I am happy to share with you a guest review from longtime reader Eric:
I received my copy of the Didache Bible a couple weeks ago (thanks Rose at Ignatius Press!), and I have been very impressed. As with my other reviews, this one is written from the everyman-in-the-pew perspective.
First, out of the box... I think Ignatius/MTF hit a home run with the physical size of this Bible: it fits in the hand comfortably, isn't too big or too small, and has two ribbon markers (thanks! ribbons good!). The binding is nice and tight and has survived multiple trips to work in my briefcase for lunchtime reading. I do like the synergy with it and the Catechism (both covers are a
similar color), but the glossy cover on the Didache Bible isn't my personal cup of tea. I would have preferred a hardcover material like on their regular Second Catholic edition hardcovers (a more matte simulated leather - I seem to remember it being called skivtex or something like that). But, it's only a cover, and what's on the inside is what's important. No worries anyways, I'm planning to pick up a leather-bound copy once they become available.
Physically, the interior layout is much improved over the regular Ignatius second Catholic edition. I like the cross-references separated from the text by a red line, and separated by another from the footnotes. I'd suggest maybe another half-point thicker on the line so it stands out more, but otherwise it's great! The ghosting is well controlled, and I'm not sure what the difference in font or paragraph spacing are, but I do like it better than the regular 2CE. It's very comfortable on the eyes to read, and I don't think I would have had a problem before getting my bifocals.
We've had the RSV-2CE translation for almost a decade, so nothing more needs to be said about the it. What really makes this edition even better is the footnotes. And, here is where the Didache Bible truly shines. For lack of a better term, the notes are theological. They don't really go into textual variants from what I've seen (although they do address Is 7:14 virgin/young woman issue quite nicely). They explain the 'why' quite nicely. The apologetics inserts are very helpful; they give enough information to get the reader going on the subject, without trying to go into overwhelming detail. I haven't had a chance to read through too many of them yet, but they reference both scripture and catechism. The notes don't go into a lot of of the more historical explanations like other study Bibles, but do point out the symbolism behind various passages (such as explaining Jesus appearing to the poor and the pagans when discussing the visit of the wise men in Matt 2). And much of it is based on the Catechism, but also references some saints and early church fathers along the way.
In many ways, this is the study Bible that a lot of Catholics have been waiting for. I think this Bible fits nicely in the spectrum of RSV-2CE offerings; we have a very portable devotional NT & Psalms; a still portable mainly text Bible, a theological treatment of scripture, and the full-bore study Bible (well, NT plus parts of the OT). This will be a great resource to help teach CCD students about the Bible by relating it directly to church teaching. I think pairing the Didache Bible with either the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible or one of the NABRE or Jerusalem Bibles would make a truly powerful tool for a Bible study, by pulling scripture out of a vacuum and integrating it directly with church teaching. Maybe we'd have to call it Bible-and-Church study if this is used.
Some other good features:
- Maps. Lots of maps. Easy to understand maps. Non-boring maps. Awesome!
- Book intros - a perfect length.
- Indexes and glossaries to reference important terms and the apologetics inserts.
One thing I wish would have been included would be the actual Didache. I know this may seem silly, but to me, if you're going to name a Bible after the Didache, it would be nice to actually have the Didache in there (as a back of the book appendix would be fine). I also hope that in the future, they would do a Didache Bible using the NABRE. Why? Not because I'm a fan of the NABRE (I'm not, despite my enjoyment of the Little Rock study Bible), but since it is the translation I think all the US Dioceses use for CCD, attaching it only to the RSV-2CE will keep it out of a lot of parish classrooms, where I think it would excel.
Overall, I think Ignatius and Midwest Theological Forum hit a home run with this. I look forward to the leather edition. (When I asked Rose at Ignatius,her reply was the leather version was several weeks or months away, and that could always change.) Either way, if you don't have the RSV-2CE translation, this is a great and unique version. Even if you do, it would be a great addition, as the commentary is great and much needed and appreciated. Five stars out of five (if it came in a premium leather, six stars out of five).
And, a second thank you to Rose at Ignatius Press for providing me a review copy for this review.