Monday, November 21, 2011

The New Evangelization and the Bible Part 4

In some Protestant circles, this week is National Bible Week. I am not too sure, but I think this is the first that I have heard of this celebration. Is anybody else familiar with this? Either way, this does bring up an interesting set of questions which will serve as a conclusion to this series of posts on the New Evangelization and the Bible in the Church. So far, we have looked at what some recent Popes and biblical scholars have had to say about the role of the Bible in evangelization, along with a brief discussion on which translations would be the best to use. So, in light of National Bible Week, I would like to ask you these questions:

1) What scriptural materials or programs do you think work well in evangelizing people, particularly lapsed or inactive Catholics? (BTW, I hate the word "programs" in relation to ministry, but that is for another time.)

2) How does the New Media, particularly the internet, fit into this discussion? (I have in mind Brandon Vogt's book The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet and how that can relate to our topic of the Bible.)

3) What would you like to see the Church do to promote greater scriptural literacy?


Timothy said...

For example, to answer question 3, I think The Great Adventure Bible study by Jeff Cavins is a very good thing, along with the Denver (and Michigan) Catholic Bible Schools.

Theophrastus said...

The Catholic Bible School is in more places than Denver and Michigan -- e.g., the Catholic Bible Institute at the Los Angeles Archiocese, the Catholic Biblical School, the Catholic Biblical School at the Hartford Archdiocese, the Catholic Biblical School at the University of Dallas, etc.

It would be nice to see an educational trust to support publication programs such as the Collegeville Commentary series, the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible series, etc. These are fantastic resources for Bible education, but I feel the Catholic community, relative to its size, has fewer of these resources than various Protestant groups or Jewish groups.

It is a matter of considerable embarrassment that the Catholic community does not even have a quality single-volume Catholic study Bible. I do not consider the Oxford entries to be even close in quality to the leading ecumenical, Protestant, or Jewish study Bibles; the Ignatius study Bible seems on the slow track. If one looks at many recommendations -- one sees the old 19th century Haydock Bible still being recommended although its format, language, content, and tone make its use problematic by most contemporary American readers.

As it stands, Catholics seeking a high-quality contemporary English-language study Bible are forced to turn ecumenical study Bibles.

I also think that a complete revision of the NAB/NABRE notes is called for to make that Bible more useful.

The US Catholic community has a strong commitment to education of children and college students. A little bit more investment in adult educational materials could have a surprisingly large impact.

Timothy said...


I really wish I could disagree with anything you just wrote, but your analysis is spot on. The NABRE study Bible, and approved notes, needs some work, the ICSB is taking way way way too long, and then there is the Haydock Bible which like you say has some problematic elements. Then to see the ESV, NLT, and NIV study Bibles being produced in attractive and content-rich formats, while we have what we have, is simply a shame.

Chrysostom said...

My moderated comment said pretty much the exact same Theo said, except for a bit sharper tone, and a real-world example of how the NAB has ruined one (the one and only time I ever used it) opportunity I had for evangelism, which, as it is now, is a valid concern. We can't expect people to spend a year or two getting up to date in critical theory before they become Christians, and still become Christians after that.

The language of the Bible is also lousy (this is widely acknowledged, I believe - "God-Hero"?), interpreted in such a way as to deliberately foreclose on the NT authors' interpretations being correct (and thus denying inspiration of the NT), and, overall, it comes in no decent formats.

Over and above all, for half the price of the "New Catholic Answer Bible" in polyleather, one can get something like the ESV Study Bible, which is, as far as format, presentation, content, etc. worlds better than anything we Catholics have (including, sadly, the ICSBNT).

Anonymous said...

I've essentially given up -- it's both shameful and pathetic. I use the RSV for reading and the ESV for studying with the CCC as a supplement or contradiction catcher.