Monday, January 12, 2015

Didache Bible: Your Initial Impressions

Some of you have already received it and have shared your comments on a previous post.  I thought I might start a new post here for those who would like to comment.  I should be getting mine within the next day or so.

Here are a few comments so far:

It's very attractive in its physical appearance. It's pretty much meat & potatoes without attempt to look fancy. By the way, it really does have 1960 pages even though the last page is numbered 1818. Here's the explanation: the roman numeraled pages are 34 in number. Then there are two un-numbered pages not counted as any number leading into Genesis. Genesis itself starts as page 1. So that brings us to 1854 pages. And the mystery is resolved by noting - which I did by lucky accident - that in between pages 14 and 15 are two pages (one on each side of a physical sheet) of Apologetics. And those pages are un-numbered and do NOT count in the page numbering as you'll easily see by inspection. So then on a hunch, I looked in the Table of Contents which would be page "v" but the first six roman numeral pages don't have the roman numeral there. But if you count the pages manually starting with the title page as "i" , it would be roman numeral "v". Anyhow in the Table of Contents it refers to "Index of Apologetical Explanations by Title" on page 1784. (going to there you find pages numbered 1784,1785,1786 have 34,38,34 listings for a total of 106 pages of Apologetics and so 1854 + 106 = 1960. A feature I found to by visually attractive is the use of bold-face dark red for theheadings of the 106 Apologetic pages and also the title of each book of the Bible. 

- It is about the size of the Navarre New Testament Compact Edition, maybe a little larger. Definitely not a brick.
- The hardcover is pretty average. I am going to put a cover on it or get it rebound.
- The sewn binding lays flat from cover to cover
- The print is dark and easy to read
- Paper is neither to thin nor too thick
- The black and red design is similar to the ESV Reader's Bible
- Each book has a one page introduction that is like a paired down version of those found in the ICSB
- Modern scholarship seems well represented as to authorship of books (Documentary hypothesis is presented without mention of Mosaic authorship, Deuteronomistic history, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Isaiah etc. Traditional authorship of Gospels and Epistles affirmed but modern theories mentioned)
- The commentary appears as advertised - mostly tied to CCC (but many other Magisterial documents are cited) as well as canonical / Christological interpretation of OT.
- Brief introduction to Catholic teaching about Scripture, how to read the bible, brief summary of Scripture, chronology of OT and NT at the front of the book are a nice touch
- Apologetic material appears to be somewhat randomly dispersed throughout but there is an index in the back
- The commentary seems to be much better geared to the "average Catholic" picking up the bible than the NABRE notes. I think this will definitely fill a much needed niche for Catholics interested in delving deeper in to Scripture without getting bogged down in the historical-critical weeds

I got my copy just minutes ago (Monday afternoon, the 12th). It is generally what we expected. No dust jacket - a true hard cover book. As Luke said, it is not a brick. Quite reasonable in size. Print quality seems good to my eyes. I am able to read it even without my glasses - though I would never do that for more than a few minutes. 
The apologetics articles seem to be very good. 
One the ribbons had glue on the end and was sticking to the page (1 Sam 14:18). Yikes! Luckily I was able to unstick it without damaging the page or ribbon. I had to cut the ribbon to remove the gluey part. The other ribbon was already slightly frayed at the end! By the way, the ribbons are really long. That will be useful over time if they get frayed and need to be cut away.
The Brief Summary of Sacred Scripture at the beginning of the Bible will be very useful for telling people what each book is about in as little as one sentence (or several if need be). Shortest Example: "2 Samuel: The reign of David". 


Jonny said...

I have received my copy of the Didache Bible. Two words come to mind when I think of this edition in relation to the world of modern Catholic Bible editions.... Game. Over.

I have had several major uses for printed Bibles in my years of being Catholic. First and foremost, to pray and study the Scripture with my family, to use for group studies at my Parish, and to give as gifts to people on various stages in their faith journey. For all these purposes, I have, in the past, had to compromise between the inherent weaknesses of various editions.

In my devotions with my family, we often use the Douay Rheims, or the RSV-2CE. Right now, the RSV-2CE is choice for Catholics as the formal modern translation. Liturgium Authenticam is specific in calling for its principles of translation as applied to the Liturgy be also the text, word for word what is prayed and studied by the faithful outside of Mass.

"36. In order that the faithful may be able to commit to memory at least the more important texts of the Sacred Scriptures and be formed by them even in their private prayer, it is of the greatest importance that the translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for liturgical use be characterized by a certain uniformity and stability, such that in every territory there should exist only one approved translation, which will be employed in all parts of the various liturgical books. This stability is especially to be desired in the translation of the Sacred Books of more frequent use, such as the Psalter, which is the fundamental prayer book of the Christian people.[31] The Conferences of Bishops are strongly encouraged to provide for the commissioning and publication in their territories of an integral translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for the private study and reading of the faithful, which corresponds in every part to the text that is used in the Sacred Liturgy."

...continued on next post

Jonny said...

...continued from last post

That vision ultimately might be realized through the NABRE Bible as well as it is continued to be revised to conform to these higher standards. At present, the RSV-2CE is closest to meeting that vision, although in the U.S. it is only used in the Anglican Rite, as well as in several other countries throughout the world. Now don't freak out at me saying this if you prefer another translation that is more paraphrased or less formal! One may still use an alternate translation. I know the if the revised NABRE text and notes do not make a significant improvement my family will continue to use the RSV-2CE as the better option. In my experience it is the most ecumenical option as well, being very similar to the ESV, NKJV, and NASB. But now there is the added benefit of the notes in the Didache Bible. There is no other edition available right now that is better equipped to help me fulfill my primary vocation, to catechize my family, and also the rest of the world!

Seriously, before the Didache, choosing a Bible for someone was a choice between the lesser of the ills. I would not want to give a NABRE to a non-Catholic due to the problematic notes, which would add to their confusion. I would end up giving them a NOAB RSV to at least give them some reasonable notes that weren't ANTI-Catholic! But it was still a compromise, because they weren't getting the full picture, or a truly Catholic perspective, but rather an ecumenically minded Protestant Bible "with the Apocrypha." I didn't want to give a fallen away Catholic a NOAB RSV, because that is the last thing you want to give someone who has fallen away from the Church: a Bible edition that screams "the Catholic Edition isn't good enough!" And there are a variety of other Catholic editions with inadequate explanatory notes. I am very fond of the DR, and its apologetic notes are powerful in showing the Catholic faith in the Scripture, but the language and punctuation would be an obstacle for many people. The Didache Bible has the apologetic power punch of the DR a thousand times over. This really is an awesome Catholic Bible for everyone, as most of the world is in dire need of further catechesis. If you need a wake-up call, flip through the channels on the radio or basic cable for just a few minutes, you will likely find several people in grievous error self-interpreting the Bible!

I have said very little about the actual physical book and its contents. That is deserving of a post in and of itself. It is Scripture, Tradition, and Magesterium together at last for the modern Church. I am impressed with the quality of the book, and at the large amount of detailed additional materials included. Extensive theological and apologetic notes, maps, glossary, indices, and more: it is well presented and useful for furthering the Kingdom of God. That is available in hardback with sewn binding is just icing on the cake! This will make such a great companion for my RSV-CE concordance, St. Jerome Bible Commentary, and Catechism for my personal study, that I probably won't be using much of any other Bibles besides it and my favorite Douay Bible. I am looking forward to spending a lot of time with this edition with my family (who will all have their own copy to read along, as soon as Ignatius can get my order here!)

CarlHernz said...

In line with what Jonny published, the NABRE is currently being prepared so that by about 2025 the NABRE will be that one Bible that reads the same across all platforms: liturgical reading, catechesis, private use.

While I am very pleased to see the Didache Bible and agree that it will fill a great need until the NABRE is fully up-to-par in this manner, I have to admit that it seems we as Catholics need to give the NABRE a little more benefit of the doubt as to its accuracy in translation and the value of its footnote apparatus.

I also want to add that just yesterday I completed what turned into a three-year research project on the NABRE, asking tough questions of Catholic translators and catechists, Protestant scholars, and Jewish language authorities in order to get to the bottom of many criticisms about this “official” translation for Catholics in the United States. I was very humbled by it all, to say the least and have learned how little I really know about things that I used think I was quite in the know about.

While the NABRE is not perfect, it is not what many have claimed it to be—most of the problems arise from the footnotes needing a revision in language not in content. A case in point: I was stunned to learn that the oft criticized footnote of 1 Corinthians 3:15 is actually right on target, though I have to admit I for a time thought it was “anti-Catholic” like many others currently do. But I learned that this was due to my judging the footnote on my lack of knowledge of this text.

While since the time of the Church Fathers, 1 Corinthians 3:15 has been used to teach that the process of purgation is real, the context of this verse, especially verse 13, is speaking of Judgment "Day" when history has come to a close and the general judgment has begun. When this begins, Purgatory no longer exists, so this text in 1 Corinthians speaks of those who live to witness the Parousia. These will not have a particular judgment in the same manner as the rest of us do who die before that history-ending event. But, as these verses point out the salvation process during Judgment Day will still include purgation (not the same as Purgatory) for some among that live to see the Lord’s Return. On that “Day,” “the person will be saved, but only as through fire.”

So while the text proves the process or “notion” of purgation, the context is speaking of Judgment Day and not Purgatory (which will be “emptied” and no longer exist at this time). This fire will prove to be purgation for some but destruction for others. —1 Corinthians 3:13; Hebrews 12:29.

While I am grateful for the wonderful work I am seeing in the Didache Bible and welcome it, I hope to find a way to aid others to realize the treasure we Catholics in the US currently have in the NABRE. I am certain some will not be convinced by my words here—and I don’t expect them to be—but I am certain that by giving the NABRE its due using the proper checks and balances will bring them to a similar conclusion: it is a greater treasure than many of us realize.

Leighton said...

Received yesterday:

Very impressive! What a beauty! Great layout and type, nice hardback cover, good size (not to overwhelming but standard bible size), sewn binding, exceptional introductions and notes with not only catechism references but also popes, etc., wonderful apologetic articles, excellent translation (none is perfect, of course), glossary, maps and good supplements. What an amazing teaching and study resource!

Only drawback: no genuine leather edition. Perhaps Midwest Theological Forum will one day consider offering a genuine leather edition in limited supply as they do with their beautiful Daily Roman Missal, which was worth every dime. In the meantime, when I get my bonded leather edition (when they are finally printed!) perhaps it will be a candidate for a genuine leather re-cover.

This is the Bible I have desired since becoming Catholic several years back. I will still treasure my NJB for its notes and layout, and genuine leather edition NOAB-RSV, but this is the one that will be in hand most of the time: in evangelization and catechesis in our family, in the parish, and beyond.

Great work, Ignatius Press and MTF! Solid!

Timothy said...


Could you email me, I have a question for you.

Norberto Igual said...

The Didache Bible - Leather

Russ NY said...

Nice post, Carl. I too have come around to the NABRE. It's my hope that some day a Didache bible using other translations --NRSV, NABRE-- will come down the road.

I look forward to more posts about the Didache Bible. Come on, Tim, hurry up. lol