Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life with God Bible Review



While this blog's main purpose is to highlight, analyze, and review resources related to Catholic Bibles, it is clear that there are more and more Bibles and study tools being published by ecumenical Christian groups which may be of some benefit to the average Catholic. This trend is nothing new really, if you consider such study Bibles as the New Oxford Annotated Bible, HarperCollins Study Bible, and New Interpreters Study Bible. These study Bibles, largely academic, included both Catholic and Protestant scholars. There has not been, however, many ecumenical study Bibles that would be more devotional in its emphasis.

However, this has changed with the newly published Life with God Bible. Please note that this edition is a reprint of the original Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible of a few years ago. The main difference being that the Life with God Bible comes in a more portable size and in different cover editions. (I know that in the past one of the main reasons I didn't buy the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible was because it was so large.) The edition I will be reviewing here is the imitation leather version with the Deuterocanonical books. It also comes in paperback and hardcover versions, with or without the Deuterocanonical books.

The ecumenical group responsible for this Bible edition is the Renovare organization. While you can check out more about the group at their website, they describe themselves as "a nonprofit Christian organization headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, and active worldwide. We seek to resource, fuel, model, and advocate more intentional living and spiritual formation among Christians and those wanting a deeper connection with God. A foundational presence in the spiritual formation movement for over 20 years, Renovaré is Christian in commitment, ecumenical in breadth, and international in scope." Those involved in the Renovare ministry team include the full spectrum of Protestant churches, as well as one Roman Catholic. The editors are Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggermann, and Eugene H. Peterson. The main goal of this study Bible is to make "the Bible more accessible for the process of intentional formation in Christlikeness".

On to the Bible itself, which comes in a very portable, though not compact size of 7.3 x 5.1 x 2 inches. Its hard to place it in a particular size category, but I would relate it to the recently published NRSV Catholic Gift Bible, except that it is considerably thicker. The page format/type is very similar as well, although the NRSV Catholic Gift Bible might be slightly larger. My guess is that this is largely due to the inclusion of the Renovare commentary on the bottom of each page.

There are other similarities to the NRSV Catholic Gift Bible. First, it uses the NRSV translation, including all of the Deuterocanonical Books of both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. It is also nice that they are referred to as the "Deuterocanonical" books, not the "Apocrypha". You also find frequent reference to the Deuterocanonical books themselves in the NT commentary, most notably the Gospel of Matthew. Secondly, both editions include a concise concordance, which does reference all of the canon, including the Deuterocanonical books. Thirdly, the same Bible maps that were included in the NRSV Catholic Gift Bible are included in the Life with God Bible. The only difference is that the Life with God Bible places them at the back, which is where they belong. Finally, and unfortunately, one thing that both editions lack are cross-references. To be fair, however, the Life with God Bible does make occasional note of OT and NT references within the commentary. But, this is not done consistently.

The main contribution that the Renovare group made to this Bible edition is the inclusion of study notes/commentary, spiritual exercises, topical essays on key biblical figures, and a topical index which lists important scriptural verses related to the spiritual exercises. All of this can be previewed here. While the commentary primarily focuses on devotional/discipleship themes, there are many places, particularly in the OT, where it relates the kind of important historical information you would find in a typical study Bible. The periodical essays on biblical figures also combines both devotional and historical information. When referring to the spiritual disciplines, they mean an "intentionally directed action by which we do what we can do in order to receive from God the ability (or power) to do what we cannot do by direct effort." These spiritual disciplines include things like prayer, chastity, confession, fasting, meditation, sacrifice, and service. For the most part, I think a typical Catholic reader can find much to consider and meditate upon.

At this point, I have not found anything that a Catholic would really find objectionable. As a matter of fact, there is an emphasis on such "catholic" themes as the sacraments, broadly understood in a ecumenical context, as well as fasting and meditation. I have also found direct quotes in the commentary from Augustine, Brother Lawrence, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Gregory of Nyssa, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, amongst prominent Protestant writers like CS Lewis. If you happen to find the New Life with the Bible at a local bookstore, you might want to check it out. While it doesn't have the much demanded cross-references that I always champion, it is a very nice edition which I plan to try out over the next few months. It's size and the resources it includes makes it a very handy day to day Bible.

9 comments:

Lyle SmithGraybeal said...

Hello, Timothy. Thank you for your kind comments about this Renovare Bible. I am a contributor--"Wisdom of Solomon"; probably one of the weaker contributions!--and also am on staff with the Renovare organization. I do hope you enjoy your time working through it!

Please note that the new Renovare website is www.renovare.us. The extension has changed from .org to .us.

Timothy said...

Lyle,

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to working through the Bible, so far so good! :)

I will also update the website.

Thanks!

Ted said...

I picked up a copy of this edtion at my local B&N bookstore and so far am enjoying it very much. The imitation leather has a nice spongy feel and even smells nice. Even though I am not Catholic I bought the one with the Deuterocanonicals because I often find the added bulk often helps it to lie flatter when opened. As with all the Harper NRSV bibles there is some slight bleed through of the text, but it is nowhere as bad as in their standard or Go-Anywhere editions. One thing I like about this edition is the bold section headings - probably the boldest in any bible I've encountered. I haven't read enough of the notes to comment, but in glancing through them I so happy to see that they use the traditional BC/AD for their dates.

Timothy said...

Ted,

Yes! I forgot to mention that because of the Deuterocanonicals, the Bible does lie open very well. See, another reason to include them! :)

servusmariaen said...

What is the difference between the New Oxford Annotated Bible with apocrypha and the RSV CE?

Timothy said...

servusmariaen,

The main difference is that the Oxford Annotated comes with commentary, notes, maps, and other study helps done by an ecumenical group of scholars. Also, the Oxford Annotated uses an "updated" edition of the RSV NT, which was done around 1971.

The RSV-CE is very close to the standard RSV you find in the Oxford Annotated. The main difference being that there are some changes to some of the language in the New Testament. All RSV-CE's have an appendix in the back which show these changes. Ignatius Press is the main publisher of the RSV-CE, which they updated a few years ago to take out some of the archaic language.

Michael Barber said...

Unfortunately, in the second edition Ignatius Press also added changed other words. For example, the Last Supper has Jesus taking "the chalice". That's not a translation of the Greek word, which is simply "cup". I realize that it's cool, because it ties in with the liturgy well, but that doesn't make it a good TRANSLATION. Martin Luther had to add words to the Bible to get it to match his theology (i.e., Rom 3:28, "alone"), but we Catholics don't need to do that kind of thing. So sorry they did this.

Anonymous said...
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Ken said...

HI,

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I WOULD APPRECIATE SOME CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM AND PRAYERS FOR MY WEBSITE MINISTRY.

HAPPY NEW YEAR,


KEN