Friday, October 30, 2015

Weekly Knox: The Devil

"It isn't true that there had to be a devil.  According to Catholic theology, the devils were created good and were meant by God to be good; only he determined to create them as beings having a moral power of choice; and it is not possible, not conceivable, I mean, to give a person the power of choice without making it possible for him to choose wrong.  God didn't create a "state of bad and good"; he created,...a possibility of bad and good, by placing some of his creatures, whether angels or men doesn't matter, in a condition in which they could choose for themselves.  There is a particular kind of thing, namely right-choosing, which God himself couldn't have put into the world he was creating without introducing the possibility of evil." -Off the Record

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cambridge NRSV's Back in Stock

Cambridge University Press is known for produce high quality Bibles.  For Catholics, their edition of the NRSV Reference Bible w/ Apocrypha is one of the nicest on the market.  It had been out of print for the past year or so, but recently it has be re-printed.  I have been told by those who have purchased this edition that it has a slightly different look and feel than some of the previous printings.  (I own the previous two.)  From what I have heard, the font is bolder, the paper is decently thick, and the French Moroccan leather is better than the previous two editions.  If I am able to acquire a reveiw copy, I'll try to do a review.  Here is a review I did of the previous edition, which I consider one of my best Bibles along with the Baronius Knox.

Here is the description:
An NRSV reference edition complete with Apocrypha, for serious bible study.

This edition of the NRSV includes the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books, placed in between the Old and New Testaments.

The Bible is attractively laid out, with generous-sized type and line spacing, set in two columns neatly divided by cross- references. There are discreet section headings to break up the text and translators’ footnotes to explain textual reconstructions and variant readings

At the back of the Bible is a section comprising a glossary, maps, and tables of weights, measures and values. The glossary points to where names and places appear in the text, and includes lists of the miracles and parables as recounted in each of the Gospels.

The Bible is beautifully produced, equipped with ribbon markers and finished with head and tailbands. The pages have gilt edges and the Bible is fully sewn and bound in French Morocco leather.

> cross-references

> glossary with lists of miracles and parables

> maps relating to the Bible and Apocrypha


> Bible paper

> gilt edges

> ribbon markers

> presentation page

> cross-references

> glossary

> 15 colour maps

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dei Verbum at 50 (Paragraph 22)

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, I will be posting twice a month, on Mondays, a paragraph from this important document.  There are a total of 26 paragraphs, so this will take us through to the Fall when we reach the anniversary of its promulgation by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965.  I look forward to our discussion.  May I suggest a helpful book by Fr. Ronald D. Witherup called The Word of God at Vatican II: Exploring Dei Verbum published by Liturgical Press.

22. Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament which is called the septuagint; and she has always given a place of honor to other Eastern translations and Latin ones especially the Latin translation known as the vulgate. But since the word of God should be accessible at all times, the Church by her authority and with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: Jeremiah 31:7-9

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Rejoice, the Lord says, at Jacob’s triumph, the proudest of nations greet with a glad cry; loud echo your songs of praise, Deliverance, Lord, for thy people, for the remnant of Israel! From the north country, from the very ends of earth, I mean to gather them and bring them home; blind men and lame, pregnant women and women brought to bed, so great the muster at their home-coming. Weeping they shall come, and I, moved to pity, will bring them to their journey’s end; from mountain stream to mountain stream I will lead them, by a straight road where there is no stumbling; I, Israel, thy father again, and thou, Ephraim, my first-born son.

The Message:
Oh yes, God says so:
“Shout for joy at the top of your lungs for Jacob!
Announce the good news to the number-one nation!
Raise cheers! Sing praises. Say,
God has saved his people,
saved the core of Israel.’
“Watch what comes next:
“I’ll bring my people back
from the north country
And gather them up from the ends of the earth,
gather those who’ve gone blind
And those who are lame and limping,
gather pregnant women,
Even the mothers whose birth pangs have started,
bring them all back, a huge crowd!
“Watch them come! They’ll come weeping for joy
as I take their hands and lead them,
Lead them to fresh flowing brooks,
lead them along smooth, uncluttered paths.
Yes, it’s because I’m Israel’s Father
and Ephraim’s my firstborn son!"

Friday, October 23, 2015

Questions from a Reader

I got a copy of the '91 NOAB NRSV on ebay. It's the 'special Cokesbury edition' with thumb indexes. It's great! Almost new quality, no markings. The only thing is, and I knew this when I bought it, it has the original owner's name deeply embossed on the front cover. 

So here's a question for you or your readers: what's the best way to remove or cover up an embossing on a bible cover? I'm thinking of getting a stick on engraved name plate to put over it.

Second question: Putting my name on a bible seems a bit presumptious to me. Got any ideas for a short name or scripture snippet to use instead? (Ie 'Holy Bible' but that's a little boring.)


Weekly Knox: Children

"Our Lord warns us that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven except as children.  What is the use of encouraging children to grow older, if the grand lesson of life is, after all, to learn to be as young as they?" -University and Anglican Sermons

Thursday, October 22, 2015

OBOY: Thank You Pope Francis

A couple days back I posted an introduction Pope Francis wrote for the German edition of the YouCat Bible.  There were many great things he said in this introduction, but none more striking to me than what he wrote at the very beginning:

"If you could see my Bible, you would not be particularly impressed. What—that’s the Pope’s Bible? Such an old, worn-out book!  You could buy me a new one for $1,000, but I would not want it. I love my old Bible, which has accompanied me half my life. It has been with me in my times of joy and times of tears. It is my most precious treasure. I live out of it, and I wouldn’t give anything in the world for it."

When I read these words from the Holy Father, my mind immediately went back to the whole One Bible, One Year (OBOY) challenge.  It reminded me that I hadn't posted about how I was doing recently, so, now seems to be a good time to give you an update.  I also felt confirmed in partaking in this experiment.

Back when I started, I made a commitment to sticking with the NRSV translation.  Although there have been times during the past year when I have "flirted", a tad, with my beloved Knox bible, I can honestly say that I have stuck to the NRSV throughout this year.  (In a perfect world my Knox Bible would be "the one" but there are too many situations where it is simply not practical.  But oh how I do love that Bible!). What has it been like?  Well, after having spent 3/4 of the year with it, I am even more certain that the NRSV does a remarkable job of being useful in almost every situation.  It is literary, accurate, well-annotated, ecumenical, and just plain feels right to me when I read from it.  (If you would like to read more about why I prefer the NRSV, here is a link to a prior post.)  This does not mean, just to be clear, that I refrain from looking at other translations for study and work purposes.  I, of course, need to as part of my job.  Yes, there are many good translations out there, but the NRSV is the one I choose.

I also decided to use two editions of the NRSV: 1) NOAB NRSV '91, for use with study and teaching; 2) The Harper NRSV compact, for daily reading.  Throughout this year, I have been faithful to the NOAB for studying and teaching.  I still think it is an amazing edition, with concise and useful annotations and references, along with a generous print and margin.  I like this edition so much that it will likely be the next candidate for a rebind, since the cover is wearing out a tad.  (Remember, I purchased it used a couple years back.)   In regards to my daily reading Bible, some of you will remember that I had the Harper compact NRSV rebound.  One might think that means it has remained my daily reading bible this year, but it hasn't.  Another NRSV has come in (and out, and back in) to my life that I simply can't put down.  I first received it back in February from my friend Jason.  It is the Oxford NRSV (anglicized) Pocket Edition with Apocrypha in blue calfskin leather.  I cannot really explain to you why I have taken to this Bible, but I simply enjoy the feel and look of it.  it lays open flat, comes with three ribbons (which were added by Jason), and just has a remarkable feel to it.  It is simply a reading bible, with no annotations or maps.  Yet, like my Knox Bible, I have just grown to really love reading from it.  I have recently started a 90 Day New Testament reading plan, which I am doing with this Bible.  It has been great.  

So, there is where I am at.  How about you?  I know there are at least a couple of you still out there!  The comments by Pope Francis above have only solidified my desire to have one of those 50 year old Bibles that I wouldn't trade anything for.  This bible would serve as a companion, one which has been read and loved over a long period of time, accompanying me on my journey to the Lord.  Yet, this journey has to start somewhere. For me, I am feeling ever so confident that my journey began in 2015.  How about you?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Just received this email from the USCCB.  They are selling some new editions of the NABRE's, including leather hardcover and soft leather editions .  (Not sure if it is genuine or bonded.)  This is a very good thing.  Available in various editions, these Bibles come with the following features;

The gift edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE), offers a superb reading experience that will give this Bible a special place in your home and prayer life for years to come. It is packaged in a special gift box with a dedicated presentation page. This edition is the perfect gift for anyone going through the RCIA program, receiving Confirmation, getting married, or celebrating a special family occasion! 

Gift Edition Features:
  • Beautiful gilt edges
  • Burgundy leather hardcover
  • Unique gold foil stamp, front & spine
  • Two-color text (black & burgundy) printed on high-quality 24lb paper
  • Convenient ribbon for bookmarking
  • Chapter tabs 
  • Seven full-color maps 
  • Special gift box
  • Customizable presentation page

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pope Francis: Intro to German YouCat Bible

Pope Francis recently penned an introduction to the German edition of the YouCat Bible.  I think one doesn't have to be a youth to appreciate his words here.

My dear young friends:
If you could see my Bible, you would not be particularly impressed. What—that’s the Pope’s Bible? Such an old, worn-out book!
You could buy me a new one for $1,000, but I would not want it. I love my old Bible, which has accompanied me half my life. It has been with me in my times of joy and times of tears. It is my most precious treasure. I live out of it, and I wouldn’t give anything in the world for it.

I really like this new Youth Bible. It’s so colorful, so rich in testimonies: testimonies of the saints, testimonies of young people. It is so inviting that when you start to read at the beginning, you can’t stop until the last page.

And then …? And then it disappears on a shelf, collecting dust. Your children find it one day and bring it to the flea market.
It must not come to that.

I’ll tell you something: There are more persecuted Christians in the world today than in the early days of the Church. And why are they persecuted? They are persecuted because they wear a cross and bear witness to Jesus. They are convicted because they own a Bible. The Bible is therefore a highly dangerous book—so dangerous that you are treated in some countries as if you were hiding hand grenades in your closet.  It was a non-Christian, Mahatma Gandhi, who once said: “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.”

So what do you have in your hands? A piece of literature? Some nice old stories? Then you would have to say to the many Christians who go to prison or are tortured because they own a Bible: “How foolish you are; it’s just a piece of literature!”  No. By the word of God has Light come into the world, and it will never go out. In Evangelii Gaudium (175) I said, “We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for ‘God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us.’ Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word.”

So you have something divine in your hands: a book like fire! A book through which God speaks. So notice: The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often—every day, both on your own and together with others. You do sports together or go shopping together. Why not read the Bible together as well—two, three, or four of you? In nature, in the woods, on the beach, at night in the glow of a few candles … you will have a great experience!  Or are you afraid of making a fool of yourself in front of others?  Read with attention! Do not stay on the surface as if reading a comic book! Never just skim the Word of God! Ask yourself: “What does this say to my heart? Does God speak through these words to me? Has he touched me in the depths of my longing? What should I do?” Only in this way can the force of the Word of God unfold. Only in this way can it change our lives, making them great and beautiful.

I want to tell you how I read my old Bible. Often I read a little and then put it away and contemplate the Lord. Not that I see the Lord, but he looks at me. He’s there. I let myself look at him. And I feel—this is not sentimentality—I feel deeply the things that the Lord tells me. Sometimes he does not speak. I then feel nothing, only emptiness, emptiness, emptiness…. But I remain patiently, and so I wait, reading and praying. I pray sitting, because it hurts me to kneel. Sometimes I even fall asleep while praying. But it does not matter. I’m like a son with the father, and that is what’s important. Would you like to make me happy? Read the Bible!
Pope Francis

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Message Contest Winner

Kai H from California is the winner of the Message Bible and books contest.  Kai, please email me with your full name and address within one week.  My email is mccorm45(at)yahoo(dot)com.  I will send out your prize a day or so after I receive the information.  Thanks to all who participated.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: Isaiah 53:10-11

This week, we compare the translations from the first reading for 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Ay, the Lord’s will it was, overwhelmed he should be with trouble. His life laid down for guilt’s atoning, he shall yet be rewarded; father of a long posterity, instrument of the divine purpose; for all his heart’s anguish, rewarded in full. The Just One, my servant; many shall he claim for his own, win their acquittal, on his shoulders bearing their guilt. 

The Message:
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Weekly Knox: Reality

"Always, it is the things which affect us outwardly and impress themselves on our senses that are the shams, the imaginaries; reality belongs to the things of the spirit." - Pastoral Sermons

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bp. Barron: Vatican II and Scripture in the Liturgy

Follow this link to hear a great talk delivered by Bp. Robert Barron on Vatican II and Scripture in the Liturgy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Message Contest

I would like to thank the wonderful people at ACTA Publications for providing me the following new books for this contest.  The theme for this contest is The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition.  The winner will receive a paper back edition of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition, along with Great Men of the Bible by Martin Pable and Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices by Michele Howe, both of which utilize The Message.  These two books are great resources that can be used for private reading or devotional use, along with being excellent for men's and women's fellowship groups.

Rules for the contest:

1) If you have an active Facebook or Twitter account, please announce this contest. If you don't, that is OK. You can still enter the contest.

 2) Please enter your name in the comment section of this blog post. I (or my wife) will randomly draw one winner at the conclusion of the contest, which will be on Sunday October 18th at 11:59 PM.

 3) I will announce the winner on Monday October 19th. The winner must contact me, via email, within a week with their full name and address.  I will ship the the books free of charge.

 4) One entry per person.

 5) Contest is only available to those who live in the United States.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dei Verbum at 50 (Paragraph 21)

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, I will be posting twice a month, on Mondays, a paragraph from this important document.  There are a total of 26 paragraphs, so this will take us through to the Fall when we reach the anniversary of its promulgation by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965.  I look forward to our discussion.  May I suggest a helpful book by Fr. Ronald D. Witherup called The Word of God at Vatican II: Exploring Dei Verbum published by Liturgical Press.

21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles. Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Heb. 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13).

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: Wisdom 7:7-11

This week, we compare the translations from the first reading for 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Whence, then, did the prudence spring that endowed me? Prayer brought it; to God I prayed, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me. This I valued more than kingdom or throne; I thought nothing of my riches in comparison.  There was no jewel I could match with it; all my treasures of gold were a handful of dust beside it, my silver seemed but base clay in presence of it.  I treasured wisdom more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light of day; hers is a flame which never dies down. Together with her all blessings came to me; boundless prosperity was her gift.

The Message:

For this very reason I prayed, trying to make sense of it all. I cried out for Wisdom, and she responded to my call. When she came to sit, I preferred her lap to the laps of other royals. I compared Wealth with Wisdom, and Wisdom was the clear winner. I could have compared her with the finest jewels, but why would I? Gold dust is no more precious than yellow sand; the same could be said of silver. Health and Beauty take a back seat to Wisdom. She sheds more light than the sun; they merely reflect and refract. As if the wonderfulness of wisdom weren’t enough, she didn’t come empty- handed; she brought gifts for everybody; each one wore her label or bore her mark.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Weekly Knox: Calvary

"Bethlehem means Christ born man, and man re-born in Christ.  Calvary means that mankind has died in the person of Christ, it means also that Christ has died in the name of mankind; not instead of us, as our substitute, but in our name as our representative." - Pastoral Sermons

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rebound Didache NABRE

I am happy to share with you a few photos from Max's recent rebinding of his Didache NABRE. This may be the most premium NABRE in existence! Enjoy!  

It only took two weeks from the day I mailed it to AA Leather to the day I held the completed project in my hands. I am very happy with the final result, although there are a few things I would have liked differently. The book block was too stiff to properly curve the spine, perhaps a 1/2 yapp would have been less surprising at first. Also, I entirely forgot to specify forest green endpages.

Details of the entire project:

1) MTF Didache NABRE Bible 
2) 24K gilt edges with red dye underneath
3) Black goatskin cover with forest green leather liner (AA Leather)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Douay-Rheims New Testament: Paragraph Edition

I recently was contacted by Mike who has completed a unique project that may be of interest to all of you who love the Douay-Rheims Bible.  It is called The Douay-Rheims New Testament (Paragraph Edition).  As someone who as advocated for more modern looking editions of such classic Catholic Bibles like the Douay-Rheims, I was very excited to find out about this.  Mike was willing to answer a few questions about this project, which you can read below.  Even if you are not a regular reader of the Douay-Rheims Bible, perhaps you might consider purchasing this edition, since it is such a great concept and cost less than $9.00.  Oh that more Catholic publishers would consider doing what Mike has done!  

So why did you decide to do this?
I decided to do this because I wished to make available a printed copy of the Douay-Rheims New Testament at as inexpensive a price as possible (It is my favorite translation, even more than the RSV, 2nd Catholic Edition). Douay-Rheims Bibles tend to be more expensive, and while I could not hope to make the whole Bible available, I figured having at the least the New Testament available for a cheap price would still be good. Since I was going to be trying to publish the New Testament anyway, I thought it would be nice to put it in a paragraph format. (Not only would it seem more reader friendly, but it would also cut down on the size of the book, since in any case it would be single column.) So I decided to apply (for the most part) the paragraph divisions found in the original Douay-Rheims New Testament to the text of the Challoner revision. (I also decided to add asterisks in the text to indicate the presence of footnotes, which follow the chapter, as

What can a person expect who orders this Rheims NT?
 I made a single column, paragraph edition of the New Testament (basically based on the paragraph divisions found in the original Douay-Rheims New Testament, only that I applied them to the text of the Challoner revision). Admittedly, it's a huge book (the pages are 8 1/2" X 11", and it's around 350 pages), and so not that portable like, say, a pocket New Testament would be, of course. At the same time, it does have 12 point type.  As for what anyone who ordered it should expect, well, not a professional job admittedly, since it does have flaws, most notably the lack of page headings showing where one is in the text, necessitating the use of the table of contents to find a specific passage quickly. However, hopefully it would be a more reader friendly version of the Douay-Rheims New Testament than other editions, and at a a reasonably large font. Plus, as I said, at an inexpensive price (I priced it at as low of a price as CreateSpace would allow.) 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: Hebrews 2:9-11

2nd Reading for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
I have decided to resurrect the old "Knox vs. The Message" Sunday post.  If you like it, I may continue with it into the future.  Each week I will pick one of the Sunday readings to compare between the two translations.  While done in different ways, I think both Knox and Peterson desired to make the Bible more accessible to the average reader.  Let's see if they were successful.

But we can see this; we can see one who was made a little lower than the angels, I mean Jesus, crowned, now, with glory and honour because of the death he underwent; in God’s gracious design he was to taste death, and taste it on behalf of all.  God is the last end of all things, the first beginning of all things; and it befitted his majesty that, in summoning all those sons of his to glory, he should crown with suffering the life of that Prince who was to lead them into salvation. The Son who sanctifies and the sons who are sanctified have a common origin, all of them; he is not ashamed, then, to own them as his brethren.

The Message:
What we do see is Jesus, made “not quite as high as angels,” and then, through the experience of death, crowned so much higher than any angel, with a glory “bright with Eden’s dawn light.” In that death, by God’s grace, he fully experienced death in every person’s place.  It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as he leads all these people to glory. Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Catholic Study Bible NABRE (Third Edition)

Thank to Lenny, who spotted a possible release of the third edition of The Catholic Study Bible on the OUP website.  It appears to be scheduled for a February publication date, in paperback, hardcover, and bonded leather.

Edited by Donald Senior, John Collins, and Mary Ann Getty
  • One-third of the Reading Guides are new
  • All remaining Reading Guides reviewed or revised by the original authors
  • New essay on Archaeology and the New Testament
  • Extensive Reading Guide leads the reader through the Scriptures, book by book.
  • Contains a 15-page glossary of special terms and complete Sunday and weekday lectionary readings for the liturgical years of the Church
  • Includes 32 pages of full-color Oxford Bible Maps come with a place-name index

This landmark resource, the first fully-based on the authoritative NABRE translation, contains the trustworthy study notes, expanded essays, and informational sidebars which have guided and informed sudents and general readers for 25 years. In this new edition, one-third of the Reading Guide materials are new, and all of the other Guides have been reviewed and revised by their original authors. 

The extensive Reading Guide, the focal point of this volume, leads the reader through the Scriptures, book by book. References and background information are clearly laid out to guide the reader to a fuller understanding of the Bible. New to this edition is a more extensive treatment of the biblical background, including history and archaeology.

Other outstanding features include: a 15-page glossary of special terms and complete Sunday and weekday lectionary readings for the liturgical years of the Church. Thirty-two beautiful pages of full-color Oxford Bible Maps come with a place-name index for easy reference.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Guest Post: Knox Bible (Student Edition)

Many thanks to Chris for another great guest post.

One of the pleasant surprises coming out of the recent Catholic Bible Taxonomy post was spending time with some less familiar translations during the Office of Readings in Morning Prayer. This week, let's take a closer look at a little “school edition” of the Knox Bible.

Although Timothy chose him to be the patron of this blog, I confess I am late to the school of Knox myself. I’ve been impressed by the isolated readings Timothy shares each week, and found his essays on Scripture translation quite compelling in “On Englishing the Bible.” Also, raised Protestant and trained in an academic seminary, all of my experience of Scripture has been from translations directly from the original languages. The “Vulgate Tradition” is still quite new to me. In fact, simply coming to value the Vulgate as anything other than an inferior and corrupted Latin translation of inspired Scripture was perhaps the largest hurdle I had to leap in order to become Catholic as an adult. Before, a Bible translating a translation was automatically suspect, especially given the many points of divergence between the Latin Vulgate and later textual discoveries in the original languages. Now, however, I was looking forward to spending some regular time in this translation.

Although Baronius Press has recently acquired the rights to this translation and makes it available in a very attractive hardcover, the price was a bit steep for me, so I took to Ebay to see what else I might find. Oddly, given how prevalent this text was in English liturgy until well after the Jerusalem Bible was published in 1966, it is still very hard to find in an affordable single volume. I was about to give in and purchase from Baronius, when I located this terrific little volume in the UK, listed not as a Knox Bible but as a “lectionary” for use in the “traditional mass.” Since Timothy hadn’t come across it before, I offered to “unbox” it together here.

It’s a handy “school edition,” essentially a British student edition from 1960 reprinting the 1955 one-volume edition that came out after Knox published his final tome. The book itself is quite attractive and surprisingly compact. After reprinting the 1954 foreword from Cardinal Griffin for the original single-volume edition, it contains the full text of the Knox translation in two columns with translation footnotes at the bottom. The notes are printed in a miniscule font, making them hard to read in dim light during morning prayer, but they are there and they no doubt kept the size - and price - of the student edition down.

As for the translation itself, having spent a few weeks with it now, I admit I’m not the fan of Knox I thought I’d be (sorry Timothy). Full disclosure: I copy edit technical and corporate writing for a living. That means I spend my days making passive voice active and every weak verb strong. I set right every inverted sentence, and unsplit every split infinitive (i.e. “To boldly go…”) Unfortunately, that means older writing just smashes up against my editorial screens whether I want it to or not. Also unfortunate, I entered Knox through the prophets in the Office of Readings this month, specifically Amos and Hosea (Osee) which I understand are often his weakest, most obscure work. This surprises me, given Knox’s own dual guiding principles:
     "To break away from the literal order of sentences" - "Not to ask, 'How shall I make this foreigner talk English?' but 'What would an English man have said to express this?'"
     "To use no word, no phrase, and as far as possible no turn of sentence, which would not have passed as decent literary English on the seventeenth century, and would not pass as decent literary English to-day." - "In a word, what you want is neither sixteenth-century English not twentieth-century English, but timeless English." ("Thoughts on Bible Translation" from On Englishing the Bible)

Clearly, as Timothy recently pointed out, Knox is capable of sublime prose. But there’s nothing timeless about his treatment of the prophets. To my ears, they read like Lord Byron aping King James English. Sentences are inside out. Subjects and objects are easily confused. There’s an artificial use of second person archaic pronouns. As a result, I can’t help but think of Knox as the “Yoda Bible.” Read some of the following samples with your inner Jedi master voice, and you’ll see what I mean.

Osee 13:1-3 Spoke Ephraim, all Israel trembled at his word: how else came they, for Baal's worship, to barter away life itself? And they are busy yet over their sinning; melt down silver of theirs to fashion models of yonder images, craftsman copying craftsman's design! And of such models they say, The man who would do sacrifice has but to kiss these calves. Fades the memory of them, light as early mist or morning dew, light as chaff on the threshing-floor, smoke from the chimney, when high blows the wind!

Um, what?

To be fair, here are some of my favorite litmus texts, which you can compare to my post on the Christian Community Bible.

Gen 1:1 God, at the beginning of time, created heaven and earth.

Is 7:14 Sign you ask none, but sign the Lord will give you. Maid shall be with child, and shall bear a son, that shall be called Emmanuel.

Jer 20:7 Lord, thou hast sent me on a fool's errand; if I played a fool's part, a strength greater than mine overmastered me; morn to night, what a laughingstock am I, every man's nay-word!

Jn 1:1 At the beginning of time the Word already was; and God had the Word abiding with him, and the Word was God.

Eph 1:3-14 (One sentence in the Greek!) Blessed be that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself. He has chosen us out, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be saints, to be blameless in his sight, for love of him; marking us out beforehand (so his will decreed) to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ. Thus he would manifest the splendour of that grace by which he has taken us into his favour in the person of his beloved Son. It is in him and through his blood that we enjoy redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. So rich is God's grace, that he had overflowed upon us in a full stream of wisdom and discernment, to make known to us the hidden purpose of his will. It was his loving design, centred in Christ, to give history its fulfillment by resuming everything in him, all that is in heaven, all that is on earth, summed up in him. In him it was our lot to be called, singled out beforehand to suit his purpose (for it is he who is at work everywhere, carrying out the designs of his will); we were to manifest his glory, we who were the first to set our hope in Christ; in him you too were called, when you listened to the preaching of the truth, that gospel which is your salvation. In him you too learned to believe, and had the seal set on your faith by the promised gift of the Holy Spirit; a pledge of the inheritance which is ours, to redeem it for us and bring us into possession of it, and so manifest God's glory.

Especially when reading alongside a second, modern translation from the original languages, however, Knox is valuable for highlighting the many places where the Latin Vulgate differs from the Hebrew or Greek. For instance, in the third vision of Amos 7:7-9, God reveals himself to the prophet inspecting the walls of Samaria with a tool in hand. Relying on the Latin Vulgate, Knox renders this tool a “trowel,” which suggests that God is in the process of repairing the city and, symbolically, its broken people.

Amos 7:8-9a Why, Lord, I said, a plasterer's trowel! Ay, he answered, and here, in full view of Israel's folk, that trowel I lay aside; cementing they shall have from me no more.

Relying on the Hebrew, however, the RSV-2CE calls this tool a “plumb line,” the NABRE a “plummet.” The clear implication is that rather than repairing the broken society, God is evaluating its structural integrity, measuring how much it has shifted on its foundations or buckled, before demolishing it! Clearly the latter brings the Divine judgment of the prophetic vision to the foreground, where the former speaks to his steadfast love. To a Protestant, that’s nothing less than the corruption of the inspired Word. To a Catholic, on the other hand, it’s an example of how the inspired Word blossoms into multiple nuances of meaning.

This is the challenge of the Vulgate and, by extension, Knox. The Latin may not always capture what was originally written, but it does often preserve what was understood, especially when the Old Testament it translates is the Greek Septuagint and not the Torah in its Hebrew form. After all, it’s the Greek Old Testament that the apostle Paul quotes in his epistles to his Greek speaking churches, not the Hebrew. So even the first generation of apostolic Christians did not rely on the modern purists’s elevated view of the Bible in its original languages. For the Catholic, that’s a help, not a hindrance, since it allows us to tease more shades of meaning out of inspired texts. When it comes to faith, like the scholar of the law who stood up to test him, Jesus continues to ask the Church: “What is written in the law (i.e. Sacred Scripture)? How do you read it (Sacred Tradition)?” (Lk 10:26)

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to like about the translation, and I think reading it from a more affordable used vintage copy like this is the way to go. I can forgive more of the archaisms that way because they are packaged with an “old book” scent. The student edition includes various Biblical maps which, in their period ink style, remind me a bit of Tolkien’s endpaper maps for the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Similarly, there’s an interesting glimpse of pre-Vatican II feast days in a table of liturgical feasts in the back that seems strikingly Anglican now (e.g. St. David, St. George, Whit Monday).

As with all old books, especially old Bibles, their value grows with the lives they have touched before reaching our hands. Though I hate written notes in Bibles, I was delighted to see this inscription on the endpaper:

I have no idea who Davey and Rose are, but there’s a novel hidden in that sentence. Was this a sister writing to a brother in seminary? A pious girlfriend making a gift to her fashionably agnostic scholar boyfriend? A scandalous Anglican-Catholic romance? Are they perhaps a sweet aging couple today, somewhere south of London? Who knows? Thanks to Knox’s period and prose, I imagine Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger transported into a Graham Greene novel.  

Do you read the Knox Bible? Why or why not? And the next time you do, please remember to pray for Rose and Davey. 

Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn, and