Friday, December 9, 2016

Knox on Translation

"The work of translating the Bible, really translating it, is being taken in hand in our day for the first time since Coverdale.  Moffatt and Goodspeed began it, with their fearless challenge of the Authorized Version; their work has been followed up by a text issued with official sanction in the United States.  Quite recently, the proposal for a new rendering has been gaining ground among non-Catholics in our own country.  Meanwhile, the Catholic hierarchy in the States has entrusted a large body of Biblical scholars with a similar commission.  They began with caution; their New Testament was merely a revision, with certain verbal alterations , of the Douay.  The Old Testament, to judge by the single volume of it which has so far appeared, is on a far more ambitious scale.  They seem resolved, if I may put it in that way, to out-Knox Knox in baldness of narrative and modernity of diction.  The germ is spreading, and there will be more translations yet.  Indeed, it is doubtful whether we shall ever again allow ourselves to fall under the spell of a single, uniform text, consecrated by its antiquity." -Ronald Knox (Mells, 1949)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

"Thou art the boast of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the pride of our people."
-Judith 15:10

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: Luke: The Gospel of Mercy

Being a high school theology teacher, I am always on the look-out for new Scripture study programs that can help enhance what I do each day in the classroom.  As you can imagine, there are a ton of different programs out there, with new ones seemingly being created and promoted each year.   When opportunity came about to review Catholic Scripture Study's Luke: The Gospel of Mercy published by Saint Benedict Press, I was very happy to do so.  I am glad I did, since this is the first CSS Bible Study that I have had a chance to review. 

Let me say, at the start, that this CSS Bible Study is beautifully produced and packaged.  When I first flipped through the over 300-page study guide, I remarked to my wife that it may be the most beautiful produced Catholic Bible study guide I had ever laid my eyes on.  Authored by popular Catholic writer Dr. Paul Thigpen and Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, each of the 18 lessons through Luke are lavishly illustrated with sacred art, photos, maps, and in-text information boxes that provide helpful supplemental information at  strategic points in the text.  These helpful in-text boxes contain "Voices of the Saints", "Rome to Home", and "Catechism Connections".  To emphasize how well they are placed in the text, one of the "Voices of the Saints" that I really appreciated came from St. Ambrose, where the authors quotes him saying, "Luke writes his Gospel to Theophilius, that is, to the one whom God loves.  But if you love God, it was also written to you.  And if it was written to you, you too must fulfill the duty of an evangelist.  Diligently keep this token of Luke's friendship close to your heart (10)."  I found this quote to be quite fantastic and a perfect to beginning my journey through the CSS's Luke: TheGospel of Mercy

The text, itself, is large and very readable, suitable to almost any setting.  Each lesson provides over five pages of "study notes" that gives the reader  a considerable amount of contextual insight into the text.  Next you will find a prompt to view the section of the DVD that accompanies the study guide, with space for notes and annotations.  The final section of each lesson provides questions, both exegetical and life application in scope.  These can be used for personal, as well as group study. 

The DVDs, in coordination with the study guide, are divided into 18 lesson.  Each lesson contains two sections, one led by Dr. Thigpen which focuses on providing the background necessary to studying the given text, with the second being a shorter life application reflection given by Fr. Kirby.  Dr. Thigpen's teaching usually is around ten minutes each in length, while Fr. Kirby's reflections are half that amount.  Both selections, for each lesson, are well-produced, with Dr. Thigpen's portion being taped in a studio, while Fr. Kirby's life application reflections are on location in Rome.  Viewing many of the presentations on the DVDs, not only did I learn some new information about Luke, but I was also edified and confirmed in my faith.  The three DVD's contain almost five hours worth of instruction.    

Having read through the material, I would say that this study is intended for anyone who is a beginner as well as one who has been a long-time veteran of attending and leading bible study.   I highly recommend this, particularly to those of you who are looking for a home study.  I plan on using some of the materials for my high school class, since it is so well done.  Bravo to CSS and Saint Benedict Press for creating this.

Saint Benedict Press provided this bible study to me with the understanding that I would give an honest review.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Guest Post: St. Paul's Philippines NRSV-CE

Thank you to Allister for providing this first of two guest posts.

First off, a quick introduction: My name is Allister Chua, Aloy for short, and I hail from the Philippines, like our good friend Gerald here, whose insights I particularly appreciate given our similar cultural lens. I have been silently and intermittently following Tim’s blog for nearly two years now ever since my “jolt” reaffirmation to the Catholic Church (a point I will recount in part after this as far as the main topic of this post is concerned). But I never commented very much as I felt my own discussions and insights would be laughably inferior to everyone else’s.

I was born and educated Catholic, though being the only Catholic at home (my late father was Catholic-Taoist, practicing the latter more), there was no solid foundation at home for my faith to grow; school didn’t particularly help, carefree children that we were. I did have First Communion and Confirmation, but as I went on to university, Jesuit-educated still I was notwithstanding, my spiritual life wavered and I very nearly, at two points in my life, became Protestant (being not just the only Catholic in the family, but the only Catholic in a clan of mostly Evangelicals, can be quite a bit of a challenge when it comes to faith-related discourses).

Anyway, in the first quarter of last year, I stumbled upon some materials online that led me to cast away all my doubts and make a personal reaffirmation to myself and to the Lord that I would remain in the Catholic Church. That being said and done, I needed a proper Catholic Bible – my two school-mandated and –age copies of the NAB had long since been shared with those in greater need of them, and my remaining Bibles were all Protestant (thus containing only the 66-book canon): NCV from my cousin, NASB from my brother, and ESV from my pastor and Bible study teacher. I have since gifted my Protestant nephew and godson the first, and returned the latter two, leaving me with nothing.

I researched on which Bible to get, and since I wanted “something different” from NAB (I did get a NABRE later on), that would still be literal (or follow formal equivalence), I settled upon the RSV-2CE or NRSV. Most unfortunately, the former was not available here (Manila’s English Catholic Bibles are mostly confined to NAB[RE], NRSV, and CCB; you’d have to go to a very niche Catholic store to get any kind of RSV), so when I visited my local Catholic bookstore, the NRSV-CE stood out, and thus it became mine and I it.

This local store is under ST PAULS Philippines, the local arm (also extending to Macau) of the Society of Saint Paul, which was founded in the late 1940s in Italy by the Blessed Giacomo Alberione to spread the Good News through social communication. This particular edition, too, is published by the same. 

The first thing you’d notice is that this particular NRSV does not share the same branding as that of the Harper-branded NRSV Bibles. It is a paperback, with very minimal, if any, sewn binding, which makes me a little nervous each time I open the book. This paperback, however, is thoughtfully wrapped in a plastic book cover, unlike most paperbacks you find on the market (religious or otherwise). While a good gesture, it got my waste-hating mind thinking on how on earth I would be able to have the Bible rebound in the future without rendering the plastic cover useless.

The Bible paper is relatively pleasant to the touch and easy to flip through, but bleed could be improved – both the print and my highlights can be quite easily seen on the other side, hindering a smooth reading experience. The type is nicely-sized and spaced, and the serif typeface very readable – even the footnotes. There is a nice touch on the side with black boxes indicating the books of the Bible, though there is no hollowed-out portion where you can see the book abbreviations at a glance – you still need to flip through to identify the book you need, which renders it less useful than expected. I have sticky tabs indicating where the OT, NT, and other sections are.

Now, on to the content proper. As mentioned, it’s the NRSV-CE text, with the Deuterocanonical books of Scripture in their traditional placements as a Catholic Bible. It is, essentially, almost a study Bible, with the NRSV Concordance, many in-text maps and charts (examples include a Gospel harmony, a floor plan of King Solomon’s Temple, and even geographical puns in the Book of Micah), and the entire text of Dei Verbum. Additional resources that the Catholic reader like me would enjoy include the table of readings based on the Canadian Lectionary, table of moveable liturgical dates, and popular prayers and devotions.

As a would-be study Bible, my only qualms are that there are no introductions whatsoever to each of the books, no notes of any kind other than the textual footnotes (especially cross-references – but then again, this never claimed to be a study Bible; I only said it could be one, and the NRSV doesn’t normally contain cross-references anyway), and – perhaps the most glaring and strange omission – the Psalms do not have their titles. It simply says “Psalm 1”, “Psalm 2”, and so on – I have never seen such a phenomena in any Bible, and it is quite disconcerting! As this is my Bible for annotation and study, I copied all the Psalm titles from another edition of the NRSV, and also copied NT-to-OT cross-references from my NCV, before I gifted it.

Given all these, I have mainly consigned this Bible to home-based study, preferring to use other editions for simple (or contemplative) reading and church. I’ve even placed it in a journal sleeve, containing my prayer cards and some notes, from a local social enterprise called Jacinto & Lirio, which makes plant leather products from water lilies. But whenever I open it, as I have done so in the past hour, I feel a spark of joy that Marie Kondo, the radical Japanese professional organizer, would be proud of, and it feels like a most familiar friend that you live far apart from, but are always glad to meet and go home to.

And so, those slights aside, I would recommend this edition of the NRSV-CE as a spiritual investment for Catholics in this part of the world (or in any part, even) that’s well worth it. I find it works well with the NABRE for a more integral Bible experience, given the latter’s emphasis on notes, and I do use them side-by-side when studying. As a study Bible, on its own it’s not enough – but again, it never claimed to be one. But as a Bible that you could just read, with the occasional handy reference on the side to check out, this fits the bill just right. After all, there’s no perfect Biblical translation or edition, but there are really good ones, and this is one of them.

Allister Chua, or Aloy, 25, is a struggling entrepreneur (with emphasis on “struggling”) from the Philippines who was born and educated, but not raised, Catholic. At the end of a spiritual crisis, he made a conscious decision to stay with and grow in his Catholic faith. Though he speaks none of the Biblical languages or even Latin, he speaks fluent English and Filipino, is proficient in Chinese, enjoys elementary proficiency in French, and is learning Spanish and Japanese. He runs The Daily You, a blog-based institute that advocates living a truly good life through one of higher purpose, rooted in awareness and service.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Knox: Isaiah 11:1-10

"From the stock of Jesse a scion shall burgeon yet; out of his roots a flower shall spring. 
One shall be born, on whom the spirit of the Lord will rest; a spirit wise and discerning, a spirit prudent and strong, a spirit of knowledge and of piety, and ever fear of the Lord shall fill his heart. Not his to judge by appearances, listen to rumours when he makes award; here is judgement will give the poor redress, here is award will right the wrongs of the defenceless. Word of him shall smite the earth like a rod, breath of him destroy the ill-doer; love of right shall be the baldric he wears, faithfulness the strength that girds him. Wolf shall live at peace with lamb, leopard take its ease with kid; calf and lion and sheep in one dwelling-place, with a little child to herd them! Cattle and bears all at pasture, their young ones lying down together, lion eating straw like ox; child new-weaned, fresh from its mother’s arms, playing by asp’s hole, putting hand in viper’s den! All over this mountain, my sanctuary, no hurt shall be done, no life taken. Deep as the waters that hide the sea-floor, knowledge of the Lord overspreading the world! There he stands, fresh root from Jesse’s stem, signal beckoning to the peoples all around; the Gentiles will come to pay their homage, where he rests in glory." -Isaiah 11:1-10