Now that I work full time in high school ministry to youth, the desire to have a solidly Catholic youth Bible continues to be an important need. Most of you are familiar with St. Mary's Press Catholic Youth Bible, which comes in both the NAB and NRSV. In addition, there are some others out there on the market, however many of them tend to simply be a standard edition of the NAB with various "youth" inserts. I always thought that was kind of lazy and uninspiring. On the other hand, one can easily go to their local Christian or secular book store and find many more options for Protestant youth. Many of them are very attractive in both their content and overall layout. So, for many Catholic youth looking for a personal youth Bible that is accessible and engaging, the Catholic Youth Bible has been the only real option. But, happily, that is beginning to change.
HarperOne, in cooperation with Our Sunday Visitor, has released this week the Live Youth Bible: Catholic Edition which comes in the NRSV translation. If this name and format look similar, Tyndale happens to publish a Protestant youth edition using the NLT. (I haven't had a chance to thumb through it yet to compare the two.) Either way, I am happy to say that, so far, I really like what I see. But first, here are some of the features:
LIVE includes art, photos, and other creative forms of self-expression by people their age who looked for God in their neighborhoods, schools, families, parishes, the world.
Challenging sidebars to help teens discover how the Bible can be a map for their lifelong faith journey and how it’s connected to every part of their lives.
Creative space to respond to what they’re reading—to doodle, journal, or paste pictures.
An invitation to join the online community at Learner.CalltoDiscipleship.com, where they can post their art, writing, and insights with others on the same journey.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Catholic Edition text that is fully approved for study by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In addition to what was stated above, the Live Youth Bible also contains new introductions to each Biblical book, a few Bible reading plans, features index, a list of helpful scriptural passages for various needs, and a concordance. The challenging sidebars include both inspirational quotes, as well as profiles of Catholic saints, questions/challenges, and forty "It's Tradition" which examines and explains various Catholic beliefs. There are probably over a hundred quotes scattered throughout this Bible from a broad range of people. One page you might find a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Ambrose, while on another you might read something from Jim Caviezel or Bono. Many of the quotes that I have read so far have been quite good, and they help to break up the text on each page. The "It's Tradition" treats areas such as Lectio Divina, the Deuterocanonical Books, Intercessory Prayer, the Litany of the Saints, and much more. Each is typically placed at a point in Scripture that is directly relevant to the topic.
The most unique element of this Bible is the desire by the publishers to have Catholic youth truly engage with the text. They really want the youth to write in their Bibles! Personally, I like this since I often encourage my students to do the same, even though many of them are hesitant to do so. The Live Youth Bible attempts to do this through the various sidebars that ask and challenge the youth to respond to a host of issues that relate either directly to the Biblical text or a particular youth issue. However, this is also accomplished through the "creative spaces" that are left blank at many places throughout the Bible. These "creative spaces" are of various sizes, some even taking up half a page or more. Tied into this Bible is a website, which intends to be a forum for youth to share their thoughts and creativity.
As I said above, I really like this youth Bible. I appreciate the desire of the publishers to encourage the youth to physically engage with the sacred text. The added online content will hopefully be updated regularly and be interesting to youth. I also like the size of this youth Bible, which is considerably smaller than the St. Mary's Press Catholic Youth Bible. I know that some of my students who used the CYB last year felt it was a bit too bulky. This is not the case with the Live Youth Bible. The addition of a concordance is also helpful, which is now missing on the latest revision of the CYB. I also like the fact that the Live Youth Bible does not contain any laminated page inserts. Again, the CYB has done this for their most recent edition, which I think just makes the book more awkward and the binding less secure.
Some things that I would like to see added to any future editions of the Live Youth Bible:
* Biblical Maps
* Sunday Lectionary Readings
* Additional "It's Tradition" sidebars
* Cross-References (That is an NRSV thing I know!)