , it is a very beautifully produced Bible. Although I love Msgr. Knox’s writings, I am somewhat struggling with his translation as it is “new to my ear.” It will just take a little more time, in my case, to better appreciate his translation.
    A copy of “Englishing the Bible”, which Father mentioned, is included with the Bible. I ordered mine directly from Baronius, and this was the case. Overall, it is a great Bible to have. It always helps to support quality Catholic publishers. Pax.

  4. Gail F says:

    I like this online version, the “you” version:
    The person who put it up, (I think it’s a priest) thinks the reason the translation is not more popular is that Knox kept the “thees,” so he changed them to “yous.” I find it less distracting.

  5. Ignatius Press has published an interestingly different 1962 missalette:

    The Order of Mass: The Missal of Blessed John XXIII

    Which uses English translations of the Roman Canon and Last Gospel based on those by Ronald Knox:

    At the beginning of time, the Word already was, and that Word was with God: the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. . . . . . A man appeared, sent from God, whose name was John. . . . . . The Word is the true light, who enlightens every soul born into the world. . . . . . And we saw his glory, the glory of the Only-begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    More controversially, this TLM missalette includes in Latin and English a dozen or s0 Select Prefaces from the 1970 Roman Missal with the statement that “Amongst various decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission is a permission to include Prefaces from the 1970 Missale Romanum in the celebration of the 1962 Missale Romanum.”

  6. Sword40 says:

    The “you” version is exactly why I’ll stick with my DR.

  7. VLL says:

    I have a hard time believing that the Knox bible could be less philiologically accurate than, say the New American bible. Say it ain’t so!

  8. Louis says:

    Is this the one Joel Osteen uses?

  9. rtjl says:

    “Trust him you must, if find him you would;”

    So – Yoda had hand in this translation!

    Sorry. I didn’t mean that as flippant as it sounded. I just couldn’t resist.

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    I love the Knox version, as well, although, up to now, they have been hard to find.

    One example where he is much clearer than most translations is 1 Cor. 10:13

    RSV: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

    Knox: I pray that no temptation may come upon you that is beyond man’s strength. Not that God will play you false; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your powers. With the temptation itself, he will ordain the issue of it, and enable you to hold your own.

    People keep looking for that, “way out,” of a temptation instead of realizing, as St. John of the Cross says, similarly, of suffering: “Do not think but that God ordains all and where there is not love, put love, and you will draw out love.” This makes a big difference to people undergoing suffering. The first translation sends them on a quest to escape the temptation (always good, if it can be done), but the second translation causes them to focus on God’s providence in the midst of the temptation.

    The Chicken

  11. tzard says:

    When I read the Knox bible, my heart soars.

    One big difference in this translation – the bible was translated by a person, rather than a committee. Much like Jerome. It also comes from a non-tinikerer.

    Look for the acrostic psalms.

    Oh, and I like the Thee’s – elevated language is appropriate.

  12. wmeyer says:

    No translation is perfect, but I have found the NAB to be especially dreadful. Awkward. Confusing. I have preferred the RSV-CE, or even the Jerusalem Bible, for comprehension. The Knox may be a very useful alternative.

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    Cormac Burke, who put up the “You” version might be the Cormac Burke who is a famous retired judge of the Roman Rota:

  14. Charles E Flynn says:

    Start at: Ronald Knox and Bible English, then use the Older Post button a few times.

  15. Legisperitus says:

    I have an old copy of the Knox translation, and the back cover blurb points out that it’s the first time since St. Jerome that an individual Catholic has attempted a translation of the entire Bible.

  16. acardnal says:

    Joel Osteen has never graduated from a seminary!! But he is a very rich man.

  17. biberin says:

    I totally agree with rtjl and thought it was fun someone else noticed:

    Trust him you must, if find him you would

    Yoda, all the way.

  18. UncleBlobb says:

    @fatherz You are getting pretty darn good at these ads, dear Father. Perhaps a WDTPRS Religious Catalogue show is in the offing?

  19. Gail F says:

    The Masked Chicken: Thanks for the information!!!
    I stick by my opinion — I like it better without the “thees.” The “thees” can be great and I am perfectly aware of how thee/thou works, etc., but they distract me. Knox’s translation suffers a little from being sometimes over-poetic and sometimes over-prosaic and dated to the time period, but on the whole I think it’s wonderful. And of course I’m amazed he did the whole thing himself. I am a big fan of almost all his work except “Enthusiasm,” which he thought was his best and which I could not get through.
    I spent a summer studying at Trinity College, long before I knew who he was. I don’t remember his being mentioned although I’m sure he was. I enjoy knowing that I spent some time at the same college, even in the chapel — though it was only used for secular things when I was there. It was BEAUTIFUL. And yes, formal dinners were set up exactly like they are in the Harry Potter movies.

  20. smad0142 says:

    I love the “you” versions. Is there anyway to download them as PDF? Thanks!!

  21. Elizabeth D says:

    I got this a couple days ago and it is beautiful. I am hoping to fall in love with it and so far I do like it. I wanted a Bible that was definitely Catholic and nice to read and pray and be at home with. It is physically nice and a good size.

    My friend whom I sponsored when she became Catholic still likes to use protestant bibles like the NIV and I am regularly annoyed when she posts Bible quotes on facebook always from this or that protestant version, and she uses protestant Bible study materials. And says she would not be interested in reading the “extra books” in the Catholic Bible (this REALLY bothers me and I have told her why). So I was also attracted to want an extra-Catholic, extra-beautiful, very non-protestant Bible to make a point.

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  23. JMGDD says:

    Protestant-leaning has the Baronius edition of the Knox Bible, and even a link-back to the Baronius site.

  24. acardnal says:

    One thing that I dislike very much in some the the new translations of the bible is changing “blessed” to “happy”, for example, “Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I don’t think anyone is “happy” when they are persecuted. Speaking for myself, I am often happy when committing sin, but I am most certainly not blessed. It’s the wrong word to use!

  25. Sam Urfer says:

    Actually, the word “happy” is very accurate in terms of translating what the words of our Lord mean; that’s one of the reasons the Beatitudes are so shocking!

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