Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: ICSB Genesis

Last year saw the release of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament. While it took around ten years to be completed, the finished product was quite fantastic. As I wrote last year: "Simply put, it is fantastic and a great tool for Catholics." In much the same way, the ICSB volume on Genesis contains a great deal of study notes, commentary, maps, and charts to delight the average Catholic Bible reader.

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Book of Genesis is available in both paperback and e-book formats. The edition I have is the standard paperback. Unlike most of the individual volumes which came out for the New Testament editions, Genesis is much larger at a size of 8.5" x 11". While the size is massive, certainly in comparison to the earlier editions, the benefit is that you now have ample space to write your own notes due to the very generous side margins. This should not only benefit the individual who is studying Genesis, but also a Bible study leader. My only concern about the size is in regards to a future all-encompassing one volume edition of the ICSB. Let's hope that they produce a completed ICSB that is smaller in size than this edition, as well as the ICSBNT. You can view a sample page here.

The information that accompanies the RSV-2CE text of Genesis is on par with what we have seen with previous editions of the ICSB. Commentary typically takes up about 1/3 of a page, with particular sections of Genesis like Genesis 1-3 and the story of Abraham, taking up anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of the page. As a matter of fact, the commentary on Genesis 1:1-3 takes up over 90% of the page alone. Included with the commentary is a 4 page introduction with book outline, 5 word studies, 4 maps, 2 charts, and 3 topical essays covering "The Abrahamic Covenant", "The Sacrifice of Isaac", and "Blessing and Birthrights". The study questions, which were available in the individual NT volumes, are also contained in the appendix. Like the past editions, the study material is well organized, aided by the use of icon annotations, which alert readers to information on "content and unity of the Scripture", "living tradition", and "analogy of the faith", all well known to readers of Dei Verbum or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Overall, another fine volume from Ignatius Press. I will likely utilize this volume, as well as recommend it, to the intro class I am teaching on the OT next Fall. Again, the ICSB series is intended for the average Catholic, so it isn't "scholarly" like the Anchor Bible or JPS Torah Commentary. Yet, there is a lot of great material in these volumes which can be a benefit for most Catholics. As I have mentioned in previous reviews of the ICSB, the true usefulness of this project will only be fully realized when the one-volume study Bible is completed. In many ways, the ICSB takes serious the Catholic view of Scripture reading, as described in Dei Verbum. A completed ICSB will be a wonderful resource whenever it is finally completed. Although, with the slow pace of releases, one wonders whether we will see even the volume on Exodus in 2011?


rolf said...

Thanks for the review Timothy,
I am almost beginning to think that the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - Old Testament might be better off as a separate volume, making the ICSB a two volume set. I say this because the size of the current NT, and you would figure using the current format, the OT would be at least two-thirds larger. I like the larger print and the thick paper in the current NT, and to go to a one volume Study Bible (with all this info in it) Ignatius will have to make the print very small and use very thin Bible paper. This would not be a Bible I would carry around everywhere anyway, so I would not mind if it appeared in two volumes. Hey, maybe they will offer both formats (single volume and two volume set).

Timothy said...


I think having that option would be nice. However, if you look at the tons of information provided in the NIV and ESV study Bibles, then certainly they could produce the ICSB in a format that would be one volume and portable.

JM said...

Well, the ESV Study Bible is fat to the point of ridiculousness given the idea of a single volume is usability.

Matt said...

Regarding putting them in two volumes...the Haydock Bible is almos the same size as the NT ICSB.

It will take thinner paper and smaller font choices. That is all, when you think about it. The size of the current ICSB prevents me from using it seriously, since I do almost all my study in a class setting.