I need a full Bible for children (especially using the text of the RSV-2CE). It's a gap that exists everywhere in Catholic publishing, and which is really frustrating to a former Protestant like me.
What typically gets labeled a Catholic “children's Bible” is usually a collection of illustrated Bible stories, not a book of scripture. Even the coming YouCat Bible, which does use the RSV-2CE, isn't properly speaking Scripture, but an abridgement somewhere between a commentary and an inspirational guide.
What I need is something ubiquitous in the evangelical world: a "Sunday School Bible." That is a full Bible in full translation, formatted for easy reference by young readers, and possibly illustrated. It's something they can read together in a group, looking up references in class, or individually. It is in tasteful, neutral non-childish binding so that it grows with them and they can continue to use it as they age, because it's a full Bible.
The closest thing we have to it currently is the Catholic Edition of the Good News Translation (complete with the Annie Vallotton illustrations), and possibly the soon-to-be-released Catholic Edition of the New Living Translation from Tyndale. But, especially as a former Protestant, I really want to have something usable in the RSV-2CE.
Consider this. I grew up (and went to seminary) as a Methodist and was confirmed Catholic as an adult. No one else in my family is Catholic. I am the baptismal sponsor of my Methodist nephew who is going to Catholic school and about to enter first grade. If I were Protestant, I'd give him his Sunday School Bible to use in class and as he grew up. There are dozens of editions of full Bibles that are available for Protestant and Evangelical children. None of them contain the complete canon of Catholic Scripture. None of them use an approved Catholic Translation or reference and study aids consistent with Church doctrine.
Among the approved Catholic translations, the RSV-2CE is positioned for interconfessional appeal because the RSV still carries a lot of credibility in Protestant churches. But there are no editions of this otherwise excellent translation in a full Bible formatted for easy access to first-time Scripture readers.
For lack of credible options, I gave my first son the Catholic GNT for his first Communion. I'm considering the NLT-CE for my second son.
The only "age appropriate" FULL Bibles for young Catholic readers, in fact, seem to be from St. Mary's Press. They have a "Catholic Children's Bible" using the full GNT-CE, and a "Catholic Youth Bible" available in both NABRE and NRSV-CE editions.
On the plus side, they both use a consistent "Pray it, Study it, Live it" paradigm for the annotations. On the minus, they are both bound in trade dress that clearly brands each Bible for its niche audience, so it kind of builds in an expiration date for the owner. No teenager will want to read the cartoonish "Children's" Bible once gifted by their loving relative. Most college students will think they've outgrown their "youth" Bible.
Hence the need for a neutral non-childish binding that contains a full Catholic Bible with some navigation aids and perhaps illustrations to make it available to readers at a young age, while keeping it relevant as "their" Bible as they get older.
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 StoryWiseGuy.com. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, LinkedIn, and on YouVersion Bible.