Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guest Review: The Didache Bible: Ignatius Bible Edition

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.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's one thing that's keeping me from getting this bible: the print is too close to the inside binding so that, when open, the printed text is not flat - it curves to the center. So, for me, this is at best a potential reference bible, but would never replace my everyday go-to bible.

Michael P.

Russ said...

Nice review and comment. I too would like to see this edition in the NABRE, NRSV, or NJB, especially with their footnotes. I could spend all day reading it.

rolf said...

I use this Bible everyday for my daily Mass readings and I am using it for my 'read the Bible in one year' readings. I agree that this Bible reads very well and is comfortable in the hand.

As I mentioned before I added a very comfortable genuine (soft) leather (zippered) Bible cover to it and put Bible tabs on it. The zippered cover protects the tabs when you travel. I carried it by hand on my 7 mile round trip walk to Barnes and Noble, so I can attest that it is portable enough to take with you where ever you go.

I really enjoy all the references in the Old Testament notes of verses where the Church and the early Church fathers have seen them as prefiguring Christ or the Church or its sacraments!

I have found that I am using this Bible the most. I also use my NABRE large print (Oxford), but not as much as the Didache Bible.

mrodine said...

Hi! Your blog is very interesting and has helped me a lot. I'm a priest of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church. I've ordered NOAB with Apocryphahoping to get a good English Bible with Deuterocanonical books. The Bible is currently being shipped. But I doubt that th OT is translated predominantly from the MT. Cuold you please give me a piece of advice as to which English version is most of all based on the LXX?

Timothy said...

There are two that I can think of:

The Nicholas King Holy Bible. Google it for more info. I will have more on this in the coming weeks.

Then there is the Orthodox Study Bible
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0718003594?ie=UTF8&at=&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links

rolf said...

mrodine,
For an Orthodox priest, I would look at 'The Orthodox Study Bible' for a Bible that bases its Old Testament on the LXX. It does not use inclusive language and has Orthodox theologically based notes. It also has some very nice icon drawings.
The other Bible that Timothy mentioned is the Nicholas King Bible. I only have the New Testament of this version but I am not very impressed with the commentary notes. They are not very theological or not even very critical, I would not use them. The translation is dynamic and uses inclusive language which I don't think is very popular with Orthodox Christians.

mrodine said...

Thank you so much!
Do you know if good quality editions of these versions with genuine leather cover have been issued? I can't find any.

mrodine said...

Thank you so much!
Do you know if good quality editions of these versions with genuine leather cover have been issued? I can't find any.

mrodine said...

rolf,
thaks a lot for your comment. Politically correct wording and all that "inclusive language" is alien for us. So I wouldn't buy Nicholas King Bible I think. Well it seems quite strange that among hundreds of English Bible versions there are two only which used basicly the LXX.

Timothy said...

Here is a link that may be of some help:
http://www.goarch.org/resources/bible

mrodine said...

Thank you for the link. That's a pity the leatherbound edition is currently out of stock.

rolf said...

mrodine,
If your interested, I will give you my bonded leather Orthodox Study Bible (like new condition). You would put it to good use, it just sits on my shelf collecting dust. If you are interested just e-mail Timothy with your mailing address and I will send it to you.

mrodine said...

Well, I AM interested. I don't know how to thank you for such a gift. You see, my preferring a leather bonded copy is not for luxury sake, but for the sake of long and safe usage. May the Lord Jesus bless you for your kindheartedness!

Timothy said...

Please, both of you, send me your contact info. mccorm45(at)yahoo(dot)com

Scott O'Connor said...

Father, The Orthodox Study Bible was my favorite Bible for notes until the DIdache Bible was released. Not only do you get theological notes from an Orthodox perspective, you also get great critical notes in the NKJV. I prefer the "received text" but I do like having the notes to let me know where it deviates from the critical text. I will say that I have seen more than a few Orthodox Christians criticize the theological notes on an Orthodox forum. The majority still prefer it for study on there though.

Laurence Foley said...

I recently received my copy of the Didache Bible from St. Ignatius press. After a detour to Leonard's Book Restoration, it is my go-to bible. The form factor is superb and, of course, the notes are stellar. Two comments: I could wish for a more robust set of cross references. For those I refer to my copy of the Cambridge NRSV. And I would have liked a more opaque set of pages since I like to highlight significant passages; the bleed-through can be quite annoying when using, for example, a blue highlighter.
All in all, though, a keeper and mainstay for sure!

Larry

Anonymous said...

Is anyone missing pages on their Didache NABRE edition?
I am missing pages 595-610. The binding looks complete (pages were not ripped off)

Anonymous said...

Dear Rolf,
Could you please suggest a leather zippered cover for this Bible? I like it so much that I do not want to damage by taking it with me during my commute.