Friday, January 30, 2015

The African American Catholic Youth Bible (NABRE)

Saint Mary’s Press, in collaboration with The National Black Catholic Congress, Inc., is proud to present The African American Catholic Youth Bible®, the first Catholic Bible for youth designed especially from the African American perspective. This Bible speaks directly to African American youth through inspirational black art and commentaries on biblical events and personalities from an African American perspective. It chronicles major events in African American Catholic history and includes moving stories of African American holy men and women.
The African American Catholic Youth Bible® uses the text of the New American Bible, revised edition, and is modeled after the bestselling Catholic Youth Bible®, beloved by nearly two million Catholic young people.  
This Bible offers many special features:
  • Know Your Faith articles that explain the biblical, liturgical, and doctrinal basis for many Christian beliefs and practices
  • Black, Catholic, and Faithful articles that present African American culture and introduce some Africans and African Americans who have lived out aspects of God’s Revelation in the Bible
  • Check This Out articles that provide background for understanding the culture and traditions of biblical times and the Church’s interpretation of certain passages
  • Be About It! articles that apply the Bible’s message to situations African American youth may be facing now or will face in the future
  • Take It to God articles that suggest ways to use the Bible for personal prayer
  • Our Friends in Faith articles that give a quick introduction to the lives of important biblical people
  • Helpful indexes to passages about events, people, teachings of Jesus, and life and faith issues, as well as an index that leads to articles on specific topics
  • A calendar of the Church year and Sunday readings
  • Color inserts that provide a brief history of African American Catholics, beautifully illustrated maps, photos by theme, Catholic prayers and teachings, and a timeline of biblical history
  • A glossary of Scripture-related terms
You can read an excerpt here.  This new Bible is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Turning Around: Daily Lenten Reflections with The Message + Giveaway

I am one who likes to utilize a new devotional each year as I journey through Lent.  This year, I will be using Turning Around: Daily Lenten Reflections with The Message published by ACTA.  One of the things I like about a devotional like this is that each reflection is relatively short, which will fit perfectly into my morning prayer time which already includes the Liturgy of the Hours.  There are reflection questions, along with a scriptural reading and reflection.  It also is nice and thin, making it easy to carry around with me.  I look forward to praying with this resource beginning on Ash Wednesday.

A little more about this devotional:
In this day-by-day booklet you will find short passages from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition, a new Bible translation that talks just like we do. The words practically jump off the page, inviting us into conversion, prayer, action, and a recognition of God’s great mercy.

Combined with Ann Naffziger’s insightful reflections and practical action steps, they make a wonderful resource for your Lenten journey this year.

ANN NAFFZIGER has written articles in the field of spirituality and scripture for America,CommonwealThe National Catholic ReporterSpiritual Life: A Journal of Contemplative SpiritualityCelebration, and other publications. She writes a regular scripture column She has an M.Div. from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University where she is now an adjunct faculty member, as well as an M.A. in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She has a background in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy, and spiritual direction. Ann and her husband, Paul Canavese, are co-directors of, which provides resources for coaching parents to form their own children in the Catholic faith. They now find themselves attempting to translate the gospel message to their daughters, 8 and 5, who regularly ask complicated biblical questions.

Paul at The Pastoral Center has provided me a few copies to offer you, my fine readers.  So, the first five people who email me with their name and address will receive a free copy.  I am sorry, but this will have to be limited to the US and Canada.  ****This offer is now over, since all copies have been given away.***

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: The Ancient Path by John Michael Talbot

I need to make a confession: Before reading John Michael Talbot's (JMT) The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today, I knew very little about the man.  Sure, I knew about him and had heard some of his music before, mostly through his collaboration with Christian recording artist Micheal Card.  I think I had also seen him on TV from time to time.  Overall, however, I knew very little about his life, background, or ministry work.  I tried not to read any descriptions of this book either, before actually receiving a review copy from Image.  In the end, I just wanted to read about JMT in his own words.  I am very glad I did, since I thoroughly enjoyed The Ancient Path.  If you have ever been interested in learning more about the man, this is the book for you.  However, this isn't simply an autobiography.  JMT, along with well-known Catholic writer and speaker Mike Aquilina, weave the autobiographical moments within the context of JMT's discovery of the early Church Fathers.  One might be tempted to think this would produce an uneven work, but I can assure you that it is both entertaining and informative.  

Two chapters, in particular, stood out to me.  In chapter 4, JMT writes about how he was first introduced to the Church Fathers via St. Francis of Assisi.  His attraction to St. Francis led him to search out how this great saint had been formed, which led him to the Desert Fathers of Egypt and the other early Church Fathers.  JMT quickly realized that this tradition went even further back through the New Testament into the Old Testament as well. His life within Protestant Christianity was of course well-formed in the Scriptures, but he began to see the role that tradition plays in the life of the all Christians, even if some denominations don't formally accept it.  JMT goes on to describe how he discovered the Apostolic Fathers, most notably that very early document The Didache.  He comes to realize that the Catholic Church "is the same Church I encountered in the works of the Apostolic Fathers (64)."  "The Church, in fact, was the ordinary means of salvation established by Jesus, and it applied salvation by means of the sacramental mysteries, also established by Jesus (63-64)."  JMT begins to see this most clearly in The Didache.  A book which is concerned with both the morals and the worship of the early Christian community.  Some have dated this document to the late first century, which means it could have been written around the same time as some of the later books of the New Testament.  

In a very beautiful way, JMT points out that The Didache's emphasis on morals and worship are really directed to relationship.  He explains: "Arguably, it's not primarily about morals.  It's about relationship with Jesus--relationship in a way that unites his followers in tangible ways: in lifestyle, leadership, and worship.  Christian morality flows from that relationship with Jesus, leads back to him, and causes that relationship to grow stronger through real personal and communal holiness (65)."    So often we get caught up in the rules, particularly in the area of morality, without really understanding the point.  I teach high school kids theology every day, and one of the biggest challenges is in assisting them to see the Church's moral theology as being rooted in relationship with Christ.  This relationship is then initiated and nourished by the Sacraments, most importantly Baptism and the Eucharist.  As JMT points out, our relationship is never only personal, but, as clearly seen in The Didache, it contains a necessary communal dimension.  It also presents salvation, and the Christian life, "not as a matter of a moment, but as a way of life (67)."  All of this helped him open his eyes to seeing the connection between early Church and the Catholic Church.  It is that same Church that continues to provide those gifts of salvation: "In Baptism and the Eucharist, we know true communion with God in all his our spirit, we know union with his Spirit (72)." 

Chapter 5, which is concerned with community, was also a joy to read as well.  JMT is now ready to push forward in his new Catholic life with rapid speed, but he is tempered by his spiritual director Fr. Martin, who had agreed to take him on.  Fr. Martin rightly saw that there needed to be healing in JMT's life. While at this point in time, JMT had left his rock n' roll lifestyle, he still needed to heal wounds from his failing marriage.  Over time it became clear that the marriage was not going to be healed, so Fr. Martin led him through the annulment process.  JMT reminds his readers that "God did not design the human family to be broken, but we break it by our sin (78)."  He then writes about that "painful year" awaiting the judgement of the Church.  Many have gone through this process, which can be a very difficult, isolating process.  I have experienced this in my own life, feeling much the same way JMT when he writes "I wanted to be like the good kings of the Old Testament.  I intended to do penance so that the effect of my sins would not be visited upon future generations (78)."  However, in that "painful year" of "unbearable isolation" as one waits to hear back from the local Tribunal, many feelings cross your mind and heart.  In my case, once I received the positive ruling granting the annulment, I began to realize how much I had relied on the Lord during that year.  I also received comfort from the parish community of which I was a part.  Reading through this difficult time for JMT reminded me of my own experiences and the important healing I needed to go through.  

The rest of chapter 5 deals with how JMT begins forming his Franciscan community of lay men and women, both single and married.  In doing so, he looks to the early writers on monasticism, most notably John Chrysostom, Saint Basil the Great, John Cassian, and Benedict of Nursia.  Captivated by Benedict's Rule, JMT begins to build a small hermitage and becomes a Third Order Franciscan.  Looking back on how things came together so quickly, he remarks: "Perhaps I should have been more afraid than I was.  But I had seen, along the ancient path, that God is not afraid of new ventures (90)."  I am grateful for these words, and also grateful that the Lord was not afraid to journey with me into new ventures.      

There is, of course, so much more to this book.  I heartily recommend The Ancient Path to anyone who is interested in the topics of conversion or the Church Fathers.  I would even go as far as to say that if you are a bit intimidated by reading the Church Fathers, this book could serve as a primer or introduction to them.  However, the soul of this book is the life of John Michael Talbot, a man who has sought the Lord both in times of joy and difficulty.  Thank you to Image for providing me with a review copy.  For more information about this wonderful book, including an interview with John Michael Talbot, please head on over to the Image website where you can read an excerpt of The Ancient Path.  Thank you to Katie, at Image, for including me in the blog tour.  

JOHN MICHAEL TALBOT, the author of 27 books including the best selling Troubadour for the Lord and The Lessons of St. Francis, is one of the pioneering fathers of Contemporary Christian music with multi-platinum sales. He has received, among many other honors, Dove Awards and Grammy nominations. He tours constantly inspiring the faith of Christians of all denominations through inspirational preaching, lectures and sacred music. In 2014, Talbot premiered a new inspirational TV series on The Church Channel (TBN) called “All Things Are Possible” reaching a global audience in the hundreds of millions.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review of The Didache Bible: Ignatius Bible Edition

Of all the "upcoming" Bibles that my readers have been waiting for over the past year, The Didache Bible: Ignatius Bible Edition ranks as likely one of the highest in anticipation.  Of course, as often happens with such eager expectations, one may feel let down when the final product is finally in their hands.  Sometimes, particularly in the area of quality Catholic Bibles, anticipation often is greater than the delivery.  Fortunately, this is not the case with The Didache Bible.  In almost every way, this Bible delivers on what it was promised to be.  Those who have wished for a Bible that incorporated the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a comprehensive, yet readable way with the inclusion of useful study aids will be utterly satisfied.  Those who have wanted commentary and annotations for a full one-volume edition of the RSV-2CE, they need not wait any longer.  The Didache Bible is a great achievement and many will be thanking Midwest Theological Forum (MTF) and Ignatius Press for a long time.

One aspect of reviewing Bibles that has become more important for me over the years is page presentation and layout.  Content is, of course, important, but if I am not led or drawn into the text, it will ultimately serve no real purpose.  The Didache Bible excels in how the Biblical text, cross-references, and annotations are presented on the page.  I don't think the RSV-2CE has ever looked so good.  The white page against the dark black type really makes the text pop.  Between the scriptural text and the commentary is placed the cross-references, which are bracketed off with a thin red line.  This serves as an aesthetically beautiful break between the two.  It is subtle, but I think it really works, much like the use of red in the HarperOne NABRE.  The commentary, which in the New Testament is quite extensive, is only slightly smaller in size that the scriptural text.  The paper does not lend itself to ghosting, although it is by no means opaque.  If you have ever owned a prayer book or missal from MTF you will notice a similarity in this regard.  One last point that I wanted to highlight about this edition is its size.  I don't know why, but I was expecting it to be much bigger.  However, it is remarkably compact for a study Bible.  Its size reminds me of the NOAB RSV published back in the late 70's and still available today.   What this means is that not only do you have a fine study Bible, but also one that you could take with you pretty much everywhere.  All in all, this is a beautiful Bible to read.  I think its size and page layout are the real highlights of this Bible.

The edition I am reviewing is the hardcover one.  The bonded leather edition is due out later this year, although I think this Bible deserves to be bound in a nicer genuine or goatskin cover.  However, I will be sure to let you know when I receive confirmation on a date for the bonded leather one.  The hardcover edition is quite sturdy and opens up flat from the first day.   It came with two bible ribbons, which is a nice touch.  This bible was advertised as having a sewn binding, which I still believe it has.  However, they have enhanced the binding with some glue, which at a few spots is clearly noticeable.  I would like to hear back from some of my readers as to what they think about this.   This edition was printed in India.

Now, as for the content found in this book.  As mentioned earlier, the translation is the RSV-2CE.  I am not going to spend any time discussing translations, which we do here so often anyways.  However, since I am a theology teacher who uses MTF's Didache Semester Series in my classroom, I will say that this serves as a perfect compliment to that classroom text which utilizes the RSV and NRSV in the textbooks.  

The introductory material includes a foreword from emeritus Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago Francis George, followed by an introduction by Fr. James Socias.  What follows are a couple of short essays by the editors explaining how Catholics read the Bible.  Here you find reference to Dei Verbum and those early paragraphs of the CCC which discuss the literal and spiritual reading of the Bible.  Following that, there is a "Brief Summary of Sacred Scripture" which gives a very short overview of the main theme(s) of each Biblical book.  The introductory material concludes with a chronology of Old Testament and New Testament events and a list of passages of scripture for personal meditation, including the parables and miracles of Christ.  These opening aids are more geared toward the beginner, but can be consulted by a seasoned Bible reader.  I could see them being extremely helpful to someone in RCIA.

Looking at the commentary based off the CCC, you will immediately notice that a lot of work has been put into adapting the CCC to work in this format.  For the most part, there are not direct quotations found in the annotations.  To be sure, there are indeed some, but most have been re-worded in order to make them applicable to a particular biblical passage.  Each of them, however, contains a direct reference to the CCC paragraph that has been re-worded.  And there are plenty of these CCC cross-references!  I should say that you often don't realize that it has been edited, since what you read sounds like it is coming directly from the CCC.  I would imagine that this took the bulk of the editors time.  Some of the pages, primarily in the New Testament, you will find that the CCC-based commentary takes up over half the page.  While most of the pages are concerned with referencing the CCC, there are numerous annotations that point the reader to connections with the Liturgy, occasional quotes from recent Popes and the Church Fathers, analysis of lexical issues, and allegorical interpretations of OT passages.  I found the liturgical connections to be very helpful and insightful.   For example, there is a note in Daniel 6:10 which connects Daniel praying three times a day to a passage in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours.  There will be much to consider and pray about for years in these commentaries.  As you might guess, there is more commentary, per page, in the NT than in the OT.  Certain places, like in portions of the historical, wisdom, and prophetic books, have less than a quarter of a page of commentary on them.  Judith would be a perfect example.  Let me also say that if you are looking for commentary that is more historical in nature, as found in more academic study Bibles, the Didache Bible is not for you.  One last study help, in regards to the commentary, that the editors of The Didache Bible included are these occasional red in-text boxes which are found at the bottom of certain pages.   For example, there are two of these found in Genesis 3, where they explain the "Rebellion of Satan and His Angels"  and "Sin, Suffering, and Death."  These are not found on every page, but do pop-up and provide some helpful insights which are always references to, you guessed it, the CCC.

I should also note that each biblical book comes with an introduction, which looks at authorship, dating, audience, and main themes.  I would call the content of each generally conservative, but not without acknowledging difficult issues relating to authorship and dating.  You see this most notably in the intros to the books of the Pentateuch.  Overall, I think it strikes a good balance.  They are not as extensive as found in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible or those in the most of the entries in the NABRE.

There are also over 100 apologetical explanation pages that are scattered, without any real order, throughout the Bible.  I breathed a big sigh of relief when I found out that they were not printed on glossy paper, but instead the same paper that the other pages are printed on.  While I think a Bible like the New Catholic Answers Bible is great, all those glossy pages make it difficult for the Bible to open flat.  These apologetics pages are comprehensive, yet not overwhelming.  They provide ton of scriptural cross-references, as well a referring to the CCC.  The issues range from the importance of the Protoevangelium to the Rosary.  In the end, this make this Bible not only the best CCC-based Bible on the market, but also the best apologetics one.  (The info in the index also assists those engaged in apologetics.)

Looking at the study aids in the back of the Bible, I think the maps provided may be the best in any Catholic edition I have ever seen.  There are a total of 27 unique maps that are both colorful and full of great information.  These maps cover everything from Abraham's migration to 7 Churches of Revelation, including the period of the Maccabees. Most helpful are the numerous maps showing the journeys during the patriarchal period of Genesis.  They are printed on glossary paper, and the only curious thing about the set of maps, is that they are placed immediately after Revelation, but before the rest of the material in the appendix which is printed on regular paper.  I wonder why the glossy maps weren't just placed at the end of the Bible?  Whatever the case, following the maps section is a helpful 43-page glossary of names, places, and terms.  Each entry contains about a sentence or two of information, including scriptural references.  There are then indexes to the apologetics materials, which are scattered throughout the Didache Bible.  At the very back is a 20-page subject index, including biblical names, which includes a ton of scriptural references and cross-references.  One noticable omission would be a table of Sunday and Feast Day readings from the Lectionary.

Again, this is a wonderful resource in a truly compact size.  As I mentioned above, there will be many people who are going to be excited to get their hands on this.  In particular, if you are interested in apologetics and studying the three-fold spiritual sense of Scripture, as outlined in Dei Verbum and the CCC, you will have a lot to love in the content of this Bible.  I have included some photos of this Bible on a previous post.  You can also go to MTF for a sneak peak.

I would like to that Ignatius Press for providing a review copy. There was no pressure in me providing a positive review of this Bible.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Mark 1:14-20)

I am going to continue this series of comparing one of the Sunday readings from the lectionary, using the Knox Bible and The Message.  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 when John had been put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God’s kingdom: The appointed time has come, he said, and the kingdom of God is near at hand; repent, and believe the gospel. And as he passed along the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen); Jesus said to them, Come and follow me; I will make you into fishers of men.  And they dropped their nets immediately, and followed him.  Then he went a little further, and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; these too were in their boat, repairing their nets; all at once he called them, and they, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, turned aside after him.

The Message
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”  Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.  A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Catholic Biblical Quarterly Vol. 77, No.1/ January 2015

"Through Those Who Are Near to Me, I Will Show Myself Holy": Nahab and Abihu and Apophatic Theology
Gary A. Anderson

Who Is Like David?  Was David Like David?  Good Kings in the Book of Kings
Alison L. Joseph

"There is Hope for a Tree": Job's Hope for the Afterlife in the Light of Egytpian Tree Imagery
Christopher Hays

What is Truth?  Jesus, Pilate, and the Staging of the Dialogue of the Cross in John 18:28-19:16a
Sherri Brown

Acts 1:15-26 and the Craft of New Testament Poetry
Matthew G. Whitlock

A Christology of Incarnation and Enthronement: Romans 1:3-4 as Unified, Nonadoptionist, and Nonconciliatory
Matthew W. Bates

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dei Verbum at 50 (Paragraph 2)

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.

2. In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim. 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself. This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (John 1:35-42)

I am going to continue this series of comparing one of the Sunday readings from the lectionary, using the Knox Bible and The Message.  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.  I have liked the discussion the past few weeks!

The next day after this, John was standing there again, with two of his disciples; and, watching Jesus as he walked by, he said, Look, this is the Lamb of God.  The two disciples heard him say it, and they followed Jesus.  Turning, and seeing them follow him, Jesus asked, What would you have of me? Rabbi, they said (a word which means Master), where dost thou live?  He said to them, Come and see; so they went and saw where he lived, and they stayed with him all the rest of the day, from about the tenth hour onwards. One of the two who had heard what John said, and followed him, was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.  He, first of all, found his own brother Simon, and told him, We have discovered the Messias (which means, the Christ), and brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him closely, and said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas (which means the same as Peter). 

The Message:
The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.”
The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.”
They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.
Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

First Look: The Didache Bible

I received my hardcover copy of The Didache Bible earlier today, and I must say it is quite an impressive volume.  I will provide a proper review in the coming weeks, but I will say that a couple things stand out:

* The page layout is very clear and readable.  Ghosting does not seem to be an issue at all

* I was surprised by the size.  I really thought it would be bigger.  Someone mentioned in a comment that it was like the Navarre Compact NT.  When I read that I thought they were kidding, but it really is only a bit bigger than that.  Very impressive

* This may contain the best collection of Bible maps that I have ever seen in a Catholic Bible

* The Apologetic pages are nicely integrated into the text, printed on the same paper as the Biblical text

* I appreciate not only the CCC references, but also the frequent connections to when particular passages are read in the liturgy

New Bible Course from Now You Know Media

First Thessalonians and the Corinthian Correspondence: A Bible Study Course

What can the letters of Paul, the earliest Christian writings, teach you about living virtuously today? Find out in this brilliant Bible study course on three of Paul’s most important letters.
Faith, hope, and love. These three virtues first articulated by St. Paul have come to epitomize the Christian life. In this inspiring program, you will focus on three epistles—First Thessalonians and his two letters to the Corinthians—in order to see how Paul leads you to follow Christ today. As you enjoy these lectures, you will witness the development of the early Church, which has much to teach us in our own time.
You often hear these letters read at Mass, but how much do you really know about their context—and how that context relates to our day and age? In them, Paul was writing to two of the first churches in the budding Christian community. Each letter provides a glimpse at the concerns of the first Christians and the key components to living a Gospel life. For twenty-first century believers, these letters are particularly fascinating, as they tackle such ever-important reality as death, wealth inequality, sexual morality, and more.
Along the way, Fr. Collins will provide you with an in-depth study of the lexicon and historical context of these letters. With such a masterful scholar as your guide, you will come to understand Scripture as never before
Fr. Raymond F. Collins is a renowned expert on the New Testament. He was formerly dean of the School of Religious Studies and professor of New Testament at Catholic University. He has also served as a member of the faculty of theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where he was chair of the Programs in English, long-time editor of Louvain Studies, and rector of the American College.
The 18 Lectures (7 Discs) Including Electronic Study Guide are available in CD, DVD, and MP3 formats.  These many sets I have from Now You Know Media are of the highest quality.  

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". 

New Catholic Course from Saint Benedict Press

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are arguably the most important works of literature to emerge after the Old Testament in human history. The other books of the New Testament witness to the effectiveness of the Gospels’ teachings and the reality that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God. But where and when, exactly, were the books of the New Testament written? Who really wrote them? And how do we know they are the authentic Word of God? Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D., answers these questions and more in this course on the fascinating history and content of the New Testament Canon.

Sacred scripture is sometimes thought of as being written by God himself, supernatural writings which mystically found their way onto paper. The reality, however, is that the New Testament is comprised of writings by ordinary people who had extraordinary experiences with God. Dr. Migliorino Miller draws on extensive historical research to reveal:
  • The chronology of the books of the New Testament and their cultural influences
  • Details of the relationships between the various New Testament writers
  • How and why the 27 books were compiled to form the New Testament
  • The legitimacy of the four Gospels as factual accounts of historical events
In this course, you will also learn about the Catholic Church’s integral role in the formulation of the New Testament Canon, and the various instances in which the Church defended the New Testament from heretical interpretations.

Studying and understanding the New Testament is crucial for the Christian who wishes to deepen their faith. When we take time to better understand the foundations of our faith, we take time to better understand ourselves in the process. Understanding the rich history of the New Testament can only strengthen our faith; it demystifies scripture by making it tangible. We can more confidently profess to believe in Jesus by getting to know those who first professed to believe in Him. Walk through the history of the Christian faith which began with New Testament and continues with us with Dr. Migliorino Miller as your guide.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: The Baptism of the Lord (Mark 1:7-11)

And thus he preached, One is to come after me who is mightier than I, so that I am not worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his shoes.  I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Ghost.  At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And even as he came up out of the water he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down and resting upon him.  There was a voice, too, out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

The Message:
As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

Friday, January 9, 2015

CCSS: Gospel of John

The CCSS edition for The Gospel of John, written by Francis Martin and William M. IV Wright, will be released in May.  Remember, Dr. Williamson's commentary on The Book of Revelation is due out in March.

In this addition to the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, two well-respected New Testament scholars interpret the Gospel of John in its historical and literary setting as well as in light of the Church's doctrinal, liturgical, and spiritual tradition. They unpack the wisdom of the Fourth Gospel for the intellectual and spiritual transformation of its readers and connect the Gospel with a range of witnesses throughout the whole history of Catholicism. This volume, like each in the series, is supplemented by features designed to help readers understand the Bible more deeply and use it more effectively in teaching, preaching, evangelization, and other forms of ministry.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Didache Bible Interview and Preview

Follow this link for some sample pages. (Thanks to Michael and Corey for the link)

Didache Bible Q&A
Interview of Fr. Jim Socias by Liam Ford 

Why did Midwest Theological Forum decide to publish the Didache Bible?
The primary inspiration for the Didache Bible was the address given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2002 on the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In this address, Cardinal Ratzinger strongly defended the use of Scripture in the Catechism as a means to explain the faith and emphasized how it was important to read Scripture within the living tradition of the Church.   
While the Catechism has greatly benefitted from its many references to Sacred Scripture, we found it surprising that there was nothing that would allow the reader to go the other way around; that is, a Bible with commentaries that referenced the Catechism.  Such a Bible would facilitate a better understanding of how a particular verse or verses are directly related to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
In reflecting on this, we came to see that a Bible with commentaries based on the Catechism would be a good companion to the Didache Series textbooks, which are also based on Scripture and the Catechism. This, in effect, was our inspiration to publish the Didache Bible.

What is the importance of consulting the Catechism when reading the Bible?
As Cardinal Francis George says in the preface, the Second Vatican Council “affirmed the importance of Sacred Scripture in the life of faith.” The Deposit of Faith, which is contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, is safe-guarded and transmitted by the Magisterium of the Church, and the Catechism is the basic summary of this great wealth of Catholic teaching. Catholics who desire to understand the faith more completely will naturally want to study the Catechism and read the Bible on a regular basis.
By basing the commentaries on the Catechism and by referencing the relevant parts Catechism, the Didache Bible provides the reader with a means to better understand how the teachings of the Church are based on Scripture and how the living tradition of the Church interprets those verses of Scripture.

How does the Didache Bible respond to the Second Vatican Council’s call to renew the Catholic faith in the modern world?
In Dei Verbum (no. 10), the Second Vatican Council taught that the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God has been entrusted to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. By basing the commentaries of the Didache Bible on the Catechism, we show both how the Church has interpreted the different parts of Scripture and how that Scripture has become part of her magisterial teaching.
Additionally, Guadium et spes (no. 58) speaks of how the Gospel of Christ renews the modern world and advances culture, perfecting them in Christ. By promoting the Word of God and its authentic interpretation, we hope to assist the Church in her mission of renewing the faith in the modern world.

How did you determine which paragraphs of the Catechism to include with the different commentaries?
As a first step, we looked at which verses of Scripture were quoted or referenced in the various paragraphs of the Catechism and worked backwards. We then looked at how these verses were explained in the Catechism and incorporated these teachings into the commentaries as appropriate. 
Subsequently, these draft commentaries were carefully reviewed by a team of Scripture scholars, such as Fr. Paul Mankowski of the University of Chicago and Fr. Andreas Hoeck of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver. As part of their work, the team not only corrected the commentaries but drafted new material as appropriate and made suggestions as to other relevant paragraphs of the Catechism that should be included.

What are some of the elements that comprise the Didache Bible?
In addition to the commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Didache Bible provides references to additional paragraphs of the Catechism. This enables the reader to go back to the original source and see what further information on a particular topic the Catechism offers.
Another important element of the Didache Bible is the apologetical explanations. These 105, one-page explanations cover topics that help the reader to understand the faith better and to explain the faith to others.
When speaking with non-Catholics, it’s not enough just to say the Catechism tells us these things.  Therefore, the apologetical explanations are based not only on the Catechism but also rely heavily on Sacred Scripture, which is useful when speaking with non-Catholic Christians. When possible, they are also based on natural reason, which is useful when speaking with non-Christians. Sample topics include such Catholic beliefs and practices as honoring or venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary, going to Confession, and believing in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  
The Didache Bible also offers a comprehensive glossary of Biblical terms, a topical index, numerous maps of the various places mentioned in the Bible, Introductions to the books of the Bible, timelines of Biblical events, and other helpful information, such as how to read the Bible.

How can the Didache Bible be useful to teachers and students?
For teachers and students—whether in Catholic high schools, parishes, homeschools, or in a family setting—the Didache Bible can be a useful instrument to help understand how the Word of God is interpreted by the Magisterium and how Scripture, along with Sacred Tradition, is the foundation of Catholic teaching.
Although it was developed as a companion to our Didache Series textbooks, the Didache Bible is really accessible to anyone. For example, it is great for parents, who are the primary educators of their children.  It is also ideal for Bible study programs and anyone wanting to learn more about their faith and Sacred Scripture.

How can the Didache Bible be of use to someone trying to study the Bible in-depth?
The Didache Bible is a great tool for Bible study. For those wanting a more in-depth understanding of Sacred Scripture, the commentaries will help them to understand what the Bible says in the light of the teachings of the Church and how this Scripture helps to form the faith. The other elements of the Didache Bible will assist in better understanding the historical context of different parts of the Bible, the meanings of biblical terms and concepts, and the relationship between the different books of the Bible.  The commentaries also help the reader to see how the Bible is a unified whole and how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.
The Didache Bible not only helps the reader have a better understanding of Scripture but also of the Catechism, which is the surest interpretation of the faith. In short, the Didache Bible makes evident how the Catechism and Sacred Scripture complement each other.

What are some tips on reading the Bible for a person who is trying to grow in his or her spiritual life?
The Church highly recommends that Catholics read the Bible regularly. The practice of lectio divina or the prayerful reading of the Scripture makes a good place to start. In this traditional practice, you slowly read a selection of Bible verses, re-reading them, if necessary, and then meditate on what has been read, pondering what the Word of God is trying to say to you. Next, you pray that God will speak through his Word and, finally, place yourself in God’s presence and contemplate on what God is saying.
Understanding what God is trying to say to us through Sacred Scripture is much easier and more fruitful when we have the Church as our guide. For example, in the Didache Bible commentaries you can read what the Catechism has to say about a particular verse or selection of verses. 
Of course, in addition to lectio divina, there are many different methods of reading the Bible. Sometimes, as in a Bible study group, a book or books of the Bible can be studied methodically from beginning to end. Other times, a person might want to know what the Bible says about a particular topic.  In this case, he or she can look up the term in the topical index and read the relevant Scripture passages about this topic. In both instances, the Didache Bible will help the person better understand what the Church has to say about these verses or selections of Scripture.
It is always a good idea for Catholics to make a resolution to read the Bible each day, at least for a few minutes. Doing so helps us grow in our relationship with God and helps us to understand our faith better. Of course, it is important for Catholics who want to grow in their understanding of the faith to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Didache Bible helps in both these regards.

Being more familiar with the Bible and the Catechism gives us the tools to be an effective witness of the faith and to defend the faith when needed. 

Thank you to Ignatius Press for giving me permission to publish this full interview.  The Didache Bible is due to be published later this month.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dei Verbum at 50 (Paragraph 1)

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.

1. Hearing the word of God with reverence and proclaiming it with faith, the sacred synod takes its direction from these words of St. John: "We announce to you the eternal life which dwelt with the Father and was made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we announce to you, so that you may have fellowship with us and our common fellowship be with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:2-3). Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council, this present council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on, so that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love. 

Bible Review: Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata Parallel Bible from Baronius Press

As many of you know, I have been an advocate of parallel Bibles for a while now, particularly in Catholic translations.  We all know that there are so few of them available.  (I think a Knox/NRSV would be a dream parallel Bible, but I digress.)  Now, it is true that Oxford had printed an eight version parallel Catholic New Testament, as well as the Complete Parallel Bible, but both sadly are out of print.  Although I must admit that my particular edition of the parallel New Testament Bible basically fell apart, since the pages weren't properly sewn together.   To be sure, parallel bibles tend to be more popular in Protestant circles, where it seems that you can find pretty much any combination of translation, including a NKJV/Message Parallel Bible.  So those of us who are into unique Catholic Bible editions are, as usual, a bit envious.  Also, what would be the chances in finding a Catholic parallel Bible that is actually beautifully made?  Impossible?

I am happy to report that there is an edition out there for Catholics, The Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata Parallel Bible from Baronius Press.  Before I make a few comments about this edition, here are some particulars from the Baronius site, supplemented by a few comments of my own:

*Clementine Vulgate
*1899 Challoner Edition of the Douay-Rheims
*Challoner's notes and cross-references
*3 and 4 Esdras and the prayer of Manasses (in Latin with an English translation).  These are placed after the Old Testament.
*Bound in black bonded leather (in hardcover) with ornate gold blocked cover and spine. 
*Gilded page edges, head and tail bands and two satin ribbons.
*Sewn Binding
*End pages
*8 1/2" X 11 1/2"
*1488 Pages

This is a beautiful Bible. The edition I have is the fourth impression, being printed in the Philippines in 2013.  The cover and spine are nicely ornate, fitting this august and historical edition of the Bible.  When you hold this edition, you just have the feeling that you are holding something quite unique and remarkable.  It looks and feels sacred, as if one is in possession of a liturgical book from a few centuries back.  Yet, it is new and inviting to a new generation of readers.  

The text, itself, is dark and clear enough for reading and comparing the two translations.  What you will find on each page is that the Douay is on the left, while the Vulgate is on the right. At the bottom of each page you will find Challoner's notes and cross-references, as found in all other editions of Douay-Rheims published by Baronius Press.  I agree with Baronius when they say: "Having both Bibles side by side allows us to see exactly where the vernacular translation came from. Even those with limited Latin skills will be able to follow along, using the Douay Rheims translation as an aid. You'll see how the Douay Rheims is a literal translation of the classic Vulgate."  

This is not a compact or simple reading Bible by any means.  While it isn't quite the size of a family Bible, it isn't far off either.  Therefore, this will not likely be the kind of Bible you will drop in your backpack for daily use.  In the past I have expressed the hope that Baronius would consider publishing some of their Bibles in calfskin or goatskin.  In this instance, particularly due to the size of the volume, it really needs to remain in a hardcover format.  The bonded leather hardcover is perfect for this Bible.   

My one minor concern with this Bible is that the paper is quite thin.  I would imagine that this is because of a desire to not produce a Bible that would be the width of a family Bible.  So, if you are going to purchase this Bible, you need to be careful in how you turn the pages.  Now, I am not saying that it as fragile as tissue paper, but it isn't thick as some of you would be accustomed to.  In some ways, it does remind me of the paper used in the Oxford parallel Catholic New Testament.  

Overall, this is a beautifully made and immensely useful Bible.  If you are a devotee of the Clemetine Vulgate and/or the Douay-Rheims, and would like a reference Bible that includes both, this needs to be in your possession.  If you are studying Latin or just prefer the venerable Douay-Rheims, again, this needs to be in your possession.  This is a Bible, with care, that will last a lifetime.  This is also the kind of Bible the reminds you that Catholic publishers can make Bibles that are both exquisite in production and comparable in usefulness to those made by Protestant publishers.

I want to thank Baronius Press for providing me a review copy.