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Kings, Kings ... and more Kings?

Q. Dear CNP:

I thought I should mention that the Lectionary citing for the First Reading on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) is incorrect (in the Lectionary). Solomon asks for and recieves Wisdom in 3 Kings 3:5-12 not in 1 Kings 3:5-12. Here is 3 Kings 3; and here is 1 Kings 3. It isn't your fault, the error lies in the citation in the Lectionary.

Vigilant from Canada

A. Dear Vigilant:

Thank you for your email concerning the First Reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). Actually, there is no error.

Together with what is now referred to as the Books of Kings, the translators who created the Greek Septuagint divided the text into four books, which they named the Books of the Kingdoms. In the Latin Vulgate version, these then became the Books of the Kings [1 Kings, 2 Kings, 3 Kings, 4 Kings].

The Douay-Rheims Bible, which you referenced, uses this same naming system.

Later translations, including the New American Bible, which is the approved liturgical text for the U.S., renamed the books this way:

1 Kings  –became–  1 Samuel
2 Kings  –became–  2 Samuel
3 Kings  –became–  1 Kings
4 Kings  –became–  2 Kings

So the book in questions [3 Kings / 1 Kings] is the same text, but "numbered" differently in the DRB and the NAB.

The JPS Hebrew Bible (1917), The Jerusalem Bible (1966), the New American Standard Bible (1973), the New International Version (1978), the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the Revised Standard Version – 2nd Catholic Edition – Ignatius Bible (2005), and every other bible I can find (except the DRB and the Eastern Orthodox Bible) use the system: 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings.

Even some editions of the DRB take a middle-of-the-road approach — see the list here.

There is no error in the numbering in the U.S. Lectionary, as it uses the system found in the NAB. Our website follows the U.S. Lectionary.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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