The Douay–Rheims Bible (also spelled Douai–Reims) was for centuries the official English language Bible for Roman Catholics, as translated by scholars exiled from England at the English College in Douai, which was then in the Spanish Netherlands but is now in France. This was a translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible and promoted Catholic doctrine. In 1568 English exiles, many of whom were from Oxford, established a new English College of Douay (Douai/Doway), Flanders. Their leader was William Allen, a future Cardinal. A decade later, in 1578, Gregory Martin began the first translation into modern English of the Bible for Catholic readers. In 1582, the college published the New Testament at Rheims (Reims/Rhemes), France.
In 1609 and 1610, an English translation of the Old Testament was published at Douay in two parts. Its elegance was hindered by strict adherence to the Latin Vulgate, as some Latin words were Anglicized for lack of an English equivalent.
A revised version by Dr. Richard Challoner in 1749 was more elegant, and it became the English standard for Catholics until the twentieth century. There were many improvements to this Bible in the 20th century. The Confraternity Bible which was widely used from 1941 to 1970 is a more modern translation of the New Testament together with the Challoner revision of the Douay–Rheims Old Testament.
A theological point of contention between the Douay–Rheims translation and Protestant translations is Genesis 3:15, and whether it is the woman (e.g., Mary) who strikes Satan or a man (e.g., Jesus) who strikes Satan.
Interestingly, the Douay–Rheims Bible is one of, if not the only translations to use "earth" in Genesis 3:14 while sticking with the word "dust" in the corresponding verse Isaiah 65:25. The Hebrew word עָפָר, or "aphar," translates in English to "dust" or "earth." Due to the Genesis verse likely carrying a symbolic meaning that can be understood as "Satan consuming the Earth in sin" while the Isaiah verse refers to literal serpents on the New Earth eating "dust"/"earth," it's possible, if not likely, that the Douay–Rheims translation uses such an inconsistency to differentiate between the symbolic meaning in the former and the literal meaning in the latter.
- Genesis 3:14. Bible Hub. Retrieved December 25, 2022.
- Isaiah 65:25. Bible Hub. Retrieved December 25, 2022.
- Strong's Hebrew: 6083. עָפָר (aphar) -- dry earth, dust. Bible Hub. Retrieved December 25, 2022.
- The Holy Bible: Douay-Rheims Version - History (catholicfirst.com)
- The Douay Rheims Bible: The Achilles Heel of Papal Infallibility (aloha.net)