I have spent a number of hours over this past weekend perusing through the long-awaited Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament (ICSBNT). (The edition I am reviewing is the hardback one.) Simply put, it is fantastic and a great tool for Catholics. Over the past year or so, we have been blessed with an increase in the amount and quality of Bible related material and study tools, most notable are The Catholic Bible Dictionary, The Catholic Bible Concordance, The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series, and now the completed ICSBNT. These are truly good days for Catholics to enhance their love of Scripture, which is certainly one of the main areas of focus for our current Holy Father. There really is no excuse for Catholics to not be engaged in regular Bible study, whether individually or in a group. The tools are out there!
While in many ways the ICSBNT is only a collection of the individual volumes that Ignatius Press has been producing since 2000, it is so much more. As has been noted on a number of sites, the ICSBNT is a fairly thick volume. (Matt, over at Absolutely No Spin, has some fine pictures which illustrate that point.) This isn't to say that it is as large as the Navarre Bible- New Testament Expanded Edition. However, the text is quite large and easy to read, while not technically being large print. Rather, the size of the actual volume, itself, makes the text very easy to read. In addition to it's size, the ICSBNT is printed on thick, non-glossy, paper. Again, this was a major issue I had with the original edition of the RSV-2CE, which has recently been changed. If you are looking for wide margins, the verdict is that they are OK. This is certainly not a wide-margin study Bible, like the original NAB Catholic Study Bible was, but there is still plenty of space for individual notations.
The true worth of this volume is in the amount of study notes, the 28 in-text charts and maps, the 62 word studies, and the 23 topical essays that are included. (There is also a new 9-page introduction to the Gospels, authored by Curtis Mitch co-author of the ICSBNT along with Scott Hahn, which clearly explains all the important issues related to the Gospels, most notably the relationship among the synoptics.) The annotations remain focused on not only historical info, but the helpful "icon annotation" system which singles out passages that relate to: 1) "content and unity" of the Scriptures; 2) Tradition and Magesterium (with plentiful references to the CCC); and 3) "Analogy of the faith". (See CCC 112-114 for the reasoning behind this special annotation system.) For the most part, however, there are no differences in content between this and what was found in the original single volumes. Yet, to have the study material collected in one volume makes cross-referencing the information much easier.