Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So, I have spent the last few weeks looking at the other possibilities that exist that contain all the Catholic Old Testament. I even devoted a blog entry on this topic. For the most part, the various NRSV study Bibles are the only option. (Let me point out right now that I am aware of The Catholic Study Bible by OUP, but I am not a fan of the NAB translation and the study notes are the same as in any edition of the NAB.) Ultimately, I was just not happy with the various NRSV options. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main reasons were probably the format/size of the study Bible and the overall quality of the notes. To this point, it seemed that many of them had an excess of notes that either really didn't add a whole lot or there were some that just focused on translation issues in the NRSV. (In particular, the NISB has quite a few notes that promote alternate renderings from the NRSV). This is not to say that in general the notes in the various NRSV study Bible were bad, but I just didn't find them worth the amount of space that was devoted to them. I do have a decent collection of commentaries that I use primarily anyways, so perhaps my desire to have a study Bible with lots of notes was not what I really wanted after all.
So, then I rediscovered my old RSV NOAB. I had used it a number of years ago, when I started to take graduate theology courses at the seminary. So, I decided to spend a few days with it. And to my surprise....I really liked using it. The first thing that jumped out at me was the size. It is a pretty small study Bible, considerably smaller than any of the NRSV editions available today. For example the New Interpreters Study Bible is 9.4 x 7.4 x 2 inches while the RSV NOAB is 8.8 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches. So, for me, that is certainly a plus. Next, I really like that the notes/annotations did not take up too much space on each page. They are, in general, very brief and contain only basic historical-critical info along with cross-references. And to be honest with myself, that's all I really want and need at this point. With condensed annotations, this allows the Holy Scriptures to be prominent on each page, with a generous type-size and font. Margins are OK, so some personal annotations can be done on the inner margins and the bottom of each page.
So, perhaps my search is over......for now. One other advantage that using the RSV has is that it is still in print. While I don't have really a huge problem with the NRSV, it is clear that the RSV is still superior in some instances over the NRSV. Also, the RSV is still used in many seminaries and is still in print. As a matter of fact, the NOAB RSV, which was published in the 70's, is still in print in both the hardcover and leather editions. Meanwhile, Oxford is continuing to publish new Catholic editions of the RSV. In fact, they are about to release a new large-print edition of the RSV in November. In addition, it continues to be the translation of choice for most English language documents that come out of Rome. Also, Ignatius Press, whom I harp on from time to time, are still in the process of producing the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, which when published, will be an excellent resource.
Friday, October 24, 2008
So, here are the stats, courtesy of Christianbooks.com:
The Discipleship Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version including Apocrypha—the first completely new NRSV study Bible in five years! Laity and clergy in mainline Protestant churches frequently want a study Bible that matches their congregation’s translation for worship and education (usually NRSV) while also providing resources for personal understanding and guidance for Christian living. Existing study Bibles based on the NRSV provide factual information about the biblical text but have not developed the personal application direction. The Discipleship Study Bible will be unique in providing a NRSV translation with personal application notes for a mainline Protestant audience.
The annotations in this study Bible give particular emphasis to discerning scriptural guidance for living together in community. Such living encompasses but is not limited to personal piety. The biblical text has an inescapable social dimension and the Discipleship Study Bible demonstrates attentiveness to the public and communal meanings and implications of the biblical text, including the social justice and social witness dimensions of Scripture. In short, this study Bible gives attention to both personal and corporate discipleship, to both spiritual and social needs.
The Discipleship Study Bible:
*Concentrates on social justice, that is, acts of Christian care and concern for all God’s people and all of God’s world
*Concentrates on personal piety, that is, Christian acts of personal response to Scripture
*Is based on the scholarship and inclusive language of the NRSV translation
*Introductions to each biblical book to acquaint you with essential historical, sociocultural, literary, and theological issues valuable in understanding the biblical book in question.
*Annotations for each biblical book addressing the whole range of the Christian life. Both spiritual and social needs are given attention to help you recognize that Christian faith makes claims on every aspect of our lives. Attention is given as appropriate to personal piety as a dimension of faithful discipleship. But even more attention is devoted to the social dimension of the biblical text and faithful discipleship, especially matters of social justice.
*Concise chronology of events and literature in and surrounding Ancient Israel and Early Christianity
So, there you have it, the particulars of the DSB. At first glance it is pretty impressive, and for the most part it is pretty well put together. Of course, it is basically impossible to find the perfect study Bible....since that doesn't exist. Again, I feel somewhat out of place commentating on a study Bible not designed for Catholics or even to be broadly ecumenical, so I will just point out some of the DSB's positive and negative features. First off, I really like the size and feel of the DSB. It is smaller than most other NRSV study Bibles, yet big enough to contain plenty of study helps. In this regard, I think it is very similar to the original RSV New Oxford Annotated Bible. I really like the size! It is quite portable, and what is also nice is that the font/text is very readable. I initially thought that the Biblical text would be printed small, but no it is acually very readable and not a strain on the eyes.
In addition, most pages contain some sort of commentary. While most of the notes deal specifically with discipleship, some of them do discuss important historical notes that are integral to understanding the text. Yet, these notes often combine both. Here is an example:
Joshua 15: 1-12: "Inside the boundaries of Judah are also included the tribe of Simeon and other peoples (Edomites and Amelekites). Historically speaking, these boundaries were reached only at the time of King David. Here again we find a theological lesson: Israel's ideal limits exceeded the historical reality of the people. Thus, there is always room for showing greater loyalty to God, a prerequisite to possess and keep the promised land."
While one could agree or disagree with that statement, I do think it shows the flavor of the commentary. Ultimately, if you are into social justice, from a mainline Protestant perspective, than you will probably like this commentary. I also appreciated that they included a concordance and Biblical maps. I always find it odd that any study Bible wouldn't have Bible maps, but I have seen some without them. On the negative end, I am shocked that they don't include cross-references. I know that the publishers have promoted the DSB as falling somewhere between being scholarly and devotional, but to not have cross-references is truly unfortunate. Its kind of stupid don't you think? I guess they thought the inclusion of the concordance would fit that need, but I would much rather have cross-references. One other element that I thought would have been helpful would be to include a section with examples of people following the call to Biblical discipleship. They could have even spread these examples throughout the text. I always find it helpful to have examples of other Christian brothers and sisters who have heard the voice of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures and have then gone out and lived it. I think of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wilberforce, or Francis of Assisi would be a few obvious choices.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I saw this today in my local Barnes and Noble. I almost considered buying it, because as most of my friends know I spend most of my hard earned money on different Bible versions and translations. But hey, I always say that if you are going to have a Bible blog, you should be knowledgeable of the many different versions. (Well, at least I can convince myself of that!)
So, back to the topic at hand. What is The Voice New Testament? I spotted the website here, but have yet to really investigate it. The edition I looked through at Borders was the cloth/leather edition. It had a decent feel to it and the layout of each page I found to be very welcoming to the eyes. Perhaps I will pick up a copy in the next day or so, maybe first in paperback. Is anyone else familiar with this new translation and its reason for being?
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
So, I have decided to start using a study Bible again. I have also narrowed it down to the versions that include the NRSV translation. Main reason for using the NRSV is obvious in that they contain the Catholic Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. It seems, to my knowledge, that there are then three main contenders:
1) The New Oxford Annotated Bible
2) The HarperCollins Study Bible
3) The New Interpreters Study Bible
So, before I go out and purchase one of these three, I wanted to read some opinions from those who actually use them. Is there one that you find most helpful when referring to the notes and articles? How is the study Bible put together? Should I get a leather edition or a standard hardback? Feel free to comment on all these questions or any other one that may be important.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
"As once upon a time among the Jewish people many engaged in prophetic discourse, but some were lying prophets (one of them was Ananias the son of Azor) whereas others were truthful prophets, and as among the people there was the gift of grace to distinguish spirits, whereby a section of the prophets was received, but some were rejected as it were by the "expert bankers," so now also in the New Testament have "many taken in hand" to write gospels, but not all have been accepted. That there have been written not only the four Gospels, but a whole series, from which those that we possess have been chosen and handed down to the churches, is, let it be noted, what we may learn from Luke's preface, which runs thus: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to compose a narrative."
The phrase "have taken in hand" implies a tacit accusation of those who rushed hastily to write Gospels without the grace of the Holy Spirit. Matthew and Mark and Luke and John did not "take in hand" to write their Gospels, but wrote them being full of the Holy Spirit . . . The Church has four Gospels, heresies very many, of which one is entitled "according to the Egyptians," another "according to the Twelve Apostles." Basilides also has presumed to write a Gospel and to call it by his own name. Many indeed have taken in hand to write, but four Gospels only are approved. From these the doctrines concerning the person of our Lord and Saviour are to be derived. There is I know a Gospel which is called "according to Thomas," and one "according to Matthias," and there are many others which we read, lest we should seem to be unacquainted with any point for the sake of those who think they possess some valuable knowledge if they are acquainted with them. But in all these we approve nothing else but that which the Church approves, that is, four Gospels only as proper to be received." --From Origen's Homilies on Luke
Currently I am doing a lot of reading about the early Church, primarily for class work. Origen, 185-254 AD, has always been a controversial figure. Unfortunately, much of what we know about him was written either by his admirers or by those who truly disliked him. In any case, he is clearly one of the first great Biblical scholars of the Church. Among his many contributions to the early Church, I have always found his Hexapla to be his most remarkable achievement. The Hexapla contained 6 versions of the Old Testament, including Hebrew, a Hebrew in Greek characters, the LXX, and three other Greek versions. Unfortunately it has been lost to history, but boy would it be fantastic if it were ever discovered! Think of all the new Bible versions! ;) For more about the Hexapla, you can check out the Catholic Encylopedia article.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
--Lecture delivered on 27th January 1988 at Saint Peter's Church in New York, New York.
This entire talk can be read in HarperOne's The Essential Pope Benedict, which is a really good collection of some of Pope Benedict's (Cardinal Ratzinger's) main theological and scriptural works.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I always go back and forth on study Bibles, not so much on which one contains which translation, but rather on their usefulness. As my knowledge of the Scriptures has grown during the past few years, both through graduate work and prayer, I have often found myself disliking the idea of using a study Bible on a daily basis. Usually when I am doing class work or preparing to lead a Bible study, I refer to more in depth commentaries rather than seeing what a particular note has to say in a study Bible. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that there are so many study Bibles out there. It certainly is a wonderful aid for people who are first getting into serious Bible study or for those who like to have either scholarly or application notes available to them. So, I am certainly in no way anti-study Bible.
I am also not one of those who will not use a particular study Bible because a note or two disagree with my theology or that it dates certain books later than I think or that it may question authorship of particular books. I always tell folks who come to Bible study that the text is infallible, not the notes!
Recently, however, I have been considering going back to using a study Bible again. This is probably due to recent publications of so many new study Bibles. Many of them look, on the surface, to be very well put together and include a number of helpful study tools. One thing I have noticed is that many study Bibles are trying to become smaller. While I think that makes them more easy to carry around, I wonder if that limits the amount of space for a reader to take personal notes. I think, particularly in a study Bible, that this is essential. I have an older 1990 Oxford Catholic Study Bible. One of the reasons I liked it was the fact that it had quite a bit of margin space, however all recent "updates" have reduced the margin space considerably.
So, what do you all think? Is there a particular study Bible out there that you rely on? If so, why? Obviously I would like to have one that includes the full Catholic canon, but I am open to reading about others as well.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Catholic Church wants people to know and love the word of God -- the Bible -- so that they will come to know and love the Word of God -- Jesus Christ. While the world Synod of Bishops is focusing on ways to educate Catholics in the importance of reading, understanding and praying with the Bible, several participants addressing the synod Oct. 6-7 insisted that people understand that for Christians the Word of God is Jesus." When asked what 'the word of God' is, many believers respond, 'the Bible.' The response is not wrong, but it is incomplete," said Italian Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, rector of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Because the word of God is more than the Bible, he told the synod Oct. 7, Christianity is not so much a "religion of the book" as a "religion of the Word," who is Jesus.
Brazilian Bishop Filippo Santoro of Petropolis said it is through reading and hearing the written word that Christians can come into contact with Jesus, the Word made flesh. Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, introducing the synod's work Oct. 6, said, "to begin, we must start from the mystery of a God who speaks, a God who is himself the Word and gives himself to be known by humanity in many ways." Through creation, through his covenant with the Israelites, through the prophets and the Scriptures, God reveals himself, said the cardinal, the synod's recording secretary. His revelation becomes complete in Jesus Christ. The Bible contains the essential account of how God has spoken to humanity, he said." Thanks to the Bible, humanity knows it has been called by God; the Spirit helps humanity listen and welcome the word of God, thus becoming the 'ecclesia' (church), the community assembled by the Word," Cardinal Ouellet said.
And I say Amen! Also, I still believe that the best Catholic understanding of the Word comes from the Vatican II document Dei Verbum. It is well worth reading and meditating on often.
Let me just clear up that I don't typically use the NAB, but I do appreciate that the folks at Fireside are doing something to help make the NAB more usable and attractive. I actually own a 1987 edition of the St. Joseph's New American Bible, which includes the original Old Testament (with original Psalms) and the revised New Testament. I use that most often when referring to the NAB.
Here are the details, thus far:
The English Standard Version Bible captures as far as possible the precise wording of the original biblical text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The ESV thus provides an accurate rendering of the original texts that is in readable, high quality English prose and poetry. This Bible has been growing in popularity among students in biblical studies, mainline Christian scholars and clergy, and Evangelical Christians of all denominations.
Along with that growth comes the need for the books of the Apocrypha to be included in ESV Bibles, both for denominations that use those books in liturgical readings and for students who need them for historical purposes. More Evangelicals are also beginning to be interested in the Apocrypha, even though they don't consider it God's Word. The English Standard Version Bible with the Apocrypha , for which the Apocrypha has been commissioned by Oxford University Press, employs the same methods and guidelines used by the original translators of the ESV, to produce for the first time an ESV Apocrypha. This will be the only ESV with Apocrypha available anywhere, and it includes all of the books and parts of books in the Protestant Apocrypha, the Catholic Old Testament, and the Old Testament as used in Orthodox Christian churches. It will have a lovely pre-printed case binding, and will include a full-color map section, a table of weights and measures used in the Bible, and many other attractive features.
The English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha is certain to become the preferred Bible in more conservative divinity schools and seminaries, where the Apocrypha is studied from an academic perspective. And it answers the need of conservative Christians in general for a more literal version of these books.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I have been debating this question in my mind recently, so I wanted to propose it to you.
What is better to have for a day-to-day/multi-purpose Bible: 1) one that has a superior translation; or 2) one that may not be as good of a translation, but contains such things as a quality binding/cover, study helps, cross-references, maps, and concordance?
I know that this might seem a bit trivial for my Protestant brothers and sisters, since most Protestant translations come in multiple editions so that if you like a particular translation, there is probably an edition that fits you well out there too. However, in the Catholic Bible publishing world, the options are not as expansive. (I am sure I will post on this issue again at a later time.) So what do you think?
But before you comment on this question, let me make a few additional points that might help in gauging where I am coming from:
1) The four translations that I have in mind here are the RSV, NRSV, NJB, and NAB. I like using the NAB the least, while I consider the RSV and NRSV each to have their positive and negative points. (I will be continuing my RSV vs. NRSV comparison in a week or so.) The NJB is still attractive in many ways, particularly due to all its reference material.
2) My background is that I do full-time campus/young adult ministry, while working on a graduate degree in Sacred Theology from a local seminary.
3) Personally, I like to carry around a Bible that is of standard/medium size.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Well, maybe not that much!
Today, October 4th, is the Feast of St. Francis, truly one of the greatest followers of Christ. I bring him up because one of his most well-known prayers, Canticle of the Creatures, is the first page of the new HarperCollins Green Bible. While St. Francis was certainly one who loved God's creation, he was more than just the guy who liked to play with birds. In particular, he loving preached the Gospel in word and deed, was devoted to the Church, and lived a life in deep solidarity with the poor. He also preached to the Sultan of Egypt in 1219. He was a remarkable man!
The Green Bible looks to capitalize on the whole "Go Green" fad that is currently popular. I don't necessarily see anything wrong with that, but I still wonder why they did not include the Deuterocanonical books, which St. Francis would have heard or read. Included, as well, is an essay from the late, great Pope John Paul II. I would imagine that there are many Catholic environmentalists who would appreciate a Catholic edition.