Friday, April 30, 2010

New Missal Approved

Michael Barber has an interesting blog post on the newly approved English language version of the Roman Missal for Mass. I agree with Michael, who shows how the new Missal will be more Biblical than the current one we hear. News on the new translation of the Mass, into English, can be found here. Look for the changes to take place Advent 2011.

Update: Go here for a response by the USCCB to the new Roman Missal approval.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Update: NRSV Thinline

According to, the upcoming HarperCollins (Zondervan) NRSV Go-Anywhere Personal Size Thinline Bible will be released on September 19th. No word yet as to whether it will come in a Catholic edition or at least contain the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books. It appears that it will come in a bonded leather edition with craft-sewn binding. Maps will also be included. The dimensions are 6' x 9' size, with a thickness of less than 1 inch. The current pre-order price on is $23.09.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Audio from Biblical Theology Conference

Earlier this past month, Wheaton College, which is a Christian college outside of Chicago, held their 19th Annual Wheaton Theology Conference. The focus of the conference was on the writings of well-known New Testament scholar and Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright, who will soon be retiring from his bishopric. The conference speakers, most notably Richard Hays, delivered papers focusing on N.T. Wright's writings dealing with Jesus and Paul. Wright was on hand, as well, and deliver his own talks, as well as to respond to criticisms and critiques from the other scholars. Thanks to the people at Wheaton College, you can listen to (and view) all of the conference speakers on their website.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dr. Scott Hahn on 5 Years w/ Benedict XVI

On the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict's election to the Papacy, Dr. Scott Hahn published a short piece in the National Catholic Register focusing on the Pope's impact on Biblical studies within the Church. Hahn shows how Benedict has devoted a lot of time and ink to building up Biblical studies in the Church. Of course this is nothing new for Benedict, whose many works were saturated with the Scriptures well before his election to the See of Peter. While this article is not very long, you can get a more comprehensive understanding of Pope Benedict's Biblical theology in Hahn's Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology 0f Pope Benedict XVI. As Hahn puts it at the end of the NCR article: "I believe this will be his lasting legacy to the Church: to restore the word of God to its rightful place at the center of Church life." I agree 100%.

Guest Review: NISB vs. NOAB 4th Edition

Diakonos09 is a frequent visitor and commentator on this blog, and lately we have been emailing back and forth on the issue of study Bibles. Well, over the past week he held a little "competition" between the various study Bibles on the market that could be usable for Catholics. I found his analysis to be both funny and informative. He has given me permission to reproduce his findings, so enjoy:

Competitors: put in your mouth-guards and check the laces on your gloves, because this might get ugly. Let the fight begin! Ding! Ding!

In one corner, weighing in at 3.9 pounds, boasting 2,298 pages and bearing an oddly-shaped over-sized dimension in width we have the New Interpreter's Study Bible. In the other corner, tipping the scale at 3.6 pounds with a girth composed of 2,480pages and sporting a new 21st century appearance yet holding fast to the well-recognized traditional red cover is the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible- 4th Edition. Both competitors include the so-called Apocrypha. Both come recommended by Catholic and Anglican scholars. And both have successfully claimed skirmish victories in this competition over their primary mainline Study Bible competitors: NJB (though not in theology), NAB (in all its editions to date), REB (was it every really a serious challenger?), Harper Collins (though I still may score a cheap used paperback copy) and ESV (the first loser based on theology).

I need to take the winner to deaconate classes, to Bible Study meetings, to CCD, etc. Because it goes out so much, carries a decent amount of scrap notes, holy cards and handouts and typically gets tossed into my backpack, I like to put my SBs into a nice zippered cover with pockets, etc. With this in mind the NISB is the hands-down loser due to its odd width-dimension. It is a good 1.25" over-sized and I'd have to have a cover custom made. Searches for covers on the net yielded nada. So I declare the NOASB-4 winner in this category. BTW...they are identical in thickness and near identical in length. I guess the NISB folks decided to go with the odd-width to allow for the extra in-text notes it contains.

I see no difference really in the paper quality but it seems to me that the font size or at least clarity of print is slightly better in the NISB. "Bleed" factor is identical and really not an issue at all to me. I have not been able to test note writing on the paper. Winner by a fraction of a decimal of a point is the NISB.

The competitors leave the externals round and enter into the textual competition in a tie.

Text Layout/Notes
Both have a clean look with text taking up at least 60% of the page and note section clearly distinguishable. This is important because on one and the same page you have God's inerrant Word and man's errant-prone research and hypotheses. Even the best of notes in line with the tradition need to be clearly seen as commentary. The judges were indeed impressed by NOASB-4's use of the sectional-heading in bold idea for commentary even if not for text. NISB notes however are extremely succinct without loosing content or conveying much is packed into so little, though this "little" is still more than found in the NOASB-4.NISB has a habit of commenting on an entire subsection (for example, Rom 3: 21-31) and then following this with a verse/verses sub-commentary on the same section. This allows for a bit more information and puts things into context.

NOASB-4 makes finding commentary easier again because of the subheading concept. It also came out above the NISB in the Introductions layout with a nice format of labeling authorship, genre, etc.The judge brought this close-call competition to deliberation over lunch (and a couple of drinks of course) and came back declaring NISB the winner.

Theology/Objectivity/Catholic Friendliness
While both competitors make a point of seeking a denominational neutrality in their annotation and comments, it can't but be helped that some theological emphases will be apparent. Likewise, it is possible to get a feel for a kind of objectivity (or not) regarding current biblical scholarship theories. Together these can produce a sense of Catholic friendliness at best or a sense of Protestant kindred ship which is polite enough to allow a Catholic or Orthodox presence (to a degree).

While it is quite clear that the NISB is in the Protestant kindred ship domain, it does a reasonably ecumenical job of acknowledging Catholic/Orthodox applications of Scripture for Jn 6/Euchairst and even Jn 19/Spiritual Motherhood of Mary. It absolutely fails, though in 1Cor 11/Eucharist, Mt 16/Peter. The NOASB-4 actually is less overt in its notes for these passages (particularly the Johannine ones) but what saved its butt in the competition here and actually elevated it above the NISB is its consistent reference to and comfort with Liturgical/Sacramental aspects of passages. Perhaps because Oxford is more Anglican than evangelical it has no problem with liturgical senses or with assigning Baptism as a rite beyond an outward confession of faith, especially in its notes in Pauline passages.

While I truly enjoyed seeing an ecumenical Bible give a nod or two to Catholic/Orthodox doctrine I found much more theological satisfaction in the overall sense of the NOASB-4 notes. In addition, the NOASB-4 introductions have no problem acknowledging traditional authorship as well as pointing out current thought. There is much objectivity there than in the NISB.
So for the theological and scholarly objectivity competition, the judge must declare the NOASB-4 the winner and comment it for its Catholic friendliness. However, the NJB will remain on the judge's bookcase for its Catholic theological notes.

The two competitors came to the Final Round will equal scores:
NISB won for paper/typeset and text layout/notes.
NOASB-4 was the victor for portability, theology/objectivity/Catholic Friendliness...

The final round in the battle of the Study Bibles considers, of all things, study aids besides the notes/annotations. After all...WHY are they published if not for this reason? Therefore, this will be the round that separates the boys from the men...

Study Materials besides Notes:
NISB fails miserable in neglecting to include a concordance, while the NOASB-4 triumphs in this regard.

BOTH fails in cross references but it’s not a competition-point since both use the NRSV and as such suffer the deprivation. Though both do allow for some cross referencing in the notes.

The NISB has great features in the excursi and in the self-pronouncing text. something that the NOASB-4 lacks. Excursi are real handy and helpful addition to a study Bible.

In the domain of maps both do very well. I believe there are 19 detailed maps in the NISB and while I don’t know the number, I recall that the NOASB-4 has a good amount as well which is to be expected from Oxford University Press.

Finally, considering the notes/annotations seen solely as STUDY material and not from a theological perspective, I have to admit that NISB wins out in quantity without detriment to quality.

The NOASB-4, however, take the crown for the Introductions as study material.

So the NISB takes it for excursi and annotation quantity...
NOASB-4 triumphs in concordance and introductions...

This is a CLOSE TIGHT race.....but the judge must look at the overall picture and render a holistic pronouncement that considers all of these features as well as one more irrefutable function of a Study Bible...

The Word of God is first of all a Person. This Person became flesh incarnate of the Virgin Mary. This Person proclaimed the Kingdom of God and commissioned His disciples to "teach them what I have commanded you". This Person founded a Church upon the rock of St. Peter and the foundation stones of the Twelve. These men preached the Gospel which was later consigned in part to writing. The Old Testament prepared for Him. The New Testament proclaims Him Lord, Savior and King. Which of these Study Bibles, above and beyond any comparison of parts and features, best fosters a communion with this Person and the Church which teaches in His Name?

The winner is the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible with Apocrypha, 4th Edition.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NOAB 4th Edition Genuine Leather

Last week I decided to order the NOAB 4th Edition in genuine leather. At the time, it was priced at for only $59.00, so I decided to go for it. As I was awaiting it's arrival over the weekend, I started to get a little buyers remorse. Should I have used part of my tax return for another study Bible? The fact is that I really liked what I had saw in the hardcover edition. While some people did not like the new page format and font, I actually found it easier to read. I also found the notes to be succinct, yet helpful and the new map section and essays were informative. My biggest issue, then, became whether or not the genuine leather cover would be quality. I have written often on this blog about the need for premium/quality leather Bibles for Catholics, so I was hoping that this would be the case with the NOAB 4th Edition. I usually don't recommend people purchasing a genuine leather Bible unless recommended by another or unless you are able to see and feel it for yourself. Needless to say, I broke my own rule on this one!

Fortunately, when I opened up my package yesterday from I was very pleased with the quality of the genuine leather. While not being goat or calf skin, it is actually very soft and nimble. It is definitely a step up from the other two genuine leather Oxford study Bibles that I own, those being the NOAB RSV and The Catholic Study Bible NAB (1990) editions. While the durability of any Bible can only be judged over time, my first impressions are that it will be just fine. I plan to use this Bible exclusively this summer, for personal reading, leading Bible study, and any retreats or conferences I attend, so I will let you know how it holds up.
Below are some additional pictures I took with my I-Phone:

I should also point out that this edition comes with two Bible ribbons, tabs, and a simple presentation page at the front of the book.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

KJV w/ Apocrypha Pre-Order

With the recent outreach to Anglicans by Pope Benedict, I thought it would be appropriate to alert those interested that a premium leather edition of the KJV w/ Apocrypha will soon be available through Cambridge University Press, my favorite Bible publisher, and Baker Publishing Group. More details when they become known.

Website for "The Bible in It's Traditions" Project

The Bible in It's Traditions is the new project of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem, the creators of the Jerusalem Bible. The site contains some sample pages in English for your viewing, so check it out!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pope in Malta

"After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it. Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him.After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They bestowed many honours on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed."
--Acts 28:1-10

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Common English Bible: Genesis

The Common English Bible is a new translation in the works that seeks to provide a new rendition of the Bible in English at a 7th grade reading level. It is meant to provide an option for those churches currently using the NRSV (11th grade reading level), but would rather have something more "plain spoken". While being sponsored by mostly mainline Protestant churches, it does have a few Catholic Biblical scholars involved in the project. When completed, this new translation will also include the Deuterocanonical books. So far, they have released their edition of the Gospel According to Matthew, but you can now download their translation of Genesis. (Look under free downloads.)
Update: Theophrastus reminds me that you can pre-order a free copy of the CEB New Testament here. I believe it will be released sometime in the Fall.

Bible Quote of the Day

"Until a spirit from on high is poured out on us, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever."
--Isaiah 32:15-17

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saint Benedict Press Sacramental Gift Bibles

Matt, at Absolutely No Spin, has a nice review up of the newly released Saint Benedict Press Sacramental Gift Bible, Douay-Rheims edition. Check it out!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New HarperCollins Bibles NRSV

Not a lot of information yet about these upcoming editions from HarperCollins, but I thought I would let you know that they are now set for publication and can be pre-ordered:

LIVE NRSV Catholic Edition: A Catholic Bible for Today's Youth (Paperback)

NRSV Go-Anywhere Personal Size Thinline Bible (Bonded Leather, Black)
I wonder if this will be the thinline Bible I had been hoping would be published? Hopefully, it will come in a Catholic edition. (Notice that this isn't the Go-Anywhere Compact Thinline Bible.)

More info on these when it comes available.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Study Bibles

First off, a blessed Easter to you all! It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the risen Lord during this wonderful octave of Easter, particularly as it leads up to Divine Mercy Sunday.

I have been doing a bit of thinking about study Bibles recently, including a few email discussions with some readers. I am always torn whether or not to invest in a single study Bible for everyday use. What do I mean by "invest"? While I certainly do have a number of hardcover study Bibles which I will refer to from time to time, the most recent being the New Oxford Annotated Bible 4th Edition, I have never settled on one that would be considered my day-to-day study Bible of choice. You know, the one that I would use for Bible study and school, containing all of my own personal notes to go along side the commentary and notes supplied by the study Bible publisher. I was impressed a few years ago by someone who had their old Jerusalem Bible, which I think they received back in the 60's, that contained all of that person's personal notes and inspirations from the past 40 years. Although this Bible was written in over an almost 40 year period, it remained a constant companion for this person.

So, what to do? Well, I began thinking about what I would like in my ideal study Bible, while also seeing if any particular study Bible had everything I wanted. (English language study Bibles of course!) Of course, I knew that such a study Bible was not in print, nor probably would ever be. So here are a few of the components of a study Bible that I would like to see produced, with references to current study Bibles that fit each component. The order of each component is not necessarily in ranking order of importance in my mind.

1) A Good Formal Equivalence Translation: I am quite comfortable with the NRSV, and to a lesser extend the RSV-2CE. I wonder if I will be adding the NABRE to this list sometime next year. That would certainly make things interesting.

2) Cross-References: Yes sir, those always important cross-references are a must for any good study Bible. While some study Bibles, mostly using the NRSV, consign them to the commentary portion of the study Bible, I prefer them to be separate. I think the NJB (with all the notes and cross-references) does the best job at this. Of course this is aided by the fact that the NJB comes in a single-column format, which is woefully represented in most study Bibles applicable to Catholic readers. I should also mention that the Oxford NAB study Bibles also have a separate location for cross-references, as well as the Ignatius RSV-2CE study Bible.

3) Decent Margins: While having a smaller study Bible is nice, one thing that suffers is the size of the margins, which are a must if you want to write in your Bible. The original Oxford Catholic Study Bible had some decent sized margins, but subsequent editions reduced their size considerably. The NJB also gives a bit of room too!

4) Comprehensive Maps: I love Bible maps, yes I said it. When I look at study Bibles, one of the first things I look at are the maps. Many of the newly released study Bibles contain not only end maps, but also incorporate additional ones in the text itself. I think the HarperCollins Study Bible does a fine job, as well as the new NOAB 4th Edition. Let me just say that I have looked at the ESV Study Bible, which I think does a really great job with maps, charts, and diagrams.

5) Concordance: It's nice to have, but not a deal breaker for me. Most study Bibles contain one, so this is not much of an issue really. The one exception is the New Interpreters Study Bible.

6) Multiple Cover Editions: If I am going to get an everyday study Bible, I would prefer it to be in a genuine leather cover or perhaps the new imitation/Italian DuoTone style. The Oxford study Bibles, whether NRSV or NAB, typically come in paperback, hardcover, and leather. Funny enough, the most recent HarperCollins Study Bible only comes in hardcover and softcover, but no leather option, even though the earlier edition did.

7) Lectionary: As a Catholic, I think every Catholic Bible, even a study Bible, should contain at least the Sunday lectionary readings. The complete, Sunday and weekday, would be even better. The Catholic Study Bible NAB does this, but few others include the lectionary readings.

8) Historical Notes/Theological In-Text Boxes: I prefer that the commentary at the bottom of the page be focused on historical data. For the most part, I think the Oxford NRSV study Bibles do a good job with this. In additional, however, I would like to see important Catholic theological information, with references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, displayed at appropriate locations in the Biblical text. For example, one could see an in-text box placed at 2 Maccabees 12 discussing prayers for the dead and purgatory, with references to the entries on this topic in the CCC.

So, these are just a few of my thoughts on the issue of study Bibles. Feel free to add or subtract some from my ideas. I may add a few more over the next few days.