Wednesday, June 3, 2009

News on Ignatius Catholic Study Bible

Thanks to the always talented Theophrastus for transcribing, and editing, an April edition of the radio program Catholic Answers Live. The guest was Mark Brumley, CEO-President of Ignatius Press, who answered a call about the future of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. As many of you know, I think the ICSB is a wonderful resource, however each edition has been published at a painstakingly slow pace. Could there be good news on the horizon? Well, here is an update on the project:
Caller: I have been trying to study the Bible, and I recently bought Scott Hahn's [and Curtis Mitch's] study of Matthew. I understand they are preparing a study for every book of the Bible. Is that the best source for studying the Bible, or is there another study Bible I can use until it is finished?
Brumley: In the Fall, we're planning to publish the New Testament together in a single volume. We are going to be cranking out the Old Testaments volumes as fast as we can -- faster than the New Testament volumes (or else it might take forever). There are other Catholic study bibles, but I think that the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible with Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch is the best out there. I encourage people to use the booklets for personal or parish Bible studies. The reason why I think they're good is that they use a good translation (the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition -- not just the RSV, not just the RSV-CE, but the Second Catholic Edition.) On top of that they have great annotations (done by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch) that look both at the historical context of the texts and also the teachings of the Church Fathers and some great commentators from the early centuries of the Church. You get both something solid from a historical point of view and also a fuller, deeper spiritual tradition of understanding the Bible. So that's what I would recommend. There are other [Catholic] study Bibles out there, but I don't think any of them have the fullness of what we have in the in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible booklets.
If you want to listen to the the entire show, which includes the caller's question 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the interview, go to the April 2 Q&A show with Mark Brumley.
I think it is great news that they are going to start publishing these editions at a much faster rate. I have complained about the slowness of publication for the past few years. It is nice to see that Mr. Brumley realizes that at the current pace "it might take forever" to complete the project. Yes, or perhaps by 2025 at the earliest. I certainly intend to get the full New Testament edition in the Fall. It will be interesting to see if they keep the same page format, including the study questions, for the New Testament edition. I would assume that all of the resources that are included in the individual volumes would be in the full New Testament edition.
Mr. Brumley mentions that there are other Catholic study Bibles out there. While that is true, the selection is considerably limited. If you are looking for a specifically Catholic, one volume study Bible, then you can choose between the two Oxford Catholic study editions, The Catholic Study Bible and Catholic Bible: Personal Study Edition, and the New Jerusalem Bible. Of course the main difference between the two Oxford editions is the introductory material, since the study notes and book introductions are the same for any Bible that uses the NAB. In many ways, I find the NJB edition to be superior to the Oxford ones, but that's just me.
The completion of the ICSB is ultimately a good thing, since it will provide Catholics more study Bible options. If the quality is good, as well as the sales, perhaps future Catholic study Bible editions could be published. Hmm.....maybe the fine folks at HarperCollins/Harper One/Harper Catholic Bibles would consider an NRSV Catholic study Bible?


Theophrastus said...

Thanks so much for the kind words.

Perhaps you will find this comment by Mark Brumley posted Monday, December 29, 2008 at 11:16 AM on this page of interest:

With the volume on the Johannine epistles and Revelation, the collection of NT booklets of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible is complete. The OT books are in preparation and we're in the process right now of working out the details of publication.

The ICSB books are complicated works to publish because they need the usual editing, plus a complicated layout, but also substantive review to make sure the annotations are appropriate for a study Bible. That means that the personal interpretative choices of the commentators are kept, to some degree, in check by the genre in which they do their commentary--a study Bible rather than a Bible commentary. People read the notes of a study Bible a bit differently from how they read the notes of a Bible commentary. It is very easy for inexperienced Bible readers to confuse what the Bible says with what the notes in the study Bible they use claim it says, e.g., many readers of the Scofield Reference Bible.

So on the one hand we want the insights of our commentators to come through but on the other we want to avoid leaving the unsuspecting reader with the impression that a commentator's insights are on the level of the Bible itself or even an authoritative interpretation of the Bible by the Magisterium. Which means we have to review the annotations carefully and discuss them with the author.

Timothy said...

Thanks for the additional info Theophrastus!