Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pope Benedict on the Fall

Yeah, not the fall of Adam and Eve, but rather his recent accident which left him with a broken wrist.

Reflecting on the experience, the Pope said: "My own guardian angel did not prevent my injury, certainly following superior orders. Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility, give me more time for prayer and meditation".

This once again proves that the Holy Father knows his Paul: Colossians 1:24-25 and James: James 1:2-4.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Four Gospels (Little Rock) Review

Thanks to an advanced review copy from the fine people at Liturgical Press, I am happy to give my impressions of The Four Gospels: Catholic Personal Study Edition which will be available in early August. The translation used in this, and future editions, is the New American Bible. The general editors are Catherine Upchurch and Ronald D. Witherup S.S.. The entire project is co-published by Little Rock Scripture Study with Liturgical Press.

First things first, this edition is really just a sample of the future one volume Little Rock Catholic Study Bible. Through email correspondence with Liturgical Press, they have told me that all they are waiting for is the completion and approval of the re-revised NAB Pslams. Once completed, the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible will utilize the most up-to-date edition of the NAB. That is certainly a very good thing! Let's continue to pray that the revised NAB will provide Catholics in the USA a more consistent, well-rounded translation that can be acceptable for both Holy Mass and personal study. For more on the revised NAB, you can go here.

The first thing that strikes you when you open up The Four Gospels: Catholic Personal Study Edition is the page layout that Liturgical Press went with. (You can see what I am talking about here.) May I be the first to say "thank you!" As many of you know, I have been hoping to see more Catholic Bible editions in single-column layout. I have always felt that a single-column format allows for greater ease of reading, as well as providing more room to make personal notes in the text. The top of each page has the NAB text, with cross-references on the sides and the NAB notes at the bottom. The text is very readable and there is a clear division between the scriptural text and the notes. The overall layout reminds me of the TNIV Study Bible that I own. Bravo!

If all that Liturgical Press had done was to improve the NAB's page layout, I would have been satisfied. However, they have added helpful informational inserts into the text which compliment the NAB text and its standard commentary. These inserts consists of charts, maps, photos, short character bios, archaeological insights, prayer starters, social justice connections, definition of terms, and liturgical use of Scripture. For example, it is nice to read Luke 20:20-26, which describes the story of paying taxes to the Emperor, and then see a small picture of an actual Roman coin bearing Caesar's image right next to the text. Many of the informational inserts are very well placed in the text and enhance the readers understanding of the context of the Biblical narrative. In addition, the standard NAB introductions to each book are supplemented by a small insert which gives a brief summary including author, date, content, and main characters info. It's a convenient study help, particularly if you need to get information quickly.

The largest group of inserts are the ones on definition of terms, which include bits of information relating to such terms as the "Amen, Amen" and "I AM" sayings, exorcism, leprosy, vineyard imagery, the Pontius Pilate inscription, "Mary, which Mary?", and much more. There are also 11 line maps that are found throughout the four gospels, placed where appropriate to the text. I also found the inclusion of 14 "Liturgical Use of Scripture" inserts to be helpful. They often point out places where a particular scriptural text has been prominently used in the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours. For those who are unaware of why we say certain things during Mass, this is certainly a helpful tool. The other inserts reference other scriptural texts, as well as important Church documents like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Dei Verbum, the USCCB's Economic Justice for All, the PBC's Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, and JPII's Redemptoris Missio.

This edition also includes two essays: "Background to the Gospels" by Ronald Witherup and "The Bible and Liturgy" by Irene Nowell which bookend the volume. Thankfully, Liturgical Press included the list of Sunday Mass readings and a helpful index for all illustrations and informational inserts.

Whenever the forthcoming Little Rock Catholic Study Bible is published in a one volume edition, it should prove to be helpful for not only those who are new to the Bible, but also those who are more experienced Bible readers. The page format alone makes it a definitely upgrade for those who use the NAB as their primary translation. In the end, I only have two suggestions for the upcoming one volume edition: 1) Please make sure that it comes in multiple cover options, including genuine leather and duo-tone imitation leather. Please avoid the bonded leather or laminated covers! 2) Even though there are map inserts, be sure to include a map section in the back with index.

Overall, great job on the first edition!

The way the Gospel Shouldn't be Read at Mass

Bob Rice teaches at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. He is also a talented musician and leads many of the youth conferences at Steubie U.

BTW: He reads from the New Jerusalem Bible

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Honest Scrap

I have been tagged by Kevin Sam to participate in the Honest Scrap Awards. The rules are that I’m supposed to tell you 10 Honest things about myself and then nominate 7 other blogs that I think deserve to receive the Honest Scrap Award.

So here we go:

1) I have two cats, one is named Hamlet and the other is Noel. This is odd since I grew up in a "dog" family that wanted nothing to do with cats. However, I have come to really like having cats around the house. Why? Well, they are much easier to care for and, IMHO, have a bit more personality than dogs. Please no anti-cat/pro-dog comments! :)

2) I drive a white Pontiac Aztek. Yeah, I know that they haven't been made in a number of years and Pontiac doesn't exist anymore. But hey, I love the car....its got character! Reminds me of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

3) I have a hard time reading fiction. I have tried to sit down and read the Lord of the Rings on numerous occasions, but never do I venture out of the Shire. I think once I made it to Tom Bombadil's house, but no farther. I would much rather read something about the Bible or ancient and medieval history.

4) I love Panera. As a matter of fact, I am writing this post while sitting at a Panera. Free refills on coffee and free internet. A deadly combination!

5) While I don't watch many sitcoms on television, there are a few shows that I try to tune in to watch each week. These shows are: Ghost Hunters, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and River Monsters. I use to watch the History Channel often, but that ended once they stopped showing actual history programs.

6) Of all the different types of movie genres out there, I enjoy 50's and 60's sci-fi and monster movies. And yes, my favorite is the big guy from Japan: Godzilla. If you are interested, which I am sure you are not, Classic Media has restored and released many of the original Godzilla films with commentaries and both American and Japanese versions.

7) Politically I am conservative, but I do not consider myself a Republican. Certain issues that I would fall more in the "liberal" camp would be in the area of the environment, poverty issues, and "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

8) I have been blessed to travel to Europe on five occasions. Encouraged initially by a wonderful mentor at Michigan State University, who died two years ago, I have travelled to England, Scotland, Ireland, N. Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Greece. Since I studied in Rome for 6 months, there is no question in my mind that Italy is the best. The fact that I have relatives in Italy also helps. The food is also fantastic!

9) I have never been to New York City or Boston. Of all the cities in the USA that I have been to, Chicago is my favorite.

10) Although I have lived in the suburbs my entire life, my goal is to have a home on the outskirts of a metropolitan area with a small river/creek in my backyard.


Whispers in the Loggia
Mark Shea
American Papist
Voice of Stefan
Singing in the Reign
Ignatius Insight
Jimmy Akin

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 points for Fruitful Scripture Reading from the USCCB

Listed here are 10 points for fruitful Scripture reading from the USCCB site, compiled by Mary Elizabeth Sperry.

1) Bible reading is for Catholics. The Church encourages Catholics to make reading the Bible part of their daily prayer lives. Reading these inspired words, people grow deeper in their relationship with God and come to understand their place in the community God has called them to in himself.

2) Prayer is the beginning and the end. Reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or a history book. It should begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the Word of God. Scripture reading should end with a prayer that this Word will bear fruit in our lives, helping us to become holier and more faithful people.

3) Get the whole story! When selecting a Bible, look for a Catholic edition. A Catholic edition will include the Church's complete list of sacred books along with introductions and notes for understanding the text. A Catholic edition will have an imprimatur notice on the back of the title page. An imprimatur indicates that the book is free of errors in Catholic doctrine.

4) The Bible isn't a book. It's a library. The Bible is a collection of 73 books written over the course of many centuries. The books include royal history, prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith communities, and believers' accounts of the preaching and passion of Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the author is trying to convey.

5) Know what the Bible is – and what it isn't. The Bible is the story of God's relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation.

6) The sum is greater than the parts. Read the Bible in context. What happens before and after – even in other books – helps us to understand the true meaning of the text.

7) The Old relates to the New. The Old Testament and the New Testament shed light on each other. While we read the Old Testament in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it has its own value as well. Together, these testaments help us to understand God's plan for human beings.

8) You do not read alone. By reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture, Catholics join those faithful men and women who have taken God's Word to heart and put it into practice in their lives. We read the Bible within the tradition of the Church to benefit from the holiness and wisdom of all the faithful.

9) What is God saying to me? The Bible is not addressed only to long-dead people in a faraway land. It is addressed to each of us in our own unique situations. When we read, we need to understand what the text says and how the faithful have understood its meaning in the past. In light of this understanding, we then ask: What is God saying to me?

10) Reading isn't enough. If Scripture remains just words on a page, our work is not done. We need to meditate on the message and put it into action in our lives. Only then can the word be "living and effective."(Hebrews 4:12).

Mary Elizabeth Sperry is Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible. Hmmm......I never knew there was such an office. In my mind, particularly with the upcoming publication of the revised NAB, they should consider developing a website dedicated to the NAB. The USCCB has a site currently devoted to the NAB, but the resources could certainly be enhanced and the overall look updated. And it definitely deserves a site of its own.

As for the list, I would be a little careful particularly when it comes to #5. While what she says is true, it is important to go back to what the Second Vatican Council Document Dei Verbum taught in regarding inspiration: "Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation (DV 11)." What that means has been a point of debate over the past 40+ years within the Church. Perhaps Sperry could have said something like: "The Bible is not written in the same way that our modern history or science books are written." Just a thought!

Other than that, I think the list is generally helpful. Perhaps one other thing I would have altered is found in #4. While the Bible certainly is a collection of books, written over a 1000 year period, I would have liked to have seen her add a condensed form of the following from paragraph 102 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.

The Gospel in the World

I spotted this story at, via the Grand Rapids Press. While it has nothing to do with particular Bible translations or study tools, it has everything to do with the Gospel.

IONIA COUNTY -- After 35 years in prison, Ross Hayes left the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility on Tuesday and fell into the arms of his wife, Shirley. Waiting to greet him with support and forgiveness was Dale Daverman, whose great-aunt was killed by Hayes in her Grand Rapids home. Daverman, standing off to the side, wiping tears, waited for Hayes to greet family and friends in the prison lobby. Finally, the two men shook hands. Then they of article can be read here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Question to NAB Readers

The New American Bible is the Bible used by most Catholic Americans. It is also the most widely available, at both Catholic and secular bookstores, and it comes in many different editions. As my non-scientific poll has shown, it remains in the top 3 popular Catholic Bible translations used. So, which edition of the NAB do you use and why?

As some of you know, I have been critical of some aspects of the NAB in the past. This has largely been due to its unevenness in translation philosophy and inclusive language. The OT leans more dynamic/mediating in the translation scale, while the revised NAB NT leans more on the formal side. The OT has no inclusive language, while the revised NT has a moderate amount, certainly less than the NRSV. The revised '91 Psalms....well....they are clearly the biggest eyesore to the NAB. The Psalms are all over the place in regards to translation philosophy and use of inclusive language. Just read Psalm 23. However, let it be known that I think the revised NAB NT is quite good!

So why do I bring this up right now? Well, there are two main reasons:

1) I am somewhat hopeful that the ongoing revisions of the NAB OT and a re-revised Psalms will produce a better NAB. Perhaps I am naive, but I pray that I am not. Everything that I have read from the Catholic Biblical Association seems to indicate that the newly revised NAB will conform, in some way, with Liturgiam Authenticam. That would be a very good thing. Also, there is no getting around the fact that the NAB will be the "official" translation of the American Church for the foreseeable future. It will continue be the translation heard at Mass and used by the vast majority of Catholics who come to Bible studies. In any case, let's keep praying that the CBA and USCCB will provide Catholics in American with a solid translation!

2) In August, I will be starting a new ministry position at a local Catholic school. There, I will be teaching some Scripture courses, as well as handling the campus ministry duties. The text we will use is the NAB, so I have decided to make a commitment to using the NAB as my full-time Bible. As many of you have read in previous posts, I have been flip-flopping between various translations for years. A number of months ago I decided to take up the NRSV. While I will certainly use the NRSV on occasion, the NAB will now be with me daily.

So, again, which edition of the NAB do you use and why do you like it? The more specific the better! Thanks!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Four Gospels with Little Rock

A new resource for studying the Gospels will be published this coming August from Liturgical Press, publishers of the well-known Little Rock Scripture Study series. It is entitled The Four Gospels: Catholic Personal Study Edition. This edition is created by the producers of the Little Rock Scripture Study and includes a number of helpful features. The NAB is the translation used in this volume.

The details are as follows:
The more we understand the four gospels—the distinct narrative and theological emphasis of each evangelist, the unique portrait of Jesus that each presents—the better we come to know Jesus. This knowledge, of course, is much more than an intellectual awareness or knowing about someone. When we enter into the gospels, we come to truly know Jesus the Christ in an intimate way. Through this volume readers will become familiar with the world in which Jesus lived, the cultural customs, the important geographic locations, the biblical terms familiar to first-century Christians but foreign to a contemporary audience. In addition to charts, maps, and photos, this study of the gospels provides an excellent Catholic perspective, answering such questions as: How is the Bible used in the liturgy? What is the connection between the gospels and Catholic social teaching?

From what I have been able to see so far, this resource comes in a very nice looking single-column page format. The study tools are ordered in a very attractive way, with cross-references on the side of each page, the standard NAB notes at the bottom, and quick-reference informational inserts found throughout. These inserts will contain maps, illustrations, charts, and information on Biblical themes, characters, archaeological finds, prayers, and other topics related to Catholic teachings.

At this point, it appears that this volume will only be in paperback, with a retail price of $24.95.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upcoming Bible Releases

It's summer, which is a very good thing here in Michigan! The weather has been great, with lots of sunny days but without the oppressive heat and humidity. Major automotive companies have emerged out of bankruptcy and the Tigers are in first place. So it must be time to just sit back and relax?

Well, if you are as twisted as I am, now is the perfect time to look at some upcoming Bible releases! I hear dozens of people shouting "hooray" in the background. Or was that just me?

So, what is there to look forward to for the second half of the year in regards to Catholic Bible releases? (Please note that I include any Bible that contains the Catholic canon to fit into that category). The answer to that question varies, depending on what translation you prefer.

If you like the NAB or NJB, then there won't be much coming out that you need. Both translations are in a state of flux, not surprisingly. The NAB revised OT, including re-revised Psalms, is set to come out late this or early next year. Of course that all depends on when the re-revised Psalms are completed and approved by the USCCB. Stay tuned! As for the NJB, there is that "Bible in its Traditions" project that is underway, but when that will be completed, in an English edition, is unknown.

Lovers of the Douay-Rheims will rejoice that a new edition, mentioned recently on this blog, will be coming out in August. Although I do not use the Douay-Rheims on a regular basis, it is nice to see that Tan/Saint Benedict Press will be issuing the venerable old translation in a genuine leather edition. This new edition will also come with some new maps, as well as possibly a new type-setting. It would be nice to see the Douay-Rheims in a type-setting that might be attractive to someone in the 21st century.

As for the RSV-CE, Ignatius Press has recently published the Letters of St. John and the Book of Revelation in their final volume of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament. There are rumors that a possible one-volume edition of the complete New Testament is coming soon, possibly by the end of the year.

Last, but certainly not least, is the NRSV. Of all the Bible translations mentioned, the NRSV continues to be the one that has the greatest potential of a continued stream of new releases that interest Catholic readers. This has everything to do with HarperCollins, who continues to promote their NRSV in a wide-range of editions. For the most part, HarperCollins has succeeded in bringing greater awareness of the NRSV translation. Now if they would only publish an edition of the NRSV with cross-references and maps, then I will be a very happy man indeed!

Here is a list of upcoming NRSV releases:

NRSV Life with God Bible with Deuterocanonicals

The Go-Anywhere Compact NRSV Thinline Bible with Apocrypha

NRSV Catholic Faith and Family Bible

Saint Mary's Press Personal Journey Bible NRSV NT and Psalms (This is a youth Bible released earlier this year)

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Bible Translation Chart

Elshaddai Edwards over at his always illuminating He is Sufficient blog posted a new translation chart which can be found on the Biblica site. Biblica is supported by the International Bible Society, most known for the NIV and TNIV translations. Not surprising, the NIV and TNIV hold a prominent spot on this chart! It contains many of the most popular translations out there, including many Catholic ones. The notable exceptions being the Douay-Rheims and the English Standard Version. I can somewhat understand why the Douay-Rheims is not on there, but the ESV is a bit of a mystery.
Another thing about this chart that I do not get is in the way that the Dynamic and Formal sides are organized. For instance, wouldn't the New Living Translation be less dynamic than the Good News Bible? Therefore, shouldn't it be below the Good News Bible? Since the NKJB is at the top of the formal side, does that make it the most formal? I am not too sure about that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Life with God Bible

The Life with God Bible is set to be released in early August by HarperCollins. This is a continuation of a project that began a number of years ago, spearheaded most notably by well-known Christian spiritual writer Richard J. Foster. It seems that this new Bible is an updated, more compact edition of the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible published a few year back. While this may not be of interest to most Catholic readers, this Bible project does come in editions with the Deuterocanonical Books. (Thankfully they do refer to them as the "Deuterocanonical Book" and not simply "the Apocrypha".) The Bible translation used is the NRSV.

According to the HarperCollins website, The Life with God Bible combines "the depth of a study Bible with the warmth of a devotional Bible, The Life with God Bible makes Scripture come alive as you learn to read the text in a fresh way, not as something to be mastered, but as a story to enter and a lifestyle to pursue." Mmmm......warmth! My guess is that it tends to lead more towards the devotional end of the spectrum. Any one familiar with the whole Renovare movement or have used the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible? I have seen the older edition in the bookstores from time to time, but I have never taken the time to actually read through it.

What interests me is that it comes in a fairly compact size: 7.1 x 5 x 1.9 inches. It also comes in various editions and covers, including "Italian Leather". I wonder if the "Italian Leather" is the "Italian Duo-Tone" leather that I have seen on a number of newly released Bibles. One that comes to mind, that I have seen in a bookstore, is the NIV Thinline from Zondervan.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Douay-Rheims from Tan/Saint Benedict Press

Coming this August, Tan Books, who were recently acquired out of bankruptcy by Saint Benedict Press, will be publishing various editions of the venerable Douay-Rheims. They will come in different covers, including paperback, leather-like, and genuine leather. It is nice to see that the old Douay-Rheims will have a genuine leather option, particularly since Baronius Press stopped production of their genuine leather Douay-Rheims. In addition, the words of Jesus will be in red, it will have a newly re-typeset, and there will be updated New Testament maps. Looks like it will be a nice little update for those of you who love the Douay-Rheims.
More info from the site:
The Douay-Rheims Version of the Holy Bible, translated between the years 1582 and 1610 and revised by Bishop Richard Challoner from 1749-1752, is the most accurate English translation of the Bible available today. It was the only Catholic translation of Scripture commonly in use for over 200 years and we maintain that it is still the best and safest version of the Bible in English. Translated with profound respect for every word, the beautiful style of the Douay-Rheims Bible will instill in the reader a deeper understanding of the Word of God. Annotations, references and an historical and chronological index make it convenient for study as well as meditation. Our Douay Rheims Bible is the only edition available with the words of Christ in red! Includes updated full color New Testament maps, beautiful pictures depicting the life of Christ. Complete with Family record and Presentation pages. This beautiful Bible is available in a black genuine leather cover, with gold edges and a ribbon marker and is packaged in an eye catching presentation box.
Gotta love the "eye catching presentation box" feature!