Thursday, May 21, 2015

OBOY: The Journey Home and OBOY

Thank you to Daniel for posting this in the comments section. Some great things here. Not only is Dr. Mary Healy a wonderful scripture scholar and one of the editors of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, she is a true missionary. Also, there is a great section on this program, from minutes 23-30, where Marcus speaks about having one Bible. I thought that was pretty cool considering the Monday post. Enjoy.


Theophrastus said...

Couldn't Grodi's same argument be used to say that we should only learn one language? If we only learn one language, we will be immersed in only one worldview, and we will know exactly where each word occurs in that language, and it will follow us for our entire life.

Similarly the same argument can be used to justify never leaving one city. If we always restrict ourselves to just one city, we will know exactly where the grocery store is always located in that city, and we will always be anchored.

Now I think that most would say that in contrast, learning a foreign language and traveling both stimulates one's mind and is also fun.

If using one particular translation proves to work well for you after you have at least completed the full year, then more power to you. But when Grodi demands that all people follow his example, he goes too far. (Grodi goes much further than simply restricting oneself to only a single translation - he demands that readers only read a single copy of a single translation.)

Different people learn differently. Perhaps some benefit from using only a single translation. Certainly many benefit from using multiple translations (such an approach could be called "catholic" with a little "c" - the non-religous meaning of "catholic). Certainly many benefit from studying the texts in the original languages. I don't think Grodi is in a position to say that his method is best for all people.

I wonder if Grodi has even followed his own advice. Doesn't it seem likely that Grodi, who converted in his 40s after a career as a Protestant minister, has used more than one translation in his life? (And, perhaps in his own theological training, he studied biblical texts in the original languages, rather than simply using one translation?)

Finally, you will notice that Healy is careful to not endorse Grodi's point of view. She talks about immersing oneself in a Biblical point of view (which is good advice when reading any book -- a reader of Plato benefits from immersing herself in the 4th century Athenian worldview; a reader of Shakespeare benefits from immersing himself in the Elizabethan period worldview), but she does not suggest simply reading one Bible translation.

Indeed, Healy's own practice teaches away from simply using one translation. As you have pointed out, her commentary, and others in the Baker/Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture quote from the NAB, but the commentary frequently references other translations, including the NRSV.

As you gain experience using OBOY (or OBOL - one Bible one lifetime), I will be especially interested to hear your thoughts on the strengths (but also the weaknesses) of such an approach.

Timothy said...


I appreciate your comments. However, I am certainly not, nor do I think Grodi, saying we should ignore immersing ourselves in the various biblical points of view that might be made evident through study bibles, various translations, etc..... Yet, his point, and mine, is that there is something to having a daily, reliable bible that becomes ones companion. This is particularly so in relation to memorization and writing notes in ones Bible.

As I mentioned a few comments back, I plan to keep utilizing and adding hard bound study bibles and commentaries to enhance my historical and exegetical understanding.

Daniel said...


SO glad you found this helpful/interesting!

My thoughts on this topic always go back to Mother Angelica and her favorite translation, the original Jerusalem Bible. As she was fond of saying, "We are all called to be great saints." In reading about her life, I see her as a living saint, especially in the way God's will is absolutely paramount in her life. Right or wrong, she does what she honestly thinks is in God's will. And a huge part of discerning God's will is knowing His word. She loves this translation and has stuck with it for almost 50 years. Is the Jerusalem Bible THE perfect translation? No, there is no such thing. Is it good enough that-- if you read and absorb it every day for 50 years to the exclusion of every other translation--it can help you attain extraordinary levels of piety, even sainthood? Absolutely! What more can we ask for?

That Bible was perfect for her. It may not be everyone's cup of tea. Are there better and more accurate translations than the Jerusalem Bible? Probably. But I really think that if you just pick any of the major good translations: RSV / RSV-2CE / NRSV / NABRE / JB / Knox / Douay Rheims and stick to it, you will not lose anything that is vital to being a great Catholic. I think there is great peace and wisdom in the approach of settling on just one Bible but every one is different and they may be best served by regularly using multiple Bibles.

And lastly, I like to think back to the very early saints who didn't even own a Bible. They lived off the scripture they heard at Mass (I think, I am not a historian by any means). They absorbed it into their being, reflected on it constantly, and lived it. They become great saints in their imitation of Christ.

Dominic1752 said...

Grodi and Dr. Healy are spot on! Tim and Daniel, thank you for posting this video; very insightful. I've copied the link to my Facebook. :)

Ed Rio said...

(A) We are very fortunate to have multiple translations to chose from. (B) And with our advanced technology, can have a "virtual" library.
There's nothing really wrong with either A or B, but, I wonder if the pendulum for many (or myself) is swinging to the extreme of having so much that it's taking away -or maybe distracting- from knowing, loving, and serving God. Are multiple Bibles replacing some other form of attachment to things?

And with Pentecost right around the corner... could I be better off sticking to one Bible that works best for me that'll open me up to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to leave whatever locked room I'm in and go out and live it (the Faith) , give it, and maybe even suffer and die for it?
There are just some things I've been asking myself and pondering after reading the recent blog posts here.

Daniel's thoughts on Mother Angelica bring up further good food for thought!

Timothy said...


Thank you for your comment. I think your connection to Pentecost is a good one. I am also reminded by Pope Francis and his continual call to read the Gospels. The USCCB put out a lovely pocket Gospels and Acts which can be easily carried around and read a work. I think it is a great resource.

And again, it is not choosing one Bible while closing ones eyes and mind to what others can contribute to our theological and spiritual development. Rather, it is being consistent and faithful to one particular edition which will remain with us on our spiritual journey. I need this. I skip around to much, hence the analogy to Gomer in a previous post.

In my arrogance of trying to find the "perfect" Bible, my own personal imperfections are what really come out. So, part of this process of selecting one Bible, is for me to rest in imperfection, not only in a particular edition but also in myself.

Dominic1752 said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

I'm watching it right now, and this is a great resource. Healy opens so many dimensions in appreciating the Scriptures that us Catholics are entitled to enjoy for us to hear the Word.

Daniel said...

I just wanted to add that I still think that biblical commentaries, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church especially, are essential for learning from the Church's awesome cumulative knowledge of biblical interpretation, whether you stick with one bible or several.

Dominic1752 said...

Absolutely and amen!

Theophrastus said...

I hope I am not being too tendentious if I point out that Grodi seems pretty sure that his method is the "correct" way of using a Bible translation. He doesn't suggest that this is juse one way out of multiple valid ways to approach Scripture -- he basically suggests that this is the only way to approach Scripture. The fact that Healy fails to agree with him (in fact, in her writings she uses a completely different approach) makes this clip cringe-worthy.

I would not dare to opine or not Grodi's method (to the extent he has actually used it) works for him, or whether it will work for Timothy (once he has a chance to try it for at least a few years, rather than simply stating that he plans to try it).

However, I am quite certain that the method is not optimal for many people. I know that many people benefit from using, actively, multiple translations. In particular, we benefit from seeing where translations differ, and using that as a springboard for examining the originals texts to try to achieve the best understanding of the meaning of the texts.

Furthermore, I also suggest that we should value materials in the original languages over any translation. To the extent that we use biblical texts as sources our prayer, I strongly feel that we should try to get as close to the original texts to the greatest extent possible. While studying original languages represents a challenge, if one truly believes that Scripture is divinely inspired, it seems to me that the challenge offers great value.

If we put a single translation foremost in our spiritual lives, it seems to me that we are ignoring our critical abilities (and critical abilities are one of God's greatest gifts to humankind) to argue that a particular translation may be flawed.

Timothy said...


Again, thank you for your thoughts.

I would say a few things in response. First, I am not saying that I wouldn't refer to other translations for study purposes. I think I have been pretty clear on this, so I don't know why you keep re-stating that I am going to ignore other translations completely. In addition, the two translations that I will decide between, that being the NABRE and NRSV, provide textual variants either in the annotations or textual notes. So, I don't really see that as an issue.

The issue of using critical thought here is not being denied. But we should also remember that the vast majority of people throughout Christian history, if they could read, likely had access to a single translation. We live in a time when we can study the languages, have study tools both in book and computer formats, so we are blessed in many ways. I am not, nor have I ever said I am giving that up. I am simply going to rely on one particular bible for my everyday reading and for teaching from. And of course 99% of the students I teach will never read the bible in the original languages nor have the desire to do so.

Last thing, I don't think we can assume what Healy thinks on this. You assume to do, but at the same time assume the Grodi is advocating never referring to other translations at all or the use of critical thinking. I am not sure he is, but again, are we in a position to assume?

Now I will get back to moving from stating my desire to do this to actually doing it. ;)

Daniel said...

This may be a facetious point but the Gospels written in Greek are kind of a translation in themselves. Jesus spoke Aramaic and the Gospel writers "translated" his words into Greek. The Gospels in the original Greek are the ideal way to read them but they are already one step removed from Jesus' own language. Yet no one can argue that they are lacking in any vital substance in terms of relating Jesus' message. I think the same can be said for the English translations approved by the Catholic Church.

The etymology behind the words Cepha/Peter/Rock/Petra/Petra/Stone/Pebble show how even in Greek, there is a difficulty in perfectly translating Jesus' words. And this is a major pitfall that (or maybe a pitfall some were actively seeking out) many Evangelicals/Fundamentalists fall into.

I don't really know where I am going with this, just a thought. Sometimes things can't be perfectly translated, in which case footnotes & commentaries are needed but it is not really the intended fault of any particular translation.

Theophrastus said...

I don't think we can assume what Healy thinks on this. You assume to do

What I wrote is "the fact that Healy fails to agree with him (in fact, in her writings she uses a completely different approach) makes this clip cringe-worthy."

There are two assertions here:

(1) Healy did not make statement agreeing with Grodi on this point.

(2) In Healy's writings, she relies on multiple translations.

I'm not certain why this implies any assumptions.

Healy does not make any statement agreeing with Grodi in the clip. And in her book, she shows that she uses multiple translations.

Now I do not know what Healy does personally. But if she vigorously agreed with Grodi's philosophy, she certainly had ample opportunity to say, "You are absolutely right, Marcus - I advise my students to use only one Bible too."

What Healy did say is that it made sense to try to understand the Biblical worldview, which seems to be something completely different than only using a single Bible.

Finally, as to Grodi's statements, I think they speak for themselves. He is quite explicit.

Biblical Catholic said...

I think Grodi is referring to a tendency in certain Protestant circles of what might be called 'Bible shopping', which is to say, searching and searching until you find one Bible that tells you exactly what you want to hear, or worse, relying on multiple Bibles, seizing upon minor differences in translation whenever you think it helps your case for a certain doctrine, bouncing around from one Bible to the next, until you find one that you can use to support your view. I hear stories of pastors at some evangelical or non-denominational church where there is no 'official' translation, who use a different translation from one week to the next, always choosing the fit that best with their interpretation.

In such instances, one really should just pick one Bible and stick with it, despite its limitations. And that is what all of the mainline Protestant denominations do. Most of the big mainline churches including ECUSA, PCUSA and the United Methodists, use the NRSV. The ELCA, curiously enough, uses the Good News Bible, the LCMS uses the English Standard Version, and of course the Catholic Church in the USA uses the NABRE, while the Church in Canada uses the NRSV and most other English speaking countries use the Jerusalem Bible.

The reason these churches have one 'official' Bible is not because that one Bible is 'the best' but because it is good to have a universal standard that all can refer to, and because having one 'official' version tends to discourage 'Bible shopping.'

And seriously, if you're going to seriously study ANY book, whether the Bible, or anything else, you really do need to settle on ONE book to use for study, at least for a while. You can't jump around reading one version one week and a different version the next. If you read the book of Genesis and the book of Exodus in another version the next week, that won't work. If you're going to seriously study the Bible, it is best to pick one and stick with it, reading it to the end.

I think that is basically Grodi's point.

Anonymous said...

Biblical Catholic,

Being Grodi himself an ex-pastor, he might be very aware of those tendencies. He just don't want to put 'Bible shopping' in a negative aspect by speaking bluntly to Protestants who practice that, but instead speaking from a positive light, he gave an advice to stick to one Bible version to avoid those tendencies.

Javier said...

I basically agree with you on the use of multiple translations and versions. I'm currently reading from one spanish version, but I have several others. And I like to go to them to compare texts, and to check some obscure passage.
I'm not so much in agreement on the original texts bit. Learning another language well is very difficult. I can read english pretty well for a foreigner, but there are lots of nuances, allusions, and meanings, that I fail to notice. And english is a living and omnipresent language. What chance do I -a layman- have of getting any meaningful grasp of koiné greek as it was used and understood in first century near east. Or of fifth century B.C. hebrew, for that matter. I'm very wary of the good that the limited command of those languages we can get can have on our understanding of the Bible text.

Ed Rio said...

Count me as another one not in agreement with using the original languages or "if one truly believes that Scripture is divinely inspired, it seems to me that the challenge offers great value." I don't have to learn more languages to believe in the divine inspiration of Scripture. I DO have to believe what the Church teaches and have an informed conscience to live it. These can be done using English. Besides, being a family caregiver, I can rarely make it to Mass, and it can be a challenge to fit in a daily Rosary and reading a few chapters of the Bible.

Javier said...

In fact, regarding the original languages, if one really wants to get in touch with the original meaning of the texts, it might prove more useful to read translations into our own language of early commentaries to the Gospels and the New Testament, to see how their authors -who were fluent in koiné greek, and inhabited the same cultural milieu as Jesus and the Apostles- understood them. To try to grasp -armed with our recently acquired knowledge of koiné greek- what Saint Paul might have meant with, say, 'arsenokoitai', could be rather dangerous.

Jason Engel said...

OBOY/OBOL is about relationship.

I have the NRSV, ESV, NABre, NIV'84, NLT, KJV, NASB, REB, NEB, NKJV, NET, all in physical forms, not to mention quite literally dozens more on my phone / tablet / computer. Even just among the NRSV - my preferred translation - I have all three editions in multiple formats and sizes with various features, etc. Many of them get used in any given week. I found early on that no one translation always renders every passage both clearly and accurately (Philippians 1 in the ESV is a complete mess). Reviewing multiple translations can either help clarify a complicated passage or challenge me to really dig deeply into one that might be rendered with a diametrically opposing (heck, the simple presence or absence of quotes around certain verses in Psalm 109 will utterly change it's meaning).

But I don't have a relationship with any of those Bibles. Now, I do have one Bible, a nice NRSV, that I know intimately. I can tell you where on what page a verse is found by visual memory. I know the notes I've written. I know the verses I've highlighted or underlined. I know which pages I was reading when family members were born or died. I know how I gripped (and wrinkled) certain pages when I was struggling with depression again and holding on to that Bible late at night was like holding on to sanity. I know the cause of every scuff to the gold gilt on the page edges. That Bible always seems to fall open on the exact same page with a verse I've come to know as the one God alternately taps me with or kicks me in the pants with. I have to remind myself occasionally "this is not an idol, this is not an idol, this is not an idol", but I admit that I would be heartbroken for days if I lost this one Bible.

I think it's awesome to spend time with multiple translations. I do so frequently. But I gotta say that having that relationship with one book is better.

rolf said...

Jason I agree, this sounds like the best plan in my opinion! Have that one Bible for prayer, devotions, life's challenges & joys, and use multiple translations for study, teaching (RCIA and Bible study in my case), evangelizing, etc. This is also what I am trying to do.

Anonymous said...

Rolf and Jason,

That's the bottomline of Tim wants to do.

However, I am not sure if Tim is also into original language learning.

I, as a foreign language enthusiast, may find learning them exciting, especially to the Hebrew books. Hebrew keeps a lot of semantic diversity that even Greek, Latin or English cannot replicate. That's why it has been a lot of challenge to Bible translators to handle the Hebrew Protocanon than the New Testament.

Greek, on the other hand, operates mainly on word plays that can only best appreciated when read in the original language. (See "Petros" and "petra" in Matthew 16:18, and the two verbs used in the conviction of the two elders in Susanna's account).

There is in fact a higher level of appreciation when the Biblical text can be understood in their original languages. However, due to linguistic differences, we, as English language speakers cannot fully replicate that one. And this is where the footnotes will be a great help.

Tom said...

Bear with me if I'm repeating something from above - lots of comments on this thread!

I think if you're going to take notes in a Bible you almost have to have one Bible because you want one source for all your notes. Note-taking in Bibles always puzzles me because any sort of serious note-taking requires you to write elfin-small; my hat's off to those who can scribe and read that way.

The point about being able to find a spot in your Bible quickly due to familiarity seems slightly legit I guess, though if you become generally familiar over time with the order of the books then it won't take long to find where, say, Jeremiah is regardless of what Bible you're holding. And in these days of Google, you can google any verse and find it pretty much immediately online.

Jason Engel said...

Pigma micron 005 pens. Tiny nub, archival pigment-based ink (won't bleed thru the paper to the other side). I swear by them for all my note-taking needs.

Stutler said...

When I was a young Protestant, I had a Bible which I used constantly, underlined and annotated, and carried everywhere. It was a Living Bible which I had since the early 1970's.

As I came to appreciate more literal translations, I replaced it with a huge NASB with leather cover. Back then I could carry a huge Bible because I had a car and could toss it in the back seat. I bought it in 1978. I accumulated dozens of Bibles since then, but this was my main Bible.

When I became a Catholic in 2011, I needed to find a new main Bible. My 33 year old NASB was ready for retirement anyway. I'm in Tokyo now and rely on public transportation so I needed a more portable Bible. I settled on a compact RSV-CE with synthetic leather-like cover. It's my main Bible now although the cover is not holding up as well as my old leather NASB. I'll have to get out the book binding tape one of these days.

I think former Protestants who underline and write notes in their Bibles understand exactly what Marcus Grodi is talking about and agree wholeheartedly with him. We have many Bibles for reference, but one "main squeeze". This has been my way of handling the Bible for over forty years.

By the way it's interesting to see how notes done ballpoint pen ink fares well after 40 years; only a little spreading. I only wish I wrote neater back then.