Reader Geoff provided a guest review of the CTS Bible a few weeks back. Since then, he has reconsidered some of his comments, so he asked that I allow him to post this follow-up:
In my recent review of the CTS edition of the Jerusalem Bible, I was very negative about the commentaries contained therein. After receiving criticism for this, I decided to conduct more research into acceptable Catholic views on Holy Scripture. I've learned so much over the past month on this subject, and while the historical opinions expressed in the CTS Bible may not be to everyone's personal liking, there is nothing in them contrary to the Catholic Faith.
Fr. Henry Wansbrough, the man responsible for the commentaries, was kind enough to correspond with me by email and clear up some of my confusion. He is a very good and holy priest. I therefore retract my criticism of his historical commentaries. While I do not agree with everything he says, I cannot deny that his work is insightful, even masterful, and certainly orthodox by the judgment of the Church.
Moreover, I must amend my recommendations. The people I've begun teaching in an introductory Bible class love the CTS Bible! Contrary to my previous judgment, it appears to work great for catechesis and evangelism. I kindly ask Tim's readers to forgive my rash assessment of this fine Bible.
Below is a sample of Geoff's correspondence with Fr. Wansbrough, printed with permission fom Geoff:
Dear Fr . Henry,
Thank you so much for editing such a wonderful Bible! I have a question concerning the footnote for Luke 2:2. I've heard a lot of different theories about the census, such as maybe it took place over a period of years and ended once Quirinius became governor of Syria . But the issue ties into a larger inquiry of mine. What is the historical character of the infancy narratives, are they reliable, and is the Church's belief in events such as Jesus' virgin birth and the perpetual virginity of Mary well-founded? Or should there be discussion on re-evaluating our stance on these matters?
Thank you once again for your time and generosity!
Thank you for your message. Do you expect me to answer all those questions in a quick email?
Briefly, I personally go for the literary solution. Lk wanted to integrate Jesus into contempoarary history, or rather the history of a couple of generations ago, but was not to clear about the details. Pretty good, knowing about the census under Quirinius; he used this to get the holy family to Bethlehem , but got it slightly wrong. Perhaps he confused it with a census when King Herod had blotted his Roman copybook and was no longer exempted from Roman taxes.
It is the firm tradition of the Church that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus had no human father, and that I accept because it is the tradition, going right back behind Mt and Lk. But I do not see that being ‘son of God’ in the biblical sense would be incompatible with having a human father. Furthermore, I think that the important sign value of Mary’s virginity is her total dedication to her Son and to the Lord.
I hope that helps.