Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Saints Devotional Bible NABRE

 
 Our Sunday Visitor recently published a new edition of the Saints Devotional Bible, this time with the NABRE text.  At this time, it is only available in a paperback edition, although like some of their Bibles in the past that came out in paperback first, like the Catholic Answer Bible, other editions soon followed.

The Saints Devotional Bible comes with the following features:

         Over 200 readings from the saints, including their own reflections, prayers, letters, and more
      The saints' reflections broaden appreciation and understanding of old testament and new testament texts
      A twenty-part lesson on studying, praying, and living the Scriptures, with longer selections from the writings of the saints
      An easy-to-search list of themes that allow you to study topics of interest to you
   A calendar of saints and a list of patron saints

   Mini-biographies of all the saints whose selections are quoted

This edition from OSV is a very nicely produced volume.  The text of the NABRE is very clear and readable, with a generous amount of space on the margins for notes.  In particular, I like how they kept the cross-references in a shaded box, distinct from the rest of the information on each page.  This may be one of the most pleasant NABRE’s to read, perhaps only edged out by the HarperOne NABRE.  The paper used is very thin, so one needs to be careful when flipping through.

Of course, the most unique element of this Bible is the readings and information about the Saints.  All of the readings are placed at the beginning of text, before the Scriptures.  They do contain some very helpful, and sizable, readings from the Saints, ranging from saints from the 2nd to 20th centuries.  Each selection comes with a suggested passage from the Bible that compliments the writings of that particular saint.  (A verse or two of that Scriptural passage is quoted at the top as well.)  In the middle of this Bible is a twenty-part glossary paper insert concerning what the Saints said about reading the Scriptures.  (This being a glued paperback, I worry that this section may fall out at some point.)

In the appendix there is a brief biographical sketch of each saint who is quoted, a calendar of saints, a listing of patron saints, an index of themes presented in the selections from the saints, and a list of sources for the material.  This is all very good and helpful material.  I would have liked to have seen a modest selection of Bible maps, and perhaps a list of readings which are used on some of the saints feast days.  (Also, the Sunday Mass readings would have been helpful as well!)

Overall, my thoughts on this edition are mixed to be honest.  The Saint Devotional Bible may serve well for a new Catholic or one who has a particular devotion to the Saints.  The presentation is very clean and orderly, with an attractive cover and over two hundred selections from the saints.  I also like that it utilizes the NABRE.  I hope it comes out in a hardcover, or imitation leather, edition at some point in the future.

In comparing this edition with the NJB: Saints Devotional Bible, of which much of the material comes from, my major complaint is that I wish the writings of the saints were integrated into the Biblical text.  The NJB edition was a beauty to read from with little need to flip around from saint’s reading to scriptural text.  It was all on the same page.  I am also not a fan of glossy inserts placed in a Bible.  While the included material from the saints is quite good, similar to the quality that is found in the New Catholic Answer Bible or even the CSSI Bible from Saint Benedict Press, I just wish Catholic Bible publishers would integrate this material into the text.  In conclusion, I prefer the NABRE to the NJB, but the overall presentation of the NJB Saints Devotional Bible is superior to its NABRE counterpart.  

23 comments:

Matt said...

One of the strong points to the NJB edition is that the Saints' texts are inline with the Scripture. It is unfortunate that OSV changed it. I wonder if the USCCB made them do it this way. There is glossy paper in the NJB version, but it being a hardcover mitigates that annoyance.

The only issue I have with the NJB edition is the form factor. It is a large and rather square hardcover. I wish it had come in softcover or leather.

Timothy said...

Matt,

The Little Rock Scripture Study Bible has info directly with the Scriptures, like the NJB Devotional bible. So, I don't think the USCCB would care. Actually, as I think of it, so does the Catholic Study Bibles from Oxford.

Biblical Catholic said...

Does it have the usual NAB notes?

Timothy said...

Same notes are present.

CJA Mayo said...

I just got a new Cambridge Clarion Reference Bible, and no Catholic Bible comes close. (Nor does any other Protestant one, for that matter.)

You should review it here to try and steal some thunder from J Mark Bertrand, although, seeing as he has about $50k worth of high-end Bibles, that might be impossible unless you're a Kennedy.

Leonardo said...

Hi,

I don´t agree with the comments of persons, other than the editors, into the Bible. I think that that kind of intrusion unbalance the possible perception of the sacred words. I think that the editors task is so delicate, because the Bible is a book fore everyone. And not all the saints have that kind of perspective.

Zenkai said...

Does the NJB version have the same liberal notes as the regular one?

Biblical Catholic said...

What precisely is 'liberal' about the NJB notes? The fact that they deny the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and advocate Markan priority?

Do you realize that the last several Popes have held the same opinions?

In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John II even referred to the documentary hypothesis (approvingly!), and at other points in his writings he refers to 'the author of the fourth gospel' rather than simply saying 'John' (which would tend to indicate that he didn't believe in apostolic authorship of the gospels) and in another one of his writings, John Paul II refers to 'proto Isiah' (apparently he believed in the modern theory that Isiah was written by three different authors....

And Benedict XVI and Paul VI have said similar things...

Honestly..if it's good enough for the Pope....

Zenkai said...

I'm not necessarily talking about Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. I'm talking about the liberal notes that deny the authenticity of several of the New Testament Epistles.

Anonymous said...

I think the NJB Devotional bible includes the Readers edition of the NJB, i.e. the text without the notes and the cross-references of the Standard edition.

Biblical Catholic said...

"I'm not necessarily talking about Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. I'm talking about the liberal notes that deny the authenticity of several of the New Testament Epistles."

If you read the works of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, they also express some doubt about the apostolic authorship of the epistles....

I'm not saying you have to agree with it, I tend not to myself, but when you have Popes citing the theories as valid, it has to be conceded that it doesn't present any threat to the faith.

CJA Mayo said...

Just because something isn't heresy, or just because it is a theologoumenon, doesn't mean it can't be challenging or damaging to the faith of some, even if not many; this is up to individuals to discern for themselves, and for others to help advise.

Remember, that transubstantiation was not yet a dogma when the theory of impanation was being thrown about, by, I believe, Berengarius of Tours. Remember that Origen's ideas were not yet heresy when he penned them, in the formal sense; he rejected no dogmata, but his ideas would later come to be condemned as incorrect. Remember also that Augustine's doctrines of grace and original sin took hundreds of years to win out (disregarding the recrudescences of Pelagianism throughout history, prevalent amongst both the rank-and-file, "man in the pew" Protestant and popular Catholic piety) and be balanced in the "Augustinian synthesis" (to borrow a phrase from Pelikan), whereas his ecclesiology won out almost immediately.

Popes (and theologians, and doctors) have held incorrect ideas that later came to be condemned as heresy, or at least permitted them (Honorius); Popes have held correct ideas that were believed to be incorrect by many and split the Church (Leo the Great and his Tome); Popes have held ideas that were never approved nor disapproved; Popes have held ideas that became dogma (Pius XII), etc.

If a Pope doubts something, and is speaking merely personally, it does not mean he is correct; if a Pope believes something, ditto, it does not mean he is correct. The Pope is as fallible as any other bishop when not speaking to define a dogma or that "which has been believe by everyone, always, everywhere" (I believe that was Vincent of Lerins' criterion for Catholicity).

Now, did Paul actually write Hebrews? Probably not - and it doesn't claim to be written by Paul. Did John write the fourth gospel? Probably. Can we ever prove this? No. Can we ever disprove this? No. We can't even achieve a semblance of certainty or a legalistic "preponderance of evidence"; what at times seems to be the preponderance of evidence has much more to do with the "scholarly bandwagon effect" than with where the evidence actually preponders.

Zenkai said...

Can you give me a quote from a Pope saying that St. Peter didn't write his own second Epistle? Or that St. Paul didn't write several of his own Epistles? Or that St. John didn't write several of his own Epistles?

The Epistles are clear. They state who they were written by. There is absolutely no reason to say that the Bible is lying to us.

Biblical Catholic said...

"Just because something isn't heresy, or just because it is a theologoumenon, doesn't mean it can't be challenging or damaging to the faith of some, even if not many; this is up to individuals to discern for themselves, and for others to help advise."

I agree...but my point is that when a Pope says something is okay, then that means individual Catholics are not free to say otherwise....it doesn't mean you necessarily have to agree, but you can't say that such views are inconsistent with the faith. And whether we like it or not, recent Popes have made several statements that these views are inconsistent with Catholic faith....it is wise to keep in mind Pope Benedict's recent warnings (in his books Jesus of Nazareth) about placing too much emphasis and faith in higher critical scholarship, but my point is no one has the right to forbid what the Church has decided to allow.

I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions of modern historical critical scholarship, and I am not suggesting that just because Popes seem to have endorsed these opinions that all Catholics have to agree, but as long as such theories do not deny the truth of the scriptures they are permissible opinions.

I'm not familiar enough with the notes in the JB and NJB to know if they advocate the idea that the scriptures are in error, if they do then that is wrong....the NAB at several points says that the scriptures are wrong, and that is why I cannot endorse those notes.


I do know that both the NAB and NJB are currently being revised, and we have been promised a revision of the NAB notes, hopefully the next edition won't be as hyper-skeptical. Who knows what direction the notes in the next edition of the Jerusalem Bible will take.

Biblical Catholic said...

I should add also that I think the arguments against apostolic authorship of 2 Peter and Jude are flimsy at best..if a Catholic Bible is going to endorse the position that these are not of apostolic authorship, then at the very least, they ought to try to give a balanced presentation by pointing out the problems with the modern theory e.g. the general flimsiness of the hoary 'it's written in a different style' argument, as if all authors can only write in one style...

owen swain said...

This is personal bias admittedly but having spent time in the NABRE & NAB this past year (including the beautifully bound Little Rock leather I received as a gift) I just cannot get excited by any edition of the NAB/NABRE. The old song about the horrid notes is a hindrance for me but translation itself -even with its recent upgrade- has become an impediment such that regardless of the form, format of niche marketing I wouldn't want another.

However, a new bible I am pumped about is the KNOX on the other hand I am totally pumped about. My only nit with Baronius on that is that they made it a straight ahead hard cover (leather) instead of the flex-cover as with their Douay-Rheims. Moving between the KNOX and the RSVCE is proving to be worthwhile.

owen swain said...

Pardon my horrid editing in the post above. I hope it makes some sense even with the obvious failure to edit my edit-on-the-fly.

CJA Mayo said...

Biblical Catholic:

To reply to one point, the NJB does not say the Scriptures are incorrect to nearly the same extent that the NAB does, but it does in some places, and militates against traditional exegesis (which, given, is not the same as the text) in others (such as "saved as if by fire", which hath an annotation that specifically says, "refers in no way to purgatory", for an example off the top of my memory).

Some of these places, the Scriptures are ineluctably wrong and/or contradictory with the protocanon, at least on the historical level, such as in "Nebuchadnezzer King of Assyria" in Judith 1:1. The job then is not to try and prove that a blatant historical error is not an error (which the NJB doesn't attempt to do), but to attempt to give reason to why the author, or the Holy Spirit, would have used such an error knowingly, as a rhetorical device (given that it would not make God a liar, if all of the original audience would have immediately recognized "this is the introduction to a moral tale, and the strength of God over his adversaries, not to be placed in history); the Lutheran Annotated Apocrypha does a better job of this than any Catholic commentary I've ever seen (of which there are few) - and the Lutherans don't even believe it to be inspired Scripture!

Or, alternately, the Origenian teaching that can be implied by the verse in Wisdom that can be interpreted to mean souls are pre-existent; the commentator in this place, has the duty to defend the passage and to denounce much like the commentator has a duty to defend similar "contradictions and errors in the Bible" and non-PC statements that, on a deeper inspection, turn out to be neither erroneous nor contradictory (such as the journey around Nineveh/the putative two creation accounts).

Not that these books have not caused more trouble for my faith than the protocanon; at times I have been ready to endorse an Orthodox view of the books (lesser in authority, still canonical) in contravention of the Decrees of Trent, or even an Anglo-Lutheran view of them ("good to be read but not written by the Holy Spirit"), as they are hard to square with plenary inspiration; but, because they are hard to square, doesn't mean they can not be squared (they're not a circle, after all), and it is my duty as a Catholic, who attempts to be orthodox, to square them, and not "wrest the difficult Scriptures to [my] own destruction", as Peter said.

Biblical Catholic said...

Well....you do raise a difficult issue...how many of the stories in the OT are intended to be literal history, and how many of them are intended to be 'religious fiction' so to speak....is....for example.. the book of Job literal history, or is it just a parable told to illustrate a point?

Modern scholars tend to point to several books in the OT as being merely didactic stories and not history....depending on the scholar in question such books may include Esther, Daniel, Jonah, Judith, Tobit, Job and Jonah....

Sometimes it isn't easy to tell the difference....obviously I Kings is intended to be historical....the style of writing is very realistic, it attempts, as best it can, to give precise dates to events and to name every character etc.....it is less obvious that the book of Tobit is intended to be historical, for one thing the style of writing is poetic, rather than the realism of I Kings, for other things, Tobit gives no indication of a specific time when it might have occurred, not all of the characters are given actual names, and the writing style seems like a fable, for example with the extensive use of irony, coincidence and puns....

Categorizing the books as, 'this one is historical, this one isn't' is not easy and I think people can disagree about the classification...

I don't think the Church frowns upon that kind of genre classification of scripture, and seems to encourage it.

Leonardo said...

I think that any one who studies the Bible will be challenged, because one passer from one point of view into another. For example, the day I read the story of David, I really disliked being in Bible classes. But latter, I tried to expose my point of view to the person in charge of the class. He tried to present to me another way of viewing things.

CJA Mayo said...

Additionally, not only the book passes from one point of view in to another, but the reader himself often does if he has any flexibility of mind (which, depending on your perspective, could be denounced as "being blown to and fro by every wind..."); witness, over the past two years, well documented in my commentating on this very blog, my evolution (pun intended) in my views towards creation, Scripture, translation, lower and higher criticism, allegorical interpretation, Patristics, and probably a few more.

Challenging it can also be (are we speaking Yoda or Knox?) to square one's previous views, sometimes strongly held, with one's current views, and to reconcile the change in oneself, although the Scriptures have remained a rock throughout that entire time, has the Church, both immutable. Sometimes views are changed on the least of evidence, or even a changed gestalt (?) or whatever the proper word may be; sometimes views are wrested from one by further learning, views that once seemed correct and proper, and are revealed to be naive and contradictory.

Not to mention when one attempts to systematize all of ones stand-points in to a coherent theological system; during the latest of these attempts on my part, I was forced to let go of my strongly-held Christus Victor view of the atonement, and relegate it to merely an aspect of a Satisfactionary atonement, as, I found, that Christus Victor, unlike Anselmic Satisfaction, could not account in any reasonable manner for the presence of Christ on the altar; without my knowledge, I held a view that, carried to its ultimate conclusion and used as the sole explanation of the atonement, would overthrow much of the sacramental system, most noticeably penance and Eucharist. And I noticed this not, for holding the Christus Victor view as long as I did.

The same happened during my most recent attempted systematization in my metamorphosis from a relatively staunch intelligent design advocate/theistic evolutionist (what is normally called by the name of "theistic evolution" is "deistic evolution" in fact, as God "wound it up and let it run" without interference) to a literal Creationist.

In the previous round of systematization about a year ago, I realized that some translational principles (not letting the New interpret the Old; regendering) that I then embraced were incompatible with plenary inspiration and/or a high view of Scripture; so I had to abandon them.

Many men can hold contradictory notions in their heads - as I myself can, as I demonstrated - without ever realizing it; but is is they who attempt to systematize, who drive the elucidation and development of doctrine, as, I have to imagine, when St Anselm himself came to the same conclusion about Christus Victor: that it was incompatible with the rule of prayer (that which the church practices, in this case, penance and the Sacrifice of the Mass) laying down the rule of faith (that which the church confesses), to borrow from an ancient canon.

Now, I believe I'm starting to ramble about worldview development, cognitive dissonance, and other topics more philosophical, so here the terminus is set.

Theophrastus said...

Moving back on topic -- I have to say how disappointed I was with this volume. It looks ugly; it is awkward to hold; the NABRE notes really distract from reading in this format; and the additional readings need to be integrated with the text.

This was a big disappointed since the NJB edition was a nearly perfect devotional bible.

I do not agree that this volume is "one of the most pleasant NABREs to read." In fact, I would put it in the bottom half of NABRE editions.

This volume was supposedly intended to support lectio divina readings, but I think it is a terrible choice for that purpose, since the formatting and notes distract from meditative reading.

--------------------------

OK, one off-topic response to CJA Mayo -- Mark Bertrand reviewed the Cambridge Clarion KJV back on August 18, 2011.

CJA Mayo said...

It's a nice Bible, but my Goatskin one - just a week old - is already falling apart in the front, where one of the "tabs" that hold the book block in the cover (I suppose that's what "edge lining" is, as there are no endpapers) is visible from between the supposed-to-be-glued sheets of paper, and is working loose even from them. Contacted Cambridge - let's see if their "Lifetime Guarantee" means anything.

But, it is a very nice Bible. And God saw that it was good, and accepted the goat as a sacrifice.