Saturday, December 27, 2008

ESV with Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals) is Ordered!

Well, I decided to pre-order the ESV with Apocrypha from Amazon. I am still not sure if I will use it on a regular basis, but at the very least it will have a place on my ever growing Bible translation shelf. Plus, it only cost my a little over twenty dollars to purchase it, including the shipping. Anyways, it still has a January 1 publication date, so hopefully it will be in my hands a week or so after. The description says that it "will include a full-color map section, a table of weights and measures used in the Bible, and many other attractive features." I love Bible maps, but I am interested in what these "many" other attractive features will be. Cross-references would be sweet, but I have been disappointed with assuming that Bibles will include them in the past, so I am not getting my hopes up. Actually, I would be more shocked if they were included. However, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a concise concordance included.
After thinking about it, I may be willing to give the ESV the same treatment I gave the NRSV last year, when I spent a good 6 months using it in ministry work and personal prayer. I guess a lot of it will depend on what is included in this edition, as well as the quality of binding and page layout. Unlike the NRSV, this is the only ESV that includes the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals, so my options are limited. We shall see! I will certainly blog about my first impressions, once I receive the ESV with Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals) in the mail.
Update: Amazon has emailed to let me know that they are "trying to obtain" the ESV w/ Apocrypha.
Update 2: Thanks to the comment post by Michael, the Oxford University Press site shows that the ESV w/ Apocrypha is due January 14.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis"
- Evangelium Secundum Ioannem 1:14

Friday, December 19, 2008

Excavation at Sha'arayim (Kh. Qeiyafa)

One area that I find fascinating is Biblical archaeology. I always get excited when my monthly edition of Biblical Archaeological Review comes in the mail. Although one doesn't have to agree with everything that is written in it, it does provide some great information on what is actually going on in the Holy Land. I, myself, was fortunate enough to be involved in a 4 week excavation at the small Greek settlement located in Satriano, Italy in 2000. After spending a semester in Rome at the small Italian/American John Cabot University, my Roman history professor, who was also an archaeologist, invited me to spend the summer in southern Italy on an excavation. (See! It is always good to study hard and be engaged in the course never know what opportunities might arise!) Anyways, the experience was formative and helped me to truly appreciate the hard work that goes into excavating a site. Indiana Jones has nothing on those who are real archaeologists. (Plus, you would never see a real archaeologist hide in a refrigerator!)

So, thanks to the blog Singing in the Reign, I have been following the happenings at Khirbet Qeiyafa. The site, which is a border fortress known as the Elah Fortress, seems to date to around the 10th century B.C. and may shed light on the history of the Davidic Monarchy. If this site becomes the "21st Century Dead See Scrolls" how exciting would that be? Interestingly enough, the site has its own website. So, check it out for more info, which includes a promo video.

Update: The January/February '09 issue of BAR has a nice article summarizing this newly discovered site.

Joseph Ratzinger's Episcopal Ordination

Pope Benedict's episcopal ordination took place on May 28, 1977 in the Archdiocese of Munich. Sorry, but there will be no English translation forthcoming.

(Thanks to Ignatius Insight)

Monday, December 15, 2008

If You Love the Latin Vulgate, You Will Love This!

Just released by Baronius Press, this one volume edition containing both the Douay-Rheims and Celementina Vulgata will make the traditionalist's heart warm with glee! The British-based publishers, Baronius Press, have been in recent years re-publishing many classics in Catholic theology and spirituality. Oftentimes, these new editions are newly type set and are produced at a high quality level. I, myself, am quite interested in their forthcoming edition of the Knox Bible.

For those who are interested, the new Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata [side-by-side] is 1488 pages long and has a size of 8.5" x 11.5".

Here is part of their description:

Included in this Bible are Challoner’s notes, and the texts found in the appendix to the Vulgate, namely 3 and 4 Esdras and the prayer of Manasses (in Latin with an English translation). This makes the Bible totally comprehensive and ideal for theology students.
Owning one of these beautiful Bibles will give you great pleasure each time you read it, and ensure that your family is familiar with sacred scripture in Latin as well as English.
Bound in leather with ornate gold blocked cover and spine. Gilded page edges, head and tail bands and two satin ribbons.

There is also a sample page here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pope Benedict: St. Paul and the Sacraments

Below is another summary from the Vatican Information Services on yesterdays audience by Pope Benedict. He continued his year long catechesis on St. Paul this time focusing on the Sacraments:

In his general audience this morning, held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 5,000 people, Benedict XVI spoke on St. Paul's teaching concerning the Sacraments.

The Holy Father indicated how "from St. Paul we have learned that there is a new beginning of history in Jesus Christ, ... Who is man and God. With Him, Who comes from God, a new history begins, formed by the 'yes' He pronounced to the Father, ... out of love and truth".

"How can we enter", the Pope asked, "into this new beginning, this new history? ... How can Jesus reach my own life, my own being? The fundamental response of St. Paul, of all the New Testament, is: by the Holy Spirit" which "at the Pentecost created the beginning of a new humanity, a new community: the Church, the body of Christ".

The spirit of Christ "touches me within ... using two visible elements: the Word of announcement and the Sacraments, in particular Baptism and the Eucharist. ... Faith comes not from reading but from listening. It is not only an interior experience but a relationship".
"The Word became flesh in Jesus to create a new humanity. For this reason, the Word of announcement becomes Sacrament. ... No-one can baptise himself; ... no-one can become Christian by himself. ... We can only become Christian through the meditation of others, and this gives us the gift of faith. ... Autonomous Christianity is a self-contradiction. ... These 'others' are, in the first place, the community of believers, the Church. ... Only Christ can constitute the Church, Christ is the true giver of the Sacraments".

"Being Christian is more than a cosmetic operation that embellishes life, ... it is a new beginning and rebirth, death and resurrection. ... It is not purely spiritual but involves the body, the cosmos, and extends to the new earth and to the new heavens".

On the subject of the Eucharist, the Holy Father pointed out that St. Paul speaks of the institution of this Sacrament in his First Letter to the Corinthians, and he explained that "with the gift of the chalice of the new covenant Christ gives us the true sacrifice, the only true sacrifice is the love of the Son".

After highlighting how the Apostle of the Gentiles says that the chalice we bless is communion with the Blood of Christ and the bread we share is communion with the Body of Christ, the Pope pointed out that "Christ unites Himself with each one of us, and with the men and women around us".

Referring then to chapter ten of the First Letter to the Corinthians in which St. Paul speaks of us becoming "one body, for we all partake of the one bread", Benedict XVI affirmed that "the realism of the Church is much more profound and authentic than that of the nation State, because Christ truly gives us His Body, converts us into His Body ... and unites us to one another. ... The Church is not just a corporation like a State, it is a body; it is not an organisation but an organism".

The Pope then recalled how St. Paul defines the Sacrament of Matrimony as "a great mystery. ... Married love has as its model the love of Christ for His Church", he said. "People will enjoy a rewarding experience of true marriage if a constant human and emotive development remains united to the effectiveness of the Word and the significance of Baptism. ... Participating in the Body and the Blood of the Lord consolidates the union and makes it visible, a union that grace then makes indissoluble".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Update on Revised Grail Psalter

GIA Music, which produces hymnals used by many Catholic parishes has provided some additional information about the upcoming Revised Grail Psalter that was recently approved for Mass in the US. You can read all about it here. Earlier in November, during the USCCB meeting, I posted about the USCCB's decision to adopted the new Revised Grail Psalms. It appears like it will be a completely new translation, under the guidelines of Liturgiam Authenticam. Liturgiam Authenticam is an important Vatican document that was released in 2001 to deal with future liturgical translations, in light of the commission of the Second Vatican Council. If you are not up to reading the whole document, the Vatican published a short press release that gives a good overview of the document.

Whenever the new Revised Grail Psalms are released, it will be interesting to see how they conform to Litugiam Authenticam, along with comparing them to the original Grail Psalms and the NAB '91 Psalms, which was rejected.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Catholic Bible Poll

So, I have reached a total of 100 voters in my non-scientific poll on Catholic Bible translation usage. Here are the results so far, in order:

Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition: 27%
New American Bible: 22%
New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition: 19%
Douay Rheims: 13%

New Jerusalem Bible: 10%
Jerusalem Bible: 6%
Good News Bible: 2%
Christian Community Bible:1%

So what does this tell me? To be honest, the results are not too surprising. When you look at it, it is clear that the poll breaks down into two groups: 1) The first group comprises the RSV, NAB, and NRSV; 2) The second group comprises the DR, NJB, JB, GNB, CCB. Those in the first group comprise 68% of the total.

Focusing on the first group, the RSV, NAB, and NRSV clearly are more literal/formal translations compared with the others, minus the Douay-Rheims. That makes them useful in both liturgical settings and personal study. The first group is also the easiest to get at either a local Catholic bookstore or a secular store like Borders or Barnes and Nobles. I have seen various editions of the NAB, RSV, and NRSV in the Catholic selection of secular stores. The RSV is #1 because it is the most literal modern Catholic translation available. In addition, many popular speakers and teachers, like Dr. Scott Hahn, Fr. John Corapi, and others, promote and use the RSV. As for the NAB, it will always be popular because it comes in many editions and is the base text behind the readings at Mass in the USA. It is clearly the easiest one to get. The NRSV continues to gain a following, probably due to the increased promotion by HarperCollins, who are continuing to publish Catholic editions of the NRSV. It also helps that the NRSV is read in the Canadian Mass.

As for the others, the Douay-Rheims still has a loyal following. I can attest to this not only by the poll number, but also by the many defenders of the Douay-Rheims on the various Catholic online forums. Unless a future translation of the Nova Vulgata is produced, the Douay-Rheims will always have its admirers. (Some of the Douay-Rheims-only people would probably still use it even if a new English translation of the Latin Bible was produced!) The New Jerusalem, along with the original Jerusalem Bible, are still read by about 16% of those polled. It still remains a bit of an exotic translation for Americans, since it is not used at Mass. It's standard edition, with all the notes and cross-references, remains a favorite for those who do Bible study. Yet, I do not see it ever gaining top-billing here in the US. One of its main problems is that it doesn't come in many available, attractive editions. With that being said, I do know a number of very loyal Jerusalem Bible readers. Many of them first purchased their Jerusalem Bible in the '60s, just after Vatican II, and have been reading it ever since. They are a great example for all of us! Finally, the GNB and the CCB remain basically a niche translation.

Thanks to all who participated in the poll. I will keep it up, just to see if any thing changes at 200!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Origen on the Angels as Evangelists

It is always good to learn from the fathers of the Church, particularly in an age that has some strange ideas about angels.
"Now if there are those among men who are honoured with the ministry of evangelists, and if Jesus Himself brings tidings of good things, and preaches the Gospel to the poor, surely those messengers who were made spirits by God, those who are a flame of fire, ministers of the Father of all, cannot have been excluded from being evangelists also. Hence an angel standing over the shepherds made a bright light to shine round about them, and said: Luke 2:10-11 "Fear not; behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you, this day, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David." And at a time when there was no knowledge among men of the mystery of the Gospel, those who were greater than men and inhabitants of heaven, the army of God, praised God, saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men. And having said this, the angels go away from the shepherds into heaven, leaving us to gather how the joy preached to us through the birth of Jesus Christ is glory in the highest to God; they humbled themselves even to the ground, and then returned to their place of rest, to glorify God in the highest through Jesus Christ. But the angels also wonder at the peace which is to be brought about on account of Jesus on the earth, that seat of war, on which Lucifer, star of the morning, fell from heaven, to be warred against and destroyed by Jesus." --Commentary on the Gospel of John (Book I)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bible Taglines

NRSV: Trust, Unity, NRSV. Trustworthy, readable, and ecumenical, the NRSV is the Bible for everyone.

ESV: The English Standard Version (ESV) Bible is a new, essentially literal Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and depth of meaning.

NIV: Most Read. Most Trusted.

TNIV: Today’s New International Version (TNIV) is an uncompromisingly accurate Bible translation for today’s reader. This rendition of Scripture provides a new choice for those who desire a contemporary, but highly accurate translation.

Jerusalem Bible: When it comes to Bible translations, readability and reliability are what count; and on both counts, the original JERUSALEM BIBLE stands alone. THE JERUSALEM BIBLE is the one they can trust.

New American Standard Bible: Readable, Trusted, Literal, & Timeless.

They all sound pretty convincing to me.....John 6:68. Community Post

So, I posted at the "community" part of the NRSV main site back in early August. Well, it only took three months for the comment to be posted! I am not exactly sure why they even have a website devoted to the NRSV if they are not going to keep it updated. One would think with the backing of HarperCollins, there would be some good potential for a well-run site. Yet, that isn't the case.
Also, I have noticed that the NRSV has been selling better in recent months, according to the CBA Best Sellers. I would imagine that a better, more interactive website would help in the promotion and sales of the NRSV. They could do well to look at the ESV and TNIV sites. Perhaps someday the folks at the USCCB will do the same for the NAB and Ignatius Press for the RSV-2CE, but that might be asking too much.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Another Year, Another Bible

So, last year, around New Years, I decided to give the NRSV-CE a good read through by using it as my primary Bible. I was faithful to this commitment, using the NRSV for personal devotions, work in ministry, as well as class work at the seminary. This lasted for more than six months, almost into August. For devotional reading, I utilized the NRSV-CE edition published by Oxford, while using the HarperCollins Study Bible for study.

I found the overall quality of the NRSV translation to be pretty high. In particular, I appreciated the nice mix between literal and dynamic renderings, certainly leaning more towards the literal end. And while the NRSV is not as literal as the original RSV, I found that to be a positive. In particular, I found reading through the OT to be very enjoyable. I think the text flows quite well, in both Testaments. Also, I appreciate the textual notes at the bottom of each page. They were very helpful. However, some of the excesses in inclusive language use bothered me at times. I am one who believes that it is appropriate to use some inclusive language, but I feel the NRSV is too much. (I think the NJB does a nice job overall.) In particular, the "Son of Man" renderings in the OT, by rendering them "mortals", obscures the messianic meanings behind them. Sure, I know that there may be some legitimate linguistic reasons for an inclusive rendering, but the fact that Jesus referred to himself as the "Son of Man" indicates that he read those OT inferences in that way. In addition, I am not sure changing a passage to the plural is always a good idea.

Also, while I mentioned above that I like the fact the NRSV provides many textual notes, the one thing I noticed is that many of them are simply the more literal Greek rendering. Oftentimes, those notes are the actual text in the RSV or even the NAB. There are a few other things that nag me, but I don't want to harp on the NRSV too much. Like I said, overall I think the NRSV is pretty good, but there are just some things about it that make me uncomfortable with it.

So, since on Sunday we begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent, I have decided to do the same thing I did with the NRSV earlier in the year. But, what translation should I go with? Right now, I am seriously considering going with the new Emergent New Testament: The Voice! Actually no, I am just kidding. Truthfully, I am considering the NAB, which in all honesty, I have rarely used. (Of course I hear it every time I go to Holy Mass). I certainly own a few copies of the NAB, including the nicely made Fireside Librosario NAB and a leather 1990 edition of the Catholic Study Bible by Oxford. But, I am still considering which translation to go with. I am open for any of your thoughts! RSV-2CE?

In any case, I hope to blog about my experiences with whatever translation I decide to use. I would like to show, possibly on a weekly basis, how I have used it in study and ministry, along with insights from my daily devotional reading.

Update: I think I shall make the REB a candidate as well.

Update 2: Five additional translations I am considering are the RSV-2CE, NJB, NLT (Catholic Edition), Good News Translation, and the Christian Community Bible.

Update 3: Leaning towards the RSV-2CE.

Update 4: Now leaning nowhere!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

"And now, bless the God of all,who has done wondrous things on earth; Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,and fashions them according to his will! May he grant you joy of heartand may peace abide among you; May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days." -- Sirach 50: 22-24 (First Reading for Mass on Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CTS New Catholic Bible

Well, here is something that recently was published in England. It is the CTS New Catholic Bible. For those of you in the English speaking Catholic world, outside the USA, this may be the Bible for you. It contains the original edition of the Jerusalem Bible, with the Grail Psalms inserted in place of the JB ones. Also, this new edition alters the divine name, YHWH, and has replaced it with the standard English use of LORD, in conjunction with Pope Benedict's recommendations. I commend the Catholic Truth Society for publishing this edition; it would be nice to see what the USCCB does in the future, since it adopted the Grail Psalms for the liturgy. Why not have a Bible that Catholics in American could use at Mass on Sunday and for private study and devotions? Seems like a no-brainer! It also comes in four different editions.
Below are some of the other features of the CTS New Catholic Bible:

-New specially commissioned introductions, one for each book, giving the biblical and historical context
-New specially commissioned liturgical introductions placing each book of the Bible in the Church’s liturgical year
-New footnotes following the latest scholarship
-New marginal references helping you get the most out of each passage.
-New layout – using clear and modern fonts in easy-to-read single-column format
-New text alterations, replacing the word ‘Yahweh’ with ‘the LORD’ as requested by Benedict XVI for all new Bibles
-New directories of references for readings used in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, including the fuller two-year cycle for the Breviary.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Over a Month Away

I know that I posted on the ESV with Apocrypha a month ago, but I thought I might bring it up again as the January 1 publication date nears. I am still not sold about whether or not I should get it. There has been some discussion about the ESV in general over at Better Bible Blog, mostly pointing out it shortcomings. At this point, I will probably just pass on it for now, unless I see it at a local bookstore. After spending a half year using the NRSV-CE for class, prayer, and ministry work, I decided to switch back to the original RSV-CE. (Perhaps I should post the reasons why at some point.) I know that the ESV is an update to the RSV, reacting to some of the changes done in the NRSV. Yet, from what I have read, I am not sure those reasons are all that good. Yet, it is closer to the original RSV than the NRSV in many ways. Hmm....

A Little Humor during the Last Week in Ordinary Time

I spotted this at the American Chesterton Society blog. It combines three things I like all in one comic: 1) The Pope; 2) Cats (I have two!); 3) GK Chesterton. You just can't beat that!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pope Benedict Meditation on Christ the King

This short talk was given by Pope Benedict XVI on November 23, 2008 on the Feast of Christ the King. It took place during his usual Sunday Angelus:

Today, on this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. We know from the Gospels that Jesus refused the title of king when this was intended in a political sense, along the lines of the "kings of the nations" (cf Mt 20:24). Instead, during his passion, he took upon himself a singular regalness before Pilate, who asked him: "Are you a king?" and Jesus replied: "You say I am a king" (Jn 18:37); but shortly before this he declared: "my kingdom is not one of this world" (Jn 18:36). The royalty of Christ, in fact, is the revelation and accomplishment of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice. The Father entrusted to his Son the mission of giving eternal life to man, loving him even unto the supreme sacrifice, and at the same time conferring on him the power of judgment, from the moment he became Son of man, like us in every way (Jn 5:21-22,26-27).

Today's Gospel insists upon the universal royalty of Christ the Judge, with the magnificent parable of the final judgment, which St Matthew placed immediately before his account of the Passion (25:31-46). The images are simple, the language is common, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth on our ultimate destiny and on the criteria with which we will be valued. "I was hungry and you gave me good, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35) and so forth. Who isn't familiar with this? It's a part of our civilization. It's marked the story of the peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, institutions, the host of beneficial social works. In effect, the reign of Christ is not of this world, but brings to completion all the good that, thanks be to God, exists in man and in history. If we put into practice our love for our neighbor, according to the Gospel message, we then pave the way for the lordship of God, and his kingdom is realized by means of us. If instead each one thinks only of his own interests, the world can't help but go forward in ruins.

Dear friends, the kingdom of God is not a question of honors and appearances, but as St Paul writes, it is "justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rm 4:17). To the Lord takes our good to heart, that each man and woman might have life, and especially that his "smallest" of children might join in the banquet he has prepared for all. Thus he knows not what to make of those kind of hypocrites who say "Lord, Lord" and then transgress his commandments (cf Mt 7:21). In his eternal kingdom, God welcomes those who push themselves day after day to put into practice his word. For this the Virgin Mary, the humblest of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right hand of Christ the King. To her heavenly intercession let us entrust ourselves again with a child's trust, that we might realize our Christian mission in the world.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chronology of the Pastorals

There is an interesting discussion going on over at the blog Singing in the Reign about the dating of the Pastoral Epistles. This is somewhat ironic since it coincides with the recently published volume on "First and Second Timothy and Titus" in the new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series.

PS: Any time I can put up an icon of St. Timothy, I certainly will do it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Benedict XVI on St. Paul and Justification

Being the year of St. Paul, Pope Benedict has devoted many of his public talks to the Apostle. At today's weekly audience, he spoke on St. Paul and justification. I particularly like the definition he gives, based on Paul, of what faith is: "Faith is looking at Christ, trusting in Christ ... conforming to Christ." Thanks to the Vatican Information Service for the article:

VATICAN CITY, 19 NOV 2008 (VIS) "Continuing his series of lessons on St. Paul, Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience, held in St. Peter's Square this morning, to the "question of justification. How do human beings make themselves just in the eyes of God?" This question that occupies a central place in the Apostle's Letters.

When Paul met the Risen One on the road to Damascus, said the Pope, "he was a successful man: blameless as to righteousness under the Law". Yet "the conversion of Damascus radically changed his life, and he began to consider all the gains of his irreprehensible religious career as 'rubbish' in the face of the sublimity of his knowledge of Jesus Christ.

"The Letter to the Philippians", he added, "provides moving testimony of Paul's shift from a justice founded on the Law and achieved by observing certain prescribed actions, to a justice based upon faith in Jesus Christ. ... It is because of this personal experience of the relationship with Jesus Christ that Paul focuses his Gospel on a steadfast contrast between two alternative paths to justice: one based on the works of the Law, the other founded on the grace of faith in Christ".

Thus St. Paul "reaffirms to the Christians of Rome that 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus', and the Apostle adds that 'we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the Law'".

"Luther", said the Pope, "translated this as 'justified by faith alone', ... yet before returning to this point it is necessary to clarify which is the 'Law' from which we have been freed and what are the works that do not justify us. In the community of Corinth there already existed an opinion, that crops up again throughout history, to the effect that it is the moral law, and that hence Christian freedom means freedom from ethics. ... Obviously this is an incorrect interpretation. Christian freedom is not debauchery, ... it is not freedom from doing good".

"For St. Paul, as for his contemporaries, the word Law meant the Torah in its entirety, ... which imposed ... a series of actions ranging from an ethical core to ritual observances ... and substantially defined the identity of the just man, ... such as circumcision, dietary laws, etc. ... All these precepts - expressive of a social, cultural and religious identity - were very important" in the Hellenistic age when polytheism was rife and Israel felt threatened in its identity and feared "the loss of faith in the One God and in His promises".

For this reason it was necessary counteract Greek pressure with "a wall that protected the precious heritage of the faith. This wall was represented by the Jewish precepts". Yet Paul, after his encounter with Christ, understood that "the God of Israel, the only true God, has become the God of all peoples and the wall ... between Israel and the pagans is no longer necessary. Christ protects us from polytheism and its deviations. Christ guarantees our identity within the diversity of cultures, ... it is He Who makes us just".

"Being just simply means being with Christ, being in Christ, that is all. The other precepts are no longer necessary. ... For this reason Luther's 'sola fide' is true if it is not placed in opposition to charity, to love. Faith is looking at Christ, trusting in Christ ... conforming to Christ. And the form of Christ's life was love. ... We become just in communion with Christ Who is love. ... Justice is defined in charity".

"We can only pray to the Lord to help us believe", Benedict XVI concluded. "Thus belief becomes life, unity with Christ, transformation. ... And transformed by His love, by love for God and mankind, we will truly be just in the eyes of God". "

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little Love for the NAB

Over the past weekend, while I was attending the 2008 Letter and Spirit Conference, I decided that I may have been a bit too harsh on the NAB in the previous post. Why? Well, I was able to listen to a few lectures by some solid Catholic Bible scholars who at times referred to the NAB in their papers. So, it made me re-think the whole usefulness of the NAB. Are there still thinks about the NAB that I don't like? Yes! I still don't like the '91 Psalms at all and some of the verse numbering in the OT is odd.
However, I think the NAB New Testament is generally quite good. While it is slightly less "literal" than then RSV, it compares quite well to the NRSV, without the NRSV's excesses in inclusive language. Also, there are some translation decisions in the NAB NT that I think are quite good. Here are just three that come to mind immediately:
1) "I AM" sayings in the Gospels: John 13:19 "From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM."
2) Literal translation of "εξοδον" in Luke 9:31 "who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem."
3) The "Amen, Amen" sayings: John 16:20 "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy."
In addition, while I was at the conference, I was introduced to the first two volumes in the new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. This commentary series is edited by two professors at the seminary I attend, Dr. Peter Williamson and Dr. Mary Healy. They are both gifted teachers and have a wonderful ability to combine important exegetical information with pastoral concerns. So, I was very excited to purchase the new commentary series and was somewhat surprised to see that the main text used is the NAB. So, who knows, perhaps with a revised OT/Psalms, the NAB could become the standard Catholic Bible in the USA in the future. But until then, there will be plenty of people who prefer to use the RSV-CE.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grail Psalms for Mass Approved by USCCB

Well, I spotted this bit of information on the Catholic News Service website. You can read the whole story here. It looks like the USCCB has decided to adopt the Revised Grail Psalms which are used at Mass in other English speaking churches, as well as in the Liturgy of the Hours, for the Mass in America. Currently, the Psalms heard at Mass here in the USA are from the original version of the New American Bible. As some of you know, this edition of the Psalms is currently unavailable, since a revised version was published back in 1991. The revised '91 NAB Psalms was not approved for liturgical use by the Vatican. As a matter of fact, the Vatican website uses the NAB as its English Bible, minus the Psalms. In my studies at seminary, I have seen very few people actually use it in class.

Probably the most important reason why I don't use the NAB is the terrible quality of the '91 Psalms. There are two main reasons for this:

1) Its use of inclusive language is too over the top in my mind. It makes the NRSV Psalms look conservative in that sense. While I don't have a huge problem with moderate horizontal inclusive language, the '91 NAB Psalms consistently uses vertical inclusive language in relation to God. See Psalm 136. Yuck!

2) The translation is just not good. For example, take a look at the much maligned NAB '91 Psalm 23:1-2: "The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me" Graze? Really? Let's not over-use the sheep metaphor. I think I'd rather lie down. There is also the problem of the 91' Psalms working with the '86 Revised NAB NT. The revised NT I think is pretty good, but when doing cross-referencing with the '91 Psalms it is a mess. (see Psalm 8 and Hebrew 2).

What this all tells me is that the NAB is the mess I think it is. It must be embarrassing to some of the bishops. But, perhaps is there a silver lining? There has been rumours that a new edition of the NAB Old Testament is in the works. Perhaps could this recent decision to adopt the Grail Psalms be an indication that the revised OT will include another revision of the Psalms? Lets hope so! Below are some of the reasons for the switch to the Grail Psalms. Let us hope that this will inspire them to ditch the 91' NAB Psalms as well! (And please, make sure the verse numbering of the Psalms follows the standard usage of the RSV and all the other English Bible versions!)

Bishop Serratelli said "there were four reasons that his committee was recommending the Revised Grail Psalter over the Revised NAB version:

-- "It has been recommended by musicians for its musicality" and can easily be sung, chanted or recited.

-- It is faithful to the Hebrew text.

-- It is already "somewhat familiar" to those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

-- "While being faithful to Hebrew imagery and anthropology, it is critically aware of the Christological references."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New RSV-CE Large Print

Well, another edition of the RSV-CE has been published this month. It is the RSV-CE Large Print edition, which seems to be jointly published by the folks at Ignatius Press and Oxford University Press. (There may be other partners in this venture as well.) The copy I was able to briefly look at was the Ignatius Press version, in the leather edition. It seemed to have a quality binding and heftiness to it, which was nice. Obviously the main point of its publication is the "large print" format, which I will tell you is pretty darn large: 13.5 print! I am always somewhat confused as to what consists "large print" in the publishing industry. I own a copy of the New Catholic Answer Bible by Fireside, which is suppose to be "large print", but I actually found the text to be not-so-large print. Therefore, I assumed that the New Catholic Answer Bible was "large print", which is why I considered getting this RSV-CE Large Print edition. But this is simply not the case. The RSV-CE Large Print is very large. As a matter of fact, if I were to designate the RSV-CE Large Print edition anything, I would probably call it "giant print". So confusing!
According to Ignatius Press, here are the "special features":
•Special section that gives the Lectionary readings so people who can’t make it to Mass can look up the passages
•Extra large, 13.5 point type, one of the largest type sizes available in a bible today
•A section of Prayers and Devotions of the Catholic Church that will be familiar to all Catholics
•A 16-page map section
•An 8-page Presentation and Family History section
•Ribbon Marker
•Deluxe Gift Box
•Gold-gilded pages
•Deluxe Leather edition
Just a couple of brief concluding comments:
1) Its nice to know that a Bible ribbon and a gift box are considered "special features".
2) I am glad that they added the Lectionary readings. It seems to me, being Catholic, that any Catholic Bible that doesn't include the Lectionary readings, at least for Sundays and Holy days, is seriously deficient. It seems to be such a no-brainer! (But there are many that don't!)
3) I love maps, so having a 16 page map section is helpful.
4) No cross-references or concordance? Hmmm......
5) Why not use the RSV-2CE? I generally like the RSV-2CE and would love to use it more often, so why not publish multiple editions of the RSV-2CE? I prefer the RSV-2CE to the RSV-CE, but I use the New Oxford Annotated Bible RSV for daily use in class and ministry work because I like the Oxford edition so much better.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Letter and Spirit Conference 2008

This coming weekend, I will be attending the 2008 Letter and Spirt Conference in Pittsburgh. This will be my first time attending, although I have wanted to go in the past few years, but work and class obligations never made it feasible. So, this year everything worked out in such a way that I am able to attend. (Although I do have an exam today which I need to take as well as a small paper to finish by the end of the week!) Needless to say, I am very excited about the upcoming weekend.

The conference will be focusing on the writings of St. Paul in light of mystery and mission. This is obviously a very timely topic, since Pope Benedict XVI dedicated this the Year of St. Paul. The organization that is sponsoring this event is the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition.

The center's founder is Dr. Scott Hahn, who has played an important role in my spiritual life. A convert to Catholicism, Dr. Hahn has a wonderful capacity to write in both an academic and popular style. In this way, I think he has been given a similar gift as N.T. Wright. I read Dr. Hahn's book The Lamb's Supper at a time when I was just beginning to take my faith life seriously. For most of my life, I had attended Mass on Sunday, but I really didn't know why it was all that important. My early life experiences at Mass were focused on either yawning or looking around at people. However, after a conversion experience late during my undergraduate years, I began to eagerly seek out truth and understand why I am Catholic. This led me to the works of Dr. Scott Hahn, in particular The Lamb's Supper. While I am not going to give a full review of it now, I will just say that it opened my eyes in two particular areas: 1) How the earthly Liturgy relates to the Heavenly Liturgy; 2) The Role of Scripture. I soon became excited to read the Scriptures, something which I had never been! Concepts like typology and allegory helped me to see the Bible as a collection of books united under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Wow! God has a plan! While that might be obvious to some, my early life religious ed. classes were not all that helpful. I also suspect that at that time I wasn't very open to the promptings of the Spirit either. Yet, that all seemed to change later on, as I began to read the Scriptures and understand the centrality of the Holy Mass. An important part of this realization was Dr. Scott Hahn's book. So thank you Dr. Hahn!

I plan to post about the conference next week in some detail. I am not sure how much I will be able to get to this week, since I have quite a bit of work to get done before Friday. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Scriptural Reflection on Dedication of St. John Lateran

Over at the Cross Reference, there is a nice reflection on the readings for the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran which is celebrated on November 9. If you are interested in learning more about St. John Lateran, you can check out the Catholic Encyclopedia entry here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Election Jesus Lost

A Prayer for Election Day in Michigan

Lord, God of all creation, Father of the human family and source of all life, we give you thanks for the gift of life in this world and the promise of life eternal. Inspire and guide all people of good will to defend and promote the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception until last natural breath.
We pray that all people might recognize the responsibilities that come with the resources of contemporary technology. As we use these gifts, may we always act in accord with your plan of love for the human family.
We ask this through Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Response from Fr. Fessio (I think)

Catholic Bibles Blog reader Rolf pointed out to me in a recent post that Fr. Fessio from Ignatius Press had commented on some of the questions I had about the RSV-2CE in a post dated September 24. He commentated a few days later, but I unfortunately did not see it. Thank you Rolf for alerting me to this. (Yeah maybe I should start reading my own blog a little more carefully!)

I, of course, have no way of verifying that the comment was written by Fr. Fessio, but the specifics of his answer leads me to think that it is him. So, below I have produced his entire comment to my questions about the RSV-2CE.

Before that, let me just say thanks to Fr. Fessio for commentating on my humble little blog. I appreciate the answers that he provided, they certainly help to clear up the whole process by which the RSV-2CE was edited and published. My initial frustration about this issue was due to the lack of information I had received when I emailed Ignatius Press. There just seemed to be an unwillingness to answer any of the questions I had about the RSV-2CE. So, thank you for finding my blog and responding!

Let me also add that I definitely appreciate the work that Ignatius Press is doing in Catholic publishing these days. Anyone who has seen my bookshelves knows that I own dozens of books by Ignatius Press. The number of books by Pope Benedict that Ignatius Press has published certainly has helped us Catholics in the USA to come to know and love the mind and heart of the Holy Father. Yet, while those editions are most welcome, I would still love to see the Ignatius Catholic Study completed soon! I understand that there is a lot of work that goes into the production and editing of these editions, the quality of each volume so far shows the hard work that has been done. Having been leading multiple Bible studies on a weekly basis for a few years now, I know that there is a real need for a quality Catholic study Bible. Just know that there are a number of us out here who are waiting, mostly with patience, for a quality Catholic study Bible that can rival the quality of the recently published NLT or ESV study Bibles. Or at least make it better than the Catholic Study Bible, which to be honest, won't take much! Thanks again!

Fr. Fessio"

"The questions have been asked: who made the changes to the RSV-2CE? what are they? and why the secrecy?

The answer to the first question is not simple, but here's the essence of the answer. Ignatius Press wanted to reprint the RSVCE lectionary. A new OL (Ordo Lectionum) had been issued which required that any new printing of a lectionary follow the new OL. So IP modified the RSV-2CE Lectionary to conform to the new OL. It was reviewd by the Congregation for Divine Worship. We were surprised that the CDW required any changes at all to the RSVCE. We made the changes and, with approval of the CDW, removed archaic language (Thee, Thou, etc.). At the same time, the CDW was producing "Liturgiam Authenticam" which became and is normative for liturgical and biblical translations. Since there was a pattern to the changes required by the CDW, IP simply made those same changes to the parts of the Bible not included in the lectionary. The result is that the RSV-2CE Lectionary and Bible are the only lectionary and Bible that are compliance with "Liturgiam Authenticam".

The answer to the third question (why the secrecy about the changes?) will answer the second (what are they?). We didn't keep a list of the changes. We accepted some the CDW made without discussion; others we discussed and sometimes made them, sometimes convinced the CDW there was no need to make them, or an alternative was better. This process took *years*. I'm not sure we evan have the materials that would show which changes were made. And I (who, you may have suspected by now, am the editor of Ignatius Press) do not want to ask our overburdened productin department to do the research, if it is even possible, to make a list which is only of interest to a very small number of people.

And a last, immodest word about our being a "small Catholic publisher". Last year the books we sold would stack up over 16 miles high. In a three year period we could surpass the total number of volumes in all of Notre Dame University's 11 libraries (which they say is "nearly 3 million volumes")."

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.

Ignatius Press
September 28, 2008 9:31 PM

BTW: If you are looking for an online analysis of the different versions of the RSV Catholic Edition, you can see that here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

RSV vs. NRSV: Your Thoughts!

It has been a while, but soon I do plan to return to my examination of the RSV vs. NRSV series. Class and ministry work as taken up a lot of my time recently. However, before I return to the RSV vs. NRSV debate, I would like to hear some of your thoughts about these two translations, in relation to each other. The reason I am doing this is to try and cover any angles that I may be missing before I begin my analysis of them.
I think we all can agree that there are merits to both translations; but what do you like and dislike about the two? Your comments can focus on the translations themselves or other important factors like resource materials, reception in Church and academia, liturgical use, etc...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Oxford Annotated Bible - RSV

My search for a study Bible has gone a bit retro. My initial desire was to settle on one of the newer study Bibles that have been produced in the last few years. I have been mightily impressed by the many study helps and the high production quality of the recently released NLT Study Bible and ESV Study Bible. Spending a few minutes looking at each in a local book store, I was instantly impressed. If I were not Catholic, I probably would be very happy to buy leather.

So, I have spent the last few weeks looking at the other possibilities that exist that contain all the Catholic Old Testament. I even devoted a blog entry on this topic. For the most part, the various NRSV study Bibles are the only option. (Let me point out right now that I am aware of The Catholic Study Bible by OUP, but I am not a fan of the NAB translation and the study notes are the same as in any edition of the NAB.) Ultimately, I was just not happy with the various NRSV options. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main reasons were probably the format/size of the study Bible and the overall quality of the notes. To this point, it seemed that many of them had an excess of notes that either really didn't add a whole lot or there were some that just focused on translation issues in the NRSV. (In particular, the NISB has quite a few notes that promote alternate renderings from the NRSV). This is not to say that in general the notes in the various NRSV study Bible were bad, but I just didn't find them worth the amount of space that was devoted to them. I do have a decent collection of commentaries that I use primarily anyways, so perhaps my desire to have a study Bible with lots of notes was not what I really wanted after all.

So, then I rediscovered my old RSV NOAB. I had used it a number of years ago, when I started to take graduate theology courses at the seminary. So, I decided to spend a few days with it. And to my surprise....I really liked using it. The first thing that jumped out at me was the size. It is a pretty small study Bible, considerably smaller than any of the NRSV editions available today. For example the New Interpreters Study Bible is 9.4 x 7.4 x 2 inches while the RSV NOAB is 8.8 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches. So, for me, that is certainly a plus. Next, I really like that the notes/annotations did not take up too much space on each page. They are, in general, very brief and contain only basic historical-critical info along with cross-references. And to be honest with myself, that's all I really want and need at this point. With condensed annotations, this allows the Holy Scriptures to be prominent on each page, with a generous type-size and font. Margins are OK, so some personal annotations can be done on the inner margins and the bottom of each page.

So, perhaps my search is over......for now. One other advantage that using the RSV has is that it is still in print. While I don't have really a huge problem with the NRSV, it is clear that the RSV is still superior in some instances over the NRSV. Also, the RSV is still used in many seminaries and is still in print. As a matter of fact, the NOAB RSV, which was published in the 70's, is still in print in both the hardcover and leather editions. Meanwhile, Oxford is continuing to publish new Catholic editions of the RSV. In fact, they are about to release a new large-print edition of the RSV in November. In addition, it continues to be the translation of choice for most English language documents that come out of Rome. Also, Ignatius Press, whom I harp on from time to time, are still in the process of producing the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, which when published, will be an excellent resource.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Discipleship Study Bible Review

Over the past few weeks, I have seen more copies of The Discipleship Study Bible (DSB) at my local bookstores, both Christian and secular. I had purchased this study Bible a month or two ago, but kind of set it aside until now. So, I have decided to give a short review of it. Let me just say right off, that it is clear that The Discipleship Study Bible (DSB) is primarily aimed at mainline Protestants. I am not saying that Catholics couldn't profit from some of its insights, but mainline Protestants are clearly the intended audience.

So, here are the stats, courtesy of

The Discipleship Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version including Apocrypha—the first completely new NRSV study Bible in five years! Laity and clergy in mainline Protestant churches frequently want a study Bible that matches their congregation’s translation for worship and education (usually NRSV) while also providing resources for personal understanding and guidance for Christian living. Existing study Bibles based on the NRSV provide factual information about the biblical text but have not developed the personal application direction. The Discipleship Study Bible will be unique in providing a NRSV translation with personal application notes for a mainline Protestant audience.

The annotations in this study Bible give particular emphasis to discerning scriptural guidance for living together in community. Such living encompasses but is not limited to personal piety. The biblical text has an inescapable social dimension and the Discipleship Study Bible demonstrates attentiveness to the public and communal meanings and implications of the biblical text, including the social justice and social witness dimensions of Scripture. In short, this study Bible gives attention to both personal and corporate discipleship, to both spiritual and social needs.

The Discipleship Study Bible:
*Focuses on discipleship (Christian living for today) for a mainline denominational communion

*Concentrates on social justice, that is, acts of Christian care and concern for all God’s people and all of God’s world

*Concentrates on personal piety, that is, Christian acts of personal response to Scripture

*Is based on the scholarship and inclusive language of the NRSV translation

*Extensive (approximately 400,000 total words) introduction and annotations for each biblical book (including the Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical books) solicited from a group of distinguished biblical scholars for this project.

*Introductions to each biblical book to acquaint you with essential historical, sociocultural, literary, and theological issues valuable in understanding the biblical book in question.

*Annotations for each biblical book addressing the whole range of the Christian life. Both spiritual and social needs are given attention to help you recognize that Christian faith makes claims on every aspect of our lives. Attention is given as appropriate to personal piety as a dimension of faithful discipleship. But even more attention is devoted to the social dimension of the biblical text and faithful discipleship, especially matters of social justice.

*Concise chronology of events and literature in and surrounding Ancient Israel and Early Christianity

*Concise concordance

*Color maps

So, there you have it, the particulars of the DSB. At first glance it is pretty impressive, and for the most part it is pretty well put together. Of course, it is basically impossible to find the perfect study Bible....since that doesn't exist. Again, I feel somewhat out of place commentating on a study Bible not designed for Catholics or even to be broadly ecumenical, so I will just point out some of the DSB's positive and negative features. First off, I really like the size and feel of the DSB. It is smaller than most other NRSV study Bibles, yet big enough to contain plenty of study helps. In this regard, I think it is very similar to the original RSV New Oxford Annotated Bible. I really like the size! It is quite portable, and what is also nice is that the font/text is very readable. I initially thought that the Biblical text would be printed small, but no it is acually very readable and not a strain on the eyes.

In addition, most pages contain some sort of commentary. While most of the notes deal specifically with discipleship, some of them do discuss important historical notes that are integral to understanding the text. Yet, these notes often combine both. Here is an example:

Joshua 15: 1-12: "Inside the boundaries of Judah are also included the tribe of Simeon and other peoples (Edomites and Amelekites). Historically speaking, these boundaries were reached only at the time of King David. Here again we find a theological lesson: Israel's ideal limits exceeded the historical reality of the people. Thus, there is always room for showing greater loyalty to God, a prerequisite to possess and keep the promised land."

While one could agree or disagree with that statement, I do think it shows the flavor of the commentary. Ultimately, if you are into social justice, from a mainline Protestant perspective, than you will probably like this commentary. I also appreciated that they included a concordance and Biblical maps. I always find it odd that any study Bible wouldn't have Bible maps, but I have seen some without them. On the negative end, I am shocked that they don't include cross-references. I know that the publishers have promoted the DSB as falling somewhere between being scholarly and devotional, but to not have cross-references is truly unfortunate. Its kind of stupid don't you think? I guess they thought the inclusion of the concordance would fit that need, but I would much rather have cross-references. One other element that I thought would have been helpful would be to include a section with examples of people following the call to Biblical discipleship. They could have even spread these examples throughout the text. I always find it helpful to have examples of other Christian brothers and sisters who have heard the voice of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures and have then gone out and lived it. I think of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wilberforce, or Francis of Assisi would be a few obvious choices.